Cirneco dell Etna

The Cirneco (pronounced cheer-NAY-ko) dell Etna, also known as the Sicilian Greyhound, resembles a small Pharaoh Hound, but he is a distinct breed of Italian origin, taking his name from Sicily’s Mount Etna and showing differences not only in size but also in ear set, tail shape and color markings. The Cirneco was used on the island of Sicily to hunt rabbit and hare. He hunts silently, so much so that he can even sneak up on birds. Today, this extremely rare breed serves primarily as a family companion. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering acquiring one of these small sighthounds.

Is the Cirneco the Right Dog for You?

The lively and friendly Cirneco weighs 18 to 27 pounds, making him suitable for just about any size home. His athleticism makes him a natural at agility and lure coursing, and he can also do well in obedience, rally and tracking. He’ll enjoy regular exercise of 20 to 30 minutes daily, on leash, plus free play in his well-fenced yard. He loves his family and will follow people from room to room. His alert nature makes him an excellent watchdog.

Confine the Cirneco to your yard with a tall fence. He’s a good jumper. He may also be a digger, so even if your Cirneco can’t jump your fence, he may well be able to dig beneath it unless you have taken steps to make it dig-proof. Don’t waste your money installing an underground electronic fence that gives a shock when the dog crosses it. He’ll blow right through that without a backward glance.

Keep in mind his jumping ability before you absentmindedly leave food out. The Cirneco is a typical hound, which means that he steals food whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

His short, glossy coat is easy to groom. Give it a weekly brushing to remove dead hairs, and trim nails, brush teeth and clean the ears regularly.

Cirnechi (the plural of the breed’s name) enjoy training and have a reputation for being easier to train than some other sighthounds. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, and keep training sessions short. Like most dogs, Cirnechi can become bored when left to their own devices. They can become noisy or destructive if they don’t have other dogs to keep them company or don’t receive much attention from their people.

Sighthounds are attracted by movement, and the Cirneco dell Etna will happily chase cats and other small furry animals. If he is brought up with them from an early age, though, he can live amicably with cats or small dogs. Even so, it’s best to supervise them when they’re together and to separate them when you’re not home.

With his thin coat and bony body, it goes without saying that the Cirneco dell Etna needs to live in the house, preferably with access to soft furniture or bedding. He isn’t built to withstand cold weather, and besides, he loves his family. Expect to find him snuggling under the covers with you at bedtime. It’s an unhappy Cirneco who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Cirneco Puppy

  1. Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible.
  2. Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Cirnechi aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Cirnechi can live 10 to 12 years or more, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.
  3. Puppy or adult, take your Cirneco dell Etna to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
  4. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You’re more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
  5. Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Health Issues Common to Cirnechi

Because there are so few of them, little is known about the health of Cirnechi. In general, they appear to be a healthy breed. They may suffer muscle or toe injuries while running. A reputable breeder will discuss potential health problems with you, including any problems she has seen in her own lines.

Pet Insurance for the Cirneco dell Etna

Pet insurance for Cirnechi costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Cirnechi are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Cirnechi are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Cirneco is while he’s still healthy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.