Hidden in the deep sleep of the COVID pandemic 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 recognition of the function of the breed.
Cirneco dell’Etna | Breed Standard 2020 – 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 Cirneco 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 construction 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 construction 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.
“Emblem of the Cirneco” is the characterization in the description 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 premolar 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 function is more than visual.
The color of the Cirneco is tan; it is not brown or red, and therefore, 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.
Cirneco dell’Etna – Breed Standard 2020
By CdECA & M Lucia Prieto