Cirneco dell'Etna Breed Information
The Cirneco dell'Etna (pronounced Cheer-nay-ko) is a small primitive breed from Sicily. It can be found throughout Italy and Sicily, and was bred to hunt rabbits in the tough volcanic terrain of Mt. Etna. Sicilian breeders such as kennel "Del Gelso Bianco" have been breeding the Cirneco for over two hundred years. The breed has remained virtually unchanged for centuries, and can be found on coins thousands of years old.
The Cirneco was recognized in 1939 by ENCI, the Italian Kennel Club. The first Italian show champion was Aetnensis Pupa, titled in 1952. In Italy, in order for a dog to awarded the title of "Champion", they must also pass a hunting test.
Cirnechi (cheer-nay-kee, plural of Cirneco) were recognized by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) in 1989, and can be shown in any FCI country including, but not limited to, Italy, Finland, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Austria, Brazil, etc. The Cirneco was introduced to the UK in 2001, and although they are still not able to compete in group, or become a champion, the Cirneco competed in its first KC show in 2008.
Currently the breed can only be shown with rare breed associations in the USA. In January 2007, I had the breed entered in the AKC FSS (Foundation Stock Service) program. This serves as both a registration database, and in time we may be allowed to move into the "Miscellaneous" class at AKC conformation shows.
The following associations allow the Cirneco to show in conformation classes:
ARBA - American Rare Breed Association
As of January 1, 2010, the Cirneco is eligible to compete in AKC companion events such as Rally, Agility and Obedience. The breed will also be able to participate in AKC lure coursing as of July 2010.
The breed can currently race with the following organizations:
NOTRA - National Oval Track Racing Association
The breed is very trainable, outgoing and rarely meets a stranger. The are very much a family dog, enjoying to spend time on the couch, on the bed, or under the covers :-)
Cirnechi can be "busy", and never seems to walk anywhere, almost always moving with an intent trot. They are not overly excited though, and can even do well in an apartment as long as they do have time set aside to stretch their legs.
My Cirnechi live with other dog breeds such as a french bulldog, silky terrier and also a Japanese chin. We also have cats, and despite the "sighthound" reputation, Cirnechi can also be taught to live right along side them.
The breed is quite smart and most are food motivated and learn quickly. Only well trained dogs should be allowed off-lead. They have a high prey drive and may go into hunt mode at any moment. But with training, they can even compete in obedience or agility.
Breeders should be willing to give you health information on their dogs. Many breeders have started to CERF eyes, and hip, heart and patellae information can be sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals database.
Personally I have not had any problems with eyes, hips or knees. I did have an import female that was found to have liver shunts. But after testing at the University of Tennessee, they were determined to be acquired, not hereditary in nature.
Some cirnechi will have a thinning of the hair on their throat, chest and belly. This does not affect their health, and does not seem to appear until the puppy coat is shed near the age of one year. Also some dogs are missing premolars, but again, this will not affect their health. Personally I think these two things may be somehow connected, as it is with the gene that causes hairlessness in Mexican Hairless, and Chinese Cresteds.
I take great pride in my dogs and have dogs from kennels in Sicily, Italy, Norway and France. My dogs are an important part of my family, email me if you are interested in making one part of yours!
About the Galgo Español Breed
The galgo español is an ancient dog breed, having accompanied the Celts into Europe and eventually the Iberian Peninsula as hunting dogs. The introduction of the Sloughi by the Moors also played a role in the development of the breed we see today.
What Makes a Galgo Español a Great Companion
Like all sighthounds, the galgo español is a peaceful and pleasant companion that appreciates acertain comfort. He is relatively easy to raise through positive reinforcement and loving consistency. In return, he is an affectionate and devoted companion, but like all sighthounds, he also possesses a sense of independence that is part of his character. Though initially hesitant with strangers, he will approach people on his own if given time.
Because of his attachment to humans and his kind and affectionate character, the galgo español has found a role as a theratpeutic dog, for example, with the elderly suffering from dementia.
Due to the lack of an undercoat, the galgo español does not have the typical "dog smell." The short fur means that the dog is quickly cleaned with a towel even in inclement weather. Grooming once or twice a week with a dog brush is sufficient.
As performance has played a major role in the development of the breed over the centuries, the galgo español is a hardy and robust dog with no known breed-specific illnesses.
Is the Galgo Español Right for You?
In constrast to what some may think, the galgo español does not require hour-long walks but rather benefits from short periods of intensive running, after which follows an extended siesta. This makes the galgo español a great dog for people living even in large cities with, for example, city parks with room set aside for dogs.
The galgo español has a very strong drive to hunt, so in order to keep him safe, the owner needs to make sure that there are no wild game nearby, no streets, railroad tracks, barbed-wire fences, or similar dangers nearby when letting the dog run free.
For those interested in having their dog participate in lure coursing and racing events, conducted by the local sighthound associations and clubs, the galgo español is a sheer joy to experience as they literally put their whole being into that which they were bred to do, run. The events also give them a chance to be with other dogs and even to be with siblings from their own litter.