There are many extremely beautiful hounds in the world and none more striking than the Cirneco dell'Etna, a sleek dog that hails from Italy. These lovely looking hounds first appeared on the scene when they were bred in Sicily although it is thought that in more ancient times, they were also found on the island of Corsica too.
These hounds are extremely swift on their feet and look very much like the better known Pharaoh Hound. They get their name from the area where they were first bred in ancient times, with Cirnecos meaning "green", a term used to describe the lush island of Sicily. The second part of their name comes from the majestic volcano found there called Mount Etna. There is a legend that these impressive hounds guarded a temple that stood on Sicily because they possessed powers that kept unbelievers away, yet let the faithful enter the sacred ground.
The breed was only officially recognised in the mid forties when it was established that the Cirneco dell'Etna and the Pharaoh Hound were indeed two very unique breeds of sighthound. Today, these lovely dogs are still used to hunt on the slopes of Mount Etna, although they are not very well known in other parts of the world and this includes here in the UK. The breed is still considered to be among the rarest in the world even in their native Italy.
The Cirneco although a very alert dog by nature, is also a very gentle character too. They are known to be independent dogs, but they are also extremely curious and like nothing more than to play interactive games with the people they love and if there is one thing the Cirneco adores, it's being around humans. These hounds might be smaller than most other breeds of hound, but they have an enormous amount of personality which keeps owners amused for hours.
There is no doubt that the Cirneco dell'Etna is a very striking looking hound and that they do resemble the Pharaoh Hound only smaller. They have very sleek, shiny coats that range from a dark fawn to a much paler fawn with many dogs having white markings and spots on their heads, bellies, chests, feet and on the tips of their tails. Male dogs stand at anything from 16.5 to 20.5 inches at the shoulder and they can weigh in at between 18 to 27 lbs with their female counterparts being slightly smaller and a little lighter.
The Cirneco is a confident, lively and alert hound, but they are quite sensitive by nature much like many other hounds. They are highly intelligent which in short means they are known to be easy to train. However, because they are so smart, the Cirneco can also quickly pick up a few bad habits too. With this said, it's important their training starts as early as possible and that it should continue throughout their lives for them to be truly happy, well-balanced and obedient dogs. With this said, training sessions should never be that long because the Cirneco learns more when they are given shorter sessions on a more frequent basis rather than longer and drawn out training sessions when they might just get a little bored.
Early socialisation is a must with the Cirneco because they are quite sensitive by nature. However, if left to their own devices, they quickly become bored and will start to show a dominant behaviour which is something to be avoided at all costs. They are not the best choice of pets for first-time dog owners for this reason. As previously mentioned, the Cirneco is known to be a very intelligent character and one that needs to be kept busy and well exercise to be truly happy, relaxed dogs.
They can jump great heights and therefore quite capable of jumping a garden fence if they feel the need to go off exploring and to expend some pent up energy. They are also expert "diggers" which in short means they will tunnel their way out of a garden if the urge takes them. With this in mind, the Cirneco excels at canine sport activities like agility and Flyball.
If well socialised and introduced to other pets from a young age, the Cirneco generally gets on well with them and this includes cats and smaller dogs. However, if they have not be introduced to other animals, their high prey drive might take over and they will silently stalk a cat or small dog and take them by surprise which is a hunting tactic the breed excels at.
These little hounds are very low maintenance when it comes to their grooming needs because they boast tight, short coats which are easy to look after so they always look great. A regular weekly grooming session is all it takes to keep their coats looking tidy and any hair they may shed off the carpets and furniture. The one thing the Cirneco does not like which many other hounds don't like either, is when you try to touch their paws which can make trimming nails a little bit of a challenge.
Because the breed is so rare, very little is actually known about any health issues that may be associated with the Cirneco dell'Etna. However, with this said, there are reports of injuries to their muscles, toes and feet which happen when they run incredibly fast. When it comes to hereditary and/or congenital disorders, again more research would need to be done to establish just what these might be.