The Cirneco dell'Etna is a medium-sized, slender, yet robustly built breed that is also known as the Sicilian Greyhound. The breed's coat is short and comes in light to dark shades of chestnut or tan. Some have white markings, but there is no feathering. The limbs are long, and these dogs have an alert expression, high-set ears, and small, oval eyes. They measure 16.5 to 19.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 18 to 27 pounds. With proper care, these dogs live up to 14 years.
The Cirneco dell'Etna requires minimal upkeep. A weekly brushing with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt is enough to remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils throughout the coat.
A very affectionate and friendly breed, the Cirneco dell'Etna is a good choice for a family pet. They are well behaved and require minimal grooming, which makes them an ideal fit for first-time pet owners.
The breed's name, Cirneco, is pronounced "cheer-nec-ko." The affix "dell'Etna" was added in 1939 and comes from Mount Etna, the largest of active volcanoes in Europe. This volcano is located on Sicily's east coat in an area with the highest concentration of Cirnechi (the plural form of Cirneco).
Cirnechi have strong and independent temperaments, but they are also very friendly and affectionate. These dogs may follow human family members from room to room in search of love and attention. They are also very adaptable and can thrive in most settings. They are even suitable for apartment life because of their calm and quiet nature and lightweight body. Cirnechi get along well with other dogs, and they are decent with children and cats, provided they are raised together.
This breed needs a lot of mental stimulation, as it is an intensely inquisitive and intelligent breed. The Cirneco also needs about 30 minutes or more of physical activity every day in the form of long walks or free play in the backyard. These dogs are excellent at agility and lure coursing, and they also perform well in obedience, tracking, and rally.
These dogs will happily chase cats and other furry animals when outside. For this reason, they must be confined to a secure yard with a very tall fence. The Cirneco is an excellent jumper, and it takes a very tall fence to keep these dogs inside. Unfortunately, the breed is also a digger, and it may take a lot of time and effort to look for and fix their underground escape routes.
The Cirneco is a very uncommon breed, so there isn't much known about the breed's health history. This makes it especially important to have puppies examined by a veterinarian before purchase or adoption. Also, it's essential to look into the line's history for evidence of genetic disorders and other problems.
One thing known about the breed is that these dogs appear prone to muscle and toe injuries. Also, these dogs need to live indoors because they are not built to withstand cold or extreme temperatures. They should be provided with access to soft, warm pet bedding during the winter months.
Routine veterinary care, proper nutrition, regular exercise, and plenty of love and attention ensure the Cirneco dell'Etna lives a full and happy life of 12 to 14 years.
Cirnechi are very smart and trainable, and they respond best to gentle training methods. They are easy to train as long as sessions are kept short and repetition is kept to a minimum. Positive reinforcement methods, such as praise, play, and treat rewards, are especially effective when working with these dogs.
Like many other dog breeds, Cirnechi can become noisy and destructive when bored or lonely. They need the company of other dogs and plenty of affection from their human family members. Providing them with interactive toys, regular outdoor playtime, and a lot of human attention should help control these problems.
The Cirneco is a true hunter at heart, which means he won't hesitate to give chase if he spots a squirrel or other furry animal. Keeping a tight grip on the leash is essential during walks to prevent pulling, and training can help teach the Cirneco to resist the impulse to take off.
The Cirneco dell'Etna requires minimal upkeep. A weekly brushing with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt is enough to remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils throughout the coat. Brushing regularly will also reduce the number of baths these dogs require.
When choosing shampoos and other grooming products for these or any other dogs, it's important to select products made specifically for dogs and recommended by veterinarians. This helps ensure the products do not cause unnecessary skin drying or irritation.
These dogs need their ears checked weekly for signs of infection, and their teeth should be brushed as often as possible to prevent tooth decay and dental disease. Cirnechi and other sighthounds are sensitive about having their feet touched, and it may take a lot of patience before nail clipping can be done at home. Great care must be taken not to cut into the quick, or future grooming sessions will need to be done by a professional.
The Cirneco dell'Etna breed has been found in Sicily for more than 2,500 years. It shares a common origin with other breeds in the Mediterranean basin, including the Pharaoh Hound.
These dogs are excellent hunters that work by sight, scent, and hearing and perform well on difficult terrain. They primarily hunt fowl and small mammals.
The Cirneco dell'Etna is a very rare breed generally found only inside Italy. There are only about 200 or so Cirnechi in the United States. As the breed's popularity increases, this number should rise.
The American Kennel Club approved the Cirneco dell'Etna for inclusion into the AKC Miscellaneous class effective January 1, 2012.