Canaan Dogs. The kennel FCI


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the owner of the kennel -
Aleksandra Piorunska

About breed       Standart FCI       Dogs of desert


 

Canaan Dog

orgin of the breed.

The Canaana Dog has an ancient antique orgin. The breed has been known since pre-biblical times,when they existed in the "Land of Canaan". In 2200-2000 bc, drawings and carvings of a dog that greatly resrmbles today''s Canaan Dog appeared on the tombs of Beni-Hassan. The Canaan dog was originally breed to guard and flocks of the israelites. In the beginning, the breed was plentiful in the region until the scattering of Israelites by the Romans over 2000 years ago.
Although the Canaan Dog still exists in fairly large numbers in the wild, their population in the wild is dwinding somewhat, because of growing civilization. However, the breed''s popularity in the home has grown tremendously in recent years. It has established recognition in countres such as England, Holland, Switzerland, Finland, France, Ausria,Italy, Denmark, USA. Today, the Canaan Dog can still be found guarding the Bedouin camps and flocks.

general appearance.

The Canaan Dog is a herding and flock guardian dog native to the Middle East. He is aloof with strangers, inquisitive, loyal and loving with his family. His medium-size, square body is without extremes, showing a clear, sharp outline. The Canaan Dog moves with athletic agility and grace in a quick, brisk, ground-covering trot. He has a wedge-shaped head with low-set erect ears, a bushy tail that curls over the back when excited, and a straight, harsh, flat-lying double coat.
(american kennel club book, by Joy levine)


THE CANAAN DOG - BIBLICAL DOG IN MODERN TIME


by Myrna Shiboleth


The Canaan Dog holds a special and unique position in today's cynological world. On the one hand, this breed is fully recognized by all of the world's kennel clubs and is gaining more and more popularity as a pet and family dog in various parts of the world. On the other hand, in its land of origin, Israel, this breed also still exists as a wild or semi wild dog that must fight for its survival. The Canaan Dog is one of the small group of rare and disappearing breeds that are considered to be primitive dogs, and are often referred to as "pariah dogs". The pariahs, that include ancient indigenous breeds found mostly in Asia and Africa, are of great interest for a number of reasons. They are in type the closest to the original dog, the dog that was the ancestor of all the modern breeds, and that may date back as much as 100,000 to 150,000 years. These are the breeds that have survived on their own, the only criteria for the breed's continuance being its ability to survive in very difficult conditions. On the other hand, pariahs, in their life style and relation to man, are very similar to the first dogs ever domesticated, willing to develop a partnership with man but able to live on their own if necessary. To scientists and others with interest in the development of the dog, these breeds are described as a naturally occurring type of dog "breed" in which the dogs are similar in appearance and usually also in behavior. They were created by natural selection as suited for their local environments (example: double vs. single coats depending upon climate) and through only a small amount of direct artificial selection, which is nearly always post-breeding (culling of excess pups and elimination of undesirable individuals - those that, for instance, can not learn to stop bothering livestock/poultry). These are not "pure" breeds in the modern sense of having a narrow gene pool selected for some purpose, with no other breeds allowed to be crossed in. There is always the possibility of some minor mixing with other breeds that were brought to the living area of the primitive dogs, but only characteristics that would be favorable to survival would have persisted, and overall any "foreign" influence would quickly be diluted into the strong gene pool of the pariahs. It is quite likely that the references to dogs in the Bible were to the same type of dog that is known to us today as the Israel Canaan Dog. The only breed that is native to the "Land of Canaan" or the present day State of Israel, the Canaan Dog is very much the same as he was thousands of years ago. Not changed, as were other breeds, by the planned breeding selections of man, the only criteria for his development were the necessities of survival in a harsh environment. There is a variety of archaeological proof of the existence of this type of dog in ancient Canaan, including the discoveries in Ashkelon and Beit Guvrin of dog cemeteries from the Philistine era, with skeletons of dogs of varied ages from puppy to adult and male and female, identified as of the same type or "breed"- so-called "Bedouin shepherd dogs". The Canaan Dog is classified in FCI Group 5, where he is one of the subgroup of primitive dogs. He is probably very similar to the primitive ancestor of all of today's breeds of dog, which was believed to have developed in the Middle East in prehistoric times. The Canaan retains the basic characteristics of the wild dog - moderate size and bone, well-balanced and well proportioned body, thick and weather resistant coat, prick ears, functional skull shape, very well developed senses, natural trotting gait, and great strength and stamina. The Canaan is also one of the very few breeds known that has successfully adapted to a desert environment. Studies done at Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev have shown an astonishing ability in this breed to adapt to extremes of temperature and lack of water. The breed has developed physiological adaptations to prevent waste of fluids and overheating. The Canaan Dog has survived for thousands of years on its own, living by its wits, and surviving in the wild and on the fringes of civilization by hunting and scavenging. Often puppies were captured, raised and used, especially by the Bedouin tribesmen, as guardians of the flocks and the tents. Like other wild or feral residents of the area, only the strongest, healthiest, cleverest, and most fit survived to breed and pass on their characteristics. In 1934, Professor Rudolphina Menzel, a noted cynologist with a considerable reputation in her native Austria in the field of animal behavior, immigrated to what was then known as Palestine. The Haganah (the Jewish Defense Forces prior to the establishment of the State of Israel) requested her assistance in building up a service dog organization. She quickly discovered that the European breeds with which she was accustomed to working - German Shepherds, Boxers, Dobermans - suffered greatly from the severe climate and difficult terrain and had a hard time functioning effectively. She began to observe the local pariah dogs living on the outskirts of settlements and with the Bedouin in desert and wilderness areas, and decided that this was a true breed of dog that had adapted to the conditions. She began a program of "redomestication", collecting puppies and adults from the pariah groups. She found them to be highly adaptable, amenable to domestication, and quick to learn. Prof. Menzel called this breed "Canaan Dog" after the Biblical "Land of Canaan", found them highly trainable and able to function without difficulty in the extreme conditions of the local environment. She began a breeding program as well as collecting dogs from natural sources, and found them to be very effective for patrol and guard duties, and for mine detection. Prof. Menzel was responsible for gaining recognition for the breed; the breed standard prepared by her was accepted by the FCI in 1966. (The last revision was accepted in 1987). She exported the first Canaans, to the US in 1965 and to Germany shortly after. In 1970, Shaar Hagai Kennels near Jerusalem joined in the development and breeding of these dogs, carrying on after her death in 1973. Shaar Hagai has always attempted to breed to Prof. Menzel's guidelines, to preserve the true wild dog type and retain the characteristics, both physical and mental, that make this breed so unique in today's world. Attempts are made to include new desert and Bedouin bloodlines whenever possible to retain the natural characteristics of the breed, and refresh the gene pools. However, it is more and more difficult to find wild-born Canaans. One of the reasons for this is the strict rabies control program in Israel, which includes the destruction of roaming dog packs. Another reason is the spread of civilization that seriously limits the natural habitat of the Canaan, and greatly increases the possibility of mixing with other breeds. There are still pure Canaans in remote wilderness areas, and with the constantly dwindling number of Bedouin tribes living a traditional, isolated life, but they are become more and more scarce and it is expected that in the next decade or so, they will disappear entirely as a natural animal. Today's modern breeds are suffering more and more from degenerative, reproductive, and health problems, the result of a combination of a more and more limited gene pool in each specific breed, and selection for various breed specific characteristics that can be considered anti-survival. In almost all of the modern breeds, there is no outside gene pool that could serve to improve the health and well being of the breed. The pariahs in general and the Canaan in particular hold great value to the canine world in the continuing presence of unregistered wild and feral stock that can be added to the gene pool. In this way, the characteristics that have enabled these breeds to survive for thousands of years can be strengthened and preserved. In addition, there is a great deal of interest in studying the behavior of these breeds in their natural habitat and unchanged way of life. This provides us with a wealth of information on the natural behavior of the dog, from the time he first became associated with man, his capabilities and methods of survival in various conditions, and the way his relationship with man develops. The Canaan Dog is unique among these breeds in being specifically adapted to living in the difficult climate and terrain of Israel. Over the last several years we have been making very serious attempts to bring in as many Canaan Dogs from the "wild" as possible. In the next years, we can anticipate that the wild and Bedouin population will almost completely disappear. Their natural habitat is rapidly disappearing and therefore so are the dogs that can still be considered pure stock. What we don't take advantage of now will later be lost forever. There are several methods we have been using to bring in new bloodlines. The easiest method is to "capture" very small puppies and raise them in "civilization". This means locating new litters and removing the puppies as soon as they are old enough to get along without their mother. A two to three month old puppy is already suspicious enough and fast and agile enough to evade being caught and to disappear into the wilderness areas where he will not be found. The puppies then have to be raised and examined when fully grown to determine if they really fit the breed type. We take puppies only from very remote areas where there is no evidence of dogs of other breeds, and try to identify the parents of the puppies. The mother is usually in the vicinity and can be identified, as she will try to protect her litter. The father, in many cases, is also in the vicinity and can be identified - the Canaans tend to be very devoted to one another, and often the same pair remain together for life if nothing interferes. The Bedouin are of great help in this, as they are usually aware of where litters may be found, and can often identify the dogs and tell us who the sire and dam of a litter is. Another method is to try to capture an adult. In most cases, the adults that are available are those that are attached to Bedouin camps. The Bedouin dogs are semi wild and can often not be approached by anyone but the children, who seem to build up a friendly relationship with the dogs. But the Bedouin are sometimes willing to try to capture such dogs, if they don't feel a need for them as camp guards, and will tie them, and let us take them. In the last few years, there have been three adults brought in from various areas, and all of them have adjusted extremely well to "domestic" life. A final possibility is to bring a bitch in season to an area where there are excellent quality dogs, and to allow her to breed to a Bedouin or semi wild dog. This is also not easy, as the dogs are very suspicious, and it can take them a long time and a lot of hesitation to even approach a strange bitch in season. In some cases, despite our patience in waiting for something to happen, the suspicion was too strong and the dog was never willing to approach and breed the bitch, despite her games and seductive moves. But we have had one success in getting a litter this way, and it is a possibility. Over the last few years, about 15 dogs have been brought in from the wild or the Bedouin. The procedure for entering them in the stud book is to first examine the dog as an adult to see if it fits the breed requirements, and then to do a trial breeding with a fully pedigreed and proven mate. Several dogs have proven themselves as a valuable addition to the gene pool, and there is a generation of their descendents that are now approaching breeding age themselves. Some of the desert stock has been discarded as potential breeding stock due to lack of correct type (things that have been considered incorrect are ears that don't stand, incorrect bites, or structural faults that might interfere with effective survival, not "show points") or faults which may indicate mixed blood. Some of the desert dogs are still young and developing and will be judged as to their potential as breeding stock in the future. We are continuing to look for and try to bring in more dogs from the desert. This program is helping to preserve the very unique characteristics of the Canaan Dog.



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