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Canaan Dog

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Canaan Dog
Canaan dog.
Canaan dog.
Alternative names
Kelev Knaani
Country of origin
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 5 Section 6 #273  
AKC: Herding  
ANKC: Group 7 (Nonsporting)  
CKC: Group 3 (Working Dogs)  
KC (UK): Utility  
NZKC: Nonsporting  
UKC: Groupname  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

The Canaan Dog is a breed of dog that has existed in the Middle East for centuries.


The Canaan Dog comes in more colors than almost all other registered breeds. Its shape, body type, and size can vary widely, but the dogs are generally of medium size and often black and white. Other possible colors include tan, golden, or cream. Their bodies are generally lean with a distinctive shape.

Males are distinctly masculine with coarse hair, while bitches are expected to be feminine, without over refinement.


  • Height: 19-24 inches (48-61 cm)
  • Weight: 37-57 pounds (16-25 kg)


Canaan Dogs make good house pets. When treated kindly, the dogs work hard and are not aggressive. Extremely intelligent and good at problem solving, these dogs are very useful even in today's society. The breed is loyal and loving.


The Canaan Dog began in ancient times as a pariah dog in Israel. This dog is one of the oldest, dating back to biblical times.

The Canaan Dog was the guard and herd dog of the ancient Israelites, guarding their camps and flocks. They were plentiful in the region until the dispersion of the Israelites by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. As the Hebrew population dropped, the majority of the dogs sought refuge in the Negev Desert, a natural reservoir of Israeli wildlife. Avoiding extinction, they remained undomesticated for the most part, although some lived with the Bedouins and earned their keep by guarding the herds and camps. Some were also guards for the Druze on Mount Carmel.

They survived this way until Dr. Rudolphina Menzel came up with the idea to use these intelligent scavenger dogs mainly found in the desert, as guard dogs for the scattered Jewish settlements. She initiated a selective breeding program to produce the breed known today as the Canaan Dog.

Canaan Dogs in the U.S.

On September 7, 1965, Ursula Berkowitz of Oxnard, California, imported the first four Canaan Dogs with the idea of establishing the breed in the United States. The Canaan Dog Club of America was formed the same year, and stud book records were kept from these first reports.

In June 1989, the Canaan Dog entered the American Kennel Club Miscellaneous Class and dogs were registered in the AKC Stud Book as of June 1, 1997. The dogs began competing in conformation on August 12, 1997.

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