The Cirneco dell'Etna (pronounced "cheer-NAY-ko dell et-nuh"), also known as the Sicilian Greyhound, is thought to have existed on the Italian island of Sicily for over 3,000 years with similar-looking dogs appearing on Sicilian coins that date back to around 500 B.C. The breed is named after Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano, where they were commonly used to hunt rabbit and hare. The Cirneco dell'Etna, one of the smallest hound breeds native to the Mediterranean islands, is predominately seen as a companion or show dog despite their hunting background. A rare sight to see outside of Italy, there are only about 200 or so Cirnechi making their home in the United States.
Resembling a smaller version of the Pharaoh Hound, the Cirneco dell'Etna is an ancient breed that has gone through very little human manipulation. This extremely hardy hound has a slender build for speed and is tough enough to go without food and water for hours while on the hunt, even in hot climates. Cirnechi have a short light to dark chestnut or tan coat that ranges from fine to slightly coarse. The breed's relatively small amber or ochre-colored eyes and erect triangular-shaped ears give them an alert expression. Their saber-shaped tail is carried high and curved when the Cirneco is in action.
Independent, companionable, and loyal, the Cirneco dell'Etna exhibits some of the best characteristics known for hound-type breeds. These dogs love to spend quality time with their family members, following them from room-to-room. Unlike other breeds, they are considered to be easier to train than the average sighthound. As long as training sessions are kept short, the Cirneco will excel in just about anything they put their mind to and have been successfully trained for obedience, agility, tracking, and of course, hunting. Despite their chase instinct, Cirnechi can be quite tolerant of household cats and small dogs if they were raised with them from a young age. This slender natural-born athlete has fairly high exercise requirements due to their hunting background. If you are looking for an active breed that excels in dog sports, the Cirneco may be the right breed for you! Remember, these hounds are stellar jumpers and will be better suited in homes with tall fenced-in yards. Even though they are very active, Cirnechi are quite gentle and mild-mannered in the home to make for a devoted and low-maintenance companion.