Canaan Dog Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Canaan Dog Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The AKC Standard says, "The Canaan Dog moves with athletic agility and grace, with a quick, brisk, ground-covering trot."
The Canaan Dog is light-footed and can turn on a dime, making him a natural for agility classes where dogs must race nimbly over a canine obstacle course. However, this assumes that you have the skills to train him! Canaan Dogs are independent thinkers who resist repetitious training, which they find boring. Motivate them with variation, praise, and occasionally food.
They may also test you for pack leadership, so they require a confident, consistent owner.
The Canaan Dogs retains many "primitive dog" instincts. For example, he makes a vigilant watchdog due to his keen senses, his wariness of strangers, his territorial instincts, and his distrust of anything new or different.
He is 100 percent aware of his surroundings, constantly observing and listening. He will sound the alarm at every perceived threat. This tends to be a vocal breed – barking and whining may need to be controlled.
Also be aware that a watchdog is not the same thing as a guard dog. The Canaan Dog is not aggressive toward people. Rather, he reacts to a stranger's intrusion into his territory defensively – by retreating just out of reach and barking continuously.
Because caution can easily shade into shyness and fearfulness, early and extensive socialization is required to build a confident, stable temperament.
Dog to dog aggression can be a problem in some Canaan Dogs, as can chasing smaller animals. A strong prey drive is another primitive instinct.
Also digging – another primitive instinct you need to be aware of if you have flower gardens.
Finally, this independent dog is self-reliant and doesn't need constant petting. What he DOES need is plenty of mental stimulation such as advanced obedience training, agility, tracking, herding (yes, a well-bred Canaan Dog has herding instincts). This intelligent dog is an excellent problem-solver and if you don't keep him occupied, he will become bored, which can lead to destructiveness.
Canaan Dogs will take as much exercise as you can offer, yet adults are calm enough to curl up on the sofa when the day's work or fun is over.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium-sized and completely natural-looking
- Has a short easy-care coat
- Moves with light-footed agility
- Loves lots of exercise and athletic activities
- Makes an extremely alert watchdog, yet is not aggressive
A Canaan Dog may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Inherent distrust of strangers and anything new or different
- Extreme fearfulness in some lines, or when not extensively socialized
- Aggression toward other animals – chasing instincts
- Stubbornness (a mind of his own)
- Potential for excessive barking
- Waiting lists (hard to find)
A Canaan Dog may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Canaan Dogs have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Canaan Dog to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the Canaan Dog
If I was considering a Canaan Dog, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Canaan Dogs are highly intelligent, which sounds lovely except that highly intelligent dogs come with special needs! Smart dogs have a busy mind that must be given interesting things to do. Otherwise they will become frustrated and boredom, which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
Get your Canaan Dog involved in herding, or agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience. They need physical outlets for their energy and mental outlets for their intelligent minds.
- Potential fearfulness. Canaan Dogs come from pariah dogs, which were feral (half-wild) dogs who hung around Middle Eastern villages. So they are a somewhat "primitive" breed with strong survival instincts. As such, they are keenly alert and will sound the alarm at every strange sight or sound. This makes them a great watchdog. But not a guard dog – rather, they will retreat and observe from a safe distance. You must do extensive socialization with a Canaan Dog puppy so that his natural caution doesn't morph into extreme suspiciousness or fearfulness.
- Potential for animal aggression. Many Canaan Dogs are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures.
- Mind of their own. Canaan Dogs are capable of learning a great deal, but they can also be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. It often takes an experienced trainer to bring out the inherent genius in this complicated breed. Read more about Canaan Dog Training.
- Barking. This is always a concern with Canaan Dogs. You need to put a stop to excessive barking right from the beginning so that it doesn't get out of control. You simply don't need to be notified every time your neighbors come home!
- Shedding. High side of average. Be prepared for daily brushing during twice a year shedding seasons, and some moderate shedding the rest of the year.
- Finding one. This breed is uncommon, and rightfully so, since they're a challenge to raise and train. You will need to go on a waiting list and pay a high price.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.