The Canaan dog has its roots in a place called Canaan where the Canaanites lived (roughly correlating to the region covering modern-day Israel, Palestinian territories, Lebanon, and the western areas of Jordan). The breed has been around since biblical times, over 10,000 years ago.

Ancient carvings and drawings tell us that these ancient dogs have existed within the eastern Mediterranean seaboard. The Einan and Hayonim caves are locations in which the oldest remains of dogs have been discovered.

Canaan Dog lying on sand

This breed is popularly known in Israel as Kelev Kna’ani (Canaanite dog) and other Levantine countries as Kaleb Kana’an. Also, it is recognized as Israel’s national breed.

The breed’s founder, Dr. Rudolphina Menzel developed over 400 Canaan Dogs to use in mine detection work for the Middle East forces. The dogs were able to detect mines better than any mechanical device.

Canaan Dog standing

In 1949 Menzel established the Institute for Orientation and Mobility of the Blind, and 4 years later, the doctor started to train Canaan dogs as guide dogs for those who couldn’t see.

Although she was able to train several dogs, she found that the breed was too independent and too small for general guide dog use, although some of her dogs were used successfully by children.

Some of the Canaan Dog’s talents include search and rescue, war sentry, messenger, mine detector, tracker, herder and guard.

In 1965, Dr. Menzel imported 4 dogs to the US. The color of their coat is white with black masks and patches. The dogs imported after come in a variety of color patterns. The Canaan Dog was first recognized by the AKC in 1997.

There are 2,000-3,000 Canaan dogs scattered all over the world, especially in Europe and North America.

Traits and Behavior

Canaan dogs are playful, lively and comical. They are independent, persistent, curious and they also need a firm but gentle master. They are also devoted and sweet but they’re not that flattering.

The Canaan dogs excel with all types of informal as well as organized canine activities. They love to walk, they have outstanding agility and they are obedient. That is if you know how to influence them.

Canaan Dog in the garden

They also need fair, firm and constant training starting from an early age so that they will know the boundaries that are required when living together with people.

They will be able to perfectly comprehend the activities that can be applied indoors and outdoors given that they will have a lot of exercises as well as stimulation for their alert minds.

Additionally, these dogs are also cheerful and active playmates for the children. However, they can be too much high-spirited for toddlers.

It can also be compatible with the other dogs of their size or those that are bigger but smaller pets like cats might start their prey drive and they might hunt and kill them when they can.

When these dogs are not in the mood for vigorous activities, they are likely to play with their favored squeaky toy and entertain you through doing executing tricks. When they are already exhausted from doing their activities, they will curl up on your side at the couch while you’re watching TV.

Pet Care and Diseases

The Canaan dog’s coat requires just minimum grooming. They only need a quick brush once every week to prevent the shedding of their hair. In addition, their ears must be kept clean, their teeth should be brushed and their nails must also be trimmed. This dog doesn’t need a lot of concern.

Also, since these dogs are people-loving, they should live together with the owner inside the house. They will be miserable when they are being kept in a backyard that has only a little or even no human interaction.

Canaan Dog side view

They may also have an occasional minor health problem like lens luxation, and glaucoma as well as major concerns like deafness.

They are likely to have kidney problems so it is recommended to visit a veterinarian and have a regular check-up to prevent them from having it or treat a current problem earlier.


The Canaan Dog is a medium-sized dog with a primitive appearance. Typical height at the withers is about 20-24 inches for the males and 19 -23 inches for the females.

Canaan Dog lying on bed

They typically weigh around 45-55 pounds for the males while approximately 35-45 pounds for the females.

They are well-balanced, strong and square dogs. Also, these dogs are naturally alert, inquisitive and watchful.

The wedge-shaped head has medium-sized, erect and low set ears with a wide base and rounded tips.

The tail is fluffy, set on high, and is carried curled over the back especially when the dog is alert or excited.

The outer coat is of medium length around the body while shorter on the front part of the legs and head.

The color of the coat ranges from black to cream and all shades of brown and red. Usually, small white markings or all white with color patches appear on the fur.

Spotting of all kinds is allowed, as well as white or black markings.

General Information

The estimated life of a Canaan Dog is 12-15 years. The maximum litter size is about 4-6 puppies. This breed is also known as the Canaanite dog, Kelev Kna’ani and Kaleb Kana’an.

Breed Club

Visit these dog club websites dedicated to Canaan Dogs. Click this link: