Canaan Dog

Canis Lupus

Last updated: February 3, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Aneta Jungerova/

The Ashkelon Dog Cemetery, which can be found in one of Israel's national parks, contains the skeletons of over 1,500 dogs from roughly 500 BCE. The scientific community uses this graveyard as evidence that the modern Canaan dog's origins are in Israel.

Canaan Dog Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis Lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Canaan Dog Conservation Status

Canaan Dog Locations

Canaan Dog Locations

Canaan Dog Facts

Fun Fact
The Ashkelon Dog Cemetery, which can be found in one of Israel's national parks, contains the skeletons of over 1,500 dogs from roughly 500 BCE. The scientific community uses this graveyard as evidence that the modern Canaan dog's origins are in Israel.
Common Name
Canaan Dog
Has a strong survival instinct!

Canaan Dog Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
15 years
25kg (55lbs)

Canaan Dog as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Warm climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
Dog group
Male weight
44-55 lbs
Female weight
35-45 lbs

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The Canaan dog is a rare desert breed that is native to the Arabian peninsula and is recognized as the national dog of Israel.

The Canaan is one of the oldest breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. Physically, this breed is characterized by erect ears, a wedge-shaped head, long legs, and a bushy tail that curves over the back. The double coat of fur, which consists of a harsh outer coat and soft undercoat, is normally a solid black/brown color or a white baseline with large markings of brown, back, or red. A mask or hood of contrasting colors is accepted as well.

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Canaan dogs are attentive, excitable, loyal, and friendly. They’re adored by their families for their excellent attitudes and their low-maintenance lifestyle. If you’re looking for a sweet pet that’s easy to train and loves to play, this is an excellent choice.

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Evidence for the Canaan’s ancient origins has been revealed in archeological digs. The ancient Ashkelon dog cemetery in Israel, with origins dating back more than 2,000 years ago, contains skeletons of more than 700 dogs similar to the modern Canaan.

Its intended purpose for many centuries was to protect and herd livestock, but at some point in the distant past (possibly with the start of the Jewish Diaspora), it reverted to a wild type of dog. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that people began to breed and develop the Canaan for an accepted standard. During wartime, the Canaan found a role as a messenger, sentry, and locator of landmines. It was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1997.

Some people believe that the first dogs may have been incredibly similar to this breed. Today, these energetic and fun-loving pups have been placed by breeders into family homes across the globe.

Health and Entertainment for your Canaan Dog

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Canaan dog in snow
Canaan dogs pay attention to everything – making them great watchdogs.

©Matilda / Creative Commons

3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Canaan Dog

Loves to exercise! Canaan dogs are energetic and love to do nearly every kind of outdoor activity. You can take yours running, hiking, hunting, or even just out for a walk by the lake.Strong prey drive. In the wild, these dogs’ prey drive is necessary for survival. In a domestic environment, it can result in occasional aggression against other animals. Make sure to supervise your dog when they are around pets they do not know.
Alert and excited! These dogs pay attention to everything, which makes them great watchdogs. Yours will bark at intruders, but they won’t attack, making them a great choice for suburban home protection.Digging and chewing. Canaan dogs love to dig in the garden and chew on toys, especially if they don’t get enough exercise. Keep your pet entertained to make sure they don’t engage in destructive behaviors.
Low maintenance! Canaan dogs have short coats that require very little maintenance. If you’re looking for a pet with low shedding who doesn’t need to go to the groomer, the Canaan dog is a good choice.Likes to talk. These dogs are a vocal breed. Although they can be taught not to bark excessively, they may still be noisier than some owners prefer.
Canaans have an amazing degree of stamina and sturdiness. Before being re-domesticated they survived in the desert on their own.

©Aneta Jungerova/

Size and Weight

Canaan dogs are medium-sized pariah dogs with skinny torsos, short fur, and curly tails. The average weight for a male is around 45-55 pounds, and they tend to stand around 20-24 inches at the shoulder. Although females tend to be as tall as their male counterparts, they are significantly slimmer and can weigh as little as 35 pounds.

Height (male)20–24 inches
Height (female)19–23 inches
Weight (male)45–55 lbs
Weight (female)35–45 lbs

Common Health Issues

Canaan dogs are incredibly healthy and do not have any breed-specific issues. However, like other dogs, they may be susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia. Sometimes this dog variety experiences hypothyroidism, which can cause lethargy, random weight gain, and other metabolism-related symptoms. Finally, these dogs have occasionally been known to suffer from epilepsy. In short, the conditions that you should ask your vet to check your family pet for include:

  • Joint dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
canaan puppy
Canaans have loving personalities and get very attached to their families.

©Aneta Jungerova/

Temperament and Behavior

Canaan dogs are energetic, attentive, and intelligent pets with a playful streak that makes them a great choice for active families. Most of this variety exhibit extremely loving personality traits and are very attached to their families. In fact, these dogs will go out of their way to keep everyone together in the same room so that the dog can spend time with them. This behavior likely stems from the Canaan dog’s herding nature.

Although they do well inside the house, Canaan dogs thrive when they are taken outside to play. These pups have attentive temperaments and love to explore the world with their owner at their side. Try taking your pet out for a long run; you’ll get tired long before they do.

How to Take Care of a Canaan Dog

Canaan dogs don’t need nearly as much hands-on attention as other pets. However, because this breed was wild until recently, they may need direct leadership and regular training to make sure they understand their responsibilities as family pets. The Canaan is probably a better choice for experienced dog owners than beginners. While generally friendly and affectionate, they are not designed for the casual dog owner who wants a simple companion. They have unique personality quirks. Fortunately, Canaan is surprisingly adaptable to a large variety of different living conditions, from small apartments to large farms. As puppies, they are sweet, loving, and eager to learn. No matter what age you start training, your dog will be ready to pick up lessons as quickly as possible.

The Best Dog Food for Canaan Dogs

Canaan dogs are energetic pups that burn a lot of calories for their size. Feed your pet a varied diet full of protein, fats, healthy carbs, and plenty of vegetables. These dogs love homemade food, but you can also feed them dog food with a protein-heavy nutrient breakdown. Make sure to check with your vet to confirm that your family’s pet is getting everything they need to thrive.

Since Cannan Dogs are generally healthy, their owners have plenty of options for dog foods that will meet their Canaan Dogs’ needs. Our top pick for the best dog food for Canaan Dogs at A-Z Animals is Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food, Steak & Vegetable.

This Complete Nutrition dog food offers a balance of protein, calcium, and whole grains. There are plenty of antioxidants, which play a role in cancer prevention, plus omega-6 fatty acid and zinc for vibrant skin and fur and a range of vitamins and nutrients with immune system benefits.

Click the link below to get Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food Steak and Vegetable recipe on Chewy and Amazon.

Best for Canaan Breed
Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Dry Dog Food
  • Grilled steak and vegetable flavor dry dog food
  • Promotes healthy bones and teeth, immune system, and digestion
  • Omega 6 fatty acids and zinc for healthy skin and coat
Check Chewy Check Amazon
canaan dog on street
Canaan dog’s are low maintenance and easy to groom.

©Aneta Jungerova/

Maintenance and Grooming

Canaans have short coats that require very little maintenance. Expect minimal shedding and almost no trips to the groomer. Because these dogs are native to the desert, they have coats that naturally tend to reflect dirt, moisture, and other natural elements. To keep your dog clean, brush them and wipe them off with a damp towel once or twice a week. Give your pet a bath once a month, and remember to trim their nails.


Canaan dogs love to learn and are surprisingly easy to train. You can start working with your new puppy as soon as they get home from the breeder. Remember to establish yourself as a strong leader as quickly as possible; these dogs are pack animals, and they will attempt to assert dominance if they feel that the family isn’t being taken care of.


Canaans are incredibly energetic and need to exercise for several hours a day. These pups do best in houses with a yard or another area where they can run around to let off steam. Otherwise, try taking your pet for at least two 40-minute walks on a daily basis. If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, you can expect behavioral issues like digging, chewing, and excessive barking.

Canaan puppy in the bushes
Canaan puppies are sweet and easy to train.



As puppies, Canaans are sweet and easy to train. Because they are incredibly social animals, as a puppy they will not do well if left alone for extended periods. For best results, a member of the family should be around the puppy at all times until they are fully grown.

Canaan Dogs and Children

Canaan dogs are sweet and loving animals that get along quite well with children. Because they are herding dogs, these dogs are great at protecting members of their families. Although they are capable of being gentle with kids, these dogs may be slightly too pushy to interact with very small children when they are unsupervised. Remember to give your dog plenty of exercise to help them maintain a relaxed and positive demeanor.

Dogs Similar to Canaan Dogs

The Canaan dog is a rare breed that isn’t quite like any other dog in the world. However, because these are herding dogs, you may have a similar experience adopting another herding dog as a pet. Some options to consider are Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs, and German Shepherds.

  • Collie – Collies are sweet and lovable herding dogs with long, fluffy coats. Some collies have been bred to be pets instead of working dogs, resulting in a calmer and more family-friendly personality.
  • Australian Cattle Dog – The Australian Cattle Dog is a loyal and hardworking companion. These dogs are great with families and love to spend time outside.
  • German Shepherd – German shepherds are energetic, loving, and intelligent. Although they need a lot of exercise, German shepherds make a great addition to any household.

Because Canaan dogs are the national dog of Israel, many people like to give them Hebrew names. Popular names for these dogs include:

  • Lyron
  • Muki
  • Tavi
  • Zeki
  • Ashaki
  • Zarifah
  • Nijah
  • Yeira
  • Varten
  • Shadha

Famous Canaan Dogs

The most famous living Canaan dog is Zik, the personal pet of dog breeding expert Myrna Shiboleth. Zik and his owner have campaigned across the world in an attempt to revive the dog breed; many of the pups that Shiboleth places in various homes are directly related to her sweet, intelligent, and loving companion.

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What's the right dog for you?

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About the Author

After a career of working to provide opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I am enjoying having time to write about two of my favorite things - nature and animals. Half of my life is spent outdoors, usually with my husband and sweet little fourteen year old dog. We love to take walks by the lake and take photos of the animals we meet including: otters, ospreys, Canadian geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl, and listening to my son's music.

Canaan Dog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Canaan Dogs herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Canaan Dogs are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Canaan Dogs belong to?

Canaan Dogs belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum to Canaan Dogs belong to?

Canaan Dogs belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Canaan Dogs belong to?

Canaan Dogs belong to the family Canidae.

What order do Canaan Dogs belong to?

Canaan Dogs belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of covering do Canaan Dogs have?

Canaan Dogs are covered in Hair.

What genus do Canaan Dogs belong to?

Canaan Dogs belong to the genus Canis.

What is an interesting fact about Canaan Dogs?

Canaan Dogs have strong survival instincts!

What is the scientific name for the Canaan Dog?

The scientific name for the Canaan Dog is Canis Lupus.

What is the lifespan of a Canaan Dog?

Canaan Dogs can live for 15 years.

How much do Canaan dogs cost to own?

Buying a Canaan dog from a breeder costs between $700 to $1,200. Depending on where the dog was bred, you may also need to pay transportation costs. Luckily, Canaan dogs fit in well with family life and do not incur expenses outside of the traditional cost of keeping an animal.

Are Canaan dogs good with kids?

Canaan dogs are friendly with kids and make good family pets. However, as with most canines, Canaan dogs should not be left alone with small children who are too young to know how to respect a dog’s boundaries.

How long do Canaan dogs live?

Most Canaan dogs live to be around 12 to 15 years old.

How tall are Canaan dogs?

Canaan dogs tend to be between 19 to 24 inches tall. Female Canaan dogs tend to be shorter than males, but only by an inch or two.

Are Canaan dogs good family pets?

Canaan dogs are friendly and affectionate, making them great family pets. Remember not to leave a Canaan dog or any other dog alone with unsupervised small children.

Are Canaan dogs rare?

Wild Canaan dogs are native to the Arabian peninsula. However, the breed was nearly exterminated in the late 1900s in an attempt to eradicate rabies in the area. Today, breeders are working to reestablish the species and place Canaan dogs in homes around the world.

Why is a Canaan dog called a pariah dog?

“Pariah dog” is a term used to refer to the wild dogs that roam various parts of the world. These dogs had domestic origins but reverted to wild behaviors at some point in their history. Canaan dogs are native to the area around Israel and are believed to have been left behind by the previous inhabitants of the region

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