Originally bred for hunting rabbits and feathered game, the Sicilian Cirneco Dell'Etna is visually distinctive and rare, with little availability outside Italy. Part of the 'hound' branch of canines, the Cirneco Dell'Etna was primarily bred as a versatile working dog suited to harsh terrain, such as that of Mount Etna. Precious little is known of the breed's early heritage, although it is believed that the Cirneco Dell'Etna descended from the Nile river valleys of ancient Egypt, although there exists minimal evidence referencing the Cirneco outside Sicily until the 20th century. There is, however, evidence of the breed appearing in ancient Italian engravings and coins from as early as the 2nd century BC.
Deep-chested, the breed possesses a large lung capacity for stamina when hunting, proportioned limbs, a narrow skull structure and high-set, pointed ears. The Cirneco Dell'Etna's coat is very short, maintaining appearance and manageability, and most commonly appears in colours of fawn, tan and white. The elegant, slender frame of the breed is often likened to that of the Greyhound, however there is not believed to be any genetic relation between the two. Pointedly, the Cirneco Dell'Etna is selectively bred to endure long periods of time without food or water, a factor that would have greatly contributed to survival when hunting in warm climates with sparse, mountainous terrain.
Often said to resemble small pharaoh or Ibizan Hounds, the Cirneco Dell'Etna is a distinctive breed with distinctive care requirements; the breed thrives on attention and is thus suited to family environments, or to a dedicated sole owner. Due to their characteristically short coats, the Cirneco is unsuited to extreme temperatures so should be housed indoors. On average, a healthy Cirneco Dell'Etna will weigh approximately 8-10 kg, and have a life expectancy of 12-14 years when appropriate care is shown.
Re-bred for its inherent hardiness, the Cirneco Dell'Etna is a resilient breed, not susceptible to many common canine afflictions. However, due to the breed evolving in isolated regions wherein constant inbreeding took place, breed-specific health complaints are largely unknown.