On the paths of Etna, you might meet a Cirneco out for a walk. Even domesticated, this is a proud dog, very independent, that often seeks out solitude. It is non-aggressive, of medium size, about 50cm high to the shoulder. You will recognise its large, pricked ears and alert, intelligent eyes, as well as the coat that ranges from the colour of golden sand to a deep deer red, with white spots, sometimes forming a star on the chest. It has long legs and a muscular body, and is lean and elegant.
The Cirnecois not a Greyhound, even if it looks like one. It belongs to the primitive hunting dog category. While as agile and quick as the Greyhound, it hunts with its sense of smell not sight. In the Cirneco, smell is a sense as highly-developed as a search dog.
It seems that the origins of the Cirneco date back to 1000 years B.C. It is rumoured that the ancestors of the breed are the dogs of the last dynasties of the Pharaohs of Egypt, imported to Sicily by the Phoenician traders in the IVth century A.D. A perfectly valid theory. However, successive studies of canine genetics have shown that the Cirneco is probably an indigenous Sicilian breed. The Cirneco was already shown on several pieces of antique money used in autonomous Sicilian towns during the Vth century B.C.
It is a typically Sicilian dog that is hardly, or not at all, present in the North or centre of Italy. It is perfectly adapted to Etna’s habitat, the only dog capable of getting around easily. The shape of its paws and robustness of the pads give it a unique ease of movement over difficult ground, torn up by the volcano.
In Sicily and on the slopes of Etna, several breeders ensure the perpetuation of this elegant race: proud, elegant, loyal, independent, intelligent, noble and with a keen hunting sense, to list only some of the great characteristics that mark out this breed.0