First-century rock drawings in the Sinai and more than 700 fifth-century B.C.E. canine skeletons unearthed at the coastal site of Ashkelon* south of Tel Aviv attest to the historical prominence of the Canaan dog, a pointy eared breed that has lived in Israel since Biblical times. The wild breed has faced difficulties over the last few decades due to rabies eradication programs and decreasing numbers of Bedouin camps in the Negev.
Sha’ar Hagai Kennels, located outside Jerusalem, collected and bred desert dogs to keep the Biblical breed from becoming too thoroughly inbred, but when the kennel received an unexpected eviction notice from the Israeli government, the dogs’ future grew grim. An online petition is raising awareness to protect Israel’s official breed, but a court decision could mark the end of an effort to sustain the ancient pedigree.