Cirneco dell’Etna

Cirneco looking forward

Quick Facts


22 to 26 pounds (male)

17 to 22 pounds (female)


18-19.5 inches (male)

16.5-18 inches (female)

Average Lifespan:

12-14 years

Known For:

Low-maintenance, athletic hounds with gentle nature.


The Cirneco dell’Etna is not just a mouthful to pronounce, but it’s also a delightful burst of energy wrapped in an elegant canine package! Hailing from the beautiful island of Sicily, specifically around the slopes of Mount Etna, this breed has a history that’s intertwined with the ancient Mediterranean civilizations. 


Their sleek appearance and graceful movements often attract glances, but it’s their cheerful personality that wins hearts. As a breed that’s gaining traction among dog enthusiasts worldwide, the Cirneco dell’Etna embodies the spirit of Sicily in its sprightly gait and curious nature.

History and Origin

The tale of the Cirneco dell’Etna is as old as the annals of time, dating back over 2,500 years. This breed is deeply rooted in Sicilian history, and there’s evidence to suggest that its ancestors were brought by the Phoenicians to the Mediterranean region.


The rugged terrains and volcanic landscapes of Sicily, especially around Mount Etna, molded the Cirneco into an agile and hardy hunter. They primarily hunted rabbits, using their keen sense of smell and swift reflexes to capture their prey. Because of their proficiency in hunting, they became an integral part of rural Sicilian life, helping families secure food.


Over time, however, the Cirneco dell’Etna risked fading into oblivion. It was only due to the passionate efforts of enthusiasts in the 20th century that the breed was preserved and recognized. Today, the Cirneco stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Sicilian culture.


Though not necessarily “famous” in the way of Hollywood stars, the Cirneco has made appearances in ancient coins and art pieces, proving its importance and reverence in historical times.

Breed Characteristics


Barking Tendency

Dog Friendly

Health Issues

Shedding Level









Cat Friendly

Exercise Needs


Social Needs








App. Friendly

Child Friendly


Energy Level

Stranger Friendly

Watchdog Instincts







Appearance and Size

Graced with a slender and athletic physique, the Cirneco dell’Etna is a sight to behold. Their almond-shaped amber or ochre eyes are one of their standout features, radiating intelligence and alertness.


Typically, an adult Cirneco will stand anywhere between 43 to 51 cm (17 to 20 inches) tall at the shoulder and weigh between 8.5 to 12 kg (18.7 to 26.5 lbs). The males are generally larger than the females.


The coat of the Cirneco is short, dense, and glossy. While they’re most commonly seen in shades of tan or chestnut, they can also sport white markings. The skin is tight against their lithe frame, emphasizing their well-defined muscles.


Their ears, standing upright and triangular, seem perpetually alert, capturing the essence of their curious nature. The tail is generally carried low, but when they’re excited or on the move, it raises, revealing their playful side.

Personality and Temperament

While the Cirneco dell’Etna’s physical attributes make it a stunning sight, it’s the breed’s personality that truly captivates its owners. With an alert and lively demeanor, the Cirneco is brimming with playful energy, but it also knows when to exhibit its calm and affectionate side.


These dogs are known for their unwavering loyalty to their family. They can be initially wary of strangers, but once they warm up, they’re as friendly as can be. 


Their hunting background has instilled a strong sense of curiosity in them. So, don’t be surprised if your Cirneco is always sniffing around or exploring every nook and cranny of your home or garden.


It’s also worth noting that while they are excellent with children, their hunting instincts might sometimes kick in, making them chase after smaller pets. It’s all in good fun for them, but it’s something to be aware of if you have other small animals.

Health and Lifespan

Every dog lover wants their furry friend to be hale and hearty. Fortunately, the Cirneco dell’Etna is generally a healthy breed. Thanks to the natural selection processes they underwent in the harsh terrains of Sicily, they’ve emerged as a resilient breed.


That said, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. It’s always wise to be aware of these so you can provide the best care possible. Some potential health concerns include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and certain eye disorders.


With proper care, a balanced diet, and regular check-ups, the Cirneco dell’Etna can enjoy a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, giving you many joyous years of companionship.

Care and Maintenance

Cirneco grooming

Taking care of a Cirneco dell’Etna is a delightful journey that’s as rewarding for the owner as it is for the dog.

First and foremost, exercise is paramount for this active breed. Their historical role as hunters means they have an innate need to run, chase, and play. A daily walk coupled with some playtime in a secure yard will keep them content. Interactive toys can also be a great way to engage their sharp minds.


When it comes to grooming, the Cirneco’s short coat makes the task a breeze. A weekly brush to remove loose hairs and distribute skin oils is usually sufficient. Bathing can be done as needed, but it’s essential not to overdo it to preserve the natural oils in their coat.

Diet-wise, a well-balanced and high-quality dog food that suits their age, weight, and activity level is ideal. Fresh water should always be available.


Remember to keep up with regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative treatments for parasites. Regular ear checks and dental care (like teeth brushing or dental chews) can also go a long way in ensuring your Cirneco’s overall well-being.

Training and Behavior

Training a Cirneco dell’Etna can be a unique experience, filled with moments of joy and challenges. Armed with intelligence and a touch of independence, they can sometimes have a mind of their own. But fear not! With the right approach, they can be trained to be obedient companions.


Consistency and positive reinforcement are key. Shower them with treats, praises, or toys when they display good behavior. Avoid harsh methods, as these can lead to distrust or fear. Engaging in fun obedience games or agility activities can also be beneficial, as it taps into their natural instincts and provides mental stimulation.


While Cirnecos are typically well-mannered, their hunting background can sometimes result in chasing behaviors, especially towards smaller animals. Early socialization and training can help in curbing this behavior.

Cirneco dell’Etna and Families

Cirneco with people

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a family-oriented dog that revels in human companionship. Their loyalty and affectionate nature make them perfect companions for both adults and children. Their playful demeanor can provide endless entertainment for kids, while their calm and gentle side ensures safety.


However, as always, it’s essential to supervise interactions between dogs and young children to ensure safety for both. Teaching children how to approach and touch dogs can prevent any mishaps.


In terms of cohabiting with other pets, early socialization is key. While they might have an instinctual urge to chase smaller pets due to their hunting background, with proper introductions and training, they can coexist harmoniously.

Adopting a Cirneco dell’Etna

Are you smitten by the Cirneco dell’Etna and considering bringing one home? Fantastic choice! These dogs are sure to bring warmth and joy to any household. When adopting, consider reputable breeders or even adoption centers that specialize in this breed.


Before making the commitment, ensure you have the time, space, and resources to care for a Cirneco. Familiarize yourself with their needs and characteristics to ensure a happy life for both of you. If possible, spend time with the breed to get a firsthand feel.


Always prioritize adopting over shopping. There might be Cirneco dell’Etna dogs in shelters looking for a loving home. Give them a chance, and they’ll shower you with unconditional love in return.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the Cirneco dell’Etna?

This ancient breed originates from Sicily, Italy, and was traditionally used for hunting rabbits and game on the rugged terrain of Mount Etna.

What are the exercise requirements for a Cirneco dell’Etna?

They are active and energetic dogs that require regular exercise to satisfy their hunting instincts. Daily walks, runs, and play sessions are necessary for their physical and mental health.

How easy is it to train a Cirneco dell’Etna?

They are intelligent and can be trained with patience and consistency. However, their independent nature may require more creative training techniques.

Are Cirneco dell’Etnas good with families?

Yes, they are known to be affectionate and loyal with their families. They do well with children and other pets if properly socialized.

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