Cirneco dell’Etna

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cirneco dell'etna portrait
Welcome to the captivating world of the Cirneco dell'Etna, a unique dog breed that's as fiery as the Sicilian volcano they're named after! These nimble, energetic canines are known for their bat-like ears, sleek coats, and remarkable endurance.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a perfect match for active families that love outdoor adventures and have plenty of energy to spare. These dogs thrive on exercise, mental stimulation, and strong bonds with their humans. If you’re a fan of long hikes, playful fetch games, and cozy cuddles, then this spirited Sicilian breed might just steal your heart!


OFFICIAL NAMECirneco dell’Etna
OTHER NAMESSicilian Greyhound
HEIGHT15.5-19.5 inches
WEIGHT17-26 lbs
LIFESPAN12-14 years
cirneco dell'etna running in a park
Photo: alektasystems / 500px/Getty Images


Meet the Cirneco dell’Etna (plural: Cirnechi dell’Etna), a dog breed that’s as visually arresting as it is endearing. With a height ranging from 16.5 to 19.5 inches for males and 15.5 to 18 inches for females, they stand tall with a confident yet approachable demeanor.

They typically weigh between 22 to 26 pounds for males and 17 to 22 pounds for females, which contributes to their agile and athletic build. This, coupled with a body that’s longer than it is tall, gives them an elegant silhouette that’s hard to miss.

The head of a Cirneco is a captivating sight. It’s long and narrow, almost like a cone, topped with large, erect ears that resemble a bat’s. These ears aren’t just for show though; they’re ultra-sensitive, making these dogs excellent listeners, both literally and figuratively.

Their eyes, ranging in color from ochre to hazel, are shaped like almonds and exude a lively and intelligent expression. There’s a certain sparkle in their gaze that’s akin to a perpetual sense of curiosity, making them a joy to interact with.

Now, let’s talk about their tails. Set low, their tails taper to a point and are usually carried hanging. However, when excited or in motion, their tails can form a slight curve, adding to their animated persona.

Their coat is another distinctive feature. Short, dense, and glossy, it comes in shades of light to dark tan or chestnut. Some may even have a white patch on their chests, adding a unique touch to their appearance. This coat isn’t just beautiful, it’s functional too, protecting them from harsh weather conditions, be it the Sicilian sun or the cold.

In essence, the Cirneco is a blend of grace, agility, and resilience. Their physical characteristics mirror their spirited personality, making them not just a treat for the eyes, but also a delightful addition to any household. One look at this breed, and you’ll understand why so many dog lovers are enamored by their charm!

cirneco dell'etna running in an open field
Photo: alekta/Getty Images


The Cirneco dell’Etna is a breed that carries the warmth and zest of the Mediterranean in its personality. This breed’s temperament can be likened to a well-written book – captivating, full of surprises, and something you’d want to dive into over and over again.

These dogs are known for their lively and spirited demeanor. They’re not just energetic, but they also carry an air of cheerfulness around them. It’s as if they have an innate ability to spread joy wherever they go. Their bright eyes and wagging tails are often enough to lighten up even the dullest of days.

One of the things that owners love about the Cirneco is their intelligence. These dogs are quick learners and have a deep sense of curiosity. They love exploring their surroundings and are always keen on discovering new things. This makes them exciting companions, as there’s never a dull moment when you’re around a Cirneco dell’Etna.

However, their intelligence doesn’t mean they’re aloof or overly independent. On the contrary, these dogs are incredibly affectionate and form strong bonds with their human families. They thrive on companionship and love being involved in family activities. Whether it’s lounging on the couch on a lazy afternoon or participating in a game, they’ll be right there, eager to be a part of it all.

Their sociable nature extends beyond their human families. The Cirneco generally gets along well with other dogs and pets. They’re friendly, approachable, and usually quite patient, making them excellent companions for households with multiple pets.

Despite their friendly disposition, these dogs are alert and observant, making them good watchdogs. They’re not typically aggressive, but they won’t hesitate to alert their families of anything unusual. Their keen senses, coupled with their loyalty, make them reliable protectors of their homes.

The Cirneco is also known for its adaptability. They’re just as comfortable living in an apartment as they are in a house with a yard. As long as they have their loved ones around them, they’re happy.

However, like any breed, the Cirneco dell’Etna has its quirks. They can be a bit stubborn at times and might display a streak of independence. This is usually more amusing than problematic, adding a touch of character to their personality.

cirneco dell'etna's face up close
Photo: alekta/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

If you’re considering welcoming a Cirneco dell’Etna into your home, it’s essential to understand the kind of environment that suits them best. These dogs are versatile and adaptable, but they do have their preferences and requirements.

Ideal Owner

Firstly, let’s talk about pet parents. The Cirneco is best suited for active individuals or families who enjoy a healthy dose of outdoor activities. These dogs love companionship and thrive on interaction, so they are happiest when they’re included in daily routines and family events.

Other Pets

A home with other pets? No problem! The friendly and sociable nature of the Cirneco makes them get along well with other animals. They’re generally patient and tolerant, making them excellent companions for households with multiple pets.

Physical Environment

When it comes to the physical environment, these dogs are quite flexible. Whether you live in an apartment or a house with a big backyard, a Cirneco can make itself at home. However, they do appreciate having some outdoor space where they can stretch their legs and explore.

Climate Adaptability

As for climate adaptability, it’s necessary to remember that the Cirneco hails from Sicily – a region known for its warm, Mediterranean climate. These dogs, with their short, thin coats, are more suited to warmer environments. But don’t worry, they can also adapt to cooler climates. However, during particularly cold days, they might need some extra warmth, like a cozy blanket or a doggy sweater.

On the other hand, while they are naturally more resistant to heat than many other breeds, it’s crucial to ensure they have access to shade and fresh water during hot weather. Overexposure to high temperatures can lead to heatstroke, which is a serious concern for all dogs.

cirneco dell'etna at lure coursing
Photo: alekta/Getty Images


The Cirneco dell’Etna, with its sleek coat and agile physique, is a low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a little pampering now and then. So, let’s dive into the world of grooming for these Sicilian beauties!

Coat Care

First things first, their coat. The Cirneco dell’Etna has a short, thin coat that’s relatively easy to care for. A weekly brushing session is usually enough to keep their fur looking shiny and healthy. A soft bristle brush or a grooming mitt is perfect for this task. These tools will help remove any loose hair and distribute the natural oils in their skin, giving their coat a beautiful gloss.

Despite their minimal shedding, it’s a good idea to increase the frequency of brushing during the shedding season, usually in spring and fall. This will help manage the loose hair and keep your dog (and your home) looking neat.

Bathing your Cirneco dell’Etna doesn’t need to be a frequent affair. Unless they’ve rolled in something smelly or muddy, a bath every few months should suffice. Always use a dog-friendly shampoo to maintain the natural balance of their skin and coat.

Dental Care

Now, let’s talk about dental care. Just like us, dogs need regular teeth cleaning to prevent tartar build-up and bad breath. Brushing your Cirneco dell’Etna’s teeth at least once a week is a great habit to develop. There are many dog-friendly toothpastes available that come in flavors your pooch will love. Remember, human toothpaste is not suitable for dogs!

Nail Trimming

Next up, nails. The Cirneco dell’Etna is an active breed, and their nails usually wear down naturally with exercise. However, if you hear a clicking sound when they walk on hard surfaces, it’s a sign that their nails need trimming. A monthly nail check should do the trick. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, a professional groomer or a vet can help.

Ear Care

Don’t forget those bat-like ears! Check them weekly for any signs of redness, bad odor, or inflammation – these could indicate an infection. A gentle wipe with a cotton ball dampened with a vet-approved cleanser is all you need to keep their ears clean.

Eye Care

Lastly, eye care. Regularly check your Cirneco dell’Etna’s eyes for any signs of redness or discharge. If you notice anything unusual, it’s best to consult a vet.

cirneco dell'etna portrait close up
Photo: nickpo/Getty Images


The Cirneco dell’Etna, a breed known for its energy and agility, is not one to laze around. These dogs love to move and have a natural zest for life that’s infectious. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys an active lifestyle, then the Cirneco dell’Etna is the perfect workout buddy for you!

Exercise Amount & Types

These dogs need at least an hour of exercise each day. Now, this doesn’t mean just letting them out in the yard. The Cirneco thrives on structured activities that engage both their body and mind. A brisk walk or a jog is great, but these dogs love variety. Mix it up with some playtime – a game of fetch or frisbee can be incredibly fun and stimulating for them.

Hiking is also a fantastic option. The Cirneco’s heritage as a hunter makes them adept at climbing and navigating different terrains. They would love nothing more than to explore a new trail with their favorite human!

Dog Sports

The Cirneco’s natural agility and speed make them excellent candidates for dog sports. Activities like agility trials, flyball, or even lure coursing can provide them with the physical and mental challenges they crave. Plus, it’s a great way for you to bond with your dog and show off their impressive skills!

Exercise Precautions

Remember, though, that these dogs are quick and agile, so always ensure they’re in a safe and secure area when off-leash. Also, don’t forget to provide them with plenty of fresh water during exercise sessions to keep them hydrated.

cirneco dell'etna at lure coursing
Photo: alekta/Getty Images


Training a Cirneco dell’Etna can be an exciting adventure filled with rewarding moments. These dogs are known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, making them highly trainable. However, like any dog, they have their unique quirks that you’ll need to consider during training sessions.

Positive Reinforcement

The first thing to remember is that the Cirneco dell’Etna is a sensitive breed. They respond best to positive reinforcement methods. Shower them with praise, treats, or playtime whenever they follow a command correctly. This will not only make them more enthusiastic about training but also strengthen your bond with them.

Basic Obedience

Start with basic obedience training – commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, and ‘leave it’. These are not just useful in day-to-day life but also crucial for their safety. Once they’ve mastered these, you can move on to more advanced commands or even tricks, if you’re up for some fun!


Socialization is another important aspect of training. The Cirneco dell’Etna is a friendly and sociable breed, but they need to be exposed to a variety of people, places, and situations from a young age. This will help them grow into well-rounded, confident adults.

Consistency & Patience

While the Cirneco dell’Etna is a quick learner, they do have a streak of independence. They might occasionally decide to ‘do their own thing’, especially when there are more interesting distractions around. Consistency and patience are key here. Keep training sessions short and engaging to hold their interest.

cirneco dell'etna walking on grass
Photo: Kyle Reynolds/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding a Cirneco dell’Etna is like fueling up a sports car – you want to ensure they’re getting the right kind of fuel for optimum performance. These dogs are active and energetic, so they need a diet that matches their lifestyle.

What to Feed & How Much

Firstly, the type of food. Whether you choose dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, make sure it meets the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This ensures your dog is receiving a nutritionally balanced diet. High-quality protein should be the first ingredient, followed by healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

The amount of food your Cirneco dell’Etna needs will depend on their age, size, and activity level. Puppies usually require more frequent meals – about three to four times a day. As they grow, this can be reduced to two meals a day. Always refer to the feeding guide on the pet food packaging or consult with your vet to determine the right portion size.

Remember, while the Cirneco dell’Etna is an active breed, overfeeding can lead to weight gain and related health issues. Keep an eye on their body condition and adjust their food intake as necessary.


Treats are a great training aid and a way to show your dog some love. However, they should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Opt for healthy options like fruits, vegetables, or specially formulated dog treats.


Hydration is another crucial aspect of your dog’s diet. Ensure your Cirneco dell’Etna always has access to fresh, clean water, especially during exercise or hot weather.

cirneco dell'etna pursuing a bait in the field
Photo: krushelss/Getty Images


The Cirneco dell’Etna is a generally healthy breed with a life expectancy of around 12-14 years. However, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions. Knowledge is power when it comes to maintaining your dog’s health, so let’s delve into some of the common issues associated with this breed:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit perfectly into the hip socket. It can lead to discomfort and mobility issues in severe cases.

Patellar Luxation: This refers to the dislocation of the knee cap, which can cause pain and limping.

Eye Conditions: Cirneco dell’Etnas are susceptible to various eye problems like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and cataracts.

Allergies: These dogs can suffer from allergies, which can manifest as skin irritation or digestive issues.

Obesity: While not a breed-specific issue, obesity can lead to a host of other health problems like heart disease and arthritis.

To keep your Cirneco in the best possible health, a balanced diet is crucial. A nutritious diet that’s appropriate for their age, size, and activity level can help prevent obesity and support overall health.

Regular veterinary checks are another key aspect of maintaining your dog’s health. Routine check-ups can help detect any potential health issues early, increasing the chances of successful treatment.

Make sure your Cirneco is up-to-date with vaccinations. Vaccines protect them from various diseases and are an essential part of preventative healthcare.


The Cirneco dell’Etna boasts an ancient lineage that dates back several thousand years. This breed’s story is as captivating as its striking appearance!

Originating from the island of Sicily, specifically around Mount Etna, the Cirneco dell’Etna has been present in the region for over 2,500 years. Their name is derived from the Greek word “Kyrenaikos,” which means “dog of Cyrene” (a city in Libya) – hinting at their possible North African roots.

These dogs were primarily used as hunting dogs by the Sicilian farmers. Their lean, agile bodies and sharp senses made them excellent at catching rabbits and hares amidst the rugged terrain of Mount Etna. Despite the changing times, they have retained their hunting instincts and agility, making them great at various dog sports today.

Images of dogs resembling the Cirneco dell’Etna can be found on ancient coins and pottery, suggesting they were highly valued in the past. However, the breed was almost lost to history due to crossbreeding and lack of recognition until the 1930s. It was then that Dr. Maurizio Migneco, an Italian veterinarian, began a campaign to save the breed.

Fast forward to present times, the Cirneco dell’Etna, while still relatively rare, has gained recognition from various kennel clubs worldwide. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed in 2015, marking a significant milestone in the breed’s history.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Cirneco dell’Etna in the United States is the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America (CdECA). Founded in 2003, the club works diligently to promote and protect this remarkable breed. They provide valuable resources for owners, prospective owners, and enthusiasts alike. You can visit their webpage for more information.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Cirneco dell’Etna’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

cirneco dell'etna jumping in the field
Photo: alekta/Getty Images


Adding a Cirneco dell’Etna to your family is an exciting prospect! However, it’s important to ensure you’re fully prepared. This breed needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, so consider whether your lifestyle can accommodate this.

If you decide to buy, always choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and temperament of their dogs. Ask lots of questions and request to see health clearances to ensure you’re getting a healthy puppy.

However, consider rescuing a Cirneco dell’Etna. It’s a rewarding experience to give a dog in need a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America can assist with rescuing. These organizations work tirelessly to ensure these wonderful dogs find the perfect home. Remember, every dog deserves a chance at a happy life!


Is the Cirneco dell’Etna a rare breed?

Yes, the Cirneco dell’Etna is considered a rare breed. While they have gained recognition from various kennel clubs, including the American Kennel Club, they are not as commonly found as other breeds.

Is the Cirneco dell’Etna a good family dog?

Absolutely! The Cirneco dell’Etna is known for its friendly and adaptable nature. They get along well with children and can be sociable with other dogs if properly socialized.

How much exercise does a Cirneco dell’Etna need?

Being an active and energetic breed, the Cirneco dell’Etna requires at least an hour of regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. This can include daily walks, playtime in the yard, or participation in dog sports.

Are Cirneco dell’Etnas easy to train?

Yes, they are intelligent and eager to please, which makes training relatively straightforward. However, their independent streak means consistency and patience are key during training sessions.

Does the Cirneco dell’Etna shed a lot?

No, they are a low-shedding breed. Their short, thin coat requires minimal grooming, making them a great choice for those who prefer less furry mess around the house.

What health issues are common in the Cirneco dell’Etna?

While generally a healthy breed, they can be prone to certain conditions like hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, eye conditions, allergies, and obesity.

What should I feed my Cirneco dell’Etna?

A balanced diet that meets the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is recommended. The amount of food will depend on their age, size, and activity level. Always ensure they have access to fresh water.

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