breed standard

The following description is that of the ideal Cirneco dell’Etna.  Any deviation from the below described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation. To download the standard, Click Here.

Breed Standard references are also available at; American Kennel Club,

Federation Cynologique International or Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana

Characteristics:               A keen hunter.  Adaptable to difficult terrain.  Hunts by scent, sight,

                                     and hearing. Strong-willed, alert and an excellent companion.


Temperament:                Strong, lively, independent temperament. Gentle and affectionate.

Expression:                    Alert expression.

General Appearance:    Medium sized hunting dog, elegant, slender build but strong and hardy.  Long

                                     limbed, of light construction and square outline with a fine coat and upright ears

                                     alway alert.

    Coat:                         Short on head, ears and legs.  Short to semi-long (about 1.18 inches)

                                     on body, but sleek  and close, ranging from fine to slightly coarse.  No


    Color:                        Self-colored Light to Dark shades of Tan or Chestnut.  With a mixture of slightly

                                     lighter and darker  hairs, or with more or less extensive white.  White collar,

                                     self-colored white or white with orange  patches is less desired.  Total

                                     depigmentation, Self-colored brown or liver; brown patches or hairs; brindle

                                     coat or any presences of black patches, hairs, pigmentation or mucous

                                     membranes are a disqualification.

    Gait:                         Springy trot without excessive extension.  Viewed from behind, hind legs

                                     track the forelegs.  Tendency to throw feet sideways or hackney action


Size & Proportion:   

    Height:                      Dogs 18.0 to 19.5 inches, tolerance 17.5 to 20.5 inches.

                                     Bitches 16.5 to 19.0 inches, tolerance 16.0 to 19.5 inches.

                                     Height not within the tolerance is a disqualification.

                                     Length from point of shoulder to haunch bone equal to height at withers.


Eyes:                   Relatively small, oval in shape, semi-lateral position.  Amber or ochre blending

                           with coat. Pigmentation of the eyelid rims corresponding to the color of the

                           nose. Brown or Yellow iris iss a fault to be severely penalized.

                           Walleye is a disqualification.

           Ears:                   Set very high and close together, upright and rigid, parallel or almost parallel

                                     when alert. Triangular shape with narrow tip.  Length not more than half the

                                     head.  Totally hanging ears or bat ears are disqualification.

           Skull:                  Width of skull no more than one half the length of head, in profile almost flat.

                                     Lean and well chiseled.

           Stop:                  Slight stop.

           Muzzle:              Length of muzzle equal to or only slightly less than length of skull.

           Planes:                Top of skull and fore-face parallel or slightly divergent. 

           Nose:                  Bridge of nose straight.  Nose rather large, flesh colored, blending with coat.


          Cheeks:                Flat cheeks.

          Mouth:                 Lower jaw lightly developed with receding chin.  Overshot mouth or   

                                     undershot mouth is a disqualification.

           Lips:                    Thin, taut lips, just covering the teeth of the lower jaw.

           Bite:                   Regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. Upper teeth closely overlapping

                                     lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

           Teeth:                 Full dentition desirable.

           Neck:                 Length the same as the head. Strong, clean, well arched and muscular. 

                                    Set well into shoulders.

           Top-line:             Straight top-line sloping from withers towards croup.


            Chest:               Reaches to, or nearly to, the elbow, without going beyond.


            Ribs:                 Slightly sprung, narrow but never flat.



            Tuck-up:            Clean, gently rising underline, lean without excessive tuck-up.


            Back:                Upper profile straight, without conspicuous muscles, the length is approximately    

                                    three times the length of the loin.  


            Loin:                 Length of Loin is approximately one fifth of the height at the withers and it’s width    

                                    is nearly the same as it’s length. Short, slightly developed muscles but firm. 


            Croup:             Croup has flat profile, sloping steeply downwards to root of tail.


            Tail:                 Low set, fairly thick at base, reaching to point of hock.  Of equal thickness for

                                   most of its length. Carried high and curved when dog is in action; saber fashion

                                   when in repose. Hair on tail is semi-long and close. Tail curled over the back is a

                                   fault to be severely penalized.


            Angulation:      Shoulder blade (Scapula) to horizontal 55°- 60°.

            Shoulders:       Strong, long, moderately laid back.

            Blades:            Upper tips close together.  Length close to one-third the height at the withers.

            Upper Arm:     Length of upper arm slightly less than length of shoulder blade.

            Elbow:            Level or below the line of the brisket and well tucked in.

            Legs:               Forelegs straight and parallel when viewed from the front.

            Pasterns:         Strong and slightly sloping.

            Dewclaws:      May not be removed.

    Hindquarters:          Strong and muscular.  Limbs parallel when viewed from behind.

            Angulation:     Not excessively angulated. In profile a vertical line from rear point of buttock to

                                  ground close to or touching the tips of the toes.  Angle between pelvis and upper

                                  thigh is about 115°.   


            Upper Thigh:  Broad, long, upper thigh with flat muscles.

            Stifle:             Moderate bend of stifle.

            Second Thigh:Slightly shorter than the upper thigh.  Lean and distinct musculature with light bone

                                 structure. Groove at Achilles tendon well marked.

            Hock Joint:    Angle at the joint is about 145°.

            Hocks:           Wide outer surface, cylindrical shape and vertical position.  Length from sole of

                                 foot to point of hock is just over a quarter of the height at the withers.

            Dewclaws:     Absent.

            Feet:             Strong, well knuckled, firm, slightly oval, turning neither in nor out.

            Pads:            Well padded, hard and of the same color as the nails. Black pads are a


            Nails:           Brown or flesh colored.  Black nails are a disqualification.

Disqualifying Faults:



                                Overshot mouth or undershot mouth.

                                Total depigmentation.

                                Totally hanging ears or bat ears.

                                Self-colored brown or liver; brown patches or hairs; brindle coat.

                                Any presence of black - patches, hairs, pigmentation, nails, pads or mucous


                                Height not within the tolerance


The chart below is demonstrative of the color range appropriate for the breed. Refer to the Breed Standard for a full descriptions of colors, variations, and disqualifications. 

Light Tan




Dark Tan




The Cirneco dell'Etna is a small hound-type dog used in Sicily for rabbit hunting and commonly misnomered as the "Sicilian greyhound" when translated. It is found all over the Italian island and particularly in the area surrounding the active volcano, Mount Etna, where the dogs hunt on terrain formed by volcanic lava. Its presence in Sicily is noteworthy as one of the few ancient breeds that have undergone very little manipulation by man. Instead, the breed has been rigorously selected by nature for its ability to work for hours in the heat without food and water. Thus, the dog we have today is an extremely hardy breed, free from inherited health problems.