Dog Health & More
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.
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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.