Forward Thinking

Jewiest Dog in Show

By Abigail Jones

  • Print
  • Share Share
Westminster Dog Show
The Canaan dog is the only native dog of Israel.

I have spent my entire life avoiding dogs. They make me sneeze, wheeze and itch, and please, don’t start with the hypoallergenic dog argument; I’m indiscriminately allergic to all of them. Also, when I was five years old, the dog next door — a gigantic, snarling, barking, brown fuzzy beast — chased me halfway around our yard, leaving me with an intense, irrational fear of all canines that took me longer to get over than I’d like to admit. And so it was against my better judgment that I decided to tune into the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Annual All-Breed Dog Show. Suddenly. Everything. Changed.

Last night, the Westminster Dog Show kicked off its two-day competition a mere 2.5 miles from my couch in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Over 2,700 dogs in 187 breeds are set to compete for best in show, and OM-FREAKING-G have you ever seen anything cuter than a Chow Chow? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not into dogs that look more put together than I do (ahem, little Maltese and little Lhasa Apso) but I would happily fill my entire home with ten of these faces. (Assuming they don’t shed. DO THEY?)

Amidst the perfectly pathetic Basset Hound and the ridiculously manicured Standard Poodle, I almost missed a somewhat unremarkable, medium-sized, square-bodied, white and brown pooch strutting across the stage during the Herding group competition — until the announcer introduced him as the Canaan Dog, Israel’s only native dog.

Named for the ancient land of Canaan, Canaan dogs, also known as Kelev K’naani, were herding and guardian dogs for the ancient Israelites. (According to the Canaan Dog Club of America, there are 4,000-year-old Middle-Eastern drawings of dogs that look very similar today’s modern Cannan dog.) When the Romans invaded and destroyed early Israel, the dogs fled to the desert, where they lived generally untamed for over 2,000 years — until the 1930s (take that feral dingoes!), when the Canaan dog was re-domesticated by Drs. Rudolphina and Rudolph Menzel. As the CDCA explains:

The parents of the modern breed were Drs. Rudolphina and Rudolph Menzel. In the 1930’s, they cultivated wild and semi-wild pariah dogs to create a highly trainable breed of dog with the pariah’s hardiness, adaptability, acute senses and intelligence.

Canaan Dogs played key roles as guards, messengers and mine detectors during World War II and the Israeli War of Independence. They also worked with the Red Cross and helped the blind. Today there are approximately 1,000 Canaan dogs in the U.S., 400 in Israel and 200 in other countries, according to the CDCA. And each year, Canaan dog breeders in the U.S. breed 15 to 20 litters, each with around four puppies. The dogs are characteristically loyal, loving, inquisitive and highly attuned to the moods of their owners, making them ideal family pets.

The Canaan dog first joined the Herding Group of the American Kennel Club on August 12, 1997, and first entered the Westminster Dog Show in 1998. The Canaan dog competing in this year’s Best of Group for the herding dogs was an 8-year-old named Magnum. Bred by Donna Dodson and owned by Pamela Stacey Rosman, Magnum has won his breed for four years in a row. Still, he wasn’t able to pull out a win; that honor went to Swagger, a 20-month-old male Old English Sheepdog. Still, Magnum took fourth place, behind the Puli and the Beauceron, marking the first time a Canaan Dog has ever placed in the Group in Westminster’s history.

Magnum may not have grabbed my attention at first — it’s hard to stand out next to the Standard Poodle’s pompom-style anklets and the Chow Chow’s adorably smushed face — but I won’t discount him. The Canaan dog has been around for 3,000 years; who knows where he’ll go next.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: westminster dog show, puppies, dogs, canaan dog, best in show

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.