The Canaan Dog is a sturdy, medium-sized, squarely proportioned dog with a bushy tail carried curled over the back when the dog is excited. The ears are erect, medium to large, and set low. The head is shaped like a blunt wedge with a shallow, but defined, stop. The nose is dark, and the slightly slanted almond-shaped eyes are dark brown with dark rims that harmonize with the coat color. The eyes should have an alert, inquisitive expression. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite (level bites are acceptable under the FCI standard). The front legs should be absolutely straight. The round cat-like feet should have hard pads.
The double coat protects the dog from extreme hot or cold temperatures. The outer coat is 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long and lies flat, and the undercoat is straight, soft, and short. Color is either solid black, brown, white, or in a patched pattern of white with black or brown. (The FCI standard allows solid white dogs, but the AKC standard does not.) Solid colors may have white trim on the chest, feet, and tip of tail. The first four imports to the U.S. were white with black mask and patches. These dogs and subsequent imports introduced a variety of color patterns. Although the majority of U.S. dogs are white and black, the complete range of colors is represented in the U.S. population of Canaan Dogs. Brown and white and black and white dogs should have a symmetrical mask matching the color of their patches. Red dogs are either born creamy white and then darken, or dark reddish brown and then lighten.
The Canaan Dog was originally bred in the 1930s from the feral dogs of Israel. Bedouins still use the breed today to guard, herd, and manage their sheep. The Canaan Dog has also been used as a war sentry and messenger, mine detector, and even as a guide for the blind. The Canaan Dog is a very hardy breed, well-adapted to the deserts of his native Israel. Drawings of similar-looking dogs were found in tombs dated to 2200 BC. The breed was first imported to the United States in 1965 when four dogs sent by the breed's founder, Dr. Menzel, arrived. The Canaan Dog entered the AKC Herding group in 1997.