Jordan’s national animal is an Arabian Oryx. Wait, Or-what? Yes, you heard me an Oryx. They look like this…
If you’ve never seen one, well, neither have I. I’m sure they’re great, but I’m here to suggest a new national animal for Jordan, the Canaan dog.
Why should the national animal of Jordan be the Canaan? I will explain all of the reasons why Canaan dogs are great below, but the main reason why I feel this way is because Jordanians need to have pride in the Canaan! They need to stop seeing it as a vicious creature on the street to abuse, or a pest to call the Greater Amman Municipality to come and shoot. The Canaan needs to be protected and quite frankly, glorified, because it is freaking awesome!
Before I go into all of the reasons, let’s learn more about the interesting history of the Canaan…
About the Canaan
Today in Jordan, the Canaan is seen as a feral pest, but if these same people that want the Canaan out of their neighborhoods knew the history of this extremely intelligent dog, maybe their opinions would change.
A Brief History of the Canaan*
From about 3,000 BCE, the lands of ancient Palestine and Phoenicia were referred to as “Canaan”, and the dogs of these ancient communities were called Kelef Kanani, which literally means “Canaan Dog” in Hebrew. The Kelef Kanani were used as herders and alert dogs for the people of these lands until the invasion of the Roman conquerers (about 330s BCE). When the people were pushed away from their lands, they no longer employed the Canaan dogs and so they retreated into the desert and carried out a feral lifestyle. There are some exceptions, as the Canaan were still used (and to this day) by nomadic Bedouin tribes and the Druze people.
It wasn’t until 1935 that the Kelef Kanani came back into the human community for more than just with the Bedouins and Druze. The world was on the cusp of WWII and the Middle East Forces employed Canaan dogs as sentries, message deliverers and mine detectors. In 1948, the Palestine Kennel Club had registered 150 Canaan and by 1965, the Canaan made it to the United States when 4 dogs were imported into California and they established the Canaan Dog Club of America.
So as you can see, the Canaan is no newbie to the area and it’s obviously a smart and easy to train dog, so why the bad rap nowadays?
Canaan vs. Baladi
Canaan is the breed of the region of the Levant, which includes present day Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. In this region, in Arabic, you will hear the local dogs refered to as baladi. Baladi means literally that, “local”. So the dogs you see with Bedouin shepherds and roaming the streets across the Levant are Canaan dogs, but baladi Canaan, meaning they are also mixed with other breeds, so not purebred Canaan. In my opinion, who cares if a dog is purebred or mixed (I always prefer mixed breeds!), but I wanted to make the distinction about Canaan and Baladi dogs.
Now back to why this region should be proud of the Canaan.
Why the Canaan is great
Besides being highly intelligent, alert, vigilant, devoted, docile and affectionate, Canaan dogs are excellent companions because they
- Are gentle with children, devoted and protective
- Get along with other dogs, if they’re brought up with them and socialized extensively
- Get along with cats when they are raised with them
- Adapt well to apartment living
- Have an independent personality (they can keep themselves entertained)
- Are aloof toward strangers, never aggressive
- Are territorial (makes them good alarm dogs as they will bark a couple of times to alert that someone new is there)
- Don’t suffer from any known hereditary health problems
- Are easy to train and house-train
- Are good for new owners
- Do not grow to a large size (about 18-25 kilos as adults)
- Are playful
- Don’t require extensive exercise (a couple of walks and playtime and they are happy, but this doesn’t mean you can’t give them more)
- Are not hyperactive
- Do not shed a lot
- Are Odorless and don’t require frequent bathing
Adopt a Canaan
If the reasons above have convinced you that the Canaan baladi dog is the perfect fit to form part of your family, then seriously consider adopting one from a local shelter or organization. Never buy one from a breeder as there are thousands of perfectly suitable dogs for adoption across Jordan and the entire region. If you live outside of Jordan and want to adopt a Canaan, the following groups can also help you find your forever friend. If you can’t adopt one, you can also help out by fostering (more info on fostering here).
Canaan Rescue Groups in Jordan
To adopt a Canaan dog, you can contact the following rescue groups to learn about the dogs they have available for adoption.
- Malath Canaan Rescue Jordan
- The Humane Center for Animal Welfare (HCAW)
- Animals Jordan
- Canaan Dogs Rescue (International adoptions only)
- Al Rabee Society for Nature and Animal Protection (Aqaba)
Facebook Groups in Jordan for Canaan Rescue
There are also other groups in Jordan where you can find many rescued animals for adoption. However, I highly recommend you check with the above groups before you consider adopting an animal.
- Jordan Animal Rescue
- Appeal to Support Jordan’s Pets and Animals
- Animals Jordan
- Helping Animals in Jordan
- Animal Lovers in Jordan
*Details about the breed and history found here