Canaan Dog

The Legendary Canaan Dog – An Ancient Breed


Canaan Dog
A young, beautiful, white, cream-colored, brown, orange sable Canaan is walking on the grass, looking happy and playful. Kelef K’naani dogs are medium-sized with erect ears, almond eyes, intelligent, and very good watchdogs.

Canaan dogs are an ancient dog breed.  They are also known as the Bedouin Sheepdog.  They are native to the Middle East, but Canaans are more common today in Israel. This dog breed may have witnessed the oldest biblical stories.  Petroglyphs of dogs dating thousands of ago appear on rocks in Saudi Arabia.  Those dogs closely resemble the Canaan dog.



Because the Israeli government eradicated so many Canaan dogs living in the open in the fight against rabies, it is now tough to collect wild Canaan dogs in Israel.

The Canaan’s natural habitat has been lost due to the expansion of the human population and their pet dogs into formerly remote locations. There may still be descendants of the ancient Canaanites among the Bedouin tribes that continue to lead a nomadic lifestyle elsewhere, possibly in Egypt. Except for tribes who continue to live a traditional, isolated lifestyle, most Bedouin canines nowadays are hybrids of various breeds.


Canaan Dog
Canaan dog in a garden

This breed comes in white, sandy, brown, and black, with several patterns and varieties.  Their eyes are dark and slightly slanted. They usually weigh from 35 to 55 pounds. Their bodies are muscular, and they have moderately deep chests. Their tails are bushy and curl over their backs when they are alert. Canaan dogs are 10 to 24 inches tall.



The Canaan is a double-coated breed. Their coat colors vary from black, red, sandy, and many shades of brown. The topcoat is straight and about 2 inches long. Their undercoat is thick and helps keep the dog warm during cold weather. They need regular brushing and bathing only when necessary.

About the Canaan Dog

Canaan Dogs are resourceful, intelligent, and highly trainable. They can survive on their own.  That may be the reason they have been around so long.  This breed needs a secure yard for play. Canaan’s are natural watchdogs.  They are highly protective and dare to take on just about any challenge. They are leary of strangers, children, and other animals but are very devoted to their families.



They are clever and can learn to track, herd and compete in obedience trials. They also make good watchdogs. However, their herding instincts are not as strong as other herding breeds, such as the Border Collie.

Canaan Dogs need training to control their barking.  They also need strong leadership as they can be aggressive toward other dogs. However, they are very friendly with people they know well.




The Canaan Dog is generally in good health, and a small but committed community of breeders works together to advance the breed. Like all breeds, Canaan Dogs should have their ears periodically examined for indications of illness, and their teeth should be brushed frequently with toothpaste made for canines.

They have a life span of 12-15 years.  The National Breed Club for the Canaan recommends several health tests, including for the patella, hip, eyes, and thyroid.


The Canaan breed is recognized by most, if not all, of the world’s kennel clubs. Canaan dog clubs exist in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland, Germany, France, and Israel.

The Canaan is the national dog breed of Israel. From Sinai to Syria, the Canaan dog has long been ubiquitous in the Southern Levant region.




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