Perhaps the proximity of Italy, particularly Sicily, to the Mediterranean coasts and Africa was a significant factor in how the Cirneco dell’Etna, which was believed to have originated in Egypt, was brought by Phoenician traders to Sicily.

Cirneco standing on grass

Around 4,000 B.C. in the ancient region of Egypt, prick-eared hound dogs were highly prized by the Egyptian nobilities for their exceptional stamina to withstand without food or water during the hunting games.

This theory was established from artifacts found in royal tombs showing mummified hound dogs buried along with the royal members’ dead body.

It was believed that the Phoenicians, who dominated sea trading on these regions, were largely responsible for bringing and spreading these dogs across the Mediterranean coasts and, later, into the shores of Sicily.

The original breed of these dogs experienced many unbearable limitations to their new environment, such as limited space and not enough food available.

Eventually, their physical conditions and cross-breeding with other dogs have resulted in a miniature type of breed now distinctly recognized as the Cirneco dell’Etna.

Traits and Behavior

Coming from the breed of hounds, the Cirneco dell’Etna exudes the appearance of an independent, intelligent canine. It has sharp smelling skills and is built to endure rough terrains.

But what is contrasting to the impression of a hunting dog like the Cirneco dell’Etna is that they can be domesticated, as they tend to be endearing and affectionate with children and dog owners.

Depriving them to socialize with people and their environment may result in these dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Because they easily get along well with other dogs or strangers, they are not effective watchdogs as they do not instinctively show aggression.

As with most types of sight-sound dogs, the Cirneco dell’Etna steadfastly tracks down dead animals or animals that carry an odorous smell. Proper training and coaching must be conducted to enhance their natural talents and to make them productive in their home environment.

Pet Care and Diseases

Cirneco puppies

Because of their naturally-built hair covering which is short and smooth, minor requirements are given to hair grooming, just occasional bathing and brushing.

However, regular teeth brushing and nail clipping must be given as these dogs roam a lot and may easily pick up rotten things.

Generally, these breeds are healthy, have very low body fat, and has a low incidence of genetic disorders.

They need to be provided with warm, protective blankets or sweaters as they cannot tolerate cold temperatures due to their low body fat.

Extra care must also be considered to them such as providing them with enough cushions or soft beddings for them to rest at all times.

To owners who use these dogs for hunting, care must be given to the dog’s muscles and feet as they can experience muscle tear and toe injuries.

There are minor health issues that have been noted to the Cirneco dell’Etna, except cold intolerance, anesthesia sensitivity, lack of cushioning.


Due to their natural ability to excel in hunting, with the exception that they are small built, the Cirneco dell’Etna have long legs, well-proportioned, and looks athletic.

Cirneco looking up

The males are 17-20 inches tall and weigh 22-26 pounds while the females stand between 15-19 inches and weigh 17-22 pounds.

They have narrow heads, long muzzles about 80% the length of the skull, and a large square nose. Their eyes are small, bearing a grey color. They are endowed with erect ears are narrow tips.

They have smooth hair coverings on the head, ears, and legs. However, their tail shows longer hair than their body.

Their hair color is predominantly of fawn shade which is tan, but some breeds have white markings on some parts of their body.

General Information

This breed has a lifespan of approximately 12-14 years. The average litter size is about 2-5 puppies. Other names include Sicilian Hound and Cirneco.