One of the oldest breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Canaan dog breed is highly vigilant and vocal. The national dog of Israel, its history stretches back so far that it was even believed to have guarded flocks during biblical times. Nowadays, they are widely owned in Europe and North America as companion dogs, but they are still great for competing in sports such as agility. In this blog post, we are going to look at a host of information regarding the Canaan, including its history, health, temperament, and more.
History of the Canaan
An essential part of Middle Eastern communities for thousands of years, Canaan dogs were traditionally used to guard herds of sheep, which were an essential source of wealth, as well as food, clothing, and part of traditional ceremonies. Over the years, they developed characteristics that allowed them to survive in these harsh desert conditions. We even have artifacts that can be dated back 4,000 years with dogs on them that look a lot like Canaans. However, with a breed this old, it is very difficult to trace their exact origins.
When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and dispersed the Israelites, the flocks of sheep were also scattered and many Canaans went to live in the Negev desert all the way until the 20th century. When the State of Israel was founded, these dogs were redomesticated – showing themselves to be clever and easily trainable. Today, they still have a nature that can be described as watchful and inquisitive, and this was useful when they were put to work as messengers, sentries, landmine detectors, and service dogs – particularly during the Second World War.
Four Canaans were first imported into the US in 1965, and the breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Association in 1995.
Quick Facts About the Canaan
- The name ‘Canaan’ comes from the territory that is today made up of Lebanon, Israel, and parts of the other bordering countries.
- Physically, Canaans are known for their smooth coats, pricked-up ears and bushy tails. Often, they are white with patches of color, but they sometimes appear in different shades of brown or black.
- Canaan dogs usually weigh between 35 and 55 pounds depending on whether they are male or female.
- There are tombs at Beni-Hassan dating from 2200 BC that show dogs that look very similar to modern day Canaan dogs.
Things You Should Know
Generally, Canaan dogs are healthy canines with a small group of dedicated breeders. As there are so few dogs available in the world, it should be easier to obtain health information, and this is something that you should absolutely expect when you are getting one of these rare pooches.
There are a few health tests that are worth carrying out including hip and elbow evaluations, thyroid tests, ophthalmologist evaluations, and patella evaluations. You can help to keep your dog in good condition by monitoring their health yourself, checking their ears and mouths on a regular basis for any signs of infection. You can also report any major changes to your vet such as digestive issues and a loss of appetite.
Often, Canaans will dog through what is known as a fear period. This tends to take hold between 9 and 12 months old and can last for a year. Essentially, this involves your dog barking at seemingly harmless things. You need to take the lead in acting confidence and showing them that there is nothing that they need to concern themselves with.
Due to their high levels of intelligence and responsiveness, Canaan dogs are highly trainable, and this is certainly worthwhile doing to ensure that they fit in with the family well. As Canaans are sensitive creatures, they are not going to respond well to any methods that are too harsh. Instead, you should be kind with your dog, offering them positive reinforcement methods.
Although they are adaptable dogs, they are still very territorial and naturally mistrustful of strange people or situations. This is why it is a worthwhile activity to socialize your dog early and enroll them in puppy training classes to get things off to the best start. Be warned that proper socialization is not something that can be rushed. Your dog is going to need to be continually exposed to new people animals, sight, sounds, and smells throughout their life. Otherwise, they are much more likely to become stressed out by new situations and will not react in the best way.
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In terms of exercise needs, Canaan dogs can be classed as moderate. As long as they are offered their regular daily outings, they can adapt to a range of different living situations including apartments. As they are intelligent dogs with a background in working, it often helps to enroll them in obedience or agility training as an outlet for their energy. This presents an excellent way to exercise both their body and mind. You may also like our guide on dog agility tunnels.
If you are going to allow your Canaan to roam around your back yard, it needs to be securely fenced off. Otherwise, they may be able to escape. Another problem can be their willingness to dig holes. You may want to direct your pooch to a certain corner of the yard if they are doing this too much.
If you are going to feed your dog a dry diet, it is recommended that you offer them between 1.5 and 2.5 cups of high-quality food every day. However, the amount that your pooch consumes depends on a number of different factors including their build, age, metabolism, and daily activity levels. For example, a highly active dog is obviously going to need more food than one who loves lazing around on the couch for hours on end. Remember, if you offer your dog high-quality food, you won’t have to give as much because they will get enough nutrition from it.
Offer your dog a couple of set meals per day and you will be able to monitor how much they are eating. If you leave food out all the time, this makes it more likely that they are going to overeat. You can usually tell if your dog is overweight from a simple visual inspection and feeling around their waist. While dog treats are useful in the training process, too many can lead your dog to become overweight. If you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or how much they are eating, you should address these with your vet.
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Canaan dogs have a double coat that traditionally insulated them from the extreme desert conditions. Their outer coat lies flat on their body and is harsh to the touch. As for the undercoat, it is soft, but the thickness will depend on the environment that they have been raised in. Either way, they don’t shed very much. Use a stiff bristled brush to do their weekly brushing, though the frequency may need to be stepped up during the twice per year when their undercoat starts shedding. As they are relatively clean dogs, bathing doesn’t have to be too frequent.
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To prevent tartar and bacteria buildup, you should get into the good habit of brushing their teeth two or three times per week. However, if you really want to prevent periodontal disease, daily brushing is the way to do it. If your dog’s nails don’t wear down naturally, you may need to trim them as much as twice a month. You will be able to hear them click-clacking on the floor if they get too long. Also, look inside their ears for any signs of waxy buildup. If you start all this grooming activity at a young age, it will make it easier for your dog to adapt to it. You should turn it into a positive experience full of praise and sometimes treats. This makes the ideal time to check your dog’s body for anything that appears unusual.
Take a look at our guides on the Best Dog Nail Clippers, Best Dog Grooming Clippers, Best Dematting Tools for Dogs and Dog Thinning Shears.
Canaan dogs still retain much of their independence from the days when they were cast out to live on their own, but if they are properly socialized, they can form a loving part of their households. These dogs are adaptable to a range of living situations and aren’t just for those with flocks of sheep to look after! You can even keep one in an apartment as long as you have the time to take them out for their regular daily walks.
While this is an active breed, the energy levels don’t rank as highly as other pooches, but you should still aim to take your dog out a couple of times a day. These are clever dogs who are willing to try out a host of different activities including obedience, agility training, and herding.
When you first get Canaan dog puppies home, you need to work hard on their socialization to prevent any aggressive tendencies, which can manifest themselves towards other dogs. In comparison to other stubborn pooches, they are relatively easy to train, but still may post a problem for first-time owners. You need to show a combination of firmness and confidence to achieve the success that you are looking for. While motivational techniques can vary, they should include the right combination food rewards and praise. Too much repetition and they are likely to become bored and lose interest in what they are supposed to be doing.
You need to make clear that you are the boss right from the get-go. Otherwise, your dog can end up being the one who is calling the shots like who is allowed onto your property. However, these are dogs who generally remain cautious when approached with new situations. Many breeders have worked to retain the characteristics that make them great watchdogs such as barking when they notice anything strange going on. Canaans are also known for getting on well with children and can also be raised to get along with other household pets like cats.
While loyalty and affection are two of the positive qualities that this breed possesses, this doesn’t mean that this dog is too demanding of your attention. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that you should neglect your pooch. Human interaction is still very important to them. But this is generally the type of interaction that comes from members of the family. They can still act quite cold and distant towards strangers.
The highly territorial nature of the Canaan dog breed makes them an excellent alarm dog. You are always going to know if something is amiss around your property! You can expect their territorial nature to kick in when they are around two years old, but it can present a problem for this not to manifest itself as nuisance barking, which is something that you need to prepare for as It can be very difficult to train out of them.
Canaan dogs have numerous positive qualities that make them great pets. They are highly intelligent companion dogs who can be easily trained and don’t require a huge amount of grooming work. However, they can prove to be tough for first-time owners, so they may be a better choice for experienced canine owners. Socialization is a lifelong process as these dogs are naturally suspicious of strangers and other dogs. If not kept in check, this suspicion can easily turn into aggression. Often, this can manifest itself in the form of nuisance barking, which is something that you will need to keep on top of throughout the life of your pooch.
However, you are going to find it very difficult to get your hands on a Canaan as there are only around 1,600 in the world, so you can expect to find yourself on a very long waiting list. You should never try and jump the queue by buying from irresponsible breeders as you don’t want to get a dog who has any serious health defects that you don’t know about.
- Canaan Dog – PetMD