Monday, November 18, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Cirneco dell'Etna

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The Cirneco dell'Etna is a Sicilian breed that has been present in Italy for over 2,500 years. Its image has been found on coins dating back to the Greek colonization of Sicily, around 500 BC.

This is a hunter of small mammals and fowl, and bred to work under adverse conditions. The word Etna in the breed name refers to the volcano Etna - the largest active volcano in Europe. These dogs work on rugged terrain formed by volcanic lava, withstanding heat for hours with no food or water.

Traditionally, the Circneco would be used to hunt together with a ferret. The dog would find rabbits, and the ferrets would flush the rabbits out. They have an extremely good sense of smell.

According to legend, the slopes of Mount Etna held a temple devoted to Adranos, a fire deity worshipped by the people of Sicily. He was believed to live under the mountain, and one thousand Cirnecos guarded his temple. The dogs had a divine ability to recognize thieves and disbelievers.

Since the breed stems from an island the dogs have developed with little manipulation from man, and they are extremely hardy. They usually weigh between 18 and 27 pounds, and their expected life span is 12-14 years.

The Cirneco dell'Etna is strong and independent, but friendly and affectionate with people. They require exercise and mental stimulation; like all intelligent dogs they grow bored easily. They are also excellent jumpers and diggers, and can find a way out of most yards.

~ Maria Sadowski ~


  1. How could a dog hunt with a ferret, I would hunt the ferret! Interesting!

  2. Beautiful dogs and they sound so cool! I've never heard of a dog that uses teamwork with a ferret to hunt before.

  3. My doggies would hunt the ferret too. Fascinating breed! =D
    Thank you for coming over, everyone! =D