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Welcome to Our !RARE! Breed of the Month Feature!

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Featuring ’s !RARE! Breed of the Month
the Cirneco dell'Etna

What is a Cirneco dell'Etna?

The Cirneco dell'Etna (pronounced "cheer-nec-ko") is a small hound-type dog used in Sicily for rabbit hunting and commonly misnomered as the "Sicilian greyhound" when translated. It is found all over the Italian island and particularly in the area surrounding the active volcano, Mount Etna, where the dogs hunt on terrain formed by volcanic lava. Its presence in Sicily is noteworthy as one of the few ancient breeds that have undergone very little manipulation by man. Instead, the breed has been rigorously selected by nature for its ability to work for hours in the heat without food and water. Thus, the dog we have today is an extremely hardy breed, free from inherited health problems.

History & Origin

The Cirneco dell'Etna has been present in Sicily for over 2,500 years and shares a common origin with the Pharaoh Hound and other breeds throughout the Mediterranean basin. The Cirneco that we know today is the result of adaptation to the environment, evolution based on function, not human manipulation. As a hunter of small mammals and fowl, survival came in the form of a hardy, more compact dog that was successful in hunting under adverse conditions - high heat, on rugged terrain formed by volcanic lava, with little food or water over extended periods of time.

Throughout its evolution in Sicily the Cirneco has been a dog valued for its acute hunting ability and therefore primarily in the possession of the peasantry who utilized the dogs to help provide for their families. There existed no reason to maintain a breed standard, registry or written evidence of lineage. The Cirnechi provided their owners with game and that determined their value and survival.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Baroness Agata Paterno Castello, a Sicilian aristocrat, took an interest in this very ancient and "undocumented" breed. Over the course of decades she painstakingly studied the breed, searching and obtaining exemplars that epitomized the Cirneco which she bred and selected. Once she had established type and conformation she moved to the next step in preserving the breed - documentation.

In 1939, after consultation with and studies by an eminent zoologist, Professor Solaro, the first breed standard was completed by him and the Cirneco dell'Etna was officially recognized as a breed. The last official update by the technical committee of the Italian Kennel Club to the breed standard was in 1989. The Cirneco has at different times been classified in FCI (Federacion Cynologique Internationale) Group 10 - Sighthound, Group 6 - Scenthound, and, presently as a primitive hunting dog in Group 5 - Spitz and Primitive. AKC has accepted the Cirneco as an FSS breed in the Hound Group.
The first Cirnechi in the United States came with their immigrant families. Their hunting ability was their value and, as in Sicily, there was no need to maintain registry of the breed in America. This changed with our cognizance of the breed outside of the hunting community in the mid 1990s.

Appearance & Structure

The Cirneco dell'Etna is a small- to medium-sized elegant hunting dog with exaggerated ears, a long pointy muzzle and a stunning coat. The Cirnechi’s tall, triangular ears, which can be up to one-half the length of its head, are set very high and close together. They must be held erect (“pricked”) and rigid, parallel or almost parallel, when the dog is alert. Droopy ears, or “bat ears,” disqualify the dog from show competition. The Cirneco has a strong, well-arched neck. Its body is lean and elegant, athletic and muscular. Its ribcage is slightly sprung and fairly narrow, although it should never be flat. The Cirnechi’s thick, long, low-set tail is carried high and curved during motion, and sabre-like when standing still. It should never curl tightly over the back. The feet should be strong and oval, without dewclaws on the hind legs. Dewclaws on the forelegs should not be removed. The Cirnechi’s paw pads should be brown or flesh colored, with nails of matching color. Black nails or foot pads are a breed disqualification. This is a long-legged breed, with a kind oval eye and an alert expression. It is often confused with the Pharaoh Hound, to which it bears a striking resemblance. However, the Cirneco is substantially smaller, both in stature and weight, and has a more squared-off profile.
The ideal male Cirneco dell'Etna measures between 18 and 19¾ inches at the withers, although dogs between 17¼ and 20½ inches in height are tolerated under the AKC breed standard. Females ideally stand between 16½ and 18 inches tall, with heights from 15¾ to 19¾ inches being allowed in the American show ring. Both males and females typically weigh between 17 and 27 pounds.


The Cirneco’s coat is short on the head, ears and legs and usually a bit longer but still sleek and close on the body. It can be fine or slightly coarse and should have no feathering. One of the most striking characteristics of the Cirneco is its beautiful, shiny, solid-colored coat, which preferably ranges from a rich tan to a deep chestnut. It can have a mixture of slightly lighter and darker hairs, with or without white patches on the face, chest, belly, feet and/or tail tip. Dogs that are solid white, white with orange patches, or any color with a white collar are accepted but less desirable under the AKC breed standard. Cirnechi that are solid brown or liver, and those with brown patches, brindle coats or any black patches, hairs, pigmentation or mucous membranes, are disqualified from the show ring. The extremely short hair coat of this breed makes it especially susceptible to the cold. These dogs should wear a sweater or coat if they are exposed to damp, chilly weather for any length of time. Cirnechi are indoor dogs that are not well-suited to living in cold climates.


The Cirneco dell'Etna has a strong, inquisitive, independent temperament, which is important in keen hunting dogs. It is also outgoing, friendly, affectionate and smart. Cirnechi are loyal and loving with their owners and friends. They are willing and eager to please and love to receive pets and praise. They usually make great family pets, although they can be reserved around strangers.

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Featuring ‘s Targeted Breed of the Month
the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog suffers from forms of discrimination usually due to its appearance, closely resembling a wolf, thus they are also often subject to breed-specific laws either restricting or prohibiting ownership wherein breed-specific legislation has been adopted. It is not uncommon ownership of this breed by tenants of rentals and apartment complexes to be completely prohibited. Because of this breed's appearance, some insurance carriers consider this as a "high risk" breed.

Unlike the wolfdog hybrid, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is an established purebred breed of domesticated dog and does not retain undesirable wolf traits, like the typical wolfdog hybrid.

"The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (or Vlčák/Vlčiak) is a relatively new breed of dog that traces its original lineage to an experiment conducted in 1955 in Czechoslovakia. After initially breeding 48 working line German Shepherds with four Carpathian wolves, a plan was worked out to create a breed that would have the temperament, pack mentality, and trainability of the German Shepherd and the strength, physical build, and stamina of the Carpathian wolf. The breed was engineered to assist with border patrol in Czechoslovakia but were later also used in search and rescue, schutzhund, tracking, herding, agility, obedience, and drafting." - @

Quick Facts:
• Country of Origin: Czechoslovakia
• Functionality: All purpose, working
• Coat Colors: Yellowish-grey to silver-grey with acharactistic pale mask. Light hair also on the underside of the neck and the forechest. Dark grey colour with mask is permissible.
• Height: Dogs – 25.5 inches & Bitches – 23 inches

coyotees Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012
Two gorgeous dog breeds :D May have to draw the Cirneco dell'Etna soon.
t3hsilentone Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
If you do and would like, you are welcome to submit to our RARE Breeds of the Month Artwork folder. :)
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