UPDATED! Cirneco dell’Etna: Breed of the Week

Are Cirnecco dell’Etnas Good City Dogs?

Last year Sean and I decided as a part of our Urban Dog mission we would learn as much about dogs as we could so that we could pass on that information to our readers. Part of this involved going to the American Kennel Club Meet the Breeds show. At that event you can mix and mingle with more than 160 dog breeds. My wonderful friend, professional dog walker Christine Nassikas said we should look for her friends, Cirneco dell’Etna owners Leslie and Lisa from Washington DC.  It was here that we were introduced to this gorgeous breed.

Cirneco dell'Etna
Cirneco dell’Etna

Hailing from Sicily, the Cirneco dell’Etna is one of the oldest known dog breeds, dating back more than 2,500 years. The breed derives its name, “Cirneco dell’Etna,” from the Mt. Etna region of Italy. It is believed that Cirnechi are descendants of dogs left by the Phoenecians in Sicily many years ago.

Although a member of the Italian Kennel Club since 1939, the Cirneco dell’Etna has only been recognized by the AKC since 2009. According to the AKC, it is one of the few breeds today that evolved as a result of its environment and not because of manipulation by man.

Cirneco dell'Etna
Cirneco dell’Etna Puppy

Cirnechi were originally bred to hunt small game like rabbit and hare. They are sight hounds, which means they hunt by sight and speed rather than by scent and endurance. Like other sight hounds Cirnechi are a speedy, stealthy breed. They are also known for their agility and stealthly silence, allowing them to get very close to their quarry. They are also extremely good jumpers.


Cirnechi resemble their cousin, the Pharaoh Hound. They stand anywhere from 16 to 19 inches as the shoulder and weigh up to 25 pounds. They come in several shades of tan to chestnut and have a short coat that requires very little grooming. A good brushing once a week is more than sufficient. According to Christine, who walks Cirnechi, they are gentle loving dogs. They are smart and eager to please.

For such an old dog breed, there is not a lot of information on health issues, but they are generally considered to be a hearty breed.

Do Cirnecco dell’Etnas bark?

It is important to train your city dog. You don’t want your pooch to misbehave in your building’s common areas. The good news is that Cirnechi can be trained fairly easily. As always, training your puppy is a must especially if your puppy is a sight hound. A sight hound may chase things in the distance that you don’t see; having your pup respond to your return command will prove invaluable.

Cirnechi are moderate barkers. Click here for more on Urban Dog’s take on barking.

Click here to visit the American Kennel Club’s page on the breed. And here’s a link to the Cirnecco dell’Etna Club of America. They can make great Urban Dogs, just make sure you keep them active and engaged.

For tips on how to find a pet-friendly apartment in New York and other cities read Urban Dog’s guide. Big dogs pose a particular challenge, but don’t worry, you can find places that accept large breed dogs.

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