The Cirneco dell'Etna has a strong, inquisitive, independent temperament, which is important in keen hunting dogs. It is also outgoing, friendly, affectionate and smart. Cirnechi are loyal and loving with their owners and friends. They are willing and eager to please and love to receive pets and praise. They usually make great family pets, although they can be reserved around strangers. The Cirneco is an extremely adaptable breed that can thrive in a wide variety of environments. However, these are house dogs that definitely need to live indoors due to their short coats, thin skin and absence of body fat. They like to nestle on warm soft furniture, blankets and bedding, almost as much as they like to snuggle with their favorite people. Cirnechi typically are tolerant of children, although this is not a bomb-proof breed and probably isn’t the best choice for families with very young kids. Cirnechi are social animals that tend to get along well with other dogs. They rarely cause problems in multiple-pet homes and, unlike most sighthounds, get along remarkably well with familiar cats. Of course, the earlier any dog is exposed to other household pets and small children, the more likely it is to get along with them as they age.
Cirnechi are high-energy animals that need quite a bit of regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally fit. They love taking long daily walks and having a chance to stretch their legs in safely-enclosed areas. It is important for Cirneco owners to have well-fenced yards, so that their dogs can run freely and burn off excess energy, which usually happens in short bursts. While they can be gregarious and playful, Cirnechi usually are calm and quiet, both indoors and out, as long as their exercise needs are met. They are great fans of toys of all sorts. A Cirneco can play with a single toy for hours, keeping it out of mischief. Cirnechi are active contestants in lure coursing and agility competitions. Participation in these and other canine sporting events provides a great opportunity to showcase the Cirneco’s athleticism, while at the same time giving him a chance to get physical exercise and canine socialization.
The Cirneco is extremely bright and responds well to gentle, positive training methods. It is considered to be easier to train than many of its sighthound cousins. Because of the breed's intelligence, it can do well with both long and short training sessions. However, short sessions seem to be better, since these dogs can become bored and inattentive if training lasts too long. This is a terrific breed for agility and lure coursing competitions, due to its superior speed, nimbleness and “smarts.”
As sighthounds, Cirnechi are extremely observant and instinctively programmed to dart after almost any small thing that moves. Because they are natural chasers, Cirnechi should be kept in safely-enclosed areas, preferably surrounded by a tall solid fence that they cannot climb over, jumpe over or wiggle through. An underground or above-ground electric fence is not a wise containment option for this breed, as Cirnechi are also keen diggers, going back to their rodent- and rabbit-hunting roots. The Cirneco dell'Etna can become depressed or destructive if it doesn’t get enough exercise and human attention. If an owner cannot spend lots of time with his Cirneco every day, this breed is not a good choice.