The Cirneco dell’Etna (Pronounced “cheer-NECK-oh del et-na”) is a purebred dog from the island of Sicily. Gentle, alert, and independent, these pups have some of the best traits of any dog breed around today.
Cirneco dell’Etnas go by many other names, including Cirneco, Sicilian Hound, Sicilian Greyhound, Sicilian Rabbit Hound, and Sicilian Rabbit Dog. These dogs can make great pets and show dogs, and you may find them at local shelters or rescues. Remember, it’s always better to adopt and not shop!
These pooches can make great apartment dogs for active urban dwellers, though they can adapt to any household of any size. They are also great buddies for children and love to cuddle with their human parents at any time. If you want an energetic and independent pup who will love you unconditionally, then this may be the right dog for you!
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Companion DogsHeight:17 to 20 inchesWeight:17 to 26 poundsLife Span:12 to 14 years
More About This Breed
- The main colors of the Cirneco dell’Etna’s are different shades of chestnut or tan, though some pooches may display a whitish collar or a patch of white.
- They usually have short coats, and they’re generally considered to be a good choice for allergy sufferers.
- Cirneco dell’Etnas have high energy levels. 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.
- They are highly intelligent and easy to train, especially when the trainer uses positive reinforcement and praise.
- Cirneco dell’Etnas may prefer to be mostly around adults or older kids who know how to play gently.
- When it comes to other pets, the Cirneco dell’Etna can get along with other animals if they are introduced slowly and calmly, and early socialization will help this go smoothly.
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 second part of the breed’s name, “dell’Etna,” comes from Mount Etna on the island of Sicily. Although the Cirneco dell’Etna 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.
This breed is old. In fact, 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.
Before 1932, the breed was mostly unknown outside of their homeland of Sicily. That year, a veterinarian named Dr. Maurizio Migneco, who came to the island, wrote an article for an 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.
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.
As the Cirneco dell’Etna is an ancient breed from the island of Sicily, there are some standards when it comes to their size. As a purebred dog, you can expect the Cirneco dell’Etna to be on the medium side.
Most weigh in at 17 to 26 pounds and range in height from 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder. That said, many can be smaller or larger than normal.
The Cirneco dell’Etna is a very alert and gentle dog breed with an independent spirit. They are playful and love to be with people. Originally bred to help hunters catch rabbit and prey, they are now suited as companion dogs and love their human counterparts.
They are highly intelligent and easy to train, especially when the trainer uses positive reinforcement and praise. Theses 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 they are very independent dogs, it’s suggested to make sure they are trained early as pups. They are 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.
These pups 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.
The Cirneco dell’Etna is predisposed to some of the same conditions that most hunting breeds of their size might also face. While most are generally healthy, some may be prone to a few health issues, which is why it is important to maintain good care and regular veterinary checkups.
There are not many health problems to include, as these pups are generally healthy. But they might be prone to muscle and toe issues from running.
As with all dogs, you should keep up with your Cirneco dell’Etna’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.
The Cirneco dell’Etna are prone to weight gain, and they have high energy levels. 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.
Your main concern when it comes to your Cirneco dell’Etna’s care will be maintaining their oral health. You should brush their teeth daily, as small breeds are prone to dental issues. Your veterinarian can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.
An ideal Cirneco dell’Etna diet should be formulated for a medium-sized breed with high energy. They are capable of gaining weight if they are overfed, so you should stick to a regular feeding schedule and not leave food out during the day. Limit the number of treats as well.
As with all dogs, the Cirneco dell’Etna’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Cirneco dell’Etna’s diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs—including weight, energy, and health—to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Cirneco dell’Etna’s coat is often found in solid colors and are easy to groom. The main colors of the Cirneco dell’Etna’s are different shades of chestnut or tan, though some pooches may display a whitish collar or a patch of white.
They usually have short coats, and they’re generally considered to be a good choice for allergy sufferers. The Cirneco dell’Etna has a short and glossy coat that is very easy to care for. A weekly brushing should be enough to take care of loose or dead hairs.
Because they tend to have shorter coats, the Cirneco dell’Etna’s aren’t particularly suited for extreme weather. Prepare accordingly if you are in an area that is either too hot or too cold.
Children And Other Pets
Because the Cirneco dell’Etna is a medium sized dog, they can generally handle the play of overly excited children. That said, they may prefer to be mostly around adults or older kids who know how to play gently. However, for children who learn how to properly approach and play with dogs, the Cirneco dell’Etna can make a great active companion.
When it comes to other pets, the Cirneco dell’Etna can get along with other animals if they are introduced slowly and calmly, and early socialization will help this go smoothly. It’s best if they can get used to other pets early.
Many Cirneco dell’Etnas get along just fine with other dogs and smaller pets, so it really comes down to training, early socialization, and the luck of the draw.
Because the Cirneco dell’Etna is a somewhat rare breed, it may be difficult to find a breed specific rescue. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all types of dogs. You can take a look at the following:
- Wright-Way Rescue
- Angels Among Us Pet Rescue