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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Friendly, Independent
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 183 of 194
  • Height: 18-19.5 inches (male), 16.5-18 inches (female)
  • Weight: 22-26 pounds (male), 17-22 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Hound Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Cirneco dell’Etna standing in grass facing left
Cirneco dell’Etna sitting outside in front of a tiered fountain
Cirneco dell’Etna standing in grass in three-quarter view
Three Cirneco dell’Etna dogs heads and shoulders in three-quarter view

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Medium sized hunting dog, elegant, slender build but strong and hardy. Long-limbed, of light construction and square outline with a fine coat and upright ears, always alert.

HEAD

Expression – Alert expression. Eyes – Relatively small, oval in shape, semi-lateral position. Amber or ochre blending with the coat. Pigmentation of the eyelid rims corresponding to the color of the nose. Brown or yellow iris is a fault to be severely penalized. Walleye, an eye with a whitish iris or a blue eye(s) is a disqualification. Ears – Set very high and close together, upright and rigid, parallel or almost parallel when alert. Triangular shape with a narrow tip. Length not more than half the head. Totally hanging ears or bat ears are a disqualification.

Skull – Width of skull no more than one half the length of head, in profile almost flat. Lean and well chiseled.
Stop – Slight stop.
Muzzle – Length of muzzle equal to or only slightly less than the length of the skull.
Planes – Top of skull and foreface parallel or slightly divergent. Nose – Bridge of nose straight.
Nose rather large, flesh colored, blending with coat. Cheeks – Flat cheeks.
Mouth – Lower jaw lightly developed with receding chin. Overshot mouth or undershot mouth is a disqualification.
Lips – Thin, taut lips, just covering the teeth of the lower jaw.
Bite – Regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Teeth – Full dentition desirable.

BODY

Chest – Reaches to, or nearly to, the elbow, without going beyond.
Ribs – Slightly sprung, narrow but never flat. Underline & Tuck-up – Clean, gently rising underline, lean without excessive tuck-up.
Back – Upper profile straight, without conspicuous muscles, the length is approximately three times the length of the loin.
Loin – Length of loin is approximately one-fifth of the height at the withers and its width is nearly the same as its length. Short, slightly developed muscles but firm. The width of loin is close to length.
Croup – Croup has a flat profile, sloping steeply downwards to the root of tail.
Shoulders – Strong, long, moderately laid back. Shoulder blades – Upper tips close together. Length close to one-third the height at the withers. Upper Arm – Length of upper arm slightly less than length of shoulder blade.
Elbow – Level or below the line of the brisket and well tucked in.

Forequarters

Angulation – Shoulder blade (scapulum) to horizontal 55 to 60 degrees.

Hindquarters

Strong and muscular. Limbs parallel when viewed from behind. Angulation – Not excessively angulated. In profile a vertical line from rear point of buttock to ground close to or touching the tips of the toes. The angle between pelvis and upper thigh is about 115 degrees.

LEGS

Legs – Forelegsstraight and parallel when viewed from the front. Pasterns – Strong and slightly sloping. Dewclaws – May not be removed.
Legs – Upper thigh – Broad, long, upper thigh with flat muscles. Stifle – Moderate bend of stifle.
Second thigh – Slightly shorter than the upper thigh. Lean and distinct musculature with light bone structure. Groove at Achilles tendon well marked.
Hock joint – Angle at the joint is about 145 degrees.
Hocks – Wide outer surface, cylindrical shape and vertical position. Length from sole of foot to point of hock is just over a quarter of the height at the withers. Dewclaws – Absent.
Feet: Strong, well knuckled, firm, slightly oval, turning neither in nor out.
Pads – Well padded, hard and of the same color as the nails.
Nails – Brown or flesh colored. Black nails are a disqualification.

COAT

Short on head, ears and legs. Short to semi-long (about 1¼ inch) on body, but sleek and close, ranging from fine to slightly coarse. No feathering.

TAIL

Tail – Low set, fairly thick at the base, reaching to point of hock. Of equal thickness for most of its length. Carried high and curved when dog is in action;
sabre fashion when in repose. Hair on tail is semi-long and close. Tail curled over the back is a fault to be severely penalized.

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Cirneco-Dell-Etna

About the Cirneco dell’Etna

Standing under 20 inches, the Cirneco (“cheer-NEK-o”; Cirnechi is the plural) is often described as resembling a smaller version of the Pharaoh Hound, its cousin from the island of Malta. This slender but rugged hunter’s coat ranges from light to dark tan or chestnut. The large, upright ears point up the alert expression of the eyes, whose amber or ochre color smartly complements the coat.

In many ways, these lithe and leggy Sicilians are typical sighthounds: sweet-natured, independent and, of course, breathtakingly swift. It is said, though, that Cirnechi are a bit more trainable than the usual sighthound. These living artifacts of antiquity have sprinted into the 21st century relatively unchanged by passing fads and fancies.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Cirneco dellEtna Puppy

Find a Puppy: Cirneco dell’Etna

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Care

NUTRITION

The Cirneco should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available.

GROOMING

The Cirneco’s short-haired, smooth coat requires minimal care. Gentle weekly brushing with a soft bristle brush or hound glove should keep him looking his best, with an occasional bath only as needed. His ears should be regularly inspected for dirt or buildup of excess wax and cleaned if needed with soft gauze and an ear-cleaning solution—the dog’s breeder or the veterinarian can recommend a good brand to use. The nails should be trimmed often if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort.

EXERCISE

Moderate physical exercise and mental stimulation are essential to satisfy the Cirneco’s intensely intelligent and inquisitive nature. He does best when he has a function, whether that means competing in the show ring or other canine events or being an interactive family member. He enjoys long walks and activities with his people. Because of his strong hunting instincts, he should not be allowed off lead in areas that are not securely enclosed, as he may not be able to resist the urge to run off after perceived prey. He does well with a fenced backyard where he can enjoy playtime with his owner, although he should not be just left alone outside with no attention for long periods, as he would be lonely and unhappy.

TRAINING

The Cirneco has a strong, independent temperament necessary for a hunter but is friendly and affectionate and makes an excellent family pet. They respond well to gentle methods of training and can be successfully trained for obedience, rally, agility, tracking, and of course the breed’s historical reason for existence: hunting. Many Cirnechi especially enjoy lure coursing. Due to the breed’s strong prey drive, care must be exercised when introducing the Cirneco to cats and small animals. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the Cirneco grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.

HEALTH

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a very hardy and healthy breed. Given excellent nutrition, regular veterinary care, parasite control, and the mental and physical stimulation he needs, he will be a happy and long-lived companion. Every week the owner should do a quick check of the dog’s ears for any signs of infection, and the Cirneco’s teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

No recommended health tests.

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Cirneco Dell Etna Care
Cirneco dell’Etna
Cirneco dell Etna History
Cirneco dell’Etna
Cirneco dell’Etna

History

It is thought that ancient Egyptians perfected “sighthounds” or “coursing hounds,” the canine clan of explosively fast hunters struck from the Greyhound template. In antiquity, offshoots of the “Egyptian Hound” were developed and bartered around the Middle East and Mediterranean basin.

A clue to the Cirneco’s origin is in its name: Cirneco is derived from a Greek word meaning “dog of Cyrene (Libya).” It is likely that the breed has existed in Sicily since its ancestors arrived on its craggy shores some 3,000 years ago in the holds of ships piloted by those master traders of the ancient world, the Phoenicians. As far back as 500 b.c., dogs resembling Cirnechi appeared on Sicilian coins.
For thousands of years Cirnechi (sometimes called Sicilian Greyhounds) have been chasing rabbit, hare, and game birds across the rocky slopes of Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. Don’t be fooled by the breed’s delicate appearance; the Cirneco dell’Etna is a tough and durable worker, able to go without food or water for hours on the hunt in the hot climate and rugged terrain of its homeland.

By the early 1930s, the Cirneco was on the verge of oblivion. Dr. Maurizio Migneco, a veterinarian, wrote a passionate article about the breed’s imminent demise. It caught the attention of a Sicilian aristocrat, Baroness Agata Paternó Castello, who spent the next 26 years reviving the breed in Sicily.

The Cirneco was recognized by Italy’s national kennel club in 1939, and the AKC recognized the breed in 2015.

Did You Know?

The Cirneco dell'Etna takes it name from Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, situated on the east coast of Sicily. The Cirneco can be found all over Sicily. The affix "dell'Etna" wa…
The Cirneco has been selected over centuries as a "specialist" for hunting wild rabbit primarily using scent, although in its method of hunting the breed characteristically also employs hearing and…
Cirneco is pronounced "cheer-nec-ko" and its plural is Cirnechi (cheer-nec-kee).
Between the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C., during the period of colonization of Sicily by Greece, hundreds of variations of coins were minted all over Sicily depicting a dog which is so similar that i…
The Cirneco has been assigned the Hound Group Designation.
The Cirneco has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 2006.
At the February 2011 Board Meeting, the Cirneco dell'Etna Club of America will serve as the AKC Parent Club to represent the Cirneco dell'Etna.
Legend has it that the Temple on the south western slopes of the volcano dedicated to the God Adranos, personification of the Etna volcano, was guarded by 1000 Cirnechi who had the divine ability to…
At the November 2009 Board Meeting, the Cirneco dell'Etna became eligible to compete in AKC Performance Events effective July 1, 2010.
At the July 2009 Board Meeting, the Cirneco dell'Etna became eligible to compete in AKC Companion Events effective January 1, 2010.
At the January 2007 Board Meeting, one new breed was added to the Foundation Stock Service Program - Cirneco dell'Etna.
Despite its primitive origins, the Cirneco is biddable and affectionate, responding well to gentle methods of training, with a lively and active disposition which requires mental stimulation and…
A group of Cirneco aficionados established the first "colony" of pure bred Cirnechi in the USA in 1996 forming a breed club in 1997. The breed was first accepted by ASFA in 1999.
At the February 2014 Board Meeting, the Cirneco dell'Etna Club of America became the official parent club for the Cirneco dell'Etna. The Cirneco dell'Etna became eligible for AKC registratio…
At the April 2011 Board Meeting, the Cirneco dell'Etna was approved to compete in the Miscellaneous Class, effective January 1, 2012.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Medium sized hunting dog, elegant, slender build but strong and hardy. Long-limbed, of light construction and square outline with a fine coat and upright ears, always alert.

HEAD

Expression – Alert expression. Eyes – Relatively small, oval in shape, semi-lateral position. Amber or ochre blending with the coat. Pigmentation of the eyelid rims corresponding to the color of the nose. Brown or yellow iris is a fault to be severely penalized. Walleye, an eye with a whitish iris or a blue eye(s) is a disqualification. Ears – Set very high and close together, upright and rigid, parallel or almost parallel when alert. Triangular shape with a narrow tip. Length not more than half the head. Totally hanging ears or bat ears are a disqualification.

Skull – Width of skull no more than one half the length of head, in profile almost flat. Lean and well chiseled.
Stop – Slight stop.
Muzzle – Length of muzzle equal to or only slightly less than the length of the skull.
Planes – Top of skull and foreface parallel or slightly divergent. Nose – Bridge of nose straight.
Nose rather large, flesh colored, blending with coat. Cheeks – Flat cheeks.
Mouth – Lower jaw lightly developed with receding chin. Overshot mouth or undershot mouth is a disqualification.
Lips – Thin, taut lips, just covering the teeth of the lower jaw.
Bite – Regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Teeth – Full dentition desirable.

BODY

Chest – Reaches to, or nearly to, the elbow, without going beyond.
Ribs – Slightly sprung, narrow but never flat. Underline & Tuck-up – Clean, gently rising underline, lean without excessive tuck-up.
Back – Upper profile straight, without conspicuous muscles, the length is approximately three times the length of the loin.
Loin – Length of loin is approximately one-fifth of the height at the withers and its width is nearly the same as its length. Short, slightly developed muscles but firm. The width of loin is close to length.
Croup – Croup has a flat profile, sloping steeply downwards to the root of tail.
Shoulders – Strong, long, moderately laid back. Shoulder blades – Upper tips close together. Length close to one-third the height at the withers. Upper Arm – Length of upper arm slightly less than length of shoulder blade.
Elbow – Level or below the line of the brisket and well tucked in.

Forequarters

Angulation – Shoulder blade (scapulum) to horizontal 55 to 60 degrees.

Hindquarters

Strong and muscular. Limbs parallel when viewed from behind. Angulation – Not excessively angulated. In profile a vertical line from rear point of buttock to ground close to or touching the tips of the toes. The angle between pelvis and upper thigh is about 115 degrees.

LEGS

Legs – Forelegsstraight and parallel when viewed from the front. Pasterns – Strong and slightly sloping. Dewclaws – May not be removed.
Legs – Upper thigh – Broad, long, upper thigh with flat muscles. Stifle – Moderate bend of stifle.
Second thigh – Slightly shorter than the upper thigh. Lean and distinct musculature with light bone structure. Groove at Achilles tendon well marked.
Hock joint – Angle at the joint is about 145 degrees.
Hocks – Wide outer surface, cylindrical shape and vertical position. Length from sole of foot to point of hock is just over a quarter of the height at the withers. Dewclaws – Absent.
Feet: Strong, well knuckled, firm, slightly oval, turning neither in nor out.
Pads – Well padded, hard and of the same color as the nails.
Nails – Brown or flesh colored. Black nails are a disqualification.

COAT

Short on head, ears and legs. Short to semi-long (about 1¼ inch) on body, but sleek and close, ranging from fine to slightly coarse. No feathering.

TAIL

Tail – Low set, fairly thick at the base, reaching to point of hock. Of equal thickness for most of its length. Carried high and curved when dog is in action;
sabre fashion when in repose. Hair on tail is semi-long and close. Tail curled over the back is a fault to be severely penalized.

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Cirneco-Dell-Etna

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
CHESNUT Check Mark For Standard Color 070
TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 195

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014

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