Canaan Dogs

The Canaan Dog is said to have originated in the biblical land of Canaan, where it was used to guard camps and flocks. After the Romans came and the nomadic population was dispersed, the dogs became feral, making their own way in the Negev Desert, finding work with Bedouin herdsmen or performing guard duty for the Druze people on Mount Carmel.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

This medium-size herding dog is an intelligent, independent thinker with natural watchdog instincts. He patrols his property and circles and barks at intruders, not permitting them to approach unless given the okay by his owner. He is generally not an indiscriminate barker, giving voice only when he thinks it's necessary. However, if you have a lot of traffic in front of your house, your Canaan Dog will be barking a lot. Consider whether this will be a problem in your neighborhood.

The Canaan Dog is affectionate but not needy. He'll check in with you occasionally, and then go about his business of keeping an eye on things. He's good with children, deeply loyal to his family and reserved with strangers. Socialize him early and often to ensure that he doesn't become shy.

Canaan Dogs are highly trainable with positive reinforcement techniques, but if you're not consistent, he will take advantage of you. He gets bored easily, so avoid repetition. Once you find out what motivates him, though, he's an enthusiastic worker in whatever dog sport or activity you train him. Canaan Dogs can do well in almost any activity, including agility, obedience, rally and tracking. They are also found doing search and rescue and therapy dog work. And, of course, he's a natural herder.

Because of his independent and adventurous spirit, the Canaan Dog is rarely reliable off leash. He has a superb sense of smell and excellent eyesight and is likely to take off if he senses something interesting.

The Canaan Dog has a short double coat that sheds heavily twice a year. During this time, he'll need frequent brushing to remove dead hair. The rest of the year, brush the coat weekly to keep it clean. In addition, trim his nails as needed, brush his teeth, and keep his ears clean to prevent infections.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a loyal and protective breed such as the Canaan Dog needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy Canaan Dog who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Health Issues Common to Canaan Dogs

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

That said, Canaan Dogs are a pretty healthy breed in general. Some health conditions that have been seen in the breed are hip dysplasia, epilepsy and eye diseases.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. The Canaan Dog Club of America encourages breeders to also obtain an OFA thyroid clearance and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia High $1,500-$6,000

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Canaan Dog Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. Start your search for a good breeder with the Canaan Dog Club of America, and choose one who is committed to following the CDCA's Code of Ethics.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Canaan Dogs aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Canaan Dogs can live 10 to 13 years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Canaan Dog to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Canaan Dogs

Pet insurance for Canaan Dogs costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Canaan Dogs are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Canaan Dogs are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Canaan Dog is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.