The Canaan dog is believed to be the most ancient dog breed in the world. The origins of the breed were reportedly found in the ancient land of Canaan, the land of the Israelites (now Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and some parts of Syria and Jordan). This claim is supported when Archaeologists unearthed 700 dog skeletons during an excavation in Palestine that are anatomically similar to Canaan dogs today. At that time, this dog breed was referred to as the Dog of Canaan or Kelev Kanani.
However, this ancient dog breed was driven out together with the Israelites when the Romans came 2,000 years ago. Reportedly, some dogs survived extinction when local Bedouins captured several wild Canaan dogs to help guard and herd their cattle.
For centuries, the Canaan dog breed continued its free life in the desert with the Bedouins, until World War II. Isolated Jewish settlements needed dessert-tough guard and patrol dogs. Rudolphina Menzel, a professor of animals and comparative psychology at the University of Tel Aviv, was tasked to develop a dog breed that meets those needs. She captured some wild Canaan dogs and started her breeding program. In 1948, the Palestine Kennel Club recognised the dog breed and registered some 150 Canaan dogs trained to perform sentry work, and landmine detection.
In 1965, the first Canaan Dog Club of America was formed when Ursula Berkowitz of Oxnard, California imported the dogs in America. It was only in 1997 that the American Kennel Club recognised the Canaan dog as a breed while The United Kennel Club had already recognised the dog breed a few years earlier in 1992.