All About the Canaan Dog

This dog breed has extremely keen senses of hearing and smell and can detect approaching intruders from a considerable distance.

By Joy Levine | Posted: Dec 12, 2012, 8 a.m. EST

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The Canaan Dog is a valued companion dog and working dog. This dog breed has an immense adaptability to climate changes, being able to adjust to both cold and warm climates, making Canaan Dogs excellent urban dogs, as well as great farm dogs and rural pets. Because of this dog breed’s strong denning instinct, due to their wild-dog heritage, they are naturally clean, like cats, and easily house-trained. Canaan Dogs are not "one-man dogs” and are usually devoted to the entire family. They are very good with children, of whom they are usually very protective. When brought up with kids, the Canaan will bond with them almost immediately and quickly become a devoted family companion and natural watchdog.

Though this dog breed is extremely loyal and devoted, Canaan Dogs can be aggressive toward unfamiliar humans. This dog breed has a strong desire to guard and is very territorial, making them excellent watchdogs. Since the Canaan Dog has not been domesticated for all that long, many of its feral-dog qualities are certain to come to the fore in different situations. Although all dogs are possessive and territorial, the Canaan Dog holds more of these qualities than most other dog breeds. Canaan Dogs will bark wildly and circle when intruders approach. They are frequently very insecure when taken out of their home environments. Unlike some other dog breeds, bitches are just as territorial as males and will mark their territory just as much as the males will. Keen of hearing, the Canaan Dog is capable of alerting his owners to someone’s approaching long before other dogs seem to be aware of a possible intrusion.

Canaan Dogs, by nature, are a bit standoffish. Canaan Dogs are usually at their best when there are no other animals in the home, but this is not to say that they won’t socialize with dogs, cats and possibly other pets. How the Canaan Dog behaves with other animals depends on whether all parties concerned have been properly acquainted with one another. Given this dog breed’s prey instincts, Canaan Dogs should not be trusted with small-mammal pets like guinea pigs or rabbits. They can get along fine with cats, but extra precautions, supervision and patience are recommended. Socialization is very important with this dog breed. The Canaan Dog must learn to deal with strange people and surroundings. Keep in mind that, in the wild, Canaan Dogs had to be naturally aggressive to survive. They needed to fight over territory, food, etc., and were sometimes forced to fight until death.

Despite their sometimes reserved temperaments, the Canaan Dog is a highly intelligent and trainable dog breed that possesses excellent tracking ability. Likewise, the Canaan Dog is a tremendous herding dog and performs very well in sanctioned stockdog events. The Canaan Dog also has been trained successfully for many different types of tracking tasks. Canaan Dogs develop very close working relationships with their owners and will usually obey out of respect for their pack leaders. It’s important for the Canaan Dog owner to find out what motivates his dog and to develop a "working team” attitude while training.

Canaan Dogs are quick learners, but big thinkers. If they feel that they are right and you are wrong, this dog breed won’t hesitate to do things their own way. This can make training the headstrong Canaan Dog difficult at times. However, once Canaan Dogs understand who the boss is, they will respond quickly to training and go to great extremes to please their owners. They usually pick up basic commands rather easily.

Like other intelligent herding breeds, Canaan Dogs can get bored easily. They need training programs that are both creative and stimulating. This dog breed enjoys variety and disapproves of routine. If housed in a kennel or on a large piece of property, it’s not uncommon for a Canaan Dog to dig holes or build a cave-like retreat. Canaan Dogs also enjoy burying things.

Believe it or not, despite this dog breed’s tremendous athletic ability, Canaan Dogs do not need excessive amounts of exercise. A brisk 20–30-minute walk daily will keep a Canaan Dog in ideal physical shape; two shorter walks will also suffice nicely. Canaan Dogs do enjoy the freedom and independence of roaming in large enclosed spaces. Allowing the Canaan Dog to have a high-speed romp around your fenced property will likely tire him out for the day.

Excerpt from Canaan Dog, part of the Comprehensive Owner’s Guide series, with permission from its publisher, Kennel Club Books, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Canaan Dog here.

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