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Cirneco dell’ Etna – Dogster


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 18 – 26 pounds
  • Height: 16.5 – 19.5 inches

The Look of a Cirneco

Cirnechi (plural of Cirneco) are beautiful, elegant and muscular hounds. Smaller than their cousins, the Pharoah Hound, their short coat color ranges from light tan to chestnut but its their large, upright ears that grab attention. Eyes are amber or ochre and may change colors as puppies become adults.

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©Melissa Kauffman


  • energetic
  • independent
  • mischievous
  • sweet tempered
  • sensitive
  • joyful
  • athletic
  • stubborn

Ideal Human Companion

What They Are Like to Live With

Reading about a Cirneco is all well and good, but I have found it much different to actually live with one. Physically, the cute puppy stage doesn’t last long and we were surprised how quickly our Cirneco dell’ Etna puppy grew to her adult size in a matter of months. By the time she reached 8 months old, she had for the most part stopped getting taller and heavier. She is all legs, so much so that our other small dogs all run underneath her. She is a natural athlete, with quickness and grace, jumping easily to pretty good heights. You will need to keep her leashed for her own safety, as her sighthound instincts will kick especially if she sees a rabbit and may overcome all her training. Your backyard should be fenced high enough that she can’t jump over it. We also keep our front porch fenced as she is very quickly and may easily slip through the front door if you open it.

From talking to other Cirnechi owners, females can come into their first heat anywhere from 6 months of age to 2 years of age. These same Cirnechi owners recommend not spaying or neutering until the puppy has fully developed, which is to say for females not until at least after their first heat. Many do not spay or neuter their Cirnechi because there are so few of them and others have concerns about spaying and neutering and dogs’ health.

Our Cirneco is very sensitive. When she is stressed, like she was the first week after coming home with us before adjusting, she gets a queasy stomach and will throw up. It took of few weeks to get her to eat normally, but once she did, she has continued to have a large appetite. She gets into everything and constantly likes to keep herself entertained, which includes trying to play with any other dog in the vicinity, chewing up everything outside the house and inside. Make sure that there are no toxic plants outside in the yard and puppy proof the house as best as you can.

A joyful and loving dog, the Cirneco may need a little bit to warm up to other people and animals. Socialize and train from an early age and continue to do so. As the dog’s confidence grows, so will her comfort with other people, animals and places. These are sight hounds and will go after anything that moves: cats, lizards, bugs, birds and other dogs. Our dog slowly sights in on one of her furry brothers and then pounces on him, just as if he was prey. She is only playing with him, but it is fascinating to see. Our Cirneco has been brought up with parrots but they are never allowed to be alone together.

All of my research discusses the Cirneco coat. The breed has a smooth, short single coat. The good news is that grooming is minimal. Cirnechi are rough and tumble types of dogs so will get scrapes, cuts and scabs easily and may scar. This was a little shocking to us at first as our Cirneco thinks nothing of diving into a rose bush to get a bug no matter the cut and scrapes she gets after. Check your dog over daily for any cuts you need to be worried about. We were also told that due to her light coat, she would get cold easily and prefer to be wrapped up in blankets. We do put a light coat on her during winter months but she has not been interested in being wrapped in a blanket like other Cirnechi I have seen. Of course, our other dogs have heavier coats and don’t like blankets and she typically always follows what the older dogs do.



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©Melissa Kauffman

Things You Should Know

Your Cirneco will need a lot of exercise and play time. Trainers and other Cirneco owners have recommended Lure Coursing as the best sport for this breed, although agility is another good one. If you are not willing at least to walk your dog several times a day, then this is not the dog breed for you.

Like all ancient sighthounds, Cirnechi are susceptible to complications when given anesthesia and can have potentially life-threatening slow recovery from anesthetic drugs. See more here.

There isn’t a lot of information on the Cirneco dell’ Etna in the United States and there are not a lot of breeders. Your best source of information is from your breeder, the Cirneco dell Etna Club of America and private Facebook pages for Cirnechi owners. They are a caring and helpful group and I have found them to be willing to answer questions.


The Cirneco dell’Etna is a small, short-haired, chestnut red-colored sighthound that was used in Sicily to hunt rabbits. The breed is found all over the Italian island, especially in the area surrounding the active volcano Mount Etna, where the dogs hunt on terrain formed by volcanic lava. It’s considered one of the few ancient breeds that has undergone little change over time, remaining hardy and healthy.

The Cirneco (chir-neck-oh) resembles the Pharaoh Hound, a larger sighthound breed that hails from Malta. With their prominent, erect ears and clean-cut lines, both the Cirneco and the Pharaoh remind us of Anubis, the jackal god of ancient Egypt.


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