Cirneco dell’Etna

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Cirneco dell’Etna’Etna-1.jpg

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a rare breed of hunting dog, originated from Italy. With a keen sense of smell and quick speed, this bred is usually used to hunt small game, such as rabbits. But as housedogs, they are mild, low-maintenance companions with loyal and gentle nature. As a typical Sicilian Hound, he is more trainable than usual sighthound with independence and nature.

Other Names Cirneco, Sicilian Hound, Sicilian Greyhound, Sicilian Rabbit Hound, Sicilian Rabbit Dog
Color Chestnut
Height Males: 18-19.5 inches, Females: 16.5-18 inches.
Weight Males: 22-26 pounds, Females: 17-22 pounds.
Life Span 12-14 years
Personality Affectionate, Friendly, Independent
Exercise Regular Exercise
Popularity #185
Groom Needs Occasional Bath/Brush
Kids Friendly Yes with supervision
Dog Friendly Yes with supervision
Watch Dog
Family Dog
Litter Size 3-5 puppies

Cirneco dell’Etna Pictures

Cirneco dell’Etna Video


The Cirneco dell’Etna (plural is Cirnechi dell’Etna) is a medium-sized dog of slender build. It has long legs and a pair of erect ears that add alertness to its elegant stature. They naturally tend to be independent, adventurous, curious, and playful. A Cirneco dell’Etna might begin to contemplate an escape beyond the walls of your fence when you let it into the yard. However, the dog is easily trainable and highly intelligent. Cirnechi dell’Etna come in a short coat (much shorter around the head) that is usually sleek and lies close to the body. The accepted colors include fawn, sable, different shades of tan, white and fawn, and orange and white. However, light to dark shades of tan are more desirable.

Male dogs stand roughly 18-20 inches from shoulder to paw, weighing around 22-26 pounds. Female dogs, at maturity, should weigh around 17-22 pounds, and stand 16-18 inches at the shoulder.  On average, Cirnechi dell’Etna have an average lifespan of 11-14 years.

Living with Cirneco dell’Etna

The Cirneco dell’Etna doesn’t require a lot of grooming. Seasonal flea treatment is needed, but it’s necessary to cut the dog’s hair with the help of a professional groomer.

Gentle weekly brushing with a soft bristle brush or hound glove can help keep him looking his best, with an occasional bath only as needed.

Eyes should be cleaned regularly to avoid infections and his ears should be regularly inspected for dirt or buildup of excess wax and cleaned if needed with soft gauze and an ear-cleaning solution. 

Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and prevent your legs from getting scratched when your Cirneco enthusiastically jumps up to greet you. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. 

Brush their teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. 

Begin accustoming your Cirneco to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

Moderate physical exercise and mental stimulation are essential to satisfy the Cirneco’s intensely intelligent and inquisitive nature. Make sure your dog gets at least one good half-hour to hour-long walk per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.

He does best when he has a function, whether that means competing in the show ring or other canine events or being an interactive family member. 

With strong hunting instincts, he should not be allowed off lead in areas that are not securely enclosed, as he may not be able to resist the urge to run off after perceived prey. 

He does well with a fenced backyard where he can enjoy playtime with his owner, although he should not be just left alone outside with no attention for long periods, as he would be lonely and unhappy. He enjoys long walks and activities with his people.

However, extensive exercise is not suggested. When denied an outlet to release their pent up energy, Cirnechi can become restless and develop various behavioral issues. 

And Cirneco puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs, which will put too much pressure on their still growing joints and limbs and cause a dog a few problems later on in their lives.

The Cirneco should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval.

The amount of your dog diet depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity.

Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is predisposed to some of the same conditions that most hunting breeds of their size might also face. While most are generally healthy, some may be prone to a few health issues, such as muscle and toe issues from running.

Not all Cirnechi will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed. Excellent nutrition, regular veterinary care, parasite control, and the mental and physical stimulation will make him a happy and long-lived companion. 

As with all breeds, a Cirneco’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Responsible breeders test all breeding stock for conditions that can affect the breed. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog a long, healthy life.

Total Annual Cost: $2889

Cost is estimated for the first year and may vary depending on many factors, such as dog food, health care, leash, collar, licensing, possible fencing, crates, training and obedience classes, dog-walking, grooming, treats, toys, flea, tick, and heart-worm meds, microchips, etc.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is highly intelligent and easy to train. They respond well to gentle methods of training and can be successfully trained for obedience, rally, agility, tracking, and of course the breed’s historical reason for existence: hunting.

Many Cirnechi especially enjoy lure coursing. Due to the breed’s strong prey drive, care must be exercised when introducing the Cirneco to cats and small animals. A securely fenced yard can protect him from traffic and from altercations with other dogs.

They may prefer to be mostly around adults or older kids who know how to play gently. When it comes to other pets, the Cirneco dell’Etna can get along with other animals if they are introduced slowly and calmly. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the Cirneco grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.

Also training sessions should always be positive, because harsh training methods will have a negative effect on the Cirneco’s sensitive nature. The Cirneco has a strong, independent temperament necessary for a hunter but is friendly and affectionate and makes an excellent family pet.


The Cirneco dell’Etna is a tough breed that has evolved over a few thousand years ago. Theories attempting to explain the origin of this breed have always pointed toward Sicily and Mount Etna as the place of its early development. However, some historians are of the opinion that the Cirneco dell’Etna can be linked to Cyrene, in Libya, due to its name (Cirneco, derived from Greek, meaning “dog of Cyrene”). It is said that this breed shares an origin with the Pharaoh Hound, with some experts describing the Cirneco dell’Etna as an offshoot of the Pharaoh Hound. The Italian Kennel Club had added “dell’Etna” to the name of the Cirneco when it accepted the official breed standard in 1939. This was an allusion to Mount Etna, on the east coast of Sicily, which is the most active volcano in Europe. Mount Etna has a large population of Cirneco dell’Etna dogs.

The Cirneco has always been a hardy breed, able to survive the harshest of conditions and maneuver rough terrains. They were primarily involved with hunting birds, hare and rabbits. These days, however, they are more popular as companion dogs. Around the 1930s, the Cirneco dell’Etna breed almost disappeared due to a drastic decline in their demand. A veterinarian, Dr. Maurizio Migneco, wrote an article about the endangered breed and later published it in 1932. The article drew public attention, prompting the Sicilian aristocrat Baroness Agata Paternó Castello to undertake a breeding program to revive the Cirneco dell’Etna. The breed is not popular among Americans, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2015 as a member of the Hound Group.

Helpful Information


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