Cirneco dell’Etna

Table of Contents

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a rare and ancient breed hailing from the Mediterranean island of Sicily. Specifically, they come from the region surrounding Mount Etna, the active volcano from which they get their name. This breed’s origins trace back over 2,500 years, with depictions found on ancient coins and pottery, suggesting that they were highly valued by earlier civilizations.

Physically, the Cirneco dell’Etna is a slender and elegant hound, characterized by its sinewy build, large erect ears, and keen expression. They are medium-sized with a smooth and short coat that comes in shades ranging from light tan to chestnut. Their athletic body speaks to their original purpose: hunting small game over the rough terrains of Mount Etna. Their agility and endurance are particularly noteworthy.

Temperamentally, these dogs are affectionate, loyal, and keenly intelligent. They bond closely with their families and tend to be good with children and other pets. However, their hunting instincts can be strong, so it’s important for potential owners to understand and cater to this aspect of their nature. Being an active breed, they require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

Although not as well-known as other breeds, the Cirneco dell’Etna is steadily gaining recognition for its unique history, striking appearance, and affable nature. For those seeking a companion that is both active and affectionate, the Cirneco dell’Etna might be the perfect addition to their household.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The Cirneco dell’Etna is best suited for families and individuals who lead an active lifestyle and can provide the dog with ample exercise and mental stimulation. With their agile nature, they excel in dog sports like agility, lure coursing, and obedience trials. Their affectionate and loyal demeanor makes them excellent companions for households with children, though, as with all dogs, interactions should always be supervised.

Given their hunting heritage, they also thrive in environments where they can engage in scent-based games and activities. While they can adapt to apartment living, a home with a secured yard would be ideal for them to expend their energy. The breed is also a great fit for those interested in diving into the world of dog shows and competitions, given the Cirneco dell’Etna’s striking appearance and rich history.

However, potential owners should be prepared for their strong prey drive, meaning they might not be the best choice for homes with very small pets, unless properly introduced and supervised. In summary, the Cirneco dell’Etna is best for active households that appreciate the blend of historical significance and modern-day versatility that this breed brings.

Cirneco dell’Etna Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Cirneco dell’Etna is an elegant, athletic breed, recognized by its large, upright ears and short coat ranging from light tan to chestnut. Known for their loyalty and affection, they bond closely with families but can be independent, requiring positive reinforcement during training. With their hunting background, they’re agile and enduring but generally friendly with other pets. They balance active outdoor pursuits with quiet home moments, making them versatile companions.

When assessing an Cirneco dell’Etna’s traits, experts rate them on a scale from 1 star (minimal) to 5 stars (prominent). This evaluation comes from a range of pet professionals, such as dog trainers and veterinarians. However, it’s essential to understand that each dog is unique, and there can be variations even within the same breed.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Characteristics

The Cirneco dell’Etna, a breed renowned for its elegant appearance and agile nature, exhibits a blend of characteristics that are both fascinating and unique. Originating from Sicily, these dogs are not just visually striking but also possess a rich history and a set of traits that make them stand out in the canine world. With their keen senses and athletic build, they are a testament to the diversity and adaptability found within dog breeds.

1. Ears
One of the most distinctive features of the Cirneco dell’Etna is its erect, triangular ears that stand tall and alert, reflecting its keen sense of hearing.
2. Eyes
Their almond-shaped eyes have an intense and intelligent expression. The color generally matches the coat, varying from ochre to hazel and dark amber.
3. Nose
The Cirneco dell’Etna’s nose is typically a light to dark shade of tan, complementing its coat color.
4. Size
Medium-sized, with males standing around 18-20 inches at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, standing around 16.5-18 inches.
5. Coat
They possess a short, fine coat that is sleek to the touch. The coat can come in a variety of shades, with tan, chestnut, and shades of isabella being common.
6. Head
The head is long and narrow with a slight dome. The muzzle is pointed, and the nose is typically a light to dark shade of tan, harmonizing with the coat color.
7. Tail
The tail is set low, tapering to a point. When in motion or alert, it’s raised, but not curled over the back.
8. Feet
Their feet are compact and cat-like, equipped with hard pads, built for endurance and to navigate rugged terrains.

Cirneco dell’Etna Temperament

The Cirneco dell’Etna exhibits a lively and independent temperament. Originally bred for hunting in the challenging terrains of Mount Etna in Sicily, they are known for their agility, alertness, and endurance. While they are tenacious hunters, they are also affectionate and gentle with their families, often forming close bonds with their human companions. Their independent nature can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness, but with the right training, they can be responsive and obedient. Being sociable dogs, they usually get along well with other pets and are friendly towards strangers, making them neither overly aggressive nor shy. However, early socialization is crucial to ensure a well-rounded and confident adult dog.

How to Care for a Cirneco dell’Etna

Caring for a Cirneco dell’Etna requires an understanding of their unique breed characteristics and needs. Originating from the rugged terrains of Mount Etna in Sicily, these dogs are hardy and agile, but they also have specific care requirements to ensure they lead a healthy and happy life.

Cirneco dell’Etnas are known for their sleek and fine coat, making them relatively easy to groom compared to other breeds. However, like all dogs, they have specific grooming needs to ensure they look their best and remain healthy. Let’s delve into the details of grooming your Cirneco dell’Etna.

1. Coat Care:

  • Brushing: The short, fine coat of the Cirneco dell’Etna doesn’t require daily brushing. However, a weekly once-over with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt will help to remove loose hairs and distribute the natural oils on the skin. This regular brushing not only keeps the coat looking shiny but also reduces the amount of hair that might be shed around your home.
  • Bathing: Bathing can be done once every few months or as needed. If your Cirneco gets into something messy or starts to emit an unpleasant doggy odor, it’s time for a bath. Use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin’s natural pH balance. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residues.

2. Ears and Eyes:

  • Ears: Regularly check your Cirneco’s ears for signs of wax buildup, irritation, or infection. Clean them using a dog-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball. Never insert anything into the ear canal; instead, clean only the part of the ear you can see.
  • Eyes: Wipe away any discharge with a soft, damp cloth. Ensure that the eyes are clear and free from redness or inflammation.

3. Teeth and Gums: Oral hygiene is vital for all dogs. Brush your Cirneco’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar and bacteria. If possible, daily brushing is even better. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings at the vet are also beneficial.

4. Nail Trimming: The Cirneco’s nails should be trimmed once or twice a month if they don’t wear down naturally. Use a dog nail clipper or grinder and ensure you don’t cut into the ‘quick’ of the nail, which is the blood vessel. If you’re uncertain or nervous about trimming the nails yourself, seek assistance from a vet or professional groomer.

5. Skin Checks: While grooming, it’s a good practice to examine your Cirneco’s skin for any unusual spots, lumps, or signs of infection. This can help in early detection of potential health issues.

6. Paw Care: Inspect the pads of your Cirneco’s feet for any cuts, sores, or foreign objects, especially after they’ve been outside. In colder climates, salt and chemical ice melters can irritate their paws, so wiping them down after walks is a good habit.

Grooming is more than just keeping your Cirneco dell’Etna looking good; it’s also about maintaining their overall health. By establishing a regular grooming routine, you ensure your dog’s well-being and also strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion.

The Cirneco dell’Etna, with its ancient Sicilian lineage, is known for its agility, intelligence, and independent streak. Training such a breed requires a mix of patience, consistency, and understanding of its unique temperament. Here’s a detailed guide to help you navigate the training journey with your Cirneco dell’Etna.

1. Start Early: Initiating training during the puppy stages is beneficial. Young Cirneco dell’Etnas are like sponges, eager to learn and explore. Enrolling in a puppy kindergarten class can be an excellent way to kickstart basic obedience training and socialization.

2. Positive Reinforcement: The Cirneco dell’Etna responds best to positive reinforcement methods. Use treats, praise, and play as rewards. Avoid harsh corrections or punishments, as these can lead to mistrust and fear.

3. Consistency is Key: Ensure that all family members are on the same page regarding commands and rules. Mixed signals can confuse your Cirneco and impede the training process.

4. Socialization: Expose your Cirneco to a variety of people, animals, environments, and sounds, especially during their critical socialization window between 3 to 14 weeks. This will help in raising a well-adjusted and confident adult dog.

5. Agility and Obedience: Given their agile nature, Cirneco dell’Etnas often excel in agility training. Introduce them to obstacle courses, tunnels, and jumps. Obedience classes can also reinforce basic commands and improve the bond between you and your dog.

6. Mental Stimulation: This breed is intelligent and thrives on challenges. Incorporate puzzle toys, interactive games, and advanced training techniques to keep them mentally stimulated.

7. Recall Training: Due to their hunting instincts, Cirneco dell’Etnas may sometimes get distracted by moving objects or animals. Prioritize recall training from an early age, ensuring that they come back to you when called, regardless of distractions.

8. Limit Repetition: Cirneco dell’Etnas can get bored with repetitive tasks. Keep training sessions short, varied, and exciting. Aim for two to three 10-minute sessions daily, rather than one long session.

9. Address Unwanted Behaviors: If your Cirneco exhibits undesirable behaviors like excessive barking, digging, or chewing, try to understand the underlying cause. It could be due to boredom, anxiety, or unmet exercise needs. Addressing the root cause often resolves the behavior.

10. Professional Assistance: If you face challenges in training, don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can offer tailored strategies and insights based on your dog’s specific needs.

Training a Cirneco dell’Etna requires understanding and appreciating their unique temperament. With patience, consistency, and the right techniques, you’ll be rewarded with a loyal, well-behaved companion who’s eager to please. Remember that the journey is as important as the outcome, so cherish the bonding moments and milestones achieved during the training process.

The Cirneco dell’Etna, an elegant and athletic breed hailing from Sicily, requires a well-balanced diet to maintain its health, energy, and svelte physique. Given its energetic nature and unique dietary needs, it’s vital to understand the nutritional requirements to ensure a long, healthy life for your furry friend. Here’s a detailed overview of the diet and nutrition best suited for the Cirneco dell’Etna.

1. Puppy Nutrition: Cirneco dell’Etna puppies are typically active and growing rapidly. They require a higher caloric intake than adult dogs. Opt for a high-quality puppy food that is rich in protein and fat. Ensure it’s specially formulated for medium-sized breeds.

2. Adult Nutrition: As they mature, the Cirneco dell’Etna’s metabolic rate might decrease. Transition them to a premium adult dog food that matches their energy levels. Typically, a formula with a good balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates works best.

3. Senior Nutrition: As they enter their golden years, their dietary needs might change. They might require fewer calories, but the nutrient density should remain high. Some senior-specific dog foods have added joint supplements, which can be beneficial for older Cirneco dell’Etnas.

4. Protein Sources: A significant portion of their diet should come from high-quality animal protein sources like chicken, beef, fish, or lamb. Protein supports muscle growth and repair.

5. Fats and Oils: Healthy fats, such as those from fish oil, flaxseed, and chicken fat, provide essential omega fatty acids, promoting a shiny coat, healthy skin, and joint health.

6. Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates like brown rice, barley, or sweet potatoes can provide sustained energy. Ensure the grains are digestible to prevent allergies or sensitivities.

7. Vitamins and Minerals: Fruits, vegetables, and fortified dog foods can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals. They support immune function, bone health, and overall well-being.

8. Avoid Fillers: Stay away from dog foods that use unnecessary fillers like corn, wheat gluten, or soy. These can be allergenic and offer little nutritional value.

9. Hydration: Always provide fresh and clean water for your Cirneco dell’Etna. Proper hydration is essential for digestion, temperature regulation, and overall health.

10. Treats and Snacks: While treats are a great way to reward your Cirneco dell’Etna during training or show affection, ensure they are healthy and don’t make up more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.

11. Special Dietary Needs: Always consult with a veterinarian, especially if you notice any allergic reactions, sensitivities, or if your dog has special dietary requirements.

A well-balanced diet tailored to the Cirneco dell’Etna’s life stage, activity level, and health needs will go a long way in ensuring your dog remains happy, healthy, and active. Regular vet check-ups and keeping an eye on their weight will also help in adjusting their diet as needed over time.

The Cirneco dell’Etna, with its agile build and lively spirit, is a breed that craves regular physical activity and mental stimulation. Hailing from the rugged terrains of Mount Etna in Sicily, these dogs have historically been used for hunting rabbits, a task that demanded endurance, speed, and agility. If you are fortunate enough to have one of these elegant companions by your side, understanding their exercise needs is paramount to ensuring their physical and emotional well-being. Here’s a comprehensive look into the exercise regimen best suited for a Cirneco dell’Etna.

1. Daily Walks: A couple of brisk walks each day are non-negotiable for the Cirneco dell’Etna. Aim for at least 30-45 minutes in the morning and again in the evening. This provides a structured routine and helps burn off their innate energy.

2. Playtime: Cirneco dell’Etnas are playful by nature. Incorporating fetch sessions, tug-of-war, or simply letting them romp around in a secure yard can be a great way to keep them engaged. Toys that challenge their intellect can also be introduced.

3. Agility Training: Given their nimble nature, agility training can be an excellent fit for this breed. Setting up agility courses or participating in local agility competitions can be both fun and rewarding.

4. Hiking: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, your Cirneco dell’Etna will happily accompany you on hikes. Their sturdy build and historical background make them adept at navigating uneven terrains.

5. Mental Stimulation: Apart from physical exercise, Cirneco dell’Etnas require mental challenges to keep them from getting bored. Puzzle toys, obedience training, or scent games can be great ways to engage their minds.

6. Socialization: Regular playdates with other dogs can be beneficial. Not only does it provide a chance for physical activity, but it also helps in honing their social skills.

7. Limitations: While they love to be active, it’s essential to be mindful of the weather conditions. On particularly hot days, limit their exposure to direct sunlight and opt for early morning or late evening outings.

8. Consistency is Key: Like all dogs, Cirneco dell’Etnas thrive on routine. Keeping a consistent exercise schedule helps them understand what to expect, reducing anxiety or unwanted behaviors borne out of restlessness.

Meeting the exercise needs of a Cirneco dell’Etna is crucial in ensuring they lead a balanced, happy life. By combining structured activities with free play and mental challenges, you’ll not only cater to their physical needs but also forge a deep bond based on mutual respect and understanding. Remember, a tired Cirneco is a happy Cirneco!

The Cirneco dell’Etna, a breed steeped in ancient history, has over the centuries, been acclimated to the challenging landscapes of Sicily, particularly the region around Mount Etna. This elegant and robust dog thrives in an environment that acknowledges both its physical activity needs and its desire for human companionship. When considering the ideal surroundings for this breed, several factors come into play:

1. Space to Move: With their energetic nature, Cirneco dell’Etnas appreciate space. A home with a secure yard or garden allows them to explore, play, and burn off energy. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t adapt to apartment living, as long as their exercise needs are met religiously.

2. Mild to Moderate Climates: While they have a short coat that’s adapted to the warm climate of Sicily, they don’t have the undercoat typical of breeds from cold regions. This means that while they can tolerate heat fairly well, they’re not best suited for extreme cold.

3. Stimulating Environment: The Cirneco dell’Etna has a sharp intellect. An environment that offers them varied stimuli, like new scents to discover or challenges to solve, will keep them mentally satisfied. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and agility equipment can be great additions.

4. Social Settings: These dogs are known for their friendly and sociable demeanor. An environment where they can interact with both humans and other animals will help in fostering their social skills. Regular visits to dog parks or playdates can be beneficial.

5. Safety First: Their curious nature means that they might often find themselves exploring nooks and crannies. Ensuring that their environment is free from potential hazards, like toxic plants or open water sources, is crucial.

6. A Consistent Haven: While they’re adaptable, Cirneco dell’Etnas thrive on routine. Whether it’s their feeding schedule, playtime, or bedtime, a consistent routine makes them feel secure.

7. Close to Their Human Family: Despite their independent nature, these dogs are devoted to their human families. They prefer being indoors with their loved ones rather than being left outside alone. An environment where they’re treated as part of the family will make them feel loved and cherished.

The Cirneco dell’Etna, while adaptable, flourishes in an environment that acknowledges its roots, physical capabilities, and emotional needs. Providing them with a balanced mix of activity, mental stimulation, and loving companionship will ensure they lead a fulfilled and contented life.

Cirneco dell’Etna Health

The Cirneco dell’Etna is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a lineage that dates back to ancient times. However, as with all breeds, they have their specific health concerns. Being aware of these potential issues can help owners provide optimal care and ensure the well-being of their beloved canine companion. Here’s an in-depth look into the health aspects of the Cirneco dell’Etna:

1. Genetic Diversity: Due to their limited population and relatively isolated breeding, it’s crucial to ensure genetic diversity within the breed. Breeders should be responsible and prioritize breeding from diverse gene pools to prevent congenital issues.

2. Hip Dysplasia: While not exceedingly common, some Cirneco dell’Etnas can be prone to hip dysplasia. This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t form correctly. Regular check-ups and being watchful for signs of limping or discomfort can help in early detection.

3. Eye Conditions: Certain hereditary eye conditions might affect the breed. Regular eye check-ups and being vigilant for symptoms like cloudiness, redness, or excessive tearing can be beneficial.

4. Ear Infections: Their erect ears are generally healthy, but like all dogs, they can be prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection, such as head shaking or foul odor, are essential.

5. Skin Allergies: Some Cirnecos may develop skin allergies, which can be due to environmental factors, food, or external parasites. Symptoms might include excessive scratching, redness, or skin infections.

6. Cardiac Concerns: Although not widespread, it’s always good to have regular cardiac screenings to ensure heart health, especially in older dogs.

7. Regular Vaccination and Deworming: To protect them from common canine diseases and parasites, regular vaccinations and deworming schedules should be adhered to.

8. Diet and Nutrition: Ensuring that the Cirneco dell’Etna gets a balanced and nutritious diet can fend off many health concerns. Obesity can be an issue in some dogs, so monitoring their weight and feeding them high-quality dog food in appropriate amounts is paramount.

9. Regular Vet Check-ups: Regular veterinary visits will help in the early detection of potential health issues and ensure that the dog remains in optimal health throughout its life.

While the Cirneco dell’Etna is relatively healthy, being proactive and well-informed about potential health issues is key. Regular health screenings, a balanced diet, and prompt attention to any signs of illness can ensure that this ancient and noble breed enjoys a long, healthy, and happy life.

Cirneco dell’Etna Breed Comparison and Consideration

The Cirneco dell’Etna, with its sleek build and hunting prowess, often gets compared with other sighthound breeds and similarly sized canines. Let’s delve into how this Sicilian native stacks up against other breeds:

1. Cirneco dell’Etna vs. Pharaoh Hound:

  • Origins: While both breeds trace their lineage to ancient times, the Pharaoh Hound originates from Malta, whereas the Cirneco dell’Etna hails from Sicily.
  • Appearance: Both breeds possess a similar sleek and slender build, but the Pharaoh Hound is generally larger and has a more muscular appearance.
  • Temperament: While both breeds are energetic and love to run, Pharaoh Hounds tend to be a bit more independent and aloof than the friendly and affectionate Cirneco dell’Etna.

2. Cirneco dell’Etna vs. Italian Greyhound:

  • Size: Italian Greyhounds are smaller and more delicate compared to the sturdier Cirneco dell’Etna.
  • Temperament: Italian Greyhounds are known for their sweet, gentle nature and may be more sensitive than the more robust and energetic Cirneco.
  • Exercise Needs: Both breeds are agile and fast, but the Cirneco might have slightly higher energy levels and exercise requirements.

3. Cirneco dell’Etna vs. Basenji:

  • Appearance: While the Cirneco dell’Etna has a smooth coat, the Basenji features a short, fine coat with clear lines and defined muscles.
  • Vocalization: One of the unique attributes of the Basenji is that it doesn’t bark but produces a unique yodel-like sound, whereas the Cirneco is relatively quiet but will bark when necessary.
  • Temperament: Basenjis are known for their independent and sometimes stubborn nature, while Cirneco dell’Etnas are considered more amiable and willing to please.

Considerations When Choosing a Cirneco dell’Etna:

  • Energy Levels: This breed is known for its agility and stamina. Potential owners should be ready to provide ample exercise and mental stimulation.

  • Space: While adaptable, Cirneco dell’Etnas would thrive in an environment where they have space to run and play, like a securely fenced yard.

  • Training: The breed is intelligent and generally receptive to training, but early socialization is crucial.

  • Grooming: Their short coat is relatively easy to care for, but regular grooming will keep them looking their best.

  • Health: Like all breeds, they have specific health considerations, so it’s essential to be well-informed and proactive.

In summary, the Cirneco dell’Etna, while bearing similarities to other breeds, has its unique attributes and charm. Potential owners should weigh these characteristics and considerations to determine if this breed aligns with their lifestyle and preferences.


The Cirneco dell’Etna is native to Sicily, specifically the region surrounding Mount Etna.

Yes, Cirneco dell’Etnas are known to be affectionate, loyal, and generally good with children, making them suitable family pets. However, as with all dogs, it’s essential to supervise interactions between young children and the dog.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is an active and energetic breed. Regular exercise, including daily walks and playtime, is essential to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Cirneco dell’Etnas are relatively quiet dogs. While they can be alert and may bark to notify their owners of something unusual, they are not known to be excessive barkers.

Cirneco dell’Etnas can get along well with other pets, especially if they are introduced and socialized from a young age. However, their hunting instincts may be triggered by small, fast-moving animals, so supervision is recommended.

Historically, the Cirneco dell’Etna was used for hunting small game, particularly rabbits, in the rugged terrains around Mount Etna. Their keen sense of smell and agile build made them excellent hunters.

Top Takeaways

The Cirneco dell’Etna, hailing from the rugged terrains of Sicily, especially around Mount Etna, has an ancient lineage deeply rooted in hunting small game. Characterized by their slender, agile frame, this breed sports a short, sleek coat which is surprisingly low-maintenance. Their temperament is a blend of intelligence and loyalty, though they can be a tad reserved around strangers. While they have an adaptability that can suit apartment living, a secure yard for exercise is their ideal setting.

Grooming is straightforward—a weekly brush and the occasional bath, paired with routine health checks. When it comes to training, their intelligent minds respond best to positive reinforcement, making early socialization a smooth process. Nutritionally, a balanced diet that matches their age and activity levels will serve them best. They enjoy good health overall, but routine veterinary checks will ensure they remain at their prime.

Despite their recognition by prominent kennel clubs, they remain a rarity outside of their native Sicily. For families or individuals seeking an active, loyal companion with a touch of the exotic, the Cirneco dell’Etna is a remarkable choice. As with all breeds, prospective owners should delve deeper, possibly connecting with breed enthusiasts or experts, to truly understand what it means to welcome a Cirneco dell’Etna into their lives.

Top Cirneco dell’Etna Names

These are the top Cirneco dell’Etna  names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

Female Names


Ginger Adam









Male Names











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