Meet the Breed: The Cirneco dell’Etna



  • Height: 16"- 20”
  • Weight: 22-26 pounds
  • Historical function: Rabbit hunting
  • Modern function: Rabbit hunting, companion
  • AKC Classification: Hound group

Physical Characteristics:

The Cirneco dell’Etna (pronounced "cheer-nec-ko") is a small hound that has an elegant, refined appearance yet is sturdy and able to hunt for hours in harsh terrain without food or water. The coat is short and sleek and comes in shades of tan or chestnut. Some white is permissible. The ears are set high and are erect.

History of the Breed:

The Cirneco dell"Etna has been documented in Sicily for over 2,500 years. They are related to Pharoh Hounds but are smaller. The Cirneco was used as a stealth hunter of rabbits, birds and other small mammals found in the difficult terrain formed by the volcanic lava of Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. The breed has very little intervention in selection by man. Instead, the harsh conditions of hunting for hours in high heat have ensured only the hardiest of the breed have survived. Only about 200 Cirnechi (plural) live in the U.S. and so are considered to be rare. 


The Cirneco dell"Etna is an intelligent, lively and independent breed, but they are affectionate and friendly making an ideal family pet.

  • Best suited for: Active families that can provide adequate mental and physical exercise for this intelligent, athletic breed.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog is adaptable to all kinds of living conditions, particularly hot climates. Coats are helpful for this short-haired breed in the cold. Needs a high fence as this dog is an amazing jumper.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care short coat needs periodic brushing to remove dead hair. Take care when trimming the nails as sighthounds are often fussy about their feet being touched.
  • Exercise needs: Daily brisk walk.
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years.
  • Health concerns: Generally healthy.

Breed Club Links: Cirneco dell"Etna Club of America Perfect Pairings: Zoom Groom Natural Rubber Brush

Have any stories about a Cirneco dell’Etna? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Giorgio Minguzzi.

This entry was posted by Mary.
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