Cirneco dell’Etna Dog: Characteristics, Origin, Lifespan

The Cirneco dell’Etna dog is a breed of hunting dog from the Mediterranean island of Sicily, Italy. The breed has keen sense of smell, and is used to hunt small game, particularly rabbits. It is a very beautiful breed of dog.

It is named ‘Etna’ for the Etna volcano in eastern Sicily. And the name “Cirneco” comes from a Greek word, “Kyrenaikos,” which means “of Cyrene.” The ancient Greek city of Cyrene was located near modern Shahhat, Libya.

The Cirneco dell’Etna dog looks a bit like the Ibizan Hound, the breed’s ancestors likely hail from Sicily by way of Phoenician trader ships that sailed thousands of years ago.

Descendants of those dogs have hunted small game, like rabbits and hares, on the island for millennia.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a very old breed. Coins made as long ago as 500 B.C from Segesta in Sicily depict dogs that resemble the modern Cirneco dell’Etna.

There’s even an old legend that says a thousand of these dogs guarded a temple of Adranos, a fire God. The dogs had a divine ability to find and attack any thieves or nonbelievers who approached while keeping devout pilgrims to the temple safe and at peace.

The Cirneco dell’Etna dog breed was mostly unknown outside of it’s homeland of Sicily, before 1932. And that year, a veterinarian named Dr. Maurizio Migneco, who came to the island, wrote an article for the Italian hunting journal that covered the breed’s declining numbers.

Baroness Agata Paternó Castello, an Italian aristocrat, was moved by the breed’s plight and worked until her death to revive the breed.

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In 1939, Italy’s national kennel club recognized the Cirneco dell’Etna, but it would be over seven decades before the American Kennel Club (AKC) granted full recognition to the breed in 2015.[1]

Cirneco dell’Etna Dog Characteristics

The Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are medium in size and are very beautiful. They generally have short coats, and are generally considered to be a good choice for allergy sufferers.

The main colors of the Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are different shades of chestnut or tan. Though, some pooches may display a whitish collar or a patch of white.

Average body height of the mature dog is between 18 and 20 inches at the withers for males, and between 17 and 19 inches for the females. Average live body weight of the mature dogs is between 10 and 13 kg for the males, and between 8 and 10 kg for the females.

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Temperament

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a very alert and gentle dog breed with an independent spirit. These dogs are playful and love to be with people.

The breed was originally bred to help hunters catch rabbit and prey, they are now suited as companion dogs and love their human counterparts.

The Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are highly intelligent and they are very easy to train, especially when you use positive reinforcement and praise. These sleek pups have a high prey drive, so make sure to keep a tight hold on their leash, as they might give chase to a squirrel running by.

As the Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are very independent, it’s suggested to make sure they are trained early as pups. They are generally friendly towards strangers and love to play with children. They can get along with other dogs and smaller pets only if they are socialized early.

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The Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are able to live in apartments in the city or large homes with yards as they are of medium size. They love to play catch and are also capable of cuddling inside with their human parents.

Lifespan

Average lifespan of the Cirneco dell’Etna dog is between 12 and 14 years.

Feeding

How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are small to medium in size and they are very active. So, their diet should be formulated for a small to medium sized breed with high exercise needs. Consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.

Caring

Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Cirneco dell’Etna dogs. You should always keep up with your dog’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet will be able to help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog health.

The Cirneco dell’Etna dogs have high energy levels, and they are prone to weight gain. So, make sure your dog gets at least one good half-hour to hour-long walk per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.

Check their ears for debris and pests daily and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog’s nails before they get too long—usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this.

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Health

The Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include hip dysplasia, and they might be prone to muscle and toe issues from running. Always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameCirneco dell’Etna
Other NamesNone
Breed SizeMedium
HeightBetween 18 and 20 inches at the withers for males, and between 17 and 19 inches for the females
WeightBetween 10 and 13 kg for the males, and between 8 and 10 kg for the females
Good as PetsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorLight sand, isabella, light to dark tan
LifespanBetween 12 and 14 years
Good for ChildrenYes
RarityCommon
Country/Place of OriginItaly