Let's talk Cirneco Dell’Etna Dogs

The elegant Cirneco Dell’Etna comes from the Mediterranean island of Sicily. With a hunting heritage, they are sight hounds, which means that sight and speed are their best talents rather than scent and endurance. Today the Cirneco Dell’Etna is an attentive and loyal companion. Independent and energetic, this dog will brighten up any room they’re in and will accept cuddles from their humans (children included, once training is out of the way.) Despite their size, the Cirneco Dell’Etna adapts well to apartment life—so long as they’re getting daily walks and play sessions with you. 

Official name: Cirneco Dell’Etna

Other names: Cirneco, Sicilian Hound, Sicilian Greyhound, Sicilian Rabbit Hound, and Sicilian Rabbit Dog

Origins: Italy

Cirneco dell'Etna looking at camera in black and white
 Drooling tendencies:

Very low

Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level: Low
Suited to apartment living?  High
 Energy level (high, low, medium) *: Medium Family pet ? *
Very high
 Compatibility with other pets: Medium
Can stay alone? * Low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed’s specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy, healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socialising your pet as well as covering their basic welfare, social and behavioural needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

Inline Image 15
Illustration of Cirneco dell'Etna
46 - 50 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
10 - 13 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
44 - 48 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
8 - 10 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age:  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age:  2 to 12 months
 Adult age:  1 to 7 years
 Mature age:  7 to 10 years
 Senior age:  From 10 years

Close-up of Cirneco dell'Etna looking at camera


Get to know the Cirneco Dell’Etna

All you need to know about the breed

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a striking dog with ears that always stand to attention and an athletic, graceful body. They are the smaller version of their canine cousins, Pharaoh Hounds. To say they are one of the oldest dog breeds out there, they look incredible for their age.

An independent spirit and alert manner point to their hunting heritage, but the Cirneco dell’Etna has evolved into a gentle family dog with a playful temperament. Early socialisation and training will help your Cirneco dell’Etna to feel comfortable around new people, children, and other dogs. Smaller, furry animals will be more of a problem due the breed’s prey drive.

When it comes to living conditions for your Cirneco dell’Etna, ideally they will have access to space so that they can move around as they please. A house with a back garden (enclosed, of course) would be ideal. But your Cirneco dell’Etna will be content in an apartment, so long as they are getting enough exercise outside. Daily walks or jogs (30-60 minutes) are a great way to keep your Cirneco dell’Etna in trim shape. They have a prey drive so keep them on a leash outdoors (with a firm grip), to prevent unfortunate accidents involving small animals.

The Cirneco dell’Etna adores spending as much time as possible with their humans – and cuddling – but are in no way clingy or needy. This is a dog that will return your affection (and then some) while helping you to lead an active lifestyle. Win-Win.

Side view of Cirneco dell'Etna


2 facts about Cirneco Dell’Etna Dogs

1. How is that pronounced?

Is the “C” hard or soft? Does it need to sound Italian with a rolled “R”? If you don’t know how to pronounce Cirneco Dell’Etna, here’s how: Cheer-Neck-Oh Del-Et-Na. Not that complicated right? Now repeat it 50 times to yourself and it’ll be perfect-o.

2. Volcanic beginnings

Why yes, the Cirneco Dell’Etna is indeed named after Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, as a nod to their Sicilian heritage. While the breed is rather energetic, they are much less explosive than their volcanic namesake.


History of the breed

The Cirneco Dell’Etna has been around for a while. In fact, you could say they’re an ancient breed, given that the origin of their name is believed to have its roots in the Greek language. The breed’s ancestors have been depicted on antique coins, and legend has it that the Cirneco Dell’Etna once possessed divine powers, making them an important figure in ancient Greek and Italian culture.

Experts believe that the Cirneco Dell’Etna arrived in Sicily with the Phoenician people, revered sailors and merchants who have been credited with establishing harbours, trading posts and settlements along the Mediterranean basin.

Moving away from antiquity, it is almost a marvel that the Cirneco Dell’Etna made it to the 21st century. In the early 1900s, the Cirneco Dell’Etna was still relatively unknown outside of their native Sicily. Thankfully a veterinarian called Dr. Maurizio Migneco wrote an article about the breed’s potential extinction. This caught the attention of one Baroness Agata Paternó Castello who was convinced by the article to commit the following 26 years of her life, from the 1930s to the 1950s, working to secure the survival of the Cirneco Dell’Etna dog. And her work came to fruition, eventually. In 2015 the American Kennel Club gave full recognition to the breed.

Cirneco dell'Etna looking at camera in black and white


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Cirneco Dell’Etna Dogs

1. Ears

Large ears that sit upright and are triangular shaped.

2. Eyes

Small eyes, in shades of ochre and amber.

3. Coat

Coat colour ranges from light to dark tan with white patches on the body.

Close-up side view of Cirneco dell'Etna


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Cirneco Dell’Etna
Cirneco dell'Etna running across grass


Caring for your Cirneco Dell’Etna

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The short coat of a Cirneco Dell’Etna is very simple to groom. One light brush per week is all they require. You will spend more time probably checking their ears for dirt and wax. Daily oral hygiene is a must and their nails will need to be clipped, if their exercise doesn’t keep them filed down. Your Cirneco Dell’Etna will appreciate the extra time you spend together for exercise. Daily walks or jogs (30-60 minutes) are essential to keep them fit and trim, while sporting activities will keep them mentally stimulated. Sighthound breeds typically respond best to positive training methods that are gently firm. The Cirneco Dell’Etna may be an independent breed but they are neither stubborn nor disobedient, they will do their best to please you at any opportunity. Training them should be straightforward. Do be sure to keep them on a leash when not in an enclosed space, for the sake of any small, furry animals that may cross their path.


All about Cirneco Dell’Etna Dogs

The Cirneco Dell’Etna is a moderate barker but as they’re also receptive to training, you should be able to keep it to a minimum. They bark when they are bored or feeling lonely, things you can prevent as their owner. What you can’t do much about is that the Cirneco Dell’Etna barks when they’re excited about something. That’s life!

Yes they do! With early socialisation and training, the Cirneco Dell’Etna is content to have another canine for company. Whether the other dogs can keep up with the speedy Cirneco Dell’Etna is an entirely different matter.



1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/