Changing The Standard

The following report on the SGM and letters are reproduced here at the request of and with full permission of the writers.

| Report on the SGM |
| Avi Goldberg | IKC Judges Committee | Myrna Shiboleth |
| Dr. Dvora Ben Shaul | Ronnie Markovits |

The Israel Kennel Club - signed by Avi Goldberg, Chairman.

October 15, 2003

To the Canaan Dog Club of UK
113 Cranleigh Rd.
Feltham, Middx TW13 4QA

Dear club members,

We have been informed that you are now in the process of discussing proposed changes to the Canaan Dog breed standard for the UK. We understand that if the club accepts these changes, they will then be sent to the Kennel Club as a proposed new standard.

As the Canaan Dog is the accepted and valued national breed of Israel, the Israel Kennel Club requests permission to comment on these proposed changes.

The Israel Canaan Dog is an ancient breed, known to have existed from pre-Biblical times, and to very possibly be one of the original ancestors of all the breeds of dog known today. These dogs have existed for thousands of years as a native animal, and their health, hardiness and great adaptability are a result of the necessities of survival.

The first breeder of the Canaan Dogs, Prof. Rudolphina Menzel, who began to collect dogs and selectively breed them in the 1930s, was a scientist who very much understood the importance of preserving the natural animal, even when it became domesticated and attached to man. She was very selective in her breeding in choosing the type that she considered to be the optimal result of the evolution of the Canaan in nature, and when she wrote the original standard for the breed, and subsequent revisions, she was very precise in describing what she considered to be correct. She was instrumental in the acceptance of the breed by the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale), and her standard became the official international standard of the breed.

The last revision of the Canaan Dog standard was accepted by the FCI in 1985. This was following the request of the FCI to all countries to review their breed standards and make them more clearly understandable and concise. A committee of experts in the breed was appointed by the Israel Kennel Club, made up of specialist breed judges and breeders, all of who had personally known Prof. Menzel and were aware of her intentions and goals in regard to the breed. Serious consideration was given both to the importance of the breed remaining as unchanged as possible, as a representative of the original type of dog, of preserving the essential factors of health, soundness, and adaptability, while also considering the importance of the breed being able to fit into modern lifestyles, and to present a distinctive and pure bred appearance.

We of the Israel Kennel Club feel that the standard represents the ideal dog of the breed, and see no reason for changes. Changes in the standard can result, in time, in deterioration of the breed into something other than what it has always been.

Several points are of particular concern to us. For one, the intention to make the "snow nose" (a nose that is not completely black, but presents a faded or partially faded appearance) permissible, whereas the Israel standard has always expressly stated that the nose must be black. Strong pigment is essential in a climate of strong sun radiation, and allowing the snow nose will encourage more and more breeding from these animals and less and less attention to the importance of a strongly pigmented black nose (and lips and eye rims), which is definitely a survival factor. Continued breeding from dogs with poorly pigmented noses has the result of ultimately producing more and more dogs with a flesh colored nose, which is totally unacceptable. Not only can this be considered a health factor, but also it is damaging to the typical Canaan Dog expression.

Another point is the intention to change the acceptable colors, more in this case by the process of elimination, by making brindle the only color not allowed. The Israel standard has always stated that brindle, gray, black and tan, and tricolor are unacceptable. This was the opinion of Prof. Menzel - these colors are untypical of the breed, in many cases indicate mixed blood, and detract from the very distinctive appearance of the breed. There are many recognized breeds in today's world which have only particular colors designated as permitted by the standard, even though other colors do exist and appear in the breed. Changing the standard to accept everything that appears is not the purpose of good breeding - the idea of breeding is to try to breed to the ideal presented by the standard, an ideal that has stood up to the test of time from the days it was founded by Prof. Menzel. If we want to accept all colors, then why not accept long coats and drop ears, which also occur in the breed?

We are also very concerned by the description of the temperament. The Canaan Dog has never been considered to be an aggressive breed, and the idea that it should have to be stated that it not show aggression is very much in opposition to the temperament of this breed. There is also no reason to state that the Canaan prefers to retreat, giving the impression that the dog is shy or unstable in temperament. A Canaan is by nature highly alert and wary of strangers, but this does not result in him being aggressive or shy, and certainly not in the show ring. A dog that backs away in the show ring or shows aggression is the result of an owner who has not socialized and prepared the dog properly for being shown. There is no reason for the Canaan to be any less stable and well behaved under such circumstances than a dog of any other breed, and to make such statements in the standard is a defamation of the character of the breed. You will note that in the FCI standard, the wording is quite different.

(FCI - "Alert, quick to react, distrustful of strangers, strongly defensive but not naturally aggressive. Vigilant not only against man but other animals as well. Extraordinarily devoted and amenable to training.")

We have been informed that one of the considerations for changing the standard is to widen the number of dogs that will be considered acceptable and thus enlarge the gene pool. Obviously, these dogs will not be new genetic material, they carry the same genes as their parents and siblings that are correct according to the standard. Using incorrect dogs will do nothing more than increase the number of incorrect dogs in future breeding. The only way to enlarge the gene pool is to bring in new bloodlines from the wild. We are fortunate in that the Canaan Dog does still exist in the wild in Israel, and the Israel Kennel Club and the breed club are making serious efforts to bring in new stock from various locations to add into the gene pool. Obviously, even when talking about bringing in new dogs from the desert as breeding stock, serious selection is made for those that are correct according to the standard, and their offspring are examined to the third generation in order to prevent faults being brought into the breed.

We hope that these comments will be of assistance to you in your consideration of changes to the standard.


Avi Goldberg
Chairman, Israel Kennel Club


The Israel Kennel Club Judges Committee - signed by Dr. Agnes Ganami Kertes, Dr. Rita Trainen, Prof. Zeev Trainen, Ms. Janiki Steinbock, Mr. Zvi Kupferberg – (respected breed specialist judges, some of whom knew, worked and studied with the breed founder, Prof. Menzel.)

October 17, 2003

To the Canaan Dog Club of the UK

Dear Club Members,

We have learned that your club is in the process of deciding on changes to the English standard for the Israel Canaan Dog. As long time judges of this breed, and associates of Prof. Menzel, with a great deal of experience in judging the Canaan in Israel and around the world, we would like to make a few comments on the proposed changes.

Temperament: The Canaan is not an aggressive breed, and there is no excuse for it to show aggression in the show ring. Although the Canaan is not a dog that is open and friendly with strangers, but rather alert and distrustful, there is no reason for a dog that has been properly socialized and trained for showing to "retreat". As judges, we do not expect every dog we judge to lick our hands and wag his tail, but we expect a dog to be steady in the ring and not to show shyness as well as not to show aggression. Allowing a dog to "retreat" in the ring will encourage breeders to show and breed from dogs with an unstable temperament. Also the terminology of "preferring to retreat rather than show aggression" gives people the impression that this breed is aggressive and might show aggression in the ring - which should not be true and is not typical of the breed.

Color: There are a number of colors that have always been unacceptable in the breed - gray, brindle, black and tan, and tricolor. The reasons for this were that in many cases these colors indicate mixed blood, and they also detract from the distinctive appearance of the breed. Many breeds are very specific as to the colors that are allowed, and other colors, even though they may be naturally occurring, are not acceptable in the show ring. In some breeds even the degree of the percentage of white on a dog is relevant, or where the markings are placed. Dogs with such color faults are in many countries disqualified. We see no reason for making brindle the only undesirable color, as gray, black and tan, and tricolor are not typical colors of the Canaan Dog, and such dogs are not representative of the breed. Not listing these colors as unacceptable will give the impression that they are allowed and can be showed and bred from.

Pigment: The standard of the FCI states that the nose must be black. The Canaan Dog is a breed that is adapted to living in a hot and sunny climate and the black nose is essential. The snow nose does occur, as it does in many breeds with light colored coats. The fact that it occurs does not make it correct or acceptable. Accepting this will encourage breeding and showing of more and more animals with snow noses, and will result in increasing pigment problems. Poor pigment, you must remember, is not only in the nose. Many dogs with poor pigment also have poor pigment in eye rims, lips, pads, and nails. Poor pigment in nose is a factor that affects the expression of the dog, and even more so if the pigment problem also occurs in eye rims.

In the FCI, breed standards are set by the country of origin of the breed, in the belief that the country of origin has the most experience and the most interest that the breed remain true to type and retain it's quality and distinction. The FCI standard of the Canaan Dog was written by a committee of judges and breeders set by the Israel Kennel Club, most of who were long time associates of Prof. Menzel, the founder of the breed, who were interested in preserving her vision of this breed as the national breed of Israel, and the only breed totally native to Israel. It was voted upon by the General Assembly of the IKC before it was submitted to the FCI. It was subsequently voted upon by the General Assembly of the FCI to become the official standard. We feel that it would be most advisable for the UK to follow the guidelines of the FCI and accept a standard that is compatible.


Dr. Agnes Ganami Kertes
Dr. Rita Trainen
Prof. Zeev Trainen
Ms. Janiki Steinbock
Mr. Zvi Kupferberg

Judges Committee, Israel Kennel Club


Myrna Shiboleth (recognised as the world’s leading authority on Canaan Dogs. Active owner, breeder, exhibitor and specialist judge of Canaan Dogs. Close associate and student of Prof. Menzel. Member of The Canaan Dog Club of the United Kingdom).

Myrna Shiboleth

To the Canaan Dog Club of the UK,

I am very disturbed by what I have been hearing in the last few months about proposed changes in the standard of the Canaan Dog in England.

Having had close to 35 years experience in breeding, showing and judging, and as an FCI judge of approximately 60 breeds, I am well aware that almost without exception, changes in the internationally accepted standard of a breed indicate, not the necessity for the breed to change, but the difficulties that the breeders have been experiencing in trying to breed dogs that fit the standard. Obviously it is much easier to change words on paper than to breed dogs that are as close to the ideal as possible. This process has occurred in a number of breeds and in a number of countries, and rarely has it been to the advantage of the breed.

It is also presumptious for a club that is dealing with a breed that is relatively new to their country and exists there in quite limited numbers from a very limited gene pool to feel that they have enough knowledge and experience of the breed to set themselves over those who have been dealing with, observing, breeding, and judging the breed for decades in its native country. I understand that this presumption has reached even greater proportions in the questioning of the judgement and vision of the founder of the breed, who had the knowledge and farsightedness to identify the Canaan as a breed worth preserving from extinction and spent the last 30 years of her life working to this goal.

The FCI is very logical and realistic in their rule that breed standards are set by the country of origin of the breed. No one is better qualified to know the history of the breed, the conditions and influences that resulted in its development, the uses that were behind the breed description, the variety of types and what is to be considered ideal and why, than those in the country of origin. I would not dream of telling the British what a bulldog should look like, even though I have probably been in Britain many more times and seen many more bulldogs than the average Canaan club member has been in Israel or seen Canaan dogs.

The FCI standard for the Canaan Dog was revised in 1987 by a panel of experts appointed by the Israel Kennel Club. This was at the request of the FCI to tighten up the standard and clarify what was the ideal type. This revision was very carefully considered by a group of people with years of experience in the breed, many of who had been associated with Prof. Menzel and were familiar with her work and her ideas and goals. I don't see any valid reason for a group of people with much less qualifications to decide that they can write a standard that will be more correct for this breed than the FCI standard.

The Canaan Dog Club in the UK has, over the last years, done an excellent job of promoting the breed, and gaining more interest and more fanciers. There are some excellent dogs in England that fit the international standard, and would have no trouble representing the breed with honor anywhere in the world. Why, then, should the standard be changed to allow the showing and breeding of dogs that would be thrown out of the ring in other countries? In a breed as relatively rare as this, it is important to keep a unified appearance, so that wherever someone may see a Canaan, it can immediately be recognized as a Canaan. Some of the high points in my show career, while I was showing dogs in various European countries where there were no Canaans, or dogs that were rarely seen, were to have exhibitors, spectators and journaliasts approach me and say, That is a Canaan Dog, isnt it? To know that the breed was becoming recognizable to the general public was a great achievement, and was possible only because of the unity of type of dogs that were appearing in the ring.

I am disturbed that the bitch Bobby has apparently become, in England, a symbol, for some, of the ideal Canaan. As the one responsible for judging this bitch and having her registered (despite the opposition of another Israeli judge who had seen her), I must explain that, although this bitch was far from ideal type, and in Israel would never have gotten more than the rating of Good in a show, there was an advantage in that she was obviously a pariah dog who came from an isolated area where it was extremely unlikely that there were outside sources of contamination. She was a different type than the pariahs found in Israel, as are the pariahs in Syria, parts of Jordan and parts of Egypt. She was registered on the basis of her puppies: when I inspected the puppies of her litter sired by Sivan, which at the time were close to a year old, as I recall. The puppies were of a good type and some of them were really excellent. On this basis, my decision was that the addition of a new bloodline was the correct thing to do, as it was already clear that new bloodlines were becoming more and more difficult to obtain. The lack of correct type of the bitch herself could be remedied through her offspring being bred back to dogs of correct type. My intention was never to see this bitch be inbred on and become an example of the ideal Canaan.

I can very well understand having a great love for ones dog. I have had a number of dogs that I deeply loved and that were an inseparable part of my life. That did not mean that all of them were my best breeding stock or that they were even used. Love for a dog, and the rational decisions of correct breeding do not always go together. We have over the last two years, brought in 12 Canaans from the Bedouin and the desert. To date, one has been registered after having several test breedings done with him, one has just been test bred, five have been removed from consideration as breeding stock as they have not developed into a sufficiently desirable type to even test breed, and the others are still pending, until they are old enough and test breedings can be arranged. The dogs that were discarded from the program were really lovely dogs, in some cases in all regards except for one point, but that was enough for us not to consider them for breeding, though they remain lovely and affectionate pets.

I feel that changes in the breed standard will be harmful in the long run to the breed, not only because these changes will result in changes to the current appearance of the dogs, but because the idea of sitting down and changing the standard when the breeding is not up to par will already have become a precedent.

Breeding quality dogs is not easy. I have spent many years living under very difficult conditions and dedicating everything I have to the ideal. I have bred hundreds of dogs, and only a small percentage of them have really been close enough to the ideal that I could consider them a true success. The others became much-loved pets or working dogs. This did not mean that I tried to change the standard so that they could become show dogs. I tried in the next generation to breed better dogs.

I hope that you will take these points into consideration in your discussion of the proposed changes in the breed standard. I don't feel it is necessary at this point to even elaborate on the individual points, which have been dealt with by others. I think that the basic principle is in question here, and hope that you will consider very carefully what your goals are as representatives in Britain of the Israel Canaan Dog.


Myrna Shiboleth

Breeder of Canaan Dogs and Collies

POB 40010, Mevasseret Zion 90805 Israel
Tel: 972 2 5341718, 972 53 712704


Dr. Dvora Ben Shaul (one of the founders of the renowned Shaar Hagai Kennels, has been involved with the Canaan Dog for many years. A close personal friend of Prof. Rudolphina Menzel, she worked closely with her in establishing the Canaan as a recognized breed. She has been an owner, breeder, exhibitor and judge of Canaan Dogs)

Regarding changes to the breed standard for the Canaan Dog proposed by the Canaan Dog club of England:

I am a wildlife biologist and have had the opportunity, over a period of many years, of studying Canaan Dogs in their natural habitat. I have studied packs of free living Canaan dogs and those living at the periphery of Bedouin encampments in southern Syria, all through Israel and in northern Egypt. In addition I have bred, trained, shown and judged this breed extensively and have a few comments on the proposed changes in the breed standard.

First of all, any serious breeder knows that you try to breed to the standard and not change the standard to admit every pup that doesn't conform to the standard. But so long as you issue pedigrees and breed every dog, however deviational it may be you will always have dogs that do not conform. Here are a few comments on proposed changes:

1. Temperament - if a Canaan dog either cringes and retreats or behaves aggressively when being judged then it is simply not trained to stand for inspection - this is not a problem of the dog but of the owner.
2. Colour: The greys, black and tans, tricoloured dogs and brindles are only found around the Arab villages and not around the desert Bedouin. When they do happen the only choice is to refrain from breeding the dogs that produced them.
3. The same goes for deviant ears.
4. The so-called snow nose does occur but it is simply not desirable, my own 13 &1/2 year old constant companion is a beautiful red-sand Canaan Dog bitch. She has a snow nose and consequently is spayed. It does not detract from her value as a friend, companion and guard dog.

I strongly urge the members of your club to try to enlarge the available gene pool and breed to the ideal Canaan Dog as represented in the FCI standard and stop trying to trim the standard to fit the dogs you have.

Dr. Dvora Ben Shaul
HaShalom 35
Rosh Pinna 12000


Ronnie Markovits (a close associate and student of Prof. Menzel from 1954 until her death, involved with Canaan Dogs until the late 1980s, breed judge for Canaan Dogs since 1961 and a former breeder and trainer of Canaan Dogs)

RE: Changes in the breed standard of the Canaan Dog as proposed by the Canaan Dog Club of England.

As a judge of the breed since 1961 and as a former breeder and trainer of Canaan Dogs I am qualified to comment on the proposed changes.

1. The Canaan Dog is the national breed of Israel and only we are entitled to modify the standard should we find it necessary, which we do not. The breed still exists in its original form among the Bedouin tribes and we are able to extend and renew the available gene pool of our breeding stock, which we do all the time.
2. Colour: grey, brindle, black and tan and tricolour are all unacceptable because these colours do not exist at all in the pure Pariah dogs of the Middle East.
3. Black nose: the black nose is a part of the characteristic appearance of the breed. While the lighter nose is in many cases genetic there is also research evidence from the U.S. that makes it clear that certain emanations from chemical ingredients in many plastic dishes can cause discoloration of the nose in any breed. So, don't try to change the standard, breed for the black nose - but also switch to stainless steel or ceramic food and water bowls. It takes several months for a nose to become black again
4. Ears: The natural ears are exactly as described in the F.C.I. standard.
5. Temperament: The Canaan dog is naturally distrustful but there are individual differences due to basic character and environmental influences. A dominant Alpha behaves differently than a repressed Omega. Behavior in the ring is a question of training. If an owner wants to show his or her dog then they must invest as much time as is necessary to teach it correct behavior in the ring. No well-trained dog attacks the judge (or anyone else) when being properly exhibited but no good Canaan Dog cringes and cowers in retreat either.

Ronnie Markovits
P.O.B. 6855
Jerusalem 91068