The Canaan Dog is very alert, quick to react and vigilant with well developed senses and is highly intelligent. Although aloof and sometimes wary of strangers they are very loyal to their family. Highly territorial they make excellent watch dogs, they will bark a warning if they perceive a threat to their territory and will circle the intruder out of reach barking.
Because of their intelligence they bore easily with repetitive training methods, so training sessions need to be kept short, interesting and varied. The Canaan Dog does not respond well to harsh training techniques and punishments, they need firm but kind handling and respond well to praise and rewards.
They are accomplished diggers and their excavations can vary from hollows in the ground to curl up and sleep in to quite deep holes. They are a wonderful family dog and although quite affectionate they are also independent and do not tend to demand constant attention.
Some Canaan Dogs can be aggressive towards other dogs, especially ones of the same sex, but as with many other breeds if they are brought up with other dogs and animals they can learn to live in harmony, it really depends on the individual dogs character. They do not need excessive amounts of exercise, a couple of walks a day will maintain physical and mental well being and fitness but if you enjoy long walks, hill walking or cycling the Canaan Dog will happily keep up.
They are very clean dogs and their coats do not normally need excessive grooming, but twice a year they shed their undercoat in copious amounts and at this time they need daily grooming to help remove the dead hair and encourage new coat growth. At other times a weekly brush is sufficient.

The Canaan dogs nails grow very quickly and are very tough, walking on hard surfaces may not keep then short and neat, regular clipping helps to keep the feet tight and maintains a tidy appearance.
Because of the natural wariness and suspicious nature of the Canaan dog early and intense socialisation of puppies is essential. This helps them to cope better with strange and challenging situations as they get older. The Canaan dog can be particularly sensitive and insecure in adolescence and will very often back off and behave in a very submissive manner in the show ring when approached by the judge. They usually grow out of this stage by maturity. Although not all Canaan Dogs go through this stage it is perfectly natural and part of the survival instinct which has kept the breed alive in the harsh and dangerous environment they originate from.
Many judges are very unsure on how to approach the Canaan dog in the ring and tend to hesitate when the dog backs off, the best way is to avoid direct eye contact and to approach slightly from the side and go over the dog in a confident and matter of fact manner. Very often once the judge has their hands on the dog it will stand firm.


The Canaan dog is very healthy with few genetic problems compared to some other breeds, but extremely high hip scores (up to 45)  have been found in dogs in the UK so it is important that ALL breeding stock be scored to ensure that hip dysplasia does not become a problem in the future. Indeed such action was advised several years ago in an article for the Canaan Dog Club newsletter by Prof Malcolm Willis. In the UK up to 1995 13 dogs had been examined with a range of 8 - 45 and a mean score of 14.77, since then 7 more dogs have been hip scored, the range for Canaan dogs now is 7 - 45 with a mean score of 14. 
As "guardians" of the Canaan dog, I believe that we need to think of the future, we owe it to this wonderful breed to be very selective when breeding from animals with high scores and to test the hips of all breeding stock to ensure that the Canaan Dog remains one of the healthiest breeds around today.

It is said that the Canaan Dog should look like it has the potential to survive in the harsh conditions of the desert and many people rely very heavily on this to help describe what the breed should look like. Professor Menzel, the breed founder, described and studied several different types of Pariah dogs from the heavy extreme type, Type I, to the small grown type, Type V. It is clear that dogs ranging from very large and heavy bodied to very small and light bodied and with various types of coat are all capable of survival in these harsh conditions. Therefore just because a dog looks like it has the ability to be able to survive in the desert does not necessarily make it the light medium type (collie like) that Professor Menzel preferred and subsequently named the Canaan dog. What makes a Canaan Dog a Canaan Dog, as with every other breed, are its unique breed points such as head shape, body shape, ear and tail set and carriage, coat type and character.

The following description is taken from the Menzel's Observations on the Pariah Dog.
"Type III, Light medium Type, comprises those dogs most easily compared with a medium-coated collie, and varying in type between the collie and the Arctic sledge-dog. The appellation "collie-like" seems applicable to these dogs, who represent the aristocratic form of Type II (Dingo like). They are mostly square in build, with the belly "tucked up" under the loins; they have nobler necks than Type II, often a typical mane, and (even when short-haired) a more or less bush tail, carried, as with preceding types, curled across the back when in a state of excitement. The head is obtuse wedge shaped, and in comparison with Type II the dimension of length is far more than the breadth, so that the head appears more elongated, though the actual length is about the same. Stop and pre-orbital depression are very little developed and sometimes missing altogether, the temporal bones are slightly arched, but not flat as in Type IV (greyhound-like), cheekbones strong but not too arched, muzzle lighter and fangshnittwinkel slightly more acute than in the preceding Types."


The Canaan Dog is a medium sized, square, well balanced dog. There should be a marked distinction between the sexes with the males sometimes being considerably larger than the females.

HEAD: The head should be noble. The skull should be wedge shaped of medium length, flattened between the ears and the ears should be set low. The skull should not be domed or too heavy and clumsy, but also not of Greyhound-like over delicacy. There should be a shallow but defined stop. The length of stop to muzzle should be equal to the length of occiput to stop, and any deviation should be in favour of the muzzle length. The nose should be black, the lips tight and well pigmented. Snow and butterfly noses, although they do occur in light coloured dogs occasionally, are a fault and should be treated as such in the showring. Lack of pigment in an animal who had developed to live in the harsh terrain and blazing sun of the desert would be a distinct disadvantage. The muzzle should be sturdy but not too heavy or too deep.

EARS: The ears are erect, medium sized with a broad base rounded tip and set low on the skull not long and set high like the German Shepherd.

EYES: The eyes should be almond shaped, with black rims, obliquely set and dark brown.

MOUTH: The jaws should be strong and the bite should be complete scissor or level, with teeth set square to the jaw.

NECK: The neck should be well arched, strong and noble of medium length and muscular leading down to well developed withers. The males should have a mane. The neck should not be held at a right angle to the back, but should slope gradually into the withers.

SHOULDERS: The shoulders should be well laid back and muscular, the elbows are held close to the body. The forelegs should be straight when viewed from the front, with medium bone and the pasterns sloping slightly. The shoulder blade and upper arm should be roughly equal in length with firm and well developed muscles.

BODY: There is a slight slope from the withers to the back but the topline must be level. The back should be well muscled with a short, strong loin. The deep chest is moderate in breadth but not too wide, the ribs should be well sprung and the belly well tucked up.

HINDQUARTERS: The hindquarters should be powerful, moderately angulated, with broad muscular thighs and well let down hocks. Strong lightly feathered buttocks. The hindquarters should be straight when viewed from behind turning neither in nor out. The rear pasterns should be perpendicular to the ground.

FEET: The feet are described as being cat like, round and strong with hard pads.

TAIL: The tail is a thick brush and should be set high, it is carried over the back when alert, excited or trotting, although not every dog feels secure enough off its own territory to carry its tail up and over. The croup is short and should not slope down to the tail. The tail can be either a sickle or double curl.

GAIT: The gait should be a natural, quick and energetic trot with no exaggeration. It should demonstrate marked agility and stamina. There should be no high front action, the elbows should be held close to the body on the move, and there should be plenty of drive from the rear.

COAT: There is one type of coat which is acceptable in the show ring, the 'normal' coat consists of dense straight and harsh hairs of short to medium length, with a close and profuse undercoat which is shed twice a year. The appearance and lay of the normal coat can vary slightly due to guard hair length, texture and amount of undercoat.
Longcoat Canaan Dogs appear in litters occasionally, this coat is long, luxuriant and soft, particularly around the head and on the tail, another type of coat which can sometimes be found is very short and flat lying and completely lacks any undercoat, neither of these two coat types are acceptable in the show ring

COLOUR: The Canaan dog comes in many colours including red-brown, white, sand, spotted and black. They may have a mask. White markings are permitted on all colours. Grey, brindle, black and tan and tricolour (which refers to distinct solid patches of black, brown and white) are not desirable.
Menzel felt that the grey, black and tan and tri colours were not desirable in order to emphasise the difference between the Canaan dog and similar European sporting breeds.

SIZE: The Canaan Dog height ranges from 50 to 60 cms 20 to 24 inches and the weight 18 to 25 kgs 40 to 45 lb.

Male animals should have two testicles fully descended into the scrotum.


Professor Menzel classified the pariah dogs she studied into the following groups:

Heavy extreme type (Sheepdog-like) - Type I
Heavy medium type (Dingo-like) - Type II
Light medium type (*Collie-like) - Type III
Light extreme type (Greyhound-like) - Type IV
Small grown type - Type V

It was the type III, light medium type, that she considered to be her ideal and the one that she decided to preserve and develop with a domestic breeding programme. Menzel wanted an elegant dog but also wished for substance and not too much refinement. She believed that there should be absolute separation of the heavy medium (dingo like) and light medium types (*collie like) so that the light medium type could be developed. She did make it clear that anyone that wished to develop the heavy medium type (dingo like) should do so. She believed that the dingo like dogs were more primitive than the collie like dogs but still a true Canaan. Indeed the 1966 FCI standard clearly describes the differences between the two types.

Below the main differences between the two types is shown

*COLLIE LIKE (correct type)
Square. Square or long rectangle.
Loins arched. Belly well drawn up Loins arched, belly mostly not well drawn up.
Noble, straight, withers well developed. Straight, sometimes short, withers well developed.
Short, relatively broad prick-ear, or semi-prick, slightly rounded at the tip, set on low and widely apart, not high and long like the Alsatians. Seldom prick-ear or semi-prick ear. Mostly button-ear and all intermediate stages between prick-ear and not heavy drop-ear.
Well proportioned and noble, not at all heavy and clumsy, but not of Greyhound-like over delicacy. Stop slightly marked, skull not domed, but also not Greyhound-like flat.
The dimension of length of the skull is far more than the breadth, so that the head appears more elongated.

Well proportioned not too heavy and clumsy, sometimes more stop. Pear shaped when viewed from above, with the skull being considerably broader than the muzzle.

The relation between the length of the upper skull and the length of the muzzle is approximately 1:1; deviation must be in favour of the muzzle length. The proportion of the length of the upper skull and the length of the muzzle is mostly showing a bigger deviation in favour of the upper skull.
The anatomic shape of the head resembles mostly (to compare it with the well-known sporting breeds) to the head of the *Collie, but it differs from it by the shorter muzzle and more powerful upper skull, also by the low, broad set ears. The head appears to be the original gross shape of the *Collie-like ennobled head shape, as generally the whole Dingo-like type appears to be the heavier original form the *Collie-like Canaan Dog

*Prof Menzel was referring to the head shape of the old type farm collie and not the modern rough or smooth Collie nor the Border Collie.