Founders of the Canaan Dog
In 1935 Drs. Rudolph and Rudolphina Menzel emigrated from Vienna, Austria to Israel. As renowned cynologists, they were contacted by the Haganah (Jewish Defence League) to help them find dogs that could work in the demanding desert conditions. Their scientific observations turned them to the native pariah dogs. They found themselves “loving those neglected, unappreciated, yet unique creatures whose hearts beat so strongly with the desire for human companionship that even a first generation pariah dog could turn into a housedog almost overnight.”
The Canaan Dog (Kelev K’naani) breed was born with the entry of “Dugma”, which is Hebrew for “model”. He was the first pariah dog to be redomesticated by the Menzels. Many Canaan Dogs bred today trace their ancestry to him. He was an excellent representation of the Pariah Dog Type-III, the “Light, Middle-Type, noble refined, collie-like in structure.”
The Canaan Dog has been used as war sentries and messengers, mine locators, and as guides for the blind. With the Menzel's efforts they were utilized in Israel as the first breed ever to be used to detect land mines and work as Red Cross messengers to locate the wounded and dead. Bedouins still use them today to guard, herd and manage their sheep.
Drawings of similar looking dogs have been found in the tombs of Beni-Hassan dating to 2200 BCE.