Canaan dogs and desert pariahs

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Dogs in ancient Egypt

Posted by duncanschroeter on April 15, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Dogs have lived in Egypt for thousands of years and there are many artistic depictions of them. These include both carvings and paintings. Thousands of mummified dogs were placed in one tomb that has been known for some time but only recently properly studied. Many of these dogs may have been killed as part of a ritual but some had received better and more careful treatment and were likely to have been loved pets.

A number of distinctly different breeds were recognised. Rosellini attempted to put together a collection of the various dog types found and produced the following 2 plates. Most modern popular breeds have existed for a mere few hundred years but many people try to link them to Egyptian dogs for prestigeuos reasons but without factual proof. Todays Pharoah hound for example has been proven to be a modern mix designed to resemble the original. Africas Basenji is more likely to have descended from Egyptian types. Sighthounds were reserved for the elite people and their descendents have continued until today. Todays Baladi in Egypt is another likely survivor from Egyptian times and is probably related to the desert pariah found throughout the middle-east and which has probably followed Bedouin where ever they moved, throughout the Arabian peninsular and perhaps the ancient fertile crescent where man settled and grew crops. These desert dogs have survived in harsh conditions often without help from man and are the natural stock of today’s Canaan breed selected from these pariahs. The popular and intelligent (one has been shown to know over a thousand words) border collie, with known origins in the English/Scottish border area has also been claimed by some to have desert pariah connections.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

Reply Jo
7:29 AM on April 22, 2012 
Great piece!
Reply Claudia
4:25 PM on March 17, 2015 
Hi,
I've a Baladi dog from Egypt, although I live in Canada. He was born in Ain Sokhna, which has been relatively recently built up so I often wonder how closely related he may be to desert dogs. I did a DNA test, and it came back with a strong indication of Basenji, with traces of two other less likely breeds, Weirmaraner and Beagle. I think these dogs are amazing, and different from most domestic dogs I've known. I hate the notion of their type disappearing, but as long as they're considered pests in their country of origin and killed wholesale, I fear for their future.

Wish I'd found this site earlier, and it looks like it's not being kept up. Too bad, but thanks for what you've put here.

Claudia
Reply duncanschroeter
9:11 AM on March 18, 2015 
Hi Claudi,
You are right I have been inactive here for too long and it has not attracted a lot of attention. Hopefully I will get going again. Personally I believe the desert dog pariahs found throughout the Arabian peninsula and Egypt are the same. Probably in Egypt and some other countries there is a greater chance of mixed blood. The DNA result is interesting. Unfortunately the original work on breed identification that seemed to give good reliability used a different method to that now offered commercially. The commercial method is copyright and they claim good results but refise to publish any scientific evidence to confirm it. There have been dogs of know parentage sent to them that gave results that were way out. They do offer 2 systems - one for unknown dogs and one to confirm known pedigree. Since most known modern pedigree dogs are originally mixed it is no surprising to me that if pedigree dogs are sent in to be tested in the unknown category that they would show up various other mixes. I contacted them some time ago suggesting that it would be interesting to test some of the Arabian desert dogs I can access for research purposes. Initially I was sent a reply saying that my email had been passed to the research lab and I would be sent a further response within weeks. Nothing happened, If there is not money to be made they are not interested it seems.
I must get this site going again. Meanwhile if you are on Facebook pleas do join the Canaan desert dogs group also.
Thanks for your comment and for rekindling my interest in this site.