7 Fun Facts About the Cirneco dell'Etna

7 Fun Facts About the Cirneco dell'Etna

Author WDF Staff


There are different attractive and interesting dog breeds in the world. Still, the amazing Cirneco dell'Etna stands out from the rest of them. These elegant, long-legged dogs look like they come directly from Egyptian palaces where they kept pharaohs company. These dogs are stunning, and if you ever get to see one for yourself, you will surely notice how impressive they are. That’s why we decided to make a list of our 7 favorite Cirneco dell'Etna fun facts.

1. Natural dog breed

Most modern-day dog breeds we know and love were “artificially” created through selective breeding and human intervention. For example, Golden Retrievers were bred through a period of 100 years before owners and breeders managed to achieve traits these dogs have today. However, the Cirneco dell'Etna is a natural dog breed.

All characteristics these dogs have are a result of natural selection. Only the toughest, well-adapted, and largest dogs survived. They had to adapt to the region they came from and serve a purpose. Needless to say, they managed to find their purpose, and they still thrive as one of the most impressive show dogs.

2. Skillful hunters

A natural dog breed wouldn’t survive so long if they couldn’t hunt and help humans hunt. The Cirneco dell'Etna is a part of the sighthound family, which means they primarily relied on their sight for hunting. Their natural adaptations like slim bodies and long legs allowed them to run after their prey and catch it. Before they did that, these dogs had to spot the prey from a distance, which would be impossible if they didn’t have such fantastic eyesight. Combine that with their superior nose, and you get a deadly hunter you cannot outrun.

Cirneco dell'Etna

3. They are Italians

As you can probably guess by the Cirneco dell'Etna’s name - they’re Italian. They come from the Island of Sicily, and historians believe these dogs lived there for a very long time. There are similar dog breeds, like the Saluki, that come from Northern Africa. It is believed these dogs might be Saluki’s descendants. However, they developed into their modern-day selves in the region around the volcano Etna. That might explain their natural adaptations to the volcanic region and tricky hunting grounds.

4. Dogs of the poor

The Cirneco might look like it was the pharaoh’s dog, but the truth is that these dogs were mostly owned by poor Italian farmers. These dogs served a purpose in ancient Italian farms, where their main goal and duty was to hunt rabbits. They were highly successful, so farmers generally kept only the best dogs. They weren’t really interested in developing dog breeds, standards, or pedigrees (which haven’t even existed yet). They only looked for dogs that would be useful to their farms and families. Italian aristocrats kept different types of hunting dogs, like Bracco Italiano.

WORLD DOG FINDER TIP: Even modern-day Cirnecos have strong hunting instincts. That means these dogs should not be trusted around other, smaller pets. Cirneco will see it as prey, and their instincts can turn on.

5. An ancient breed

Most dog breeds we know today are relatively “young.” Most of them are 100 - 300 years old when humans understood the concept of selective breeding and passing wanted traits to puppies. However, the Cirneco dell'Etna is an ancient breed that is at least 2.500 years old. That makes them one of the oldest pureblooded dog breeds in existence today.

Historians that researched Sicilian history noticed many dogs were present on the island. Dogs served different purposes, and one of them was hunting. Historical evidence places the Cirneco dell'Etna between the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C. Archeologists found around 150 different types of coins with these dogs on one side of them. It is also believed Cirneco’s ancestors were brought to Sicily by Phoenician merchants because they dominated trading routes in the Meditteranean in those times.

6. Myths and legends

Many dog breeds are involved in different legends, from the Tibetan Lion dogs to dogs that guarded their owners in the afterlife. There is also a legend regarding the Cirneco dell'Etna. An old Italian legend says that 1.000 of these dogs guarded the temple at the southwestern slope of Mount Etna. These dogs had divine abilities given to them by the god Adranos, whose temple they were protecting. They had the ability to recognize thieves and non-believers that were visiting the temple. They were a lot larger than modern-day dogs and were immensely powerful.

7. They are still rare

Despite Cirneco dell'Etna’s attractive appearance, these dogs are rarely found outside Italy. In fact, the largest number of these dogs are still located in Sicily. You would imagine that such praised show dogs, hunters, and companions will be popular among American dog lovers, but the truth is that only around 200 of these dogs are currently in the US. We hope dog owners will recognize these dogs’ positive sides and how excellent pets they can be. Sure, they will require knowledgeable owners who know how to handle such dogs.

World Dog Finder team

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