Cirneco dell’Etna – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Are you thinking about welcoming Cirneco dell'Etna into your home? Make sure that you check this guide first. Learn about the breed's history, personality, and grooming needs.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
17 to 20 inches
17 to 26 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 14 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Cirneco dell’Etna is an Italian breed of hunting dog originally from Sicily. This island dog is named for the Etna volcano in eastern Sicily.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is known for his sense of smell, which is why they are often used to hunt small game, especially rabbits.

As expected, dogs who can chase rabbits are very fast.

As house dogs, this breed is gentle and low-maintenance companion loved for their gentle nature and loyal traits. The Cirneco usually stands under 20 inches and can have up to 26 pounds.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is a healthy breed. When provided high-quality food and proper nutrition, you can expect to have a furry companion who can live up to 15 years.

Weekly gums, eyes, and ears checks should be part of regular grooming. This breed is so strong and healthy that there are no recommended health tests from the National Breed Club.

The Cirneco dell’Etna has strong hunting instincts which is why they shouldn’t be walked off-leash in the unsecured areas.

They shouldn’t be left alone for too long or frequently, because they may develop separation anxiety. Naturally sensitive dogs are more prone to this condition.

If you know for sure that you want an apartment dog with great energy and a bit of independence, maybe this breed is just for you.

Quick Facts

Real name: Cirneco dell’Etna
Origin: Italy
Breed type: Companion Dogs
Weight: 17 to 26 pounds
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Litter Size: 3 – 5 puppies
Color: Different shades of chestnut or tan
Coat: Short coat

Cirneco dell’Etna History

The Cirneco dell’Etna is an ancient breed, with roots dating back 2,500 years ago.

They are originally from the island of Sicily, more specifically from the area surrounding Mount Etna, hence the name.

From day one, these Pharaon Hound-like dogs were used for hunting.

Historians believe that small Cirneco resembles a small Pharaoh Hound because they were in fact related.

Some claim that this dog descended from ancient hound-type dogs from Egypt and that they become smaller over time.

The year 1932 was a big milestone for these small dogs. Before 1992, the Cirneco dell’Etna was mostly known within the area of Sicily.

After 1932 the world got a chance to get to know Cirneco dell’Etna much better. This popularity occurred thanks to the efforts of Dr. Maurizio Migneco.

What he did lead to the unexpected popularity of this breed. Migneco arrived in Sicily and wrote a detailed article on this breed.

He also pointed out how low numbers of this breed actually were.

Baroness Agata Paternó Castello, an Italian aristocrat, decided to step in and help. He invested an enormous effort to revive the breed.

His efforts were more than successful. Italy’s national club recognized this breed in 1939, while the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 2015.

Cirneco dell’Etna Physical Appearance

Cirneco dell’Etna is an ancient breed, which means that there are specific standards that this breed’s representatives have to fulfill.

They will always be on the medium size, weighing up to 26 pounds and not having more than 20 inches. That being said, they may be smaller or larger than normal.

Cirneco dell’Etna is a breed gentle in appearance, but their bodies are strong and hardy.

Eyes are small and of oval shape, while the ears are set high and always erect. Skull is lean, while the muzzle doesn’t take more than 80 percent of the face.

Lips are thin, while the bite is regular. The tail is set low, and shouldn’t be curled over back, or a dog will be disqualified from the dog show.

Feet are strong and slightly oval, while the nails are brown or flesh-colored. The coat is short on the head, legs, and ears.

The color of the coat is usually a mix of lighter and darker hairs. Overall gait should be light.

Cirneco dell’Etna Personality

The Cirneco dell’Etna is described as a gentle dog breed with a strong and independent spirit.

They love to spend time with their humans, and nothing makes them more exciting than being playful.

From day one, this breed was used to catch prey, but today are more companion dogs than active hunters.

Still, if you see them chasing smaller animals don’t be surprised, because their prey drive is still strong.

As a highly intelligent breed, they are easy to train, as long as you have enough experience as a dog owner. This can be an independent breed, so training should start at an early age.

Otherwise, you may learn how it feels to have a dog with strong destructive behavior.

They are great with children, as long as children know how to behave around dogs.

Safe interaction is a must if you don’t want to experience any form of accident. No matter how well dogs and children may get along, they should never be left alone.

If you want your Cirneco dell’Etna to spend his days as guarding dog, you need another breed.

This ancient breed is more than friendly toward strangers. Plus, these golden dogs are great with smaller animals as well. They will get along with other dogs nicely, as long as they are introduced at an early age.

When it comes to dog introduction you need to introduce them in a familiar and safe surrounding, with people that dogs trust.

Like with any other dog, it all comes down to proper training, early socialization, and a bit of luck.

Cirneco dell’Etna Training

Training starts as soon as you bring your dog home.

Make sure that you know how to organize training sessions and what kind of tools do you need on hand.

For example, to reward nice behavior you will have to use treats. To make the training session more engaging and fun, you will have to use toys.

For rainy days, you will have to know many indoor games to keep your Fido engaged and happy.

Always use only positive reinforcement methods to train your Cirneco. No dog should ever experience any sort of harsh training method.

If you feel like you need additional support, think about puppy classes. This is a great way to speed up your training and get some professional training inputs.

Early socialization is what separates a dog from a good canine citizen.

Use this period to teach your dog the following:

Investing more time into the socialization period. Although this may seem like a lot of work, it will be worth your time and energy. In fact, training and early socialization are what will make your Fido a well-mannered companion.

Cirneco dell’Etna Exercise

Exercise is a big deal of a dog’s overall health and well-being.

It’s known that dogs needs, in perfect conditions, three regular walks per day. They will usually use this time as an opportunity to explore and have a toilet break.

The number of walks can be even more frequent in senior dogs, and especially in puppies. That being said, certain breeds need more walks to keep them calm.

Have you ever heard of that saying – A tired dog is a happy dog? If not, believe us that this saying is 100% true.

When bored or neglected dogs will show signs of destructive behavior. This is something that every dog owner wants to avoid, especially those with smaller breeds.

If you want to know more on why this is true check what a ‘small dog syndrome‘ is and how you can manage it.

To keep this breed happy, provide long walks and free time to run. A fenced backyard is a must with this breed or frequent visits to dog parks.

Cirneco dell’Etna Grooming

The Cirneco dell’Etna has a short coat that is easy to maintain s long as you have the right grooming tools.

Provide a minimum of weekly brushing per 20 minutes. This should be enough to keep his coat shiny and clean.

Since their coat is short this breed isn’t suited for areas with hot temperatures. They are best suited for areas that are either too hot or too cold.

The rest is basic care:

  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Brush teeth if needed
  • Bathe only when really needed
  • Check eyes and gums weekly
  • Check skin for fleas or any sign of infection

Keeping Your Cirneco dell’Etna Healthy

The best way to keep your dog healthy is to provide regular veterinarian check-ups.

No diet, no training, and no exercise can be a replacement for a health check-up.

Stick to a vaccination plan, listen to your veterinarian’s advice on the dog’s nutrition and exercise needs, and always follow up if you notice anything strange health-wise.

In the meantime, learn which human foods are safe for your Fido and which should be avoided.

Do not forget to provide parasite control and serve high-quality food designed for your dog’s size, age, and activity level.

The Cirneco dell’Etna is overall a healthy breed and if you deal with responsible breeders you will be able to get a healthy dog.

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