Cirneco dell’Etna

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    Histroy & Overview

    The Cirneco dell’ Etna, also known as Sicilian greyhound, is the oldest dog in the Mediterranian. A hunting dog native to the Mount Etna area in Sicily, it was bred on the island for nearly 2,500 years and is believed to descend from Egyptian Pharaoh hounds introduced to the city by the traders.

    There are several theories concerning the name of this breed, one of them suggesting that it originated from the Greek word “Kyrenaikos,” meaning “from Cyrene,” a city of Cyrenaica (now Libya). This theory is supported by many writings, including those of Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) who referred to the dogs of Cyrene as crosses between the Abyssinian Wolf (a common anscestor of all greyhounds) and local dogs.

    Later, the Latin Cyrenaecus replaced the Greek Kyrenaikos, which in Sicilian dialect became Cirniecu or Cirnecu. For almost three thousand years, the Cirneco lived in the shadow of his master. Most skillful specimen were often kept hidden for fear of being stolen.

    Similar to Ibizan Hound but smaller and lighter-boned, this legendary rabbit hunter hunts by sight and scent. Working for hundreds of years on the volcanic lava flows around mountains made him exceptionally sturdy, sure-footed, agile and skillful. Although well renowned for its beauty, intelligence, and hunting skills, this breed is not as popular as Ibizan or Pharaoh hounds outside Italy.


    The Cirneco is smooth-coated, slender, muscular and strong. According to the breed standard, these dogs should be 16.5 to 20 inches high at the shoulder and weigh between 17 and 26.5 pounds.


    Throughout its history, this breed was primarily valued as a hunting dog, but it also makes an excellent guard dog and a loyal pet.

    Video Credits: Crufts
    Image Credits: Massimo Greco


    1. FCI Standard #199
    2. Denise Como – Sighthounds Afield: The Complete Guide to Sighthound Breeds & Amateur Performance Events
    3. Societa Amatori Cirneco


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