Let’s Talk Breed Education!
BREED STANDARD 2020 dell’Etna
BY CDECA & M LUCIA PRIETO
H idden in the deep sleep of the COVID pan- demic was the first revision of the AKC Cirneco dell’Etna breed standard. Although effective on March 31, 2020, we are, two years later, still encountering the “old” standard online, in publications, and applied in the show ring. Many of the changes in the breed standard were made to better illustrate and define the specific characteristics with a more familiar terminology such as “set somewhat obliquely” for the position of the eyes, replacing the more ambiguous “semi-lateral position.” There was also the need to correct the previous omission of acceptance of honorable scars in recogni- tion of the function of the breed. WHAT ARE THE SALIENT CHANGES? The breed has disqualifications for size, both over and under the stated limits. There was originally a more complex height evaluation involving a standard, a tolerance outside of the standard, and a disqualification outside of the tolerance. Application of these tiers, which were originally incorporated from the FCI standard, resulted in a tremendous amount of confusion, with many AKC judges recommending removal of the tolerance. As such, as of 2020, the standard height for dogs is 18 to 20 inches, height for bitches is 17 to 19 inches, and height not within those stated limits is a breed disqualification. Size is important. The function of the Cirneco determined its survival and evolution. Hunting terrain upon which the Cirne- co survived and thrived is dependent on the ability to enter and work in restricted areas yet have sufficient body substance to effectively succeed in harvesting prey. The wicket is our friend. Because of the AKC Hound Group designation, there is a preconceived notion of a fast, lean, running sighthound. The Cirneco is not a sighthound. The Cirneco is not a lean running machine. The Cirneco is capable of running, but its construc- tion is not optimal for that function. Of “light construction” refers to the fact that it is not heavy-boned. It is not a reference to body mass, which is that of a hunter, not a runner. The most egregious misapplication of the sighthound courser construc- tion to the Cirneco fell in the description of the Underline & Tuck-Up. Clean, gently rising, lean underline is proper for a Cirneco but, in note of the importance of the characteristic to the breed, “excessive tuck-up is a severe fault” has replaced the innocuous and easily brushed over “without excessive tuck-up” language of the old standard. The Cirneco is not a Whippet.
photo by Malee Earle
photo by Jane L. Moore
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CIRNECO DELL’ETNA BREED STANDARD 2020
The color of the Cirneco is tan; it is not brown or red, and there- fore, not chestnut. Self-colored light to dark shades of tan, with a mixture of slightly lighter and darker hairs as well as tan with white markings. The white markings are now specified to include: white blaze or mark on head, chest and/or throat, white feet, point of tail, and/or belly, with a white collar being less desired. Although this is specifically descriptive of the Cirneco coat, it applies to the dog as a whole because the Cirneco is monotone. Please note the other references to color in the standard: A. In Reference to the Eyes: Amber or ochre blending with coat; B. Nose: Rather large, flesh-colored, blending with coat; C. Pads: Well padded, hard and of the same color as the nails; D. Nails: Brown or flesh-colored. It is to be noted that nail color typically flows with the color of its individual toe. If the toe is white rather than tan, the nail will likely be flesh-colored. Black is a disqualification anywhere on a Cirneco.
“Emblem of the Cirneco” is the characterization in the descrip- tion of the ears in the commentary to the Italian standard. For our purposes, this translates to a major characteristic of breed type and includes shape, set, and carriage. The shape is triangular with a narrow tip and proportional to the head. The length is slightly less but no more than half the length of the head. They are set very high and close together. Carriage is erect and rigid, parallel or almost parallel when alert. In an attempt to strive for the optimal, most perfect exemplar possible, our original standard had the aspirational statement: “Full dentition desirable.” Unfortunately, this resulted in a most unintended counting of teeth and penalizing for a missing pre- molar or molar. The wording is now “scissor bite.” Why? The FCI standard allows for “the lack of PM1 and M3.” Canine dentition contains four premolar 1s and two molar 3s. Breed experts in the country of origin, which requires the completion of a hunting trial for breed conformation championship, have determined that the lack of those teeth does not impede the functionality of the breed. Although full dentition is the goal, the breed under AKC should not face greater scrutiny than in its country of origin where func- tion is more than visual.
BIO M Lucia Prieto is a member and President of the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America, and a member of the Società Amatori Cirneco dell’Etna, Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana, and Cirneco dell’Etna Club (UK), and an AKC Silver Breeder of Merit. In the breed since 1996, she has imported close to 50 Cirnechi, bred 35 litters, founded the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America in 1997, and mentored the breed through ASFA and AKC recognition.
photo by Blake Williams
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The Broken Record of Form Follows Function
BY M. LUCIA PRIETO
I s the Cirneco a Sighthound? No. If classified as a “Hound,” the Cirneco is a Scenthound. While employing sight and sound almost equally, its primary sense is scent. It is a hunter that functions independently to locate and flush prey, voic- ing when prey is found, running rabbit to its burrow, and, yes, pointing—especially when hunting fowl. The Cirneco is a primitive breed with functional attributes not commonly converging and, in their embodiment, present a chal- lenge given the expectations of the American fancy. The expression “form follows function” is often a throw away, almost as common as a “good morning.” But, taken seriously, it is the underpinning of any performance dog of which the Cirneco dell’Etna is no exception. Not all factors described within a breed standard are crucial to the existence of a specific breed through its function. Aesthetics, subject for another time, is the second half of the soul of breed type. The function of the Cirneco dell’Etna is the hunting of small mammals, primarily rabbit, and fowl. The terrain upon which the Cirneco survived by virtue of its hunting prowess is not that of open land for as far as the eye can see. A canine that is large or built for speed is not rewarded with sustenance for survival on rocky slopes and small agricultural plots. Size is crucial to the Cirneco’s ability to enter and work within tight areas—thickets and rocky crevices. For this reason, the breed standard has well-defined boundaries for size, which include dis- qualifications. Disqualifications in size, while not common, are not a novelty for breeds where function is affected. The Whippet is the well-known breed within our same Hound Group with a size maximum and minimum. For the Cirneco, the disqualifications arise for dogs outside the range of 18-20 inches and for bitches outside the range of 17-19 inches. This is easy to apply if the time is taken to evaluate the exemplars individually, rather than seeking uniformity, or lack thereof, within the whole of the exhibits in the conformation ring. Unfortunately, this breed suffers more than most from hav- ing the least uniform exemplar in the ring be the most compliant to the breed standard. There has been a dearth of the use of a wicket, in both conformation and performance events, with the result of disqualifiable dogs having completed AKC titles.
photo by Inka Luonmanmãki
photo by Jane L. Moore
photo by L. Prieto
photo by L. Prieto
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THE BROKEN RECORD OF FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
photo by Gaetano Toscano
photo by Inka Luonmanmãki
photo by L. Prieto
photo by Inka Luonmanmãki
photo by Inka Luonmanmãki
photo by Jane L. Moore
The Cirneco Breed Standard contains a hierarchy of tools for evaluation: “Disqualifications,” “Severely Penalized,” “Undesir- able,” and “Less Desirable.” The only trait with the label of “unde- sirable” (not “disqualification” or “severely penalized”) is “Gait: Tendency to throw feet sideways or hackney action.” Obviously, movement is important. But what is the movement? A hunting dog that works on rocky terrain, whether rocks along a river, hills and mountains or simply rock walls dividing fields, places where rabbits are likely to reside, is a dog with a short fore- arm and a lifting motion. “Springy trot” is the expression used to describe the action imposed by this short forearm, necessary for sure-footed climbing and working on rocky slopes. The cultural divide: no reach and drive. The breed standard specifically states: “Springy trot without excessive extension.” To further shock the sensibilities, the traversing of irregular terrain is not severely ham- pered by the lack of a perfect springy trot. A dog too straight in the shoulder can still perform its function with movement that is hackney or a paddling motion. Hackney action or throwing of feet sideways is not the most efficient of actions and, for this reason, is “undesirable.” But it also is not a characteristic that impedes func- tion, as would size. Size impedes the ability to access prey, eat, and survive. “Undesirable.” There are many references within the standard to “fault” and “severe fault” but, again, those terms are not found in reference to movement. Yes, movement is important insofar as
the ability to fulfill function. But it is necessary to first correctly envision the function to be accomplished. The deviations from the Breed Standard for the Cirneco dell’Etna are here summarized in order of severity: DISQUALIFICATIONS: • Size: Height not within the stated limits. Dogs 18-20 inches; Bitches 17-19 inches; • Eyes: Walleye, an eye with a whitish iris or blue eye(s);
• Ears: Totally hanging ears or bat ears; • Mouth: Overshot or undershot mouth; • Color: Black nails.
Total depigmentation, self-colored brown or liver, brown patches or hairs, brindle coat: or any presence of black, whether patches, hairs, or pigmentation including of mucous membranes. SEVERELY PENALIZED: • Eyes: Brown or yellow iris; • Body: Excessive tuck-up; • Tail: Curled over the back. UNDESIRABLE: • Gait: Tendency to throw feet sideways or hackney action. LESS DESIRABLE: • Color: A white collar.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR M. Lucia Prieto is a member and President of the Cirneco dell'Etna Club of America, and a member of the Società Amatori Cirneco dell'Etna, Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana, and Cirneco dell'Etna Club (UK), and an AKC Silver Breeder of Merit. In the breed since 1996, she has imported close to 50 Cirnechi, bred 35 litters, founded the Cirneco dell'Etna Club of America in 1997, and mentored the breed through ASFA and AKC recognition.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022 | 205
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206 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022
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BY JERRI GATES SICILIAN SECRET
T he Cirneco dell’Etna is the “best kept secret in the Hound Group.” Well, it’s time to let the secret out. Th is is a cute little red dog with tall, prick ears, loving gold eyes, and the spirit of a hunter. Admit- ted into the Hound Group by AKC in 2015, they are slowly gain- ing popularity within the show fancy as well as with John Q Public. Th e prop- er pronunciation is “cheer-nay-ko” and “cheer-nay-kee” (Cirnechi) for plural. Th eir origins are deep; a primitive little Hound that hails from the Island of Sicily where it has been used for hunting over the last few centuries. Similar in appearance to other Mediterranean Hounds, it is believed there is a common ancestor, though none has been proven to date. Each of the Mediterranean breeds was developed according to the hunting needs of each region. Th e Cir- neco is a multi-purpose hunter that uses all of the senses to locate and obtain their prey. Many ancient artifacts from the region of Sicily, ancient Rome, and Greece have depictions on coins and pottery that resemble the Cirneco of today— some that date back as far as 4,000 B.C. Many of the Sicilian towns, such as Palermo and Erice, beheld the dog with a religious or symbolic signi fi cance, often minting coins with their image. Legend claims that the temple built by Dionysus in 400 B.C., dedicated to the God Adranos near the volcano, had a thousand Cirnechi to guard its safety. It is said the dog had the ability to rec- ognize and attack the thieves and disbelievers, while also accompanying and guiding the pilgrims seeking prayer and salvation. Th e breed was rarely seen outside Sicily before the early 1930’s, until an article was published declaring the breed was in a danger of oblivion. A Sicil- ian aristocrat, the Baroness Agata Paterno Castello of the Dukes of Carcaci, took the matter at heart and headed up a group to help with saving the breed. “Donna Agata” spent the next 26 years studying this ancient dog, selecting the best dogs from the peasants for breeding, and developing the breed to what we know today. Th e Baroness commissioned to have the breed standard written, which was approved by the Italian Kennel Club (ENCI) in 1939, with the cur- rent FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) standard being completed in 1989. In order to maintain the ancient hunting heritage, the Cirneco in Italy must pass a hunt test to become a full champion. To the untrained eye, they look very much like a Pharaoh Hound in min- iature. But in actuality, there are several di ff erences in their overall conforma- tion. Th e most notable di ff erence is size, with the Cirneco having a maximum height of 19 inches for males and 18 for females, as opposed to the Pharaoh Hound’s maximum of 25 inches for males, 23 inches for females. Th e Cir- neco should be of square frame, the Pharaoh Hounds slightly longer than tall. Other di ff erences include the eyes, ears, tail, and coloring. Th e Cirneco is a very hardy breed, selected by nature for the ability to work for hours in the heat, and is relatively free from major genetic health issues. A very friendly, active and a ff able dog that is somewhat easier to train than most sighthounds, [the Cirneco is] well-suited to many performance events. Th ey are able to run in lure coursing events, both in the US and in Europe, and agility seems like a natural fi t among a multitude of activities they can participate in. Being very a ff ectionate, they make an excellent companion. Th ey prefer to be close to their owners, and love to sleep under the covers of the bed. Over the past few years, the popularity of the Cirneco has spread throughout the World, with the highest populations outside Italy found in much of Europe, the US, and Russia. Th ey can currently be shown in all FCI member countries, the KC of the UK, and AKC. Now that the secret is out of the bag, look for this great little red dog in the Hound Group. We’ll be toward the back somewhere between the Basenji and the Dachshunds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR I have been involved with the Cirneco dell’Etna since 1998, and have been active in showing and coursing. When the breed was added to the Hound Group, I bred, owned, and handled the first Champion/Grand Champion, co-owned the first one to get a Group placement, and co-owned the first Field Champion.
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“ H ow do you pronounce it?” “Cheer- n e c k - o dell’Etna.” “I’ve never heard of this breed before, Cheer-neck-o, what?” “Dell’Etna.” “Dell what?” “Etna, the volcano, the volcano in Sicily.” “Oh! Italy!” Welcome to the awakening of America to the Cirneco dell’Etna. Th e existence of the breed in Sicily for thousands of years and in homes of Sicilian immigrants out- side of its native land was a well-kept secret in the US until 1995. In 1995 William Burkhart, an American resident in Swit- zerland, and Barbka Mencinger, from Slo- venia, co-authored an article in Sighthound Review which brought the breed to the attention of the American dog-fancy. As a direct consequence of that article, two Cir- nechi bitches were imported in 1996 from the first available litter out of Slovenia and the parent club, the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America was established the fol- lowing year in Houston, Texas. For the next ten years, Texas was the little Sicily for the Cirneco dell’Etna in America. Th e breed is presently found across the country with just over 300 three generation pedi- greed AKC registered exemplars. Th e breed was a well-kept secret in its native land as well having not made its debut outside of the hunting community in Sicily until 1939 when the first breed standard was accepted by the Italian Ken- nel Club. Th e addition of “dell’Etna” to the centuries long identification of the breed as a “Cirneco” (again, “Cheer-neck- o”) was in reference to its area of highest concentration on the island of Sicily. Th e first pictorial reference to the Cirneco dell’Etna, verifying its existence in Sicily
Provided by the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America
for at least 2500 years, is found in coins minted between the 5th and 3rd centu- ries BC at Segesta and several other towns throughout Sicily. Th e coins depict exem- plars of the breed which are very much in conformance with the Cirneco as it exists today and are usually accompanied by the image of Adranos on the reverse of the coin. Adranos is the God personifying Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Italy and Europe, for whom Dionysus is said to have built a temple in 400 BC on the southern slope of Mount Etna. Th e legend surrounding the Temple of Adranos maintains that it was guarded by
a thousand Cirnechi that had the divine ability to di ff erentiate between thieves and disbelievers, whom they attacked, and pil- grims to the temple, whom they guided, with particular benevolence to those show- ing signs of intoxication. In written form, the “Cirneco” is first labeled as such in 1533 within a Sicilian law prohibiting the use of “cirnechi” for hunting. It was the imposition of penalties in an attempt to protect the prey for whom this breed was considered harmful. It is fairly well accepted, although not proven, that the Phoenicians disseminated the dog from the Nile, the dog depicted
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298 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2021
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SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2021 | 299
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by the Egyptian Anubis, throughout their trade routes in the Mediterranean and beyond. It is unknown whether the dog was transported primarily as a hunting tool for the Phoenicians or as a commodity in trade but, whether one or both, the value of the dog rested in its ability as an e ff ective hunter. Artifacts from antiquity depict the objects of the hunt as small mammals, pre- dominantly rabbits, but include wild boar. Over the course of centuries, the dog from the Nile survived throughout the ancient trade routes by adapting to its displacement. In Sicily there was little manipulation by man allowing nature to dictate survival to an intelligent and har- dy breed with no known genetic issues. Th e breed that is the Cirneco of today is
capable of hunting small mammals and fowl for extended periods of time over rug- ged volcanic terrain. Although hunting rabbit is not uncommon for multiple breeds, includ- ing most classified as “sighthounds”, the Cirneco is very specialized in its form of hunting. Th e Cirneco’s abilities are honed for success in locating, flushing, follow- ing and directing the hunter to the prey. Th e primary sense employed is scent, the Cirneco must be able to track the rabbit. Sight and sound are also well developed and used in the hunt but should not be primary. Although capable of running distances with great speed, the Cirneco, in fulfilling its function, is not typically required to experience large expanses of
open land. Th e hunt is typically limited to encumbered areas—a riverbank, rocky slopes, forest, an agricultural field. Th e talents necessary in a well-trained hunter are acute dexterity and athleticism. Hybrid functionality in hunting is one of the most interesting aspects of the Cir- neco. Two of the crossovers from standard classifications are retrieval and pointing. Although not normally trained to do so, and not expected of a Cirneco, they are capable of retrieving and the stron- gest hunters will enter water to do so. Of greater significance is that Cirnechi point, particularly when hunting fowl. Although there is the opinion that few Cirnechi employ this function it has been our experience in the United States that most, if not all, Cirnechi “point”. As hunters the instinct of the Cirneco must be respected within the parameters of our modern day society. Th e situations most frequently encountered are the intro- duction of a Cirneco to other pets as well as their ability to be run o ff lead. Cirnechi typically do well as members of a family that can include small mammals or even birds but care and precaution must be tak- en when introducing them. When trained for hunting, the Cirnechi can and will respond to recall but even those who have been well-trained should only be allowed o ff leash in safe and secure areas. Th is primitive hunter, consummate athlete and independent thinker, is bid- dable, a ff ectionate, responsive to gentle methods of training and well suited to family life. Because it is an independent thinker, it requires creativity on the part of its trainer. It is a breed possessing a lively and active disposition, acutely perceptive, learning quickly and in need of mental stimulation and interplay with its family for its well-being. Th is hardy breed has no known genetic issues and lifespans can therefore surpass 15 years. Th e Cirneco is an excellent candidate for activities such as hunting, obedience, agility, tracking and coursing. It is consid- ered easier to train than some of its sight- hound cousins and thrives with the oppor- tunity to learn and have a function. After a day of work, the Cirneco relishes its role as family member and bed warmer. 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& % &$&.#&3 t
CirneCo dell’etna: THOUGHTS ON THE BREED
GARRY NEWTON I am the Director of Nursing for a Pediatric Home Health Agency. I additionally continue to do bronze sculptures, the latest of note is a larger than life-size Saluki bronze outside the Athletic Dept of Southern Illinois University. I have been active in Breeding and Showing since 1976. I have been judg- ing AKC Conformation for over 20 years and Lure coursing for ASFA and AKC for over 30 years.
I live in North Central Texas in the small town of Kaufman. I’ve had dogs of all sorts throughout my life, and got my first show dog in 1985. My first Cirneco joined me in 1998. Until retiring a couple years ago, I was an all breed Lure Coursing Judge
1. Describe the breed in three words. JG: Primitive, loyal and social. EL: Elegant, strong and alert. GN: Athletic, functional and amusing.
for both AKC and ASFA (American Sighthound Field Assoc.) for nearly 15 years. Conformation judging will probably be in my near future, but I’m having too much fun showing right now. ERIC LIEBES Joan and I live outside of
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? JG: Friendly, loving temperaments. Sound movement. EL: Square outline with moderate angulation, athletic but not exaggerated gait, alert expression with high set ears, proper size and color. GN: Cosmetically: those specific attributes that make it different than other breeds, especially those breeds that might at first appear similar. Additionally, this breed is a “keen hunter” and thus functional aspects of the breed standard are extremely important to me. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? JG: So far, the breed is staying very close to the way they have been for many years. I hope that breeders avoid the desire to “change for the better” and ultimately make them unrecognizable with over angulated rears, exces- sively large ears, and “TRAD”. EL: I think is is unusual and important that the standard calls for “Springy Trot without excessive extension.” The lazy habit of hound judges to reward tremendous reach and drive ahead of breed type and all other features is dread- fully incorrect for this breed. GN: No breed traits come to mind but in a trait in exhibiting does come to mind. Far too many exhibitors move the
Colorado Springs with our 3 Samoyeds, 2 Komondors, Grey- hound and Ibizan Hound. I retired last year after 30 years with Chevron as a Geophysicist, sometimes doing oil explora- tion, sometimes Research. I got my first dogs, and Ibizan and a Komondor in 1981. The Ibizan got his Ch. and a CDX, the Komondor still holds the All-Breed BIS Record for the breed (7). I’ve had good success breeding both of those breeds
since. I’ve been judging since 1992 and am approved for all Hounds, Working, and Herding breeds and Brittany’s. Several years ago I attended a Cirneco “old club” National, helped out with the Lure Trial and discussed the breed with an Italian expert who was the judge. In the last year Cirneco’s were in Miscellaneous, I was pleased to judged their “old club” National Specialty in Texas, an entry of about 30.
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6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? JG: Many are still trying to compare them to the Pharaoh Hound. EL: I think many judges have not seen enough to develop a good idea of overall type. We need to carefully refer to a pretty well written and specific standard in judging. GN: I often do not feel that judges put enough emphasis on the function of the breed. Without the functional aspects of the breed, they are not a Cirneco. 7. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. JG: This breed is one of the easiest to live with I have experi- enced. Arguments are seldom and slight. They live easily as a pack, and accept new members quickly. I never have to worry about my boys getting along even with a girl is in season. EL: The breed, like many sighthounds can be aloof. Since they are smooth coated we should be able to judge them with a minimal examination (just what is required), espe- cially if there is an objection from the exhibit. GN: I have had the pleasure of being around this breed long before they were recognized by the AKC both in the ring as well as on the coursing field. They are truly a sparkling gem in the Sighthound family. 8. And, for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? JG: In 1999, the Pharaoh Hound National Specialty was held in Ocala, FL in connection with an all breed show. As we were under the canopy waiting our turn to go in the ring, I notice a woman walking our direction through the crowd. She was tall, blonde, not young, dressed in reveal- ing black leather and stilettos. She had a leash draped over her shoulder, and attached to that leash was a young man with a collar around his neck. EL: I was a club officer and steward on a show weekend which included Emil Klinkhart, Jim Moran, and Lou Harris. Lou’s ring was always a happy place. Jim and Emil spent the weekend playing practical jokes on each other. Emil showed up in Jim’s ring, ahead of him, after lunch with dark glasses and a white cane. He strode in and declared, blindly, that he was Jim Moran and he was ready to judge! Later in the day a baby pig (named “Little Lou”) was one of the exhibits in Judy Goodin’s BIS ring. The pig did not win. I miss all 4 of those great judges. GN: I don’t think there is a “funniest” event. I am always amused by the puppy antics, the fun and gags between exhibitors and friends and the pure joy of the sport. That said, yes the rumor is true that I split my pants showing an Afghan for my wife years ago and I did show Sight- hounds to a few of my favorite judges dressed in a white rabbit outfit at an Easter Show or two.
dogs way too fast. The winner is not the dog that makes it around the ring in the quickest time but rather I prefer seeing the dog moving in a balanced and efficient man- ner. The smooth and efficient entry with the best breed type is the one I try to reward. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? JG: They are definitely better now than when they first start- ed coming in to the country. Many of the first imports had very sloppy fronts and questionable temperaments. Those involved with the breed have made huge strides in improving those aspects. EL: I had the pleasure to meet and judge the breed before AKC Group recognition. I’d say overall type is well set in the breed as a whole. I don’t expect to see any change in that. The entries I’ve seen this past year in regular com- petition showed better training and behavior in the ring than the early entries I saw or judged. GN: I do not believe that the AKC Judge is the most quali- fied to answer this question. The breeders and the Parent Club are the ones with the knowledge and experience to answer this question. AKC Judges only reward (or try to reward) the best examples of the breed on any given day. The quality of those winners are dependent on what is bred and exhibited on a given day. 5. Should a Cirneco look like a miniature Pharaoh Hound? If not, what are the major differences? JG: Although the resemblance is hard to deny, they really aren’t a miniature version of the Pharaoh Hound. Aside from size, the Pharaoh is slightly longer than tall, where the Cirneco should be square. The ear set and carriage should be higher on the Cirneco as well. EL: Oh no! At first glance Cirneco ears are higher set than Pharaoh Hound ears. The described head shape is narrower and the muzzle (foreface) is shorter in proportion to the total head length. Peering over a fence (without help of scale) the desired Cirneco head and Pharaoh head are different in these ways. Cirneco’s are square in profile, Pharaoh’s are slightly rectangular. Also, Pharaoh Hound gait is not described as “Springy”. GN: To some, they may appear like miniature Pharaoh Hounds. I personally do not believe this to be true. Both on the coursing field and the conformation ring, they are different. As with “similar” breeds, it is not “major differences” that separate the breeds but rather multiple smaller and important differences that are important. Just as there are many small differences between and Ibizan and Pharaoh besides just color, the same subtle differ- ences are there between the Cirneco and the Pharaoh besides just size.
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Challenges in Judging the CIRNECO DELL’ETNA submitted by CdeCa, JudgesEd@cirneco.org
T here are many factors within conformation that enhance or hamper func- tion. The function of the Cirneco dell’Etna is hunting of small mammals, primarily rabbit, and fowl. The terrain upon which the Cirneco survived by virtue of its hunting prow- ess is not that of open land for as far as the eye can see. Rocky slopes and small agricultural plots do not reward a canine that is large or built for speed with sustenance for survival. Size is crucial to the Cirneco’s ability to enter and work within tight areas— thickets and rocky crevices. For this rea- son the breed standard has well defined boundaries for size which include dis- qualifications. Disqualifications in size, while not common, are not a novelty for breeds where function is affected. The Whippet is the well known breed within our same Hound Group with a size maximum and minimum. For the Cirneco the disqualifications arise for dogs outside the range of 17 ½ - 20 ½ inches and for bitches outside the range of 16-19 ½ inches. This is easy to apply if the time is taken to evaluate the exemplars individually rather than seeking uniformity, or lack thereof, within the whole of the exhibitors. Unfortunately, this breed suffers more than most from often having the least uniform exemplar in the ring be the most compliant to the breed standard. Then comes the atypical portion of the evaluation of size necessary if we are truly to protect function: The breed standard has a “tolerance.” The actual breed standard allows for dogs to mea- sure 18-19 ½ inches and bitches must fall within the range of 16 ½ -18 inches. There is only an inch and a half range for a Cirneco to be IN STANDARD. When the standard was presented for approval to the Kennel Club (Great Britain) it contained the standard, toler- ances and disqualifications. What was approved for implementation by the Kennel Club had been stripped of the
tolerances. Since the tolerances are not within “the standard,” they were not accepted as a buffer to disqualification. We are hopeful that our AKC judges can understand and apply the nuances properly and not elevate exemplars out of standard above those that are more standard compliant in all respects. The Cirneco Breed standard con- tains a hierarchy of tools for evalu- ation: “Disqualifications,” “Severely Penalized,” “Undesirable” and “Less Desirable” The only trait with the label of “undesirable” (not “disqualifica- tion” or “severely penalized”) is “Gait: Tendency to throw feet sideways or hackney action.”
Obviously movement is important but what is the movement? In our cul- ture of “reach, drive and extension” this breed would not exist. “Springy trot” is the expression used to describe the action imposed by a short forearm necessary for sure-footed climbing and working on rocky slopes. Hackney action or throwing of feet sideways is not the most efficient of actions and, for this reason, “undesirable” but it also is not a characteristic which impedes function as would size. Size impedes the ability to access prey, eat and survive. New breed, new frontier. We are here to help traverse it.
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THE CIRNECO DELL’ETNA Pharaoh Hound Cousins, not Progeny
T he Pharaoh Hound did not survive in Egypt. It is the Maltese Kalb tal Fenek which we know as the “Pharaoh Hound”. A mere 90 miles away from the open expanses of Malta lies the island of Sicily. It was here where the rocky slopes, treacherous lava, and irregular ter- rain of the island demanded the evolution to a more compact tan to chestnut colored dog with prick ears. Proximity and simi- larities of obvious characteristics re fl ect that evolution, which brought di ff erentiation over the course of thousands of years, was nonetheless rooted in the same genetic pool. How to train the eye away from the assumed or expected? With the Pharaoh Hound as the known and familiar we must learn why the Cirneco dell’Etna is not sim- ply a miniaturized version. And we begin with the obvious: Unlike the Pharaoh Hound, the Cir- neco has well de fi ned height limitations which result in a disquali fi cation when breached. Th e range for dogs is 18 to 19 ½ inches and for bitches 16 ½ to 19 inches. Th is is the ideal but mitigated by a toler- ance before there is a disquali fi cation. Th e tolerance for dogs allows a span from 17 ½ to 20 ½ inches and for bitches 16 to 19 ½ inches. Cirnechi outside of the stan- dard but within the tolerance should be
Provided by the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America
evaluated as with any other deviation from the ideal. It is important to know that the sizes are not exactly equivalent to those established for the breed in its native land nor in Great Britain because there has been a translation from the metric to the Eng- lish system and then again to our AKC quarter inch wicket system. Th e second body characteristic of importance is proportion. Th e Cirneco dell’Etna standard states: “Length from point of shoulder to haunch bone EQUAL to height at withers”. Th is is a square body not rectangular. In this regard it is impor- tant to visualize, not a Pharaoh Hound, but a Doberman. Type. What is type? Th is is where the breeds truly di ff erentiate and are de fi ned. Type is in the head as well as in the expres- sion. For the Cirneco, salient characteris- tics establishing type include: In the Breed standard, the expres- sion is described as “alert”. This is reflective of the Cirneco’s function as a hunter and the acute awareness of all aspects of its surroundings should be readily apparent. An integral part of expression and type lies in the eyes which are described as: “Relatively small, oval in shape, semi- lateral position. Amber or ochre blending with coat… Brown or yellow iris is a fault to be severely penalized.”
Although the description is that of eyes of a hunter and brings to mind eyes akin to a cat, ex.- those of a tiger, it is impor- tant to note that eyes that are in any way contrasting or obvious due to incongru- ence or lack of uniformity with the color of the coat are a severe fault. Th ey are not “striking”, they are incorrect. A third element in describing the alert characteristic is in the ears, which, in contrast to the Pharaoh Hound, the Cirneco ears are “Set very high and close together, upright and rigid, parallel, or almost parallel when alert. Triangular shape with narrow tip.” Along with the body proportions which dictate that the Cirneco be “square”, the head and neck are an elegant balance with well de fi ned limitations. t ɨFDPSSFDUQSPëMFPGUIFIFBEJTEFëOFE by the planes described as: “Top of skull and foreface parallel or slightly diver- gent” and a stop which is characterized as “Slight stop” t ɨF MFOHUI PG UIF NV[[MF TIPVME CF equal to or only slightly less than the length of the skull. Th e longer muzzle is valued as the ideal although typically it will fall short of being half the length of the head. t ɨFMFOHUIPGUIFFBSTIPVMEOPUFYDFFE half the length of the head. Ideally this would make the ear and the muzzle equal
Left: Correct ear shape and carriage; Right: Correct eye shape and position.
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in length. It is very important to note that the limitation applies to the maximum size not a minimum. In other words, ears should not be excessive in length. t 8JEUI PG UIF TLVMM JT OP NPSF UIBO one half the length of the head. Th is is a very important limitation in main- taining proper proportions in what is a characteristic head for a Cirneco and, once again, in striving for the ideal, the width of skull would never be greater than the length of the muzzle. And, again, this limitation, akin to the one for the length of ear, is a maximum only, not a minimum, nor an estab- lished preference. Th e goal is not to have skull width equal muzzle length,
to the contrary, it is to disallow exces- sive width and heaviness of skull. t ɨF TZNNFUSZ PG QSPQPSUJPOT DPOUJO - ues with the neck which is “Length the same as the head. Strong, clean, well arched and muscular.” Very much along the lines of correct colors for a Pharaoh Hound, the Cirneco is to be in a range described as: “Self-col- ored light to dark shades of tan or chest- nut. With a mixture of slightly lighter and darker hairs…” Th e Cirneco Stan- dard does not carry the same restrictions on the white markings with the comple- tion of the sentence as: “…or with more or less extensive white.” It then continues with a total deviation from the “known”
Pharaoh Hound restrictions with: “White collar, self-colored white or white with orange patches is less desired.” “Less desired” is a signi fi cant devia- tion. In establishing an eye for the Cirneco dell’Etna one must be on constant guard to not assume that it is simply a miniatur- ized version of the well known Pharaoh Hound. Th e di ff erences are many and only a very small part of the Breed’s conforma- tion has herein been addressed. Th e full Breed Standard is resident through the AKC or the Parent club, the Cirneco dell’Etna Club of America, on its website: www.cirneco.com where you will also fi nd contact information for any Breed query.
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A look at the Cirneco dell’Etna
by Jerrilyn Gates
T he AKC developed the Foundation Stock Service as a tool to assist Rare Breed parent clubs in meeting set guidelines for eventual recognition to full sta- tus, and to help maintain registration records. On the current list of breeds striving to meet the required guidelines is the Cirneco dell’Etna. The proper pronunciation is “cheer- nay-ko” and “cheer-nay-kee” for plural (Cirnechi). This primitive little sighthound hails from the island of Sicily, where it has been used for hunting for centuries. It’s true origins are a mystery, though history suggests it was brought to the island by the Phoenician traders as they travelled throughout the Mediterranean. The similarity in features to the Ibizan and Pharaoh Hounds, imply they all share a common ancestry, with each region developing the dog to suit their particular hunting needs. There is also a theory that the breed was developed from the Abyssinian Wolf.
Hound in miniature, but in actuality, there are several differences in their overall conforma- tion. The most notable difference is size, with the Cirneco having a maximum height of just over 19 inches for males and 18 for females, as opposed to the Pharaoh Hounds maximum of 25 inches for males, 23 inches for females. The Cirneco should be of square frame, rather than the Pharaoh Hounds slightly longer than tall, with other differences including the eyes, ears, tail and coloring. The Cirneco is a very hardy breed, selected by nature for the ability to work for hours in the heat, and is virtually free from genetic health issues. A very friendly, active and affable dog that is somewhat easier to train than most sighthounds. Well suited to many performance events, they are currently able to run in lure coursing events both in the US and in Europe, and agility seems like a natural fit. They make an excellent companion being very affectionate, preferring to be close to their owners, and love to sleep under the covers of the bed.
In the past few years, the popularity of the Cirneco has risen throughout most of Europe, Russia, and the US, plus a small contingent in South America, Australia and Canada. The fanciers in the US are working toward completing the goals required by The AKC, and hope to see the breed advance toward full recognition in the near future. This is an English translation of the Italian breed stan- dard. This standard is in the process of being adapted to TRANSLATION : Mrs. Peggy Davis. ORIGIN: Italy. DATE OFPUBLICATION OFTHE ORIGINALVALID STANDARD : 27.11.1989. UTILIZATION: Hunting dog, especially for the hunting of wild rabbits. CLASSIFICATION F.C.I.: Group 5 Spitz and primitive types. Section 7 Primitive type Hunting Dogs without working trial. BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY: The classical studies on the subject of canine breeds disseminated in the Mediterranean basin have come to the conclusion that the Cirneco dell’Etna would descend from ancient hunting dogs bred in the valley of fit the AKC breed standard format. FCI-Standard N° 199 / 03. 11. 1999 / GB CIRNECO DELL’ETNA
Many ancient artifacts from the region of Sicily, ancient Rome and Greece, have depictions on coins and pottery that resemble the Cirneco of today, some that date back as far as 4000 B.C. Many of the Sicilian towns, such as Palermo and Erice, beheld the dog with a religious or symbolic significance, often minting coins with their image. Legend claims that the temple built by Dionysus in 400 B.C., dedicated to the God Adranos near the volcano, had a thousand Cirnechi to guard it’s safety. It is said the dog had the ability to recognize and attack the thieves and disbelievers, while also accompanying and guiding the pilgrims seeking prayer and salvation. The breed was rarely seen outside Sicily before the early 1930’s until an article was published declaring the breed was in a danger of oblivion. A Sicilian aristocrat, the Baroness Agata Paterno Castello of the Dukes of Carcaci, took the matter at heart and headed up a group to help in saving the breed. “Donna Agata” spent the next 26 years studying this ancient dog, selecting the best dogs for breeding from the peasants, and developing the breed to what we know today. The Baroness commissioned to have the breed standard written, which was approved by the Italian Kennel Club (ENCI) in 1939, with the current FCI (Federation Cynologique International) standard being completed in 1989. In order to maintain the ancient hunting heritage, in Italy the Cirneco must pass a hunt test to become a full champion. To the untrained eye, they look very much like a Pharaoh
104 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE • J ANUARY 2011
A look at the Cirneco dell’Etna
Ears : Set quite high and close together, erect and rigid, the opening towards the front; triangular shape with narrow tip, must not be cropped. Their length is not more than half the length of the head. NECK: Upper profile well arched (convex). The length of the neck is the same as that of the head. In shape similar to a trun- cated cone; the muscles are apparent, especially along the crest of the neck. Skin fine and taut, fitting closely; no dewlap. BODY Topline: Straight, sloping gracefully from the withers towards the rump. Withers: Raised above dorsal line, narrow because of the con- vergence of the shoulder blades; join harmoniously into the neck without any break in the line. Back: Upper profile straight, with moderately developed mus- cles; the length of the thoracic part measures about 3 times the length of the lumbar part. Loins: The length of the loins reaches about 1/5th of the height at the withers and its width is close to its length; muscles are short and slightly visible, but firm. Croup: Upper profile rather flat, obliqueness below the horizon- tal reaching around 45°. The length of this lean and solid sloping rump reaches about the third of the height at the withers, and its width is nearly half of its length; muscles of the rump are not visible. Chest: The length of chest is slightly more than half the height at the withers (about 57%) and its width (measured at the point of its largest width) is slightly less than the third of the height at the withers; the thorax reaches to, or nearly, the level of the elbow, but without going beyound that level; the ribs are only lightly sprung, but never flat; the perimeter of the chest which is more than the height of the withers by about 1/8th, determines a rather narrow chest. Underline: The lower profile corresponds with an evenly ascending line along the belly without any sudden interruption. Belly lean and tucked up, flanks of equal length to that of the renal region. TAIL: Low set, rather thick and of equal thickness in its entire length, quite long, goes down to or slightly lower than the level of the hock; carried sabre fashion when in repose; lifted over the back, trumpet fashion, when the dog is alert; hair smooth. LIMBS FOREQUARTERS: Straight and parallel. Seen in profile a vertical line drawn from the point of the shoulder touches the tip of the toes. Another vertical line, going from the radial- humeral articulation, divides the forearm and the carpus in two more or less equal parts ending at half - length of the metacar- pus. Seen from the front, the limb must correspond to a vertical line lowered from the point of the shoulder which divides fore- arm, carpus, metacarpus and foot in two, more or less equal parts. The height of the foreleg from the ground to the elbow is slightly more than half the height at the withers. Shoulders: The length of the shoulder blade must reach about
the Nile at the time of the Pharaos, dogs which would have arrived in Sicily with the Phoenicians. But very recent research- es speak in favour of a new conception, according to which it would concern a native breed of Sicilian origin from precisely the vicinity of Etna. Coins and engravings prove in effect that the Cirneco existed in those parts many centuries BC. GENERALAPPEARANCE: Primitive type dog of elegant and slender shapes, medium size, not cumbersome, robust and strong. Of morphological conformation in slightly longish lines, of light construction; his body fits into a square; the coat is fine. I MPORTANT PROPORTIONS: - Length of body equal to the height at the withers (built in a square). - Depth of chest slightly less than the height from ground to elbow. - Length of the muzzle does not reach half the length of the head (the ratio skull-muzzle is of 10 to 8, but preference is given to sub- jects whose length of muzzle reaches that of the skull). HEAD CRANIAL REGION: Skull: Oval shaped lengthwise, the superior axes of the skull and muzzle are hardly divergent or parallel. The upper profile of the skull is so slightly convex as to appear almost flat; the width of the skull between the zygomatic arches must not be more than half the length of the head; the superciliary arches are not very protruding; the frontal furrow is only slightly marked; the occipital crest and the occipital protuberance are only slightly developed. Stop: Well accentuated, in shape of about 140° angle. FACIAL REGION: Nose: Of quite rectangular shape, rather large, its colour corre- sponding to colour of the coat (rather dark chestnut, light chest- nut, flesh colour). Muzzle: The length of the muzzle is at least 80% of the length of the skull; its depth or height (measured at the middle of the muzzle) reaches at least its proper length; its width (measured at the middle of the muzzle) is less than half its length. The muzzle is therefore pointed with a straight topline of the foreface; its lower lateral profile is defined by the mandible. Lips : Fine, thin and taut, only just covering the teeth of the lower jaw. The mucous membrane at the corner of the lips is hardly visible. Jaws/Teeth: Jaws normally developed although do not appear strong; lower jaw lightly developed, with receding chin. Incisors, set square in the jaws, are perfectly in line and adapted. Teeth well developed and complete, scissor bite. Cheeks: Flat. Eyes: The eyes, which seem rather small, are of an ochre colour, not too dark, amber or even grey, never brown or dark hazel; in lateral position; soft expression; oval shaped, with pigmentation of the eyelid rims corresponding with the colour of the nose.
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