Canaan Dog Ancient Herding Dog

Canaan Dog

Source

Was this the dog used by the shepherds in the Bible? In church, I have heard numerous references to sheep and those people who tend the sheep but I don’t recall any references to the sheepdogs that helped the shepherds. When I think about it, I am sure they must have had dogs to help. And the Canaan dog was very likely the kind of dog they had. The Canaan dog, according to the website Dog Breed Center dogtime.com., is, “Believed to be the dog the Hebrews used in Biblical times to herd and guard their flocks.” In Bedouius and Druse they may still be used. Wikipedia says they are a Canaanite breed and could have been in the Eastern Mediterranean Seaboard for thousands of years and are referenced in ancient sculptures.



Doctor Rudolphina Menzel was a student of the desert pariah dogs and classified them in four types. These were the:

Heavy, sheepdog appearance

Dingo-like appearance

Border Collie appearance

Greyhound appearance


She put the Caanan dog as coming from the Border Collie appearance, somewhat similar to today’s Border Collie-Dr. Menzel placed importance on points that made the dog different from the German Shepherd, which it sometimes resembles.

-information from Wikipedia.


Canaan dog Picture

Canaan dog
Canaan dog | Source

The Canaan Dog ,as described on the Dog Breed Center, is a pariah dog. I had to look for a definition of the term Pariah dog. ” I found itdefined as being a ownerless, mongrel dog common in Asian villages for thousands of years.. They are somewhat like what used to call a farm collie back in the 1920’s. They would be more like a Border Collie than the Rough Collie of today.


Dogs were important in ancient Middle Eastern cultures to herd and guard sheep. according to the Dog Breed Center these dogs were called Lelef Kanani which is Hebrew for Canaan Dog. Thus they got their name from the Hebrews. They have survived for thousands of years and have traits that allowed them to survive in the harsh deserts. The website goes on to say” This agile dog can change directions quickly and moves at a brisk trot…” This reminds me of a Collie I had many years ago who would chase a ball, stop and turn around and jump up to catch the ball. It seemed like one fluid motion.


The Canaan Dog can learn to track, herd and compete in obedience trials. According to the mentioned website they probably will not jump into a cold lake like some hunting dogs will do. They have some herding instinct but not as strong as some other herding breeds. It is also said they make good watchdogs. Seems that guard instinct would normally go with herding. In some cases they may be overly into guarding and not know friend from foe.


Jumping

Source

History of the Canaan



This dog was a pariah dog in ancient Canaan which would be approximately the area covering modern Israel, Palestinian territories, Lebanon and parts of Jordan on the west. It is among the oldest dog breeds. Some of the oldest remains of dogs have been discovered on the caves of Einan and Havonim. Some go back 10,000 years. A rock carving found in the Sinai Desert from the first to third Century AD shows a dog similar to the Canaan Dog. A graveyard of 700 dogs was found in Ashkelon, which may have been Phoenician of the fifth century BC. The dogs are all buried in the same position on their sides and legs flexed. Archaeologists have noted a similarity to the Canaan dogs. Source Wikipedia.


As the Dog Breed Center points out the Bible describes Ancient Palestine and Phoenicia to be prosperous in terms of flocks of sheep and goats. It stands to reason that there would be dogs employed to help with herding. Events, such as the invasions of Rome and the scattering of the people the dogs lost their purpose. The dogs, as a result, went to the desert of southern Israel and became feral, depending cunning and strength to survive. They went their way, occasionally teaming up with humans but mostly living wild.


In the 1930’s Dr. Menzel, a professor of animal and comparative psychology at the University of Tel Aviv, got the idea to use these dogs as guard dogs for Jewish communities. The Haganah asked her help to build a service dog organization. She was and decided to take on the task. Originally thinking she would work with established breeds she recalled the Canaan dogs she saw ran across in the desert.” They had survival skills, and that is what she needed,” the Dog Breed center states. She and her husband began breeding the desert dogs and improving their bloodlines. They started training the dogs for sentry work. Land mine detection and delivering messages. According to The Dog Breed Center website the couple got their dogs active with the Middle East forces during World war II. After the war some of the dogs were used as guide dogs. The Palestinian Kennel club registered 150 of the dogs by 1948




Some characteristic

Since I am the owner of a Siberian Husky and have owned closely related dogs I find it interesting that the Canaan Dogs have a double coat to insulate them from the heat. The Siberian Husky has a similar coat to protect it from the cold.


Personality

The Dog Breed Center describes their personalities endearing and responsive. Surviving as a wild dog in the desert gives some element of independence. This dog is very adaptable if properly socialized. They are adaptable to many living conditions. Apartment life with several short walks will do fine. But they are also adaptable to suburban life with kids. They are active but not overactive. They suggest early socialization, confident attitude in training. Possibly not the dog for those inexperienced with dogs. They respond well to motivational techniques but get bored with repetitive training. They should have strong and firm leadership and should not be allowed to take charge. They can be aggressive toward other dogs and aloof with people they do not know. Sources differ as to use as guard dogs.. They should have a secure fenced in yard Like sled dog breeds they like to dig and can make a mess out of a yard.


They are still a rare breed and if you want one, you might have to get on a waiting list.


Sources:

Website for Dog Breed Center

Dogtime.com/dog-breeds/canaan dog

Wikipedia article on Canaan dogs

copyright 2012 Don Hoglund

More by this Author


Comments 26 comments

Irob profile image

Irob 4 years ago from St. Charles

Interesting. tend to like those kinds of dogs and did not know much about this one. I proudly have a long-haired German Shepherd Dog


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting Irob. Although we have had German Shepherd mixes I am not sure I'm familiar with the Long Haired German Shepherd. We did have a white German Shepherd ondce that was a very nice dog.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

What an interesting hub! I had never heard of this breed and looking at the video they vary somewhat in color and appearance. They sound like excellent dogs in the right setting. My parents all time favorite breed was the German Shephard and they had a series of them while I was growing up and even after we kids were gone.

Votes up and will share this with my followers and tweet as well. Thanks! Enjoyed learning about this ancient breed.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Peggy,thanks for commenting.Truthfully, I never heard of them myself. They looked interesting so I thought others might find them interesting too. German Shepherd fans are true enthusiasts. A friend of mine won't own anything else.We had a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix once. A dog that was a bit of a practical joker.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

These sound like wonderful dogs. I have never of them before, but sounds like they have been around for a very, very long time. That alone tells me they have to a very good breed. Very interesting information! Voted up, interesting and sharing on my blog. Have a great day! :)


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

They would be interesting dogs but could be a challenge for an inexperienced dog owner. Oddly they are a herding dog but have a lot in common with the Siberian Husky, such as the tendency to want to take command if the owner is not a strong leader.Thanks for reading and commenting.


Irob profile image

Irob 4 years ago from St. Charles

Long Haired GSD's are not common here. MIne has complete German lineage as there are a few breeders that keep the original German lines going. A bit huskier (90-100 lbs), less sloped in back and longer outer coat.


brandrocker profile image

brandrocker 4 years ago

I have never ever before got that question in my mind. And it looks like a rather challenging dog breed to handle. Anyway, thanks for this wonderful hub.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Irob. Thanks for the explanation. I do kind of wish that kennel clubs were not so set on changing the breeds.I knew a guy who was dead set against the AKC recognizing the Border Collie because he felt they would ruin the breed.Nature has often formed the dogs to suit their environements and that is what attracts us to them.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

brandrocker, They seem to have much of the characteristics of Huskies. The Husky was bred to have a mind of it's own because humans often do dumb thing like try to go over a dangerous patch of ice.I am not sure why this dog wants to take control. all dogs may tend to do that if the owner is not one to be in control.Thanks for commenting.


brandrocker profile image

brandrocker 4 years ago

I highly appreciate your expertise in this matter. As such, I love dogs. But I do not know much about the breeds barring a few common ones. Thanks again and I would like to see more hubs like this from you.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

When hubpages was doing a sort of topic of the week thing I did write some hubs about dogs, mostly the northern breeds.Although I am not really an expert, it is an interesting topic so I may be writing more. Thanks for your interest.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Thank you so much for this hub. I thought I knew pretty much about the subject but I have to admit that I hadn't heard about this particular breed.

A vote up here.

Take Care Enjoy your weekend

Eddy.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you

eiddwen. I appreciate the comment.It is not a very well known breed. It seems that what they call working dogs did not get the the kind of attention as some popular breeds.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Great information, brother. Actually, I had never know about Canaan Dog. So, this is new for me. You have done a great job by introduce this dog with us. You make this hub very complete. Thank you very much. Rated up!

Prasetio


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Don't feel bad about not having heard of this dog. It is not commonly known. I picked it to write about because it is little known, but interesting. With the help of humans dogs seem to evolve to fit jobs we want them for and then become forgotten. Thanks very much for reading about this dog and leaving a comment.


Anaya M. Baker profile image

Anaya M. Baker 4 years ago from North Carolina

This was really interesting to read. I find it fascinating that dogs had a role in society as far back as biblical times-- though these dogs were probably seen much differently, as "workers" rather than our modern-day conception of "pet."


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

They were very much workers.I think they are more happy when they are working.However,most of us can't keep a herd of sheep to keep them busy.Thanks for reading and commenting.


brandrocker profile image

brandrocker 4 years ago

@dahoglund, you have explained that you are not an expert. But I doubt you are too polite. Keep on sharing information like this. Thanks.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Very interesting hub. Well put together and very informative. I had not heard of breed before reading this. They look like a challenging breed to handle. Unfortunately I couldn't watch the video as it has been removed.

My son had a Siberian Husky, he had a wonderful character.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

brandrocker. Thanks for commenting and I do plan on doing more hubs about dog history.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Rosemay, Thanks for commenting and alerting me to the the video. I have replaced it, hope it works better for you. We presently have a Siberian Husky and previously had a German Shepherd/Siberian Husky mix.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Thank you for changing the video I watched the new one and will be back to watch it again, very interesting.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Rosemay, thank you for letting me know about the video.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 22 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Don, good article. Thanks for the information on this very ancient breed. In the Bible, Job 30:1 mentions dogs used in shepherding. Not much there other than a mention though.

I'll hopefully be in the market for a dog in about a year. I live on the road now with my work. I'll at least have a travel trailer in about a year and will be able to accommodate a dog. I'm thinking about a border collie/australian shepherd mix.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 22 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Cam, thanks for commenting.

The border collie/Australian shepherd sounds like an interesting mix. We once had a border collie/ german shepherd mix. We loved that dog. Only problem is that they are very smart and get bored easily.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working