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Cirneco dell’Etna
Characteristics, History, and Health

Cirneco dell’Etna

The Cirneco dell’Etna is an ancient dog breed from the island of Sicily, Italy. Its existence can be traced back more than 2,500 years, making it one of the oldest dog breeds known to man. Dogs that look like the Cirnechi were seen on Sicilian coins as far back as 500 B.C., yet some say the breed's origins include Libya. These dogs were initially used by Sicilians to hunt rabbits and game, known for their exceptional stamina and agility on rugged terrain around the Mt. Etna region, hence their name.

Main Info
Sicily and Libya
Alternate Names
Sicilian Greyhounds, Cirneco (Cirnechi is the plural)
Life Expectancy
12-14 years
Average Male Height
18-20 inches
Average Female Height
17-20 inches
Average Male Weight
22-26 pounds
Average Female Weight
18-22 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Coat Pattern
White Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Cirneco dell’Etnas may suffer from atopic dermatitis and demodicosis. As a sighthound, this breed is likely more sensitive to barbiturate anesthesia than other breeds and this should be discussed prior to any planned surgeries. Their ears should also be checked weekly for signs of infection. Genetic testing is recommended, including for the following additional conditions: hyperuricosoria, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration.

Personality and Behavior

Cirneco dell’Etna dogs are known for their gentle, affectionate, and intelligent nature. They bond strongly with their families and are generally good with children. While they can be a little reserved with strangers, they are not typically aggressive or overly shy.

Originally bred for hunting, these dogs are highly energetic and require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. They excel in various canine sports, such as agility and obedience, due to their intelligent and trainable nature.

Fun Facts

The name Cirneco dell'Etna is pronounced 'Cheer-Nek-o dell-et-na'. The AKC states that Cirneco is derived from a Greek word meaning “dog of Cyrene (Libya)", and that its ancestors probably arrived in Sicily on Phoenician boats.

According to the AKC, the Cirneco is said to resemble a smaller version of its cousin from the island of Malta, the Pharoah Hound.

The breed was recognized by the AKC in 2015.