Although according to scientific research of the last years, the dog may exist as a unique species separate from the wolf for as long as 100,000 years or more, and has joined man as helper and partner as much as 15,000 to 20,000 years ago or more. However, almost all the breeds that we are familiar with today are "artificial". Man created, through selective breeding, over multiple generations and maybe thousands of years, dogs that would be suited to different and specific tasks – hunting, guarding, herding and more, dogs that were suited to various environments and weather conditions, and even for esthetic reasons – what is beautiful to one may not be to another. The most ancient breeds among these creations exist for 5000 to 10000 years. But some of the most popular breeds today exist only 200 to 300 years or even less. Strict selection with the intention of creating special and very "typey" breeds, that fit a very specific breed description, brought about the creation of more than 400 breeds of "pure bred" dogs, and some of them have a very limited genetic base.
We see today the influence in many breeds of the diminished gene pool, and in many breeds the discontinuance of breeding for the purpose of work, and instead they are being bred as pets or show dogs only. As a result of this, we see the development of more and more diseases, genetic problems, distortions, behavior problems, and similar effects that result in damage to quality of life, health, and longevity of the dog, and suffering and extensive costs to the owner.
The Canaan is the dog that nature created. He belongs to a very small group of "primitive dogs" or "pariah dogs" that in the past were found in most parts of the world, and today are becoming extinct and disappearing almost everywhere. (Other examples: the dingo of Australia, the Carolina dog from the swamps of South Carolina in the US, the New Guinea Singing Dog). The primitive dogs are considered to be direct descendants of the original dog that became a partner of man tens of thousands of years ago, when the dog and wolf parted ways and the dog began coming close to human settlements. The primitive dogs were never bred selectively. The only things that influenced their appearance and behavior were nature and the ability to function and survive.
There is a lot of interest in the world today in primitive dogs in general and in the Canaan in particular. From these dogs we learn a great deal about what a dog is – what the natural characteristics of the dog are, what his basic relationship to man is, what abilities, drives, instincts he possesses, his use of his especially keen senses, and more. In addition, because the Canaan is a completely natural dog, and we breeders through the years have made a great effort not to change him, he, in contrast to so many other breeds of dog, is a very healthy dog, with great endurance, with a life expectancy of an average of 15 years or more, a dog with physical and mental abilities that allow him to function in a very efficient manner in a wide variety of areas, conditions, and tasks.
The Canaan is considered an Israeli breed. This is the type of dog that developed in this specific area of the world. There are archaeological proofs of this, which show that the breed exists here for thousands of years – when the bible mentions dogs, it is the Canaan. The Canaan dog is recognized by the Israel Kennel Club and all world kennel organizations as an Israeli breed, and today there is breeding of the Canaan in many countries of the world. There are few other primitive breeds that have achieved such widespread recognition.
Today there are breed clubs in the US, England, Germany, France, and Finland, and aside from these countries, there is breeding in Italy, Hungary, Poland, Norway, and Sweden, and a small number of Canaans in other countries. The number of Canaans in the world is considered to be 2000 to 3000. Aside from breeding, there is more and more participation with the dogs in shows and also in a variety of canine sports, where the dogs are proving their abilities. The leader in this are the clubs in the US, with a large number of dogs participating in competitions of agility, herding, various obedience levels, lure coursing, barn hunt, and more. The dogs are gaining more and more admirers, in particular for their health and versatility.
I mentioned before the problems created in many breeds due to their very limited genetic base. The Canaan is one of the few breeds in the world that still has a relatively wide genetic base and the possibilities of inclusion of new bloodlines from the desert – there are still Canaans that are free living or semi wild in the south of Israel and Canaans that are working dogs with the Bedouin. But these sources, as a result of the spread of civilization into natural areas, are disappearing and we are afraid that in a few years there will not be a population of dogs left in these areas. It is very important that we now bring as many of these dogs in from the Bedouin and the free living population as possible. Breeders of the Canaan dog throughout the world are interested in this subject and in the possibility of obtaining dogs of new bloodlines. These dogs can only come from stock from Israel.
Throughout history, the Canaan dog was not developed through selective breeding and human choice, but through the survival of the fittest, the strongest, the smartest in their difficult environment. The Canaan developed and adapted to the necessities of the environment. Over the years, puppies were caught and raised to be guardians.
We have been very fortunate in that this year we have been able to bring in a number of puppies from a free living pack, from three different litters. These pups are in homes in Israel, and will be evaluated when mature to see if they are of value for future breeding, the addition of completely new bloodlines to the gene pool.
It is essential to continue with the activities of bringing in new stock from the desert in the next few years, before they disappear. The Canaan Dog is a living heritage and needs to be preserved, as he is, to teach us about what the original dog really was.