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Canaan Dog

The Canaan Dog is the national dog breed of Israel. It may have existed in the Middle East for millennia.

The Canaan Dog, known in Israel as dog of Canaan, Kelev K'naani, is a typical pariah dog in appearance. They have a medium build, natural upright ears, and a short to medium double coat, with a harsh, flat outercoat and soft undercoat. Colour ranges from black to cream and all shades of brown and red between, usually with small white markings, or all white with colour patches. Spotting of all kinds is permitted, as well as white or black masks. Boston Terrier markings are frequent. It almost looks like a dingo.

Canaan Dogs are natural, aloof, independent dogs. They are intelligent and learn quickly, but may get bored with repetitive exercises or become oblivious to commands if they find something of more interest. They are cautious with strangers, and will alert to any disturbances with prompt barking, thus making them excellent watchdogs. The Canaan Dog is territorial and should be kept in a fenced-in yard.

In general, the Canaan Dog does not suffer from known hereditary problems.

Although the breed is one of the healthiest, Dr. George A. Padgett, DVM, listed diseases been seen, at one time or another, in the Canaan Dog in the United States: hypothyroidism, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).

The Canaan dog began in ancient times as a pariah dog in Israel. It belongs to one of the most ancient family of dogs, the spitz.

This dog is one of the oldest, dating back to biblical times. The caves of Einan and Hayonim are sites in which the oldest remains of dogs have been found (more than 10,000 years ago). In the Bible there are a number of references to roaming dogs and dogs that worked for man.Report on the Canaan dog by Israel Nature Reserves and National Parks Authority

In the Sinai Desert, a rock carving, from the first to third century AD, depicts a dog that in size and shape appears to be a Canaan type dog.



Canaan Dog
Other names: Kelev K'naani
Country of origin: Israel
Height: 19-24 inches (48-61 cm)
Weight: 37-50 pounds (16-25 kg)

In Ashkelon, a graveyard was discovered, believed to be Phoenician from the middle of the fifth century BC. It contained 700 dogs, all carefully buried in the same position, on their sides with legs flexed and tail tucked in around the hind legs. According to the archaeologists, there was a strong similarity between these dogs and the "Bedouin pariah dogs," or the Canaan dog. A sarcophagus dated from the end of the fourth century BC, was found in Sidon, on which Alexander the Great and the King of Sidon are painted hunting a lion with a hunting dog similar in build to the dogs of Ashkelon, and similar in appearance to the Canaan dog.Where does the Canaan Dog come from?

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 in the 2nd century. 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.

The Canaan is very similar to the Jindo dog, both in looks and characteristics. There is a legend that the Jindo arrived in Korea with one of Genghis Khan's generals and his army which eventually got stranded on the island of Jindo and incorporated itself into the local community. Perhaps they followed the army back from Canaan; this would explain the similarities in both look and character as well as their restriction, in Korea, to the island of Jindo. Unsurprisingly the Canaan dog is considered a national treasure in Israel as is the Jindo dog in Korea.

Collection of wild Canaan dogs has all but ceased. The last two dogs that were collected in the Negev in the mid-1990s, and most of the Canaan dogs living in the open were destroyed by the Israeli government in the fight against rabies. Even the majority of Bedouin dogs today are mixed with other breeds.