In 1934, Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, a noted authority on dogs, immigrated to Palestine (the future state of Israel). She was asked by the Haganah, Israel's first defense force, to develop a service dog organization for guarding the isolated Hebrew settlements and fighting the War of Independence. Finding that the breeds traditionally used for war tasks suffered impaired efficiency from the adverse climatic conditions, Dr. Menzel turned her attention to the pariah dogs (semi-wild or feral dogs) she found living in the area. She concluded that this was a true native breed of dog ideally adapted to the conditions of this difficult land. She named the breed the "Canaan Dog", after the Land of Canaan. 
Dr. Menzel began working first with wild and semi-wild adult dogs near her home by luring them with food. She also captured litters of puppies, which she raised and found extraordinarily adaptable to domestication. She then began her own breeding program and introduced the Canaan as a working dog. The Canaan Dog was used extensively during and after World War II for patrol, tracking and guard work. One of the first dogs trained to detect mines effectively was a Canaan Dog. After the war Dr. Menzel successfully trained several Canaans as seeing-eye dogs. Today some follow that tradition by serving as therapy dogs.  Int. Ch. Terramara's Achad


Throughout her breeding program, Dr. Menzel continued whenever possible to incorporate new wild stock in order to retain and reinforce the basic breed characteristics and to prevent over-reliance on a small, limited gene pool. In addition to maintaining the natural state of the Canaan, her approach has thus far produced a long-lived (up to 14 years or more) and remarkably healthy breed.


As in times past, the Canaan Dog can today be found guarding Bedouin camps and flocks. The Israeli public has also come to appreciate the qualities of its native breed, thus these dogs are in great demand as home guard dogs. The Israel Defense Forces continue to rely on the Canaan Dog for guard and patrol work. Although pure Canaan Dogs still exist in a wild and semi-wild state, their numbers are dwindling due to the encroachment of civilization.


In 1965, Dr. Menzel selected two dogs from her own stock, one dog bred by a Bedouin tribe and one dog bred by the Druse. She sent these dogs to California to form the foundation for the breed in America. The offspring from these original four dogs plus later imports account for over 700 Canaan Dogs having been born in the United States and Canada. Although North America hosts the largest number of Canaan Dogs outside of Israel, the breed has achieved worldwide recognition with populations firmly established in England, Western Europe and South Africa as well.

Kochav Ole me Shaar Hagai
The Canaan Dog breed has been recognized by the Federation Cynologique since 1966 and placed in the Spitz & Primitive Breeds Group. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1992 and in 1998 moved it from the Herding Group to the newly created Sighthound & Pariah Dog Group.  The Canadian Kennel Club took the Canaan Dog into its Working Group in 1993.  In August 1997 the American Kennel Club took Canaan Dogs into their registry as part of the Herding Group.

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