Canaan Dog Breed Information and Buying advice

Canaan Dog

Are You Looking to Buy or Adopt a Canaan Dog?

Quick Canaan Dog Facts

Average Size of Adult
Medium (3/5)
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Grooming Requirement
Low (1/3)
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Medium (2/3)
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Average Life Span
12-14 years (5/8)
Exercise Requirements
Medium (2/3)
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High (3/3)
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Medium (2/3)
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Child friendly
Yes (1/2)
High (3/3)
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Breed Group
Utility (6/8)
No (2/2)

Canaan Dog (Chien de Canaan, Kelef K’naani)


One of the rarest and most ancient dog breeds in the world, the Canaan Dog is the national dog of Israel. The Canaan was developed in the Middle East and was used to guard and herd sheep. This is a medium-sized breed that is independent, active and makes an excellent watchdog. Canaan Dogs are light-footed and agile, they are athletic and have retained their wild appearance. This herding dog has a straight short-medium length coat, a bushy tail and erect ears.

Physical Appearance 

The Canaan Dog has a natural look to them that is almost dingo-like. They have a wedge-shaped head, low set ears that stand erect with rounded tips and almond-shaped eyes that are dark in colour. Canaan Dogs have long muzzles and a strong jaw. This breed has an athletic appearance with a square body and well-developed legs. Canaans have high tails with lots of fur, they carry their tails curled over their backs when they are walking or excited. This breed has strong, round paws and paw pads that are hard making them perfectly suited to a lot of walking. 

The coat of a Canaan Dog is dense and straight, it is short - medium in length and they develop a thicker undercoat in winter. The breed colours include black, cream, red, sand, tricolour, white and multiple variations including back and tan, black or red or sand with white trim or white with red/ black/ sand patches. 

How big do Canaan Dogs get?

  • Height - Males: 50 - 60cm. Females: 40 - 50cm.

  • Weight - Males: 18 - 25kg. Females: 18 - 25kg. 

Character Traits

Canaan Dogs have not had any breeding interference from humans and this has meant the breed remains an independent dog with many primitive instincts. This makes the Canaan Dog an excellent watchdog as they are constantly aware of their surroundings. The Canaan breed is not aggressive and will use their voice to alert you to potential problems. 

This breed is intelligent, independent and responds well to firm, consistent training. If you’re looking for a dog that is loyal but doesn’t need constant attention, the Canaan Dog is a good fit. As this is an active breed they enjoy hiking and running with their owners, they also enjoy challenging training such as agility, tracking, herding and advanced obedience training. 

Are Canaan Dogs intelligent? Yes.

Are Canaan Dogs affectionate? Sometimes but they are quite independent. 

Do Canaan Dogs have high or low energy levels? High energy levels. 

Are Canaan Dogs loyal? Yes. 

Are Canaan Dogs playful? Yes, they do have a playful side to their nature. 

Are Canaan Dogs aggressive? They are not aggressive to people. However, they can be aggressive to other dogs (particularly males).

Are Canaan Dogs easy to train? In experienced hands, they are easy to train. 

Are Canaan Dogs good guard dogs? They are good watchdogs and will bark to alert you of something suspicious. 

Ability to Socialise 

Canaan Dogs are independent but they form strong bonds with their families. If this breed is brought up with children they will be protective, loyal and gentle towards them. However, Canaan Dogs should be supervised when there are children around that they do not know. 

Socialisation is extremely important for a Canaan, they can get along with other pets if they have been well socialised. However, they need to be fed away from kids and other animals as they can be extremely protective of their food. Canaan Dogs can also be aggressive towards other dogs so it’s best to walk them in quieter areas and take care when around other dogs. 

Do Canaan Dogs get along with other pets? As long as they have been well socialised they will tolerate other pets. 

Do Canaan Dogs get along with other dogs? They can be aggressive with other dogs. 

Are Canaan Dogs good with kids? They get on well with children they have grown up with, take care if introducing this breed to kids they don’t know. 

Are Canaan Dogs good with strangers? They are aloof with strangers. 

Lifestyle Suitability

The Canaan Dog can adjust well to most situations, they can even live in an apartment as long as they get enough daily exercise and mental stimulation. Canaan Dogs need a confident, experienced owner to avoid behavioural issues from developing. This breed is very territorial and tends to use their voice a lot so this is something to keep in mind if you have nearby neighbours. 

As Canaan Dogs are independent, they don’t mind spending time on their own while their owner goes out or goes to work. However, they are social animals and excellent companions so they shouldn’t be left alone for extended periods of time. 

Are Canaan Dogs good for first-time owners? No, they have specific socialisation, training and handling needs that require a confident, experienced owner. 

Are Canaan Dogs hypoallergenic? No.

Are Canaan Dogs prone to drooling? No.

Are Canaan Dogs a good breed for apartment living? Yes, as long as they get enough daily exercise and mental stimulation. 

Do  Canaan Dogs shed a lot? They shed twice a year. 

Do  Canaan Dogs bark a lot? Yes, they tend to bark at most unfamiliar sounds.

Can Canaan Dogs be left alone at home? Yes. 

Can Canaan Dogs handle the heat? Yes.

Can Canaan Dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes.

Are Canaan Dogs sensitive to loud noises? Unfamiliar noises will cause them to bark. 

General Health & Health Issues

Overall, Canaan Dogs are a healthy, hardy breed. Canaans have a life expectancy of 12 - 15 years and there are a few health issues they may suffer from including: 

Hip Dysplasia - This is when the hip develops abnormally causing the hip joints to be unstable. This can cause pain, swelling, stiffness and arthritis. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory pain relief, rest, controlled exercise and surgery (depending on the severity of the condition). 

Patella Luxation - This is when the dog’s kneecap dislocates causing them to hold their leg up for a few seconds or causing stiffness in one or both back legs. Tests can diagnose this issue and it can be treated with physiotherapy, surgery and pain relief. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - This is a slowly developing disease that leads to eventual blindness. It is genetically inherited and causes the retina to degenerate over time. There is no cure for this but many dogs adapt well to living without their full vision. 

Cryptorchidism - This is when one or both testicles do not drop down into the scrotum. The undescended testicle(s) may be removed surgically. 

Hypothyroidism - This is a lack of thyroid hormones that can cause low energy, fur loss and weight gain. The missing thyroid hormones can be administered to the dog with medication and this will be required for the rest of their life. 

How long do Canaan Dogs live? - 12 - 15 years

Exercise & Play Time

Canaan Dogs have a lot of energy and love to exercise. They don’t have extensive exercise needs and adult Canaans are happy to curl up and relax after their walks. Canaan Dogs thrive with activities such as agility, herding and obedience training as this helps to keep them active and mentally stimulated. 

If you are busy during the day you can take a Canaan Dog out in the morning for a short walk and take them for a longer, more interesting walk later on in the day. It’s best to walk this breed in quieter areas as they can be aggressive towards other dogs. As Canaan Dogs have a high prey drive they should be walked on a lead unless they are in a secure area. 

How much exercise does a Canaan Dog need? - At least 1 hour per day.

Do Canaan Dogs like water play? Yes. 

Nutrition & Feeding

Canaan Dogs don’t have any breed-specific dietary requirements. A Canaan Dog requires between 190 - 320g good quality dry food as a puppy and 205 - 330g as an adult per day, the actual amount will depend on their age, weight and activity level. This is just a rough estimate and every dog is unique, therefore it is important to have a personal dietary plan made.  

Are Canaan Dogs prone to weight gain? No. 

How much should I feed a Canaan Dog puppy? Between 190 - 320g per day, split into 3/4 portions.

How much should I feed an adult Canaan Dog dog? Between 205 - 330g per day depending on weight and activity. 

Care & Maintenance

Grooming: Canaan Dogs have a coarse outercoat and a soft undercoat, they need to be brushed weekly to get rid of any dead hair. In Spring and Autumn they will shed so more frequent brushing is needed to keep this under control. It is important to check Canaan Dogs ears regularly and clean them when needed. 

Emotional Care: Due to the independent nature of the Canaan Dog they are quite happy to be left alone while their owners work. They need daily exercise and enjoy interactive play too. The breed requires a confident, experienced owner who is willing to challenge them and keep them mentally stimulated with agility classes, obedience classes or other activities such as herding. Canaan Dogs mature slowly and are fully mature when they are around 3 years old, they tend to go through a bit of a rebellious stage at around 10 months old so owners should be prepared for this and handle the situation with gentle, firm guidance. 

History of the Canaan Dog

Developed in the Middle East, the Canaan Dog is believed to be one of the oldest breeds in the world. They were bred to guard and herd livestock and camps. The Canaan Dog can survive in harsh conditions and some people believe the breed is a descendent of the Indian Wolf. During the War of Independence, Dr. Rudolphina Menzal used 400 Canaan Dogs as mine detectors and guard dogs for Middle East forces and settlements. 

The Canaan Dog is part of the Spitz family and is one of the more natural dog breeds with many “wild” Canaan Dogs still existing in the Middle East. This breed is still relatively unknown in the UK but is becoming a more popular companion. 

Interesting Facts About Canaan Dogs

  • The Canaan Dog originated in the land of Canaan in Israel.

  • This is the national breed of Israel. 

  • They are considered pariah dogs and part of the Spitz family.

  • One of the oldest breeds in the world. 

  • One of the rarest breeds in the world.

Getting a Canaan Dog Puppy

Canaan Dogs are relatively rare in the UK so you may have to go on a breeder’s waiting list before buying a puppy. Take a look at our buying guide for information on finding and buying a puppy. It’s important to be aware of scams and irresponsible breeders when searching for your new puppy. All the breeders on Puppies are vetted to ensure they are responsible. Take a look at the Canaan Dog puppy page to find puppies in your local area.  

How much does a Canaan Dog cost to buy? £1000 - £2000

How much does a Canaan Dog cost to feed? £50 per month

How much does insurance for a Canaan Dog cost?  £35 per month

There is often a waiting list for Canaan Dogs but you may be interested in rescuing one. It’s best to speak to your local dog rehoming centre about this. The associations below may also be able to help you: 

Speak to The Canaan Dog Club of the United Kingdom about rescues

Speak to the British Canaan Dog Society about adoption 

Rehome a Canaan Dog with the Dogs Trust