The Cirneco Dell’Etna Joins the AKC Hound Group

The Cirneco Dell'Etna will be accepted into the AKC Hound Group on January 1, 2015.

By Allan Reznik | Posted: September 11, 2014 12 p.m. PST

Cirneco Dell'Etna Dog Breed
Photo by Lucia Prieto.

The Cirneco dell’Etna will be accepted into the AKC Hound Group on January 1, 2015. While the breed did not become known in this country until the mid-1990s, it is believed that the Cirneco has existed for more than 2,000 years in Sicily, looking much as it does today.

The Cirneco resembles a smaller version of the Pharaoh Hound and shares some of the Pharaoh’s origins. The Cirneco is a hunter of small game and needed a hardy constitution to work over rugged terrain in the hot sun for long periods. Cirnechi are common all over Sicily but are most plentiful on the slopes of the active volcano of Mount Etna, where they hunt in the rough terrain formed by volcanic lava.

In the beginning, Cirnechi earned their keep hunting with their Sicilian peasant owners. A Sicilian baroness, Agata Paterno Castello, took up the Cirneco’s cause in the early 20th century, selecting what she considered the finest examples of the breed. A standard was written in 1939, and the Italian kennel club officially recognized the breed. The most recent standard update was finished in 1989.

The first Cirnechi emigrated to the US with their Italian families who continued to use them for hunting. The Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America was formed on June 15, 1997 by four enthusiasts of the breed in Houston. Today, the club boasts more than 100 members, and the AKC has registered more than 300 Cirnechi. A breed standard was recognized in 2012, once the Cirneco was accepted into the AKC Foundation Stock Service. The standard describes an "elegant, slender” hound yet one that is still "strong and hardy.” Typical of sighthounds, they are strong-willed and alert, but make wonderful companions. Ideal height for males is 18-19.5 in., and for bitches 16.5-19 in. Dogs under 17.5 in. or over 20.5 in. and bitches under 16 in. or over 19.5 in. are disqualified. The color is a light to dark shade of tan or chestnut.


From the September 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.


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