AKC Dog Breeds: Cirneco dell Etna

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Foundation Stock Service® Breed
Height: 16-20 inches   Weight: 18-30 pounds  Color: fawn; with or without white chest markings, white; with or without orange markings

The Cirneco dell'Etna  is a small breed of dog originally from Sicily. This hound was historically used to hunt rabbits and can work for hours without food or water. The breed also has a keen sense of smell and is primarily built for endurance over harsh terrain. It is the smallest of the Mediterranean island hunting hounds, the others being the Pharaoh Hounds and Ibizan Hounds. Cirnechi were believed, most likely correctly, to have been brought to Sicily over 3000 years ago by the Phoenician traders. Now fairly common in its native land, the breed almost disappeared until revived in the early 1900's.  A sight, sound, and scent hound, this breed is extremely rare, difficult to obtain, and is not commonly seen out of its native island of Sicily. The Cirneco has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 2006. Today they are increasingly kept for the sport of conformation showing and as pets, due to their low coat maintenance and friendly nature, although as an active hound they do need regular exercise. Cirneco dell'Etna is a dog with a long history. They have proven to be very resilient and have made it against the odds into the 21st century.

General Appearance
The Cirneco dell'Etna is a "wise-looking" hound and carries dignity as it hunts. They are medium  in size, with very short, glossy and harsh to the touch fur. They are thinly wired, with evenly distributed muscles, such as a greyhound. The prick ear may be the breeds most distinguishing feature, being high set and close together. The ears are held erect, and should be perfectly parallel. The Cirneco dell'Etna is often mistaken for a small pharaoh hound. Although the two breeds are similar in appearance, after studying the standard one will find they differ on many points. One main point being the breed size, Cirnechi have a maximum size for male dogs of 19.69 inches, and females a maximum of 18.11. Cirnechi can blush when excited, and will tan in the summer. A primitive breed, the Cirneco dell Etna is of slender and elegant build. Despite their lithe appearance they are well-muscled, strong, and hardy. Cirneco dell Etna's are agile, swift, and possess the uncanny ability of stealthily stalking and catching their prey with absolute silence. The coat of the Cirneco dell Etna is glossy, harsh, and short. The eyes, which seem rather small, are of a not too dark ochre color, amber and also grey, never brown or dark hazel; in lateral position; soft expression; oval shaped, with pigmentation of the eyelid rims corresponding to the color of the nose. The length of the chest is slightly more than half the height at the withers


The Cirneco dell Etna breed is not recommended for inexperienced or first time dog owners. The Cirneco dell Etna possesses a strong, independent personality. They are affectionate, loyal, and lively companions. They are reserved and aloof with strangers and pets they do not know. They are exceedingly alert and watchful, but are not typically aggressive. Cirneco dell'Etnas will adapt to companion if needed, but does not readily adapt to other dogs and children. Cirneco dell'Etnas will sleep outdoors contentedly, keeping watch for you throughout the night. Training is difficult with this breed, but watchdog capabilities come naturally.

The Cirneco dell'Etna requires little in the way of grooming. The coat of this breed is short and does not need much attention. Occasional brushing with a firm bristle brush is recommended for the Cirneco dell Etna. Bathing should only be done when necessary.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

Due to the rarity of the breed there are no known health issues. The average life expectancy for the Cirneco dell Etna is 12-14 years.

Activity Level
Cirneco dell Etna's require an inordinate amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation. They are not recommended for city or apartment living. The Cirneco dell Etna does best in a rural setting where there is ample acreage to roam, hunt, run, and play. The Cirneco dell'Etna needs a lot of exercise. The best type of owner for this breed would be an active person living in a rural area or even a suburban area. City living for this breed would be difficult. They have a naturally strong drive to hunt so they have the tendency to run away in the pursuit of game. They can jump very high so they need a tall fenced in area.


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