The Cirneco dell'Etna is a small- to medium-sized elegant hunting dog with exaggerated ears, a long pointy muzzle and a stunning coat. The Cirnechi’s tall, triangular ears, which can be up to one-half the length of its head, are set very high and close together. They must be held erect (“pricked”) and rigid, parallel or almost parallel, when the dog is alert. Droopy ears, or “bat ears,” disqualify the dog from show competition. The Cirneco has a strong, well-arched neck. Its body is lean and elegant, athletic and muscular. Its ribcage is slightly sprung and fairly narrow, although it should never be flat. The Cirnechi’s thick, long, low-set tail is carried high and curved during motion, and sabre-like when standing still. It should never curl tightly over the back. The feet should be strong and oval, without dewclaws on the hind legs. Dewclaws on the forelegs should not be removed. The Cirnechi’s paw pads should be brown or flesh colored, with nails of matching color. Black nails or foot pads are a breed disqualification. This is a long-legged breed, with a kind oval eye and an alert expression. It is often confused with the Pharaoh Hound, to which it bears a striking resemblance. However, the Cirneco is substantially smaller, both in stature and weight, and has a more squared-off profile.
Size and Weight
The ideal male Cirneco dell'Etna measures between 18 and 19¾ inches at the withers, although dogs between 17¼ and 20½ inches in height are tolerated under the AKC breed standard. Females ideally stand between 16½ and 18 inches tall, with heights from 15¾ to 19¾ inches being allowed in the American show ring. Both males and females typically weigh between 17 and 27 pounds.
Coat and Color
The Cirneco’s coat is short on the head, ears and legs and usually a bit longer but still sleek and close on the body. It can be fine or slightly coarse and should have no feathering. One of the most striking characteristics of the Cirneco is its beautiful, shiny, solid-colored coat, which preferably ranges from a rich tan to a deep chestnut. It can have a mixture of slightly lighter and darker hairs, with or without white patches on the face, chest, belly, feet and/or tail tip. Dogs that are solid white, white with orange patches, or any color with a white collar are accepted but less desirable under the AKC breed standard. Cirnechi that are solid brown or liver, and those with brown patches, brindle coats or any black patches, hairs, pigmentation or mucous membranes, are disqualified from the show ring. The extremely short hair coat of this breed makes it especially susceptible to the cold. These dogs should wear a sweater or coat if they are exposed to damp, chilly weather for any length of time. Cirnechi are indoor dogs that are not well-suited to living in cold climates.
The Cirneco dell'Etna is a low-maintenance breed. Its short coat only needs an occasional brushing to keep it tidy and clean. A rubber curry brush or hound glove, or even a warm damp cloth, work well to keep its coat looking shiny and lustrous. Frequent bathing is not necessary and really should only be done when the dog is obviously smelly or dirty. Other routine maintenance is the same as for most breeds, including dental care to keep teeth clean, reduce plaque build-up and prevent bad breath. Regular nail clipping is also important. Many sighthounds, including many Cirnechi, are sensitive to having their feet handled. Nail care should start at a very young age, so that it does not become a struggle. Owners should do their best to avoid cutting into the quick of the nail, which is quite painful for the animal. For those who are not comfortable clipping nails, a quick trip to a professional groomer can be a godsend for both owner and dog.