By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 18th October 2022

Cirneco dell’Etna


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 18th October 2022

The Cirneco dell’ Etna (pronunciation: cheer-nec-ko) is a small sized breed of hounds deriving its roots from Italy’s Sicily islands. Bearing a close resemblance to the Pharaoh Hound, it is regarded as a smaller variant of the Maltese breed.  Having a slender built and a lithe appearance it is also characterized by a narrow-shaped head, long muzzle, small eyes, triangular-shaped, erect ears, and a long, thick tail. Its sharp sense of smell, high endurance level, and intelligent expression makes it even more appealing.

Cirneco dell’Etna Pictures

Quick Information

Common nicknamesCirneco
CoatShort to semi-long coat with a glossy and fine texture
ColorLight or dark shades of tan, chestnut, Isabella (pale fawn; pale fawn; pale greyish-yellow)
GroupRare dogs; Hounds
Lifespan/ Life Expectancy12- 14 years
HeightMale: 18 to19.5 inches; Female: 16.5 to18 inches
WeightMale: 22 to 26 pounds; Female: 17 to 22 pounds
Litter size3 to 5 puppies
Temperament Gentle, intelligent, alert, independent, active, playful
Good with childrenYes (preferably older ones)
Climate Compatibility Adaptable to varied climatic conditions
Shedding (Does it shed)Moderate
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationFCI, UKC, AKC, KC (UK)

Cirneco dell’Etna Puppies Video


Cirneco, meaning the dog of Cyrene in Greece, has an ancient lineage dating back to over 3000 years, since their ancestors came to the Sicily islands then, which were brought along by the Phoenician traders all the way from North Africa and the Mediterranean coasts. Over a long time the Cirneco dogs endured the rough landscape and harsh weather, engaging themselves in the task of going after game birds, hares and rabbits found along the mountainous terrain of Etna.  In fact their slender, fragile appearance is indeed deceptive as these dogs were capable of surviving sans for several hours, while pursuing their task of hunting.

The early records available for this breed dates back to the first half of the 1500s when the government of Sicily imposed sanctions on anyone using this breed as their hunting companion since this breed was said to bring a lot of destruction to the local games.

They were almost on the verge of extinction during the early 1930s, but for the efforts of veterinarian Dr. Maurizio Migneco, who had written a touching article on its untimely decline. This had attracted the attention of Baroness Agata Paternó Castello, an aristocrat of the Sicily region, who spent 26 years in its revival. The national kennel club of Italy recognized the Cirneco in 1939, while it received acknowledgment for the AKC off late in 2015.


Though friendly and affectionate, they may sometimes display an independent streak of mind, a common trait observed in most hunting dogs. They enjoy being inclined to their kith and kin always and crave for affection, appreciation, and praises. Being left alone for prolonged periods may cause them to suffer from separation anxiety that in turn could result in destructive behavior.

Their interaction with guests may vary as some would maintain a reserved attitude towards strangers, while a few would greet them cordially. However, once they accept a visitor, they might display an exaggerated behavior, going to the extent of licking or jumping upon them to show their love.

They could share a comfortable rapport with other dogs only if socialized well, lest the Cirneco dell’ Etna, might show aggression in their interaction with other canines. Being great hunters, they are a total misfit for houses with smaller pets, as they would instinctively chase these little creatures and even kill them in pursuit of hunting a game.



They have moderate exercise needs and are required to be taken out daily for a leashed walk to help channelize their energy positively. In fact, after their needs for the day have been met, they would enjoy relaxing or even getting cuddled under the blanket. You can also give them sufficient playtime, in a well-fenced yard having a high wall, as they are an expert in escaping, owing to their athletic jumping and great digging skills.


Its smooth, glossy coat is easy to maintain, needing minimal grooming. Comb it once a week using a rubber curry or a soft bristle brush. Bathe it occasionally when needed, with other grooming needs including cleaning its ears, brushing its teeth, and trimming its nails.

Health Problems

It is a generally healthy breed, and there are no reports of it to suffer from any known genetic conditions.


They are intelligent and do not easily forget what they learn. However, someone with a firm mindset is needed to handle their strong-willed nature.

Socialization: You should train the Cirneco on socialization since the time they are puppies so that they would be able to accept the good experiences or situations positively and be alert in times of an intrusion.

Obedience: Since it is challenging to stop your Cirneco, once he is out on any destructive task. Hence, teaching it to follow commands like “stop,” or “wait” is extremely essential so that they may halt the moment they hear your voice.


High-quality dog food with an enriched homemade diet in measured amounts would help to keep it healthy.

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