Known as the national dog of Israel, the Canaan Dog existed for thousands of years in the Land of Canaan where scholars believe the breed originated. Drawings on the tombs at Ben-Hassan (2200-2000 BC) depict dogs with an unmistakable resemblance to the Canaan Dogs of today.

The breed was plentiful in the region until the disperson of the Israelites by the Romans more than two thousand years ago. As the Hebrew population dropped so did the number of “Kelev Kanaani,” (Canaan Dogs), and the majority of dogs sought refuge in the Negev Desert, then a natural reservoir for Israeli wildlife.

Avoiding extinction through war and famine, the desert dogs became mostly untamed. However, some of the dogs retained a form of domesticity by living with the Bedouin and herding or guarding their herds and camps just as their ancestors had done. Others guarded the Druze people on Mt. Carmel.

General Appearance

The Canaan Dog, the National dog of Israel, is a herding and flock sentry dog originating in the Land of Canaan. The Canaan Dog is a pariah dog type that is naturally alert, inquisitive and watchful. He is mistrustful of strangers and unfamiliar environments, yet loyal and loving with his family. A square dog of medium size, moderate and balanced without extremes, showing a clean outline. The moderately angulated Canaan Dog moves with athletic agility and grace in an efficient, ground-covering endurance trot. He has a wedge-shaped head with low-set erect ears, a high set brush tail that curls over the back when confident, and a straight, harsh, flat-lying double coat. There is a marked distinction between the sexes.


Alert, vigilant, devoted and docile with his family. Reserved and aloof with strangers. Highly territorial, serving as a responsive companion and natural guardian. Very vocal, persistent. Easily trained.


Height at the withers is 20 to 24 inches for dogs and 19 to 23 inches for bitches.


There are two color patterns. Pattern 1) Predominantly white with mask and with or without additional patches of color (large body patches are desirable). Pattern 2) Solid colored with or without white trim. Color may range from black through all shades of brown – sandy to red or liver. Shadings of black on a solid brown or tan dog are frequently seen. The trim on a solid colored dog may include chest, undercarriage, feet and lower part of leg and tip of tail. In all color patterns self-ticking may be present.

Learn more at the The Canaan Dog Club of America.