Cirneco dell'Etna

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Cirneco dell'Etna
Cirneco dell Etna 611.jpg
Height Male 46–50 cm (18–20 in)[1]
Female 44–48 cm (17–19 in)[1]
Weight Male 10–13 kg (22–29 lb)[1]
Female 8–10 kg (18–22 lb)[1]
Coat Short on head, short to semi-long on body
Colour Light sand, isabella, light to dark tan
Life span 12–14 years[2]:33
Kennel club standards
Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana standard
FCI standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Cirneco dell'Etna[a] is an Italian breed of hunting dog from the Mediterranean island of Sicily. It is named for the Etna volcano in eastern Sicily. It has a keen sense of smell, and is used to hunt small game, particularly rabbits.[3][4]

DNA studies[edit]

The Cirneco dell'Etna shows similarity to other Mediterranean island hunting hounds such as the Podenco Ibicenco of the Balearic Islands and the Kelb tal-Fenek of Malta.[3] A DNA study found that the Cirneco dell'Etna and the Kelb tal-Fenek have separate genetic identities, however there was evidence of gene flow from the Podenco Canario into the Cirneco dell'Etna.[5] A further DNA analysis of the Cirneco dell'Etna and the Kelb tal-Fenek indicate that their separate breed formation occurred within the last 200 years, however the genetic foundations of these breeds date to the more distant past.[6]


One newspaper article purports that the Cirneco is believed to be an ancient breed.[7][better source needed] The word "cirneco" derives from the Latin: cyrenaicus, related to Cyrenaica in North Africa;[3] the second part of the name relates to the area of the Etna volcano in Sicily, where the dogs originated. The earliest written description of the breed was by Maurizio Migneco, a veterinary surgeon from Adrano on the slopes of Etna, who published an account in Il Cacciatore Italiano in 1932. This was seen by a Sicilian noblewoman, Agata Paternó Castello, who bought some of the dogs and in 1934 started breeding them.[7] The breed was recognised by the Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana in 1939, based on a breed standard drawn up by Giuseppe Solaro of Turin.[7][8] The Cirneco was definitively accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1956.[9] It is a rare breed; in the period from 2010 to 2018, new registrations in Italy were between about 100 and 150 per year.[10]


  1. ^ Italian pronunciation: [tʃirˈneːko delˈlɛtna]; plural Cirnechi [tʃirˈneːki]


  1. ^ a b c d Cirneco dell'Etna (in Italian). Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana. Accessed July 2020.
  2. ^ [Bruce Fogle] (2013). The Dog Encyclopedia. London; New York: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 9781465408440.
  3. ^ a b c Cirnèco (in Italian). Vocabolario on line. Roma: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed July 2020.
  4. ^ FCI-Standard N° 199: Cirneco dell'Etna. Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Accessed July 2020.
  5. ^ Lasagna, Emiliano; Ceccobelli, Simone (2019). "Genetic variability assessment in different Mediterranean canine breeds using microsatellite markers". Italian Journal of Animal Science. 18: 108.
  6. ^ Talenti, Andrea; Dreger, Dayna L; Frattini, Stefano; Polli, Michele; Marelli, Stefano; Harris, Alexander C; Liotta, Luigi; Cocco, Raffaella; Hogan, Andrew N; Bigi, Daniele; Caniglia, Romolo; Parker, Heidi G; Pagnacco, Giulio; Ostrander, Elaine A; Crepaldi, Paola (2018). "Studies of modern Italian dog populations reveal multiple patterns for domestic breed evolution". Ecology and Evolution. 8: 2911–2925. doi:10.1002/ece3.3842. PMC 5838073. PMID 29531705.
  7. ^ a b c Felice Modica (18 February 2018). La vera storia del cirneco, la razza più antica: Riscoperta da una nobildonna straordinaria (in Italian). Il Giornale. Accessed July 2020.
  8. ^ D. Caroline Coile, Michele Earle-Bridges (2015). Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. Hauppauge, New York: Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 9781438067926.
  9. ^ FCI breeds nomenclature: Cirneco dell'Etna (199). Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Accessed July 2020.
  10. ^ Cirneco dell'Etna (in Italian). Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana. Accessed July 2020.

External links[edit]