A breed of great antiquity, the Cirneco (“cheer-NEK-o”) is a sleek and agile hunter from the island of Sicily, particularly present in the area surrounding Mount Etna. They have pointed, alert ears atop a lithe, tall, athletic frame. Cirneci look very similar to their cousins, the Pharaoh Hounds, just tinier in stature.
Cirneco dell'Etna History
Dating back to 500 B.C., these sighthounds have been hunting small game like hare and partridge for thousands of years. Thought to have migrated to Sicily with the Phoenicians, these dogs have held a prominent place in ancient Greek and Italian culture, often depicted on antique coins.
Though Cirneci had almost gone extinct by the early 20th century, in 1930 a Sicilian baroness spent the next 26 years reviving the beautiful breed. Only recently recognized by the AKC in 2015, the Cirneco still holds a high esteem position in their native Italy.
Cirneco dell'Etna Traits
Carrying the characteristic curves associated with all sighthounds, Cirneci are born to run. Capable of incredible bursts of speed, these durable and resilient hounds stand between 16 and 22 inches, making them a medium-sized hound.
Coat and Coloring
Coming in a range of tans from light to dark, they may have white patches on their head, chest, and feet. Cirneci have a smooth, fine, short coat that gets a little longer along the body.
Distinctive Physical Traits
The Cirnechi have large, upright ears that make them look like they are always scanning their environment, ready to sprint off at a moment’s notice. Their spindly legs and fine build display the same speedy structure as all sighthounds.
Cirneco dell'Etna Temperament
Loving and loyal family pets, Cirnechi make wonderful companions. Don’t be fooled by their delicate frames, they are powerful and speedy hunters that make wonderful coursing dogs.
Considered easier to train then most hounds, they are kind and adoring companions. Cirneci have their own unique personality and will bring a bright, positive energy to any family.
Cirneco dell'Etna Care
Cirneco dell'Etnas require a high-quality dog food that is age-appropriate—whether it’s commercially manufactured or homemade (with a veterinarian’s supervision and approval). It’s important to monitor the amount of food you give your Cirneco dell'Etna. Reduce the portions or restrict calories if your pup gains weight. Your veterinarian is always a good source to provide you with appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
Ears are the main concern for the Cirneci, and they need to be checked weekly for build-up and dirt. They only require a light brushing weekly, and their coat is typically easy to maintain. Nails need to be clipped, if they aren’t kept short with exercise.
All dogs require regular dental care, including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings, and Cirneco dell’Etna is no exception. Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for their overall long-term health.
Regular walks and play with human companions are essential. They adore their human partners and want to spend time with them whenever possible. Tapping into their hunting instinct, this breed excels at dog sports and following their desire for the chase.
As with most sighthounds, they respond to positive, gentle training methods. While they have an independent air to them, they love their families and can be successfully trained. Keep them on a leash when not in a fenced area, since they can and will chase any small, furry quarry that crosses their path.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Annette Louviere, DVM