Cirneco dell'Etna

Known locally as the Cirneco dell’Etna, and sometimes called the Sicilian Hound, this ancient breed has existed for centuries on the island of Sicily where it is employed to hunt rabbit, hare and ground-birds.


The Cirneco Dell'Etna has been living on Sicily for several thousand years. Dell'Etna is a reference to Mount Etna, the 1o,ooo-foot active volcano on Sicily's eastern side, where he hunts rabbits on the terrain formed by molten lava. He is a uniquely preserved breed who has survived the centuries relatively unchanged, and his devotees are keeping it that way.

Looking like a smaller version of the Pharaoh Hound that inhabits the Maltese Islands 80 miles (130 km) to the south of Sicily, this pure breed has also enjoyed an existence free of outside interference. As a result, it is virtually unaltered since the time of its introduction by Phoenician traders some 3,000 years ago. It has the lean, streamlined shape of a greyhound, except for its huge, upright ears that stand as tall as its face. Its fawn-red coat is short and may show small of patches of white.

In height the Sicilian Greyhound stands at about 18 in (46 cm), compared with 23 in (58 cm) for the Pharaoh Hound. This lighter build may be related to the fact that it has been specialized for hill-coursing on the slopes of Mount Etna — hence its local name. Because of its smaller size, it has been suggested that it would make a more convenient pet dog for anyone who wanted an "Egyptian-style" sighthound. But despite this, it has become an increasingly rare breed, proving far less popular abroad than the closely related, but much bigger Pharaoh Hound and Ibizan Hound.


The Cirneco's slender build, long elegant neck and narrow head, with large, erect ears, fine bone structure and visible muscles do not give the impression of it being the keen efficient and ferocious worker that it actually is. Its coat should be smooth, very fine and elastic. Its color is usually a bright red but all shades of red as well as white, with or without red patches, are allowed. The pigmentation must never be black.

Country of Origin: Italy

Height: Males 18-20 in (45.5-50 cm) / females 16.5-18 in (42-45-5 cm)

Weight: Males 22-26.5 lb (10-12 kg) / females 17.5-22 lb (8-10 kg)

Coat: Straight, stiff, smooth; semi-long, close lying

Colors: Fawn, white; may have orange patches; white markings; also light sand, light to dark tan [КС]

Other Names: Sicilian Greyhound; Sicilian Hound

Registries (With Group): AKC (FSS); FCI (Spitz and Primitive); КС (Hound); UKC (Sighthound & Pariah)


He was developed to hunt over arid terrain and to hunt hard all day, and the resilient and adaptable characteristics he needed are still alive in him today. He is said to be one of the most responsive sighthounds, devoted to and eager to please his family. He is an active and competitive participant in lure coursing and agility, both excellent showcases for his athleticism.

An excellent hunter, it is also an excellent watchdog.


The Cirneco is curious and athletic and should be given opportunities for play or sport that allow for short bursts of energy to be used up.


The Cirneco dell'Etna does best with encouraging and consistent training, and socialization from an early age is beneficial.


His short, smooth coat needs only the occasional going-over with a hound glove to keep him looking sleek and shiny.


Average life span is 12 to 15 years. There are no reported breed-specific health concerns.


There are four to eight puppies per litter. This short-haired breed is naturally susceptible to the cold, and delivery during the cold season must be carefully conducted.

Gallery of Cirneco dell'Etna