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Cirneco dell Etna dog… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

When you look at a Cirneco dell Etna dog, you don’t have to spend much time trying to “guess” what these dogs are good at. After all, even when standing still, it looks like they are traveling a million miles an hour. Combined with their keen eyesight and constant state of “alertness,” it’s no wonder this ancient breed has gone relatively “unchanged” for centuries. But simply acknowledging the Cirneco dell Etna dog for his physical attributes is like only reading half a book! Because these dogs also make for great companions and wonderful family pets. And unlike many other “hound” breeds you may encounter, this one is pretty easy to train! That all sounds great!

But be warned…

While there’s no denying that the Cirneco dell Etna dog breed is fantastic, they may not always be the “right” animal for everyone. This is why, in this article, we wanted to discuss some pros and cons of owning a Cirneco dell Etna so that if you’re ever lucky enough to get your hands on one, you won’t be disappointed six months later for having adopted this incredible animal.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Cirneco dell Etna Fast facts

Country of Origin:  Italy

Original Purpose:  Hunting small game

Height:  21 to 25 inches tall

Weight:  45 to 55 pounds

Lifespan: 11 to 14 years

Dog Breed Classification:  Hound group

Origin of the Cirneco Dell Etna dog breed

It doesn’t take a canine expert to see that the Cirneco dell Etna appears to be a close relative of the Pharaoh Hound or “Egyptian Hound.” After all, the Cirneco dell Etna looks like a miniaturized version of a Pharaoh dog. And by “miniature,” we don’t mean the Cirneco dell Etna any disrespect; after all, most experts agree that it was the Egyptians who first perfected the “sighthound” or “coursing hound” category, so if the Cirneco dell Etna is directly related to the Pharaoh Hound that’s simply further evidence of how great these guys are.

But it’s essential to note…

While the Cirneco dell Etna may “look” like a Pharaoh Hound, they are an entirely separate breed developed some 3000 years ago along the Sicilian coastline near Mount Etna. Thousands of years ago, it was not uncommon for Phoenician sailors to travel throughout the Mediterranean Sea, meeting new folks and “spreading” their culture throughout the region. It is believed that during one of these adventures, the Pharaoh Hound became isolated from his brothers and sisters in Sicily, where he began to develop into his unique breed.

It is here…

This “rough and tumble” hunter established himself to be an accomplished hunter and durable worker, capable of going without food or water for hours when needed. It is also why if you ask a native Italian, they will surely tell you that the Cirneco dell Etna is 100% Italian; they may even call him a “Sicilian Greyhound,” depending on where the Italian was born!

Ironically, even though this dog breed could survive for thousands of years through multiple world empires, by the early 1930s, this beautiful creature was on the verge of extinction! Fortunately, the breed was able to survive due to the patronage of a wealthy Sicilian aristocrat by the name of Baroness Agata Paterno Castello. With Castello’s dedication, the species could “regain” its numbers. It was eventually recognized by the Italian Kennel Club in 1939, and traditionally, the American Kennel Club quickly followed by “officially” identifying the breed themselves in 2015 (insert sarcasm here)!

Physical Characteristics

As stated, the Cirneco dell Etna will look similar to his brethren: the Pharaoh Hound. But, once you know what to look for, you’ll see that these two dog breeds will have other markings, and the Cirneco will generally be about 4 to 5 inches shorter and weigh about 20 pounds lighter. The Cirneco dell Etna will also usually comes in fawn and tan colors, with a thin but glossy coat that makes him a distinctly indoors dog…unless you happen to live somewhere with a similar climate to Sicily (these guys don’t tolerate the cold all that well).


The Cirneco dell Etna’s “ear length” will also be longer than the Pharaoh Hound, and he has large, erect, and almost flat-looking ears capable of hearing at vast distances. But honestly, you have to look pretty closely to see a significant difference here. And when you look at the two dogs individually, the size of their ears is typically dictated by the size of the dog.

Your Cirneco dell Etna may be muscled or not on the “leaner” side, depending on whether or not he is from hunting dog stock. However, you can generally assume that most Cirnecos will have a distinctly hound-shaped muzzle and require minimal grooming – ideal for all those sick of picking hair off their clothes! And while… they are a skinny breed known for their ability to go long periods with neither food nor water to sustain them, be warned, they love to eat when they have a chance, so if you want your Cirneco to keep their “classic” build, you’re going to want to be sure an avoid “spoiling” them.

The Breed Standard attributes this breed as a medium-sized hunting dog that is long-limbed – and we agree.

Personality and Temperament

You get to earn the nickname “Sicilian Greyhound” if you like to sit around the house all day. If you decide to adopt a Cirneco dell Etna puppy or a Cirneco dell Etna rescue dog, you should be prepared to own a dog full of energy. These guys require a lot of exercise and will love to spend a few hours a week at your local dog park if given a chance. Plus, most Cirnecos don’t like being left alone for an extended period.

And while…

They are relatively easy to train; if they are not given enough time to run and play or are left to their own devices for too long, these little guys can find all sorts of ways to make their owners crazy! This is why if you adopt a Cirneco, you’ll want to give them plenty of time to run and play. And… enroll them in an obedience class the right way.

You see…

Even though these dogs aren’t all that big, they are fast. And if not appropriately trained, you could spend the better half of the next decade chasing after one of these guys if you’re not careful. Heck! Even with an appropriately trained Cirneco, we recommend you walk with them “off-leash.” Because you need to remember that at their “core,” the Cirneco remains a hunting machine. A “sighthound” hunting machine. As a result, even if your little guy doesn’t seem like it, they are probably constantly scanning the horizon, looking for some small animal to hunt.

This tiny little animal…

It could be another dog, your cat, or even the neighbor’s kid who drives you up the wall! Either way, to your Cirneco, this “animal” represents an opportunity to chase; unless you’ve trained your Cirneco not to pursue as a puppy or have them on a leash, there is a perfect chance you will be getting your “steps” in for that day trying to get your dog back!

So, You’ve Been Warned:

Train your Cirneco dell Etna EARLY!

Potential Health Concerns

You are in luck if this is the breed you have chosen. Due to both rarity and lack of over-breeding, not many health concerns are associated with this breed. Now, they may suffer from hip and leg ailments when older or might need their toes looked at once in a while, but apart from that, the Cirneco dell Etna dog breed doesn’t have all that many health risks to speak of.

That said, however…

Because we know that accidents do happen, and because this dog loves to run and chance, we always like to encourage any new Cirneco dell Etna dog owner to take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy so that if anything does happen to their loved one, they wouldn’t be on the “hook” for 100% of the vet costs.

For more information about who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies, please check out our article: Best Pet Insurance Companies.

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