The Breed History
This rare and ancient Israeli breed, which dates back to 2000 BC originates from ancient Pariah dog stock and is named after the Land of Canaan. For many years, the dog apparently ran feral in the Negev desert and the coastal plains. Adoption by some of the Bedouin tribes helped to sustain their numbers. During the Israeli War of Independence and in WWII, a number were located and trained. The first dogs arrived in America in the year 1965. The AKC accepted the breed in 1997.
Breeding for Function
In ancient times, the dogs served as a herding and guard dog for flock and home. During the wars of the 20th century in Israel they served as messengers, mine detectors, trackers, and guard dogs. After WWII, they were further bred and trained for work as service dogs.
Height at Withers: female 19-23" (48-58.5 cm), male 20-24" (51-61 cm).
Weight: females 35-45 lb (16-20.5 kg), males 45-55 lb (20.5-25 kg).
Coat: The flat short (0.5-1.5") harsh outer coat is straight and the inner coat is flat, short and soft. The ruff is more obvious in the male dog. The accepted colors are:
1. Solid (black, brown) with or without specified markings. 2. Mostly solid white, with or without body patches of color, and
with a matching symmetrical mask. The mask may contain a small blaze of white only.
Longevity: 12-13 years
Points of Conformation: There are 2 subtypes of dogs, the so вЂ“called "stockdog" type and a longer coated, heavier type dog. Overall, the standard requires a medium-sized dog with medium-large erect ears, a long wedge-shaped head and square conformation. Almond-shaped dark colored eyes are slightly slanted up. Palpebral rims are colored liver or black, and the stop is moderate. The neck is moderate in muscling and length and well arched, not throaty. The topline is level except for a slight loin arch. The thorax is moderately deep and ribs are well sprung, and abdomen well tucked up. The "bottle brush" tail may be curled once over the back when excited, and the length of the tail is to the tarsus at rest. Limbs are straight boned, and dewclaws may be removed. The Canaan dogs have compact feet with well-knuckled toes. Gait is agile, quick, powerful.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Aloof with strangers, loyal, affectionate with owners, high intelligence, sensitive, good trainability. They are considered an easy keeping dog; tolerates warm and cold well. Has moderate shedding tendency, and low grooming needs. The Canaan has moderate exercise needs, and needs thorough and early socialization. Some exhibit inter-dog aggressions, especially inter-male. Canaans are alert alarm barkers, with a moderate to high barking tendency.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 2.2% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 1.8% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. OFA reports 1.7% affected.
Cataracts: Posterior and nuclear intermediate cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 4.35% of Canaan Dogs CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Canaan Dog with a cataract.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 3.86% of Canaan Dogs CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 2.42% of Canaan Dogs CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Progressive degeneration of the retina, eventually causing blindness. 1.93% of Canaan Dogs CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists were diagnosed with generalized PRA, and 1.93% were labeled suspicious for PRA between 2000-2005. Undetermined mode of inheritance. CERF does not recommend breeding any Canaan Dog with PRA.
Idiopathic Epilepsy: Generalized or partial seizures. Control with anti-seizure medication. Seen at an increased frequency in the breed. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Cryptorchidism (Retained testicles): Can be bilateral or unilateral. Seen at an increased frequency in the breed.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 2.1% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): Affected dogs show an insidious onset of upper motor neuron (UMN) paraparesis. The disease eventually progresses to severe tetraparesis. Affected dogs have normal results on myelography, MRI, and CSF analysis. Necropsy confirms the condition. A direct genetic test for an autosomal recessive DM susceptibility gene is available. All affected dogs are homozygous for the gene, however only a small percentage of homozygous dogs develop DM. Reported as a clinical disease in the breed. In limited testing, OFA reports a high frequency of Canaan dogs positive for the DM susceptibility gene.
Isolated Case Studies
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for a DM susceptibility gene is available from OFA.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required tests are; hip and elbow radiographs, patella examination, CERF eye examination, and thyroid profile including autoantibodies. Recomend cardiac evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Kelef K'naani, Kelev Cana'ani, Canaan.
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 150 (61 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: The Canaan Dog Club of America: www.cdca.org (the AKC parent club)
The Israel Canaan Dog Club of America: www.itb.it/canaan/icdca/ (UKC parent club)
British Canaan Dog Society: www.thecanaandog.co.uk
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