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Canaan Dog

This breed may be a living portrait of early domesticated dogs.

Canaan Dog Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Herding Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

The Canaan Dog is a pariah dog that has survived in the desert region of Israel for thousands of years. Believed to be the dog breed that the Hebrews used in biblical times to herd and guard their flocks and encampments, some are still used by Bedouins and Druse for this purpose today. In Europe and North America they are companion dogs and compete in dog sports such as conformation, agility, and obedience.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    Dogs were an elemental part of ancient Middle Eastern communities, where they were used to herd and guard the flocks of sheep that were a man's wealth. Known as Kelef Kanani, Hebrew words meaning Canaan Dog, those primitive dogs survived for thousands of years, into the modern era, and still retain the traits that allowed them to live in harsh desert conditions. Today's Canaan Dog has the same smooth coat, prick ears, and bushy tail as his ancestors, and no doubt the same alert, watchful, inquisitive nature that made him a well-regarded herding dog. This agile dog can change directions quickly and moves at a brisk trot, covering ground more rapidly than you can imagine.

    Besides his pleasing form and graceful movement, the Canaan Dog is blessed with an endearing and responsive personality. Although his heritage of desert survival gives him a certain degree of independence, a Canaan Dog who's been properly socialized loves his family and is adaptable to many living situations. Life in an apartment with several short daily walks is as agreeable to him as living in a suburban home with a yard and three noisy kids. While this breed is active, its energy level isn't excessive. And the Canaan Dog's territorial nature makes him unlikely to stray far from home, although, like any dog, he should be protected from traffic and other dangers by a fenced yard.

    This is a versatile breed. While the Canaan Dog doesn't excel in any one area, he is smart and quick to learn, ready and willing to engage in almost any doggy activity, from tracking to herding, obedience to agility. He draws the line only at jumping into a cold lake to retrieve a bird. Today's Canaan retains primitive herding skills and some have been herding-tested with excellent results. The Canaan's herding instinct is not as powerful as that of some other breeds, notably the Border Collie, nor does he have the single-mindedness of certain sporting breeds. Few Canaans will retrieve a ball a hundred times in a row. In behavior, as in appearance, the Canaan is a moderate.

    Nonetheless, this is a dog who requires firm but loving handling as well as early socialization in puppyhood to counteract tendencies toward aloofness and aggression toward other dogs. Experienced dog owners will find the Canaan easy to train, but first-timers can have their hands full. A confident attitude and the help of a good trainer can ease the way. This intelligent dog responds best to motivational techniques such as food rewards, praise, and play. He's easily bored with repetitive training and requires a challenging and creative learning environment.

    It's also important to provide him with strong, firm leadership. A Canaan who decides he's in charge instead of you will make his own decisions about who is allowed onto his property, and this can lead to serious behavior problems.

    Canaan Dogs are considered highly reactive, an excellent survival trait. Reacting quickly when confronted with something new and being cautious or suspicious in new situations can save a dog's life and are among the reasons the breed survived to the present day. Canaan breeders have worked to maintain the breed's character, so these traits are still present, making them excellent watchdogs.

    The breed is an excellent and vocal watchdog, so be prepared for some barking. Canaans are keenly alert and will notice anything new or any new person on their property. They will bark to alert you to someone's presence but will keep their distance, circling and hanging back while watching what is going on. This causes some people to consider them shy, but it's their method of responding to new or potentially dangerous situations.

    Canaan Dogs get along well with children, considering them part of their pack and treating them gently. They also do well with other small pets in the household that they are raised with, including cats.

    The Canaan Dog has been used for centuries to herd and guard flocks and encampments, and more recently they've been used as mine detectors, trackers, and alert dogs. They compete in herding, agility, conformation, and obedience.

    While he's loyal and affectionate, the Canaan isn't a glutton for attention. He's capable of occupying himself as needed. This doesn't mean, of course, that he should be stuck out in the backyard all the time with no human interaction. Like any dog, Canaans are social animals who enjoy being with their people. They make wonderful companions and protectors of their family and property. If you understand and appreciate the unique qualities of this breed and are willing and able to live with a primitive breed who retains the instincts and behaviors that have kept him around for thousands of years, the Canaan Dog may be the ideal companion for you.

  • Highlights

    • The Canaan Dog is not the best choice for first-time dog owners.
    • Canaans are a primitive breed and are more concerned with pack order than some breeds. They will attempt to wrest "pack" leadership from a passive owner.
    • They need extensive and continual socialization throughout their life to help them recognize what is a threat and what is not.
    • Canaan Dogs can be dog-aggressive. Some cannot live with a dog of the same sex, and some extend the aggression to any dog that they meet.
    • Canaans are aloof with strangers.
    • Canaan Dogs bark when something is new or different in their territory. They can become nuisance barkers if they aren't taught when to stop or if they're frequently left alone for long periods.
    • They do not make good guard dogs as their suspicion of new people and things can make them indiscriminate about who and what is a threat.
    • Canaan Dogs require a securely fenced yard.
    • They like to dig and can turn your nicely manicured lawn into a plot that resembles the surface of the moon.
    • Their intelligence makes them highly trainable, but their independent nature and difficulty with motivation can make it questionable whether they will choose to listen to you. When it comes to training, they have a "what's in it for me?" attitude.
    • They shed profusely twice a year and shed smaller amounts throughout the rest of the year.
    • Canaan Dogs are a rare breed, with only about 1,600 in the world. If you want a Canaan Dog puppy, expect to spend time on a waiting list.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    In the Bible, the book of Exodus calls Canaan — ancient Palestine and Phoenicia from about 3,000 BCE — a good and spacious land, flowing with milk and honey. Flocks of sheep and goats prospered there, and where there are flocks, there are dogs. The dogs of these ancient Middle Eastern communities were known as Kelef Kanani, Hebrew words meaning Canaan Dog. It's likely that the Kelef Kanani differed little from his modern-day descendant, the Canaan Dog. Tomb drawings from Beni Hassan in Egypt, which date to 2200-2000 BCE, show dogs with smooth coats, prick ears, and bushy tails curling over their backs. No doubt they had the same alert, watchful, inquisitive expression that marks today's Canaan Dog, a breed that may well be a living portrait of early domesticated dogs.

    The Middle Eastern herding dogs of the past kept their charges from straying, protected them from predators or thieves, and sounded the alarm when danger was near. But over the centuries, with the invasion of Roman conquerors and the dispersal of the land's inhabitants to the far corners of the earth, the Canaan Dog became unemployed. He retreated to the hilly desert of southern Israel, living a feral lifestyle that depended on his wits and fitness. Sometimes he continued in his nomadic life, earning a living with the Bedouin desert dwellers, or served as guards for the Druse, religious communities of hill people who made their home on Mount Carmel and other areas of what are now Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. Sculpted by this harsh lifestyle, the dog became a wily athlete, perfectly suited to his environment.

    For centuries, the Canaan Dog continued his unfettered life in the desert, but in 1935, world events conspired to bring him back into the human community. Not only was World War II brewing, an independent Jewish state was in the offing. Isolated Jewish settlements in Palestine needed guard dogs that could withstand desert conditions, and the area's armed forces were looking for a desert-tough guard and patrol dog. Rudolphina Menzel, a professor of animal and comparative psychology at the University of Tel Aviv, was asked to develop a dog that would meet these needs. Her original plan was to work with established breeds, but in her mind's eye she kept picturing Canaan Dogs that she had seen in the desert. They had survival skills, and that was what was needed.

    Dr. Menzel and her husband acquired several of the desert dogs and began breeding them, recording and refining their bloodlines. They trained their new breed for sentry work, land mine detection, and message delivery, and they were active with the Middle East Forces during World War II. After the war, some of the dogs took up second careers as guide dogs. By 1948, the Palestine Kennel Club had registered 150 of them.

    In 1965, Ursula Berkowitz of Oxnard, California, imported four Canaan Dogs. The Canaan Dog Club of America was formed the same year. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1992 and the American Kennel Club in 1997. The breed entered the national spotlight in 1998 when Ch. Catalina's Felix to the Max became the first Canaan Dog to compete in the Herding Group at the Westminster Kennel Club show. He's still a rare breed, ranking 150th among the 155 breeds and varieties registered by the AKC.

  • Size

    Male Canaan Dogs stand 20 to 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh 45 to 55 pounds; females are smaller at 19 to 23 inches and 35 to 45 pounds.

  • Personality

    The Canaan is described as alert, vigilant, devoted, and docile with his family. He's aloof toward strangers, although he should never be shy or aggressive, and highly territorial. His territoriality, which kicks in at about age 2, makes the Canaan a good alarm dog. He's sure to bark whenever anyone comes to the door, settling back down once he's certain you have the situation under control. That's assuming he views you as leader of the pack. If he doesn't, he may try to run things himself and make his own decisions about who's welcome and who's not. You must be willing and able to be a strong leader when you live with a Canaan.

    The breed requires extensive socialization — exposure to many different people, places, sights, sounds, and experiences — and not just for a few months in puppyhood but for several years, if not a lifetime. A dog who has been exposed to a variety of people and situations while young will be less stressed and less likely to overreact when confronted with something new as an adult. If you plan to show or compete with your Canaan in any type of dog sport, socialization and training are essential to your success. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

    Some Canaan Dogs go through a fear period starting at 9 to 12 months of age, which can last for as long as a year. They may be especially anxious around strangers and bark at seemingly harmless objects. During this period, be calm and confident, showing him that he has nothing to fear. Trying to soothe him will only encourage him to believe that there really is something out there waiting to get him.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

  • Health

    Canaans are a hardy breed and don't suffer from any known hereditary health problems.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Canaans, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

  • Care

    The Canaan's dense undercoat allows him to spend time outdoors in all kinds of weather, but when his people are home, he should be a housedog. He requires a securely fenced yard to protect him from traffic and from altercations with other dogs. With a consistent schedule, he's easy to housetrain.

    Canaans love to dig and can make quite large excavations in a short period if left to their own devices. Provide them with a digging area they can call their own or redirect the digging tendency with other activities.

    The Canaan doesn't require extensive exercise. He's usually satisfied with a couple of short walks a day or a walk plus some vigorous playtime in the backyard.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    Keep your Canaan in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Canaan Dog, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    Canaan Dogs have a double coat that insulates them from desert temperature extremes. The outer coat is straight and harsh to the touch, lying flat on the body, with a slight ruff on the neck. The undercoat is short and soft. The thickness of the undercoat varies depending on the climate in which the dog lives. The bushy tail tapers to a pointed tip.

    Canaans can be predominantly white with a mask and sometimes additional large patches of color, or they can be a solid color, ranging from black to all shades of brown, including sandy, red, or liver, with or without white trim on the chest, belly, feet, lower part of the legs, and tail tip. Solid brown or tan dogs sometimes have shadings of black.

    Shedding is minimal, and little brushing is needed to keep the coat in good condition. Weekly brushing with a stiff bristle brush will do the trick, although you may need to brush more frequently during the twice yearly shedding of the undercoat. The Canaan Dog is a relatively clean dog with no doggie odor and does not require frequent bathing.

    Brush your Canaan's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and prevent your legs from getting scratched when your Canaan enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

    Begin accustoming your Canaan to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    Canaans are gentle with children, devoted and protective. Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how loving, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Canaans can get along with other dogs, if they're brought up with them and socialized extensively, but they tend to play rough with a lot of vocalization. To people who don't know the breed, they may seem aggressive toward other dogs. They can be, but it's important to be able to tell the difference between rough play and true aggression. Study dog body language so you can know when to interfere and when to relax and let them be dogs. That said, adult Canaans are not the best candidates for playing at off-leash dog parks. They may try to bully or interfere with the play of other dogs. They can also be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex.

    Canaans do best with cats when they're raised with them and when the cat is savvy enough to stand up to the dog instead of running from him. Running activates the Canaan's prey drive, and he will give chase. The breed's strong prey drive can lead them to chase and kill small animals, especially those they find outdoors. They are probably not a good choice for families with pets such as rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils.

  • Rescue Groups

    Canaan Dogs are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Canaans in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Canaan rescue.

  • Breed Organizations

    Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Canaan Dog.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Sometimes

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Very

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Moderate

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Sometimes

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Very low

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Very

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • High

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • High

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Not usually

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Very good

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Sometimes

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • High

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • Moderate

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Not usually

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • Medium

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • Moderate

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • Low

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Moderate

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • High

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Medium

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • Moderate

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Not particularly well

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Not so well

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Very well

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Low

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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