The Cirneco dell'Etna is a small breed of dog originally from Italian island of Sicily. This hound was historically used to hunt rabbits and can work for hours without food or water.
There are top 10 interesting facts about Cirneco dell'Etna.
1) Ancient History
Between the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C., over 150 types of coins depicting the Cirneco were minted in Sicily, where the breed has lived for thousands of years. Most experts think the Phoenicians were responsible for bringing these prick-eared dogs from Northern Africa to the Mediterranean, as the Phoenicians ran many trade routes between those regions.
2) Natural Selection
The Cirneco is one of the few dog breeds that acquired its modern characteristics through natural selection, not human intervention. These dogs adapted to hunting in a harsh environment that was hot and dry, with rugged terrain formed by volcanic lava.
3) Poor Men Dog
Historically, aristocrats have not owned Cirnechi. Poor farmers, who put the dogs to use hunting rabbit, have owned them. This is why the Cirneco developed with little human intervention. The peasant families who owned these dogs were unconcerned with pedigrees and breed standards. They were concerned only with keeping dogs that provided the most meat for their families.
The breed standard calls for the Cirneco to be alert and gentle, with an independent temperament. This curious and playful sighthound loves to be with people. He’s also smart and trainable, especially if you use such positive reinforcement techniques as praise, play, and treats. Although he’s small, the Cirneco is a hunter at heart. Always keep a tight hold on his leash — if he spots a squirrel, he’ll give chase. However, a stern tone of voice should be enough to bring him back to you.
5) Hunt by Sight
Cirnechi do not hunt by scent, like most dogs do. Instead, they primarily use sight and speed. Their long, lean bodies make them incredibly fast, able to chase down rabbits and other small game.
Appearance & Grooming of the Cirneco dell'Etna Dog Breed: Cirneco dell'Etnas stand between 15 and 19¾ inches at the withers and typically weigh between 17 and 27 pounds. Their short coats only need an occasional brushing with a rubber curry brush or hound glove to stay healthy.
Basic obedience training is important for all dogs in order that they learn boundaries and are amenable to commands. The Cirneco is not a particularly difficult dog to train and the breed has been known to do very well in obedience competition. He is an intelligent dog and very willing to work for an owner he loves and respects. All training should be based on positive reinforcement with rewards of treats and praise for good efforts and a job well done. Other methods based on harsh discipline and punishment for mistakes have no place in training the Cirneco, or any other dog. Faced with rough handling and an angry voice he will become confused and fearful and his potential will never be realized. Socialization should commence at a young age and should be on-going. By introducing the pup to various people, places, situations, other dogs and animals he will be prepared to face life in a human world which is sometimes confusing for a dog and he will mature into a well-adjusted, well-mannered, sensible adult of whom to be proud.
8) Volcanic Name
The Cirneco dell'Etna was named for Mount Etna, Europe's highest active volcano, which sits on the coast of Sicily. But this part of the name was actually not added until 1939. The name "Cirneco" could come from the Greek word, "kyrenaikos," which means "dog from Cyrene," which we know today as Libya. The name could also come from the Latin word, "cernere," which means "to look for attentively."
9) Guarding Legend
There is a legend that 1,000 Cirnechi used to guard the temple of the god Adranos, located on the southwestern slope of Mount Etna. According to the legend, the Cirnechi had the divine ability to recognize thieves and non-believers among those who approached the temple.
The Cirneco dell’Etna is a rare breed not readily found outside Italy — there are only 200 or so Cirnechi in the United States.