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Cy’Era Cirnechi | M. Lucia Prieto

Cy’Era Cirnechi | M. Lucia Prieto


Interview with Hound Group Breeder M. Lucia Prieto – Cy’Era Cirnechi


Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?

M. Lucia Prieto: I live on a ranch located on the edge of Texas Hill Country, midway between Austin and Houston. My first dog was a German Shepherd Dog, in 1976. My years “in dogs” as “in the fancy” have been with my Pharaoh Hound, K’Azar Kha Ramesses Osiris, since 1994, and with my Cirneco dell’Etna, since 1996, with the first litter born in 1998. That’s 24 years since the first litter.

What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?

M. Lucia Prieto: My kennel name is Cy’Era Cirnechi. I have one permanent resident, with an ebb and flow of “guests.” Presently there are three adults and nine puppies.

Cy’Era Cirnechi
Cy’Era Cirnechi

Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?

M. Lucia Prieto: I initially imported some of the top Cirnechi from Italy as foundation for Cy’Era: Bred by Vincenzo and Nicola Todaro, “Toto” (World Champion 1994 and Veteran World Champion 2000); and “Fiamma” (one of only two Italian Dual Champions at that time). “Diva,” was bred by Domenico Tricomi, and campaigned in Italy to achieve highest honors. Multiple others were among the almost 50 imported, although there was no forum for the Cirneco dell’Etna at the time in the US.

Noteworthy winners include:

Cy’Era-Bred – One of the proudest moments was at the World Dog Show 2008 in Sweden with judge Paolo Dondina. With over 30 entries, Cy’Era received three World Champion titles: Cy’Era Jaspar, BOB; Cy’Era Fiore, BOS; and Cy’Era Kleio, Junior WC. “Jaspar” continued to complete his CM and Champion titles upon AKC acceptance and took BOS at our first Westminster appearance in 2016, as well as being recognized in Great Britain as Stud Male. Cy’Era Concordia and Cy’Era Fiore were multiple Specialty winners under Italian judges. GCHB Cy’Era Paola CM3 was 2016 BOB Westminster and 2015 Specialty BOB (M&E), with multiple Group placements, and brood bitch to 10 AKC champions, including GCHG Cy’Era Zoe. She received high praise from breed experts on the other side of the Atlantic. Cy’Era Marsala di Hadranensis was Top Dog in Italy 2013 and World Champion in Paris that same year. GCHB Cy’Era Tazio, exceptional in breed type, sired 10 AKC champions. GCH PACH Cy’Era Rico BN RM RAE MXP4 MXPB MJP4 MJPB PAX XFP T2BP CGC ATT, with exceptional conformation, was the only Cirneco invited and present at the AKC Agility Invitational on more than one occasion. FC Cy’Era Rocco SC, excelling in coursing, won Best in Field more than 10 times. There are too many more to name. Since full breed recognition in 2015, seven years ago, Cy’Era has earned recognition as a Silver Breeder of Merit with over 50 titled Cirnechi.

Which have been my most influential sires and dams?

Imported: Malia di Punta Raisi, Ron, Frida, Alma, Frisu, Diva, Rosy, and Hadranensis Giorgia. (I am certain to have omitted more than one.)

Bred: Cy’Era Concordia, Cy’Era Fiore, Hadranensis Ferrari, Cy’Era Jaspar, Cy’Era Lidi, Cy’Era Maserati di Hadranensis, Cy’Era Paola, Cy’Era Tazio, and Cy’Era Maribella di Hadranensis,

Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?

M. Lucia Prieto: All of my Cirnechi are/have been housedogs, even when I had 27! There is no formal kennel, and all litters are whelped and raised next to my bed. Having been a secondary school teacher for nine years (before practicing law for over 30), the basic skills of classroom management transferred easily to raising and keeping Cirnechi in a structured environment where there is learning, socialization, and exposure but not chaos. I begin crate-training at six weeks. With rare exception, puppies are not placed before they are four months of age, fully vaccinated, and microchipped. In my experience, there is value in having adults teach and reinforce pack behavior and dynamics while also working on basic house manner skills.

Cy’Era Cirnechi
Cy’Era Cirnechi

What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?

M. Lucia Prieto: My initial assessment is at birth. They are obviously observed on a daily basis for developmental propensities. A full assessment happens at 8, 10 & 12 weeks. This is with the understanding and full recognition that a true show specimen cannot be confirmed before the age of 15-18 months. I have seen breed experts, in Cirnechi for 50 years or better, pick gorgeous exemplars only to have them develop a disqualification, specifically their height. There is a reason that FCI does not award championships before the dog is fully mature. Although much is apparent as to breed type to be able to select “show quality,” it is not possible for anyone to guarantee a show dog as an 8-week-old puppy.

Cy’Era Cirnechi
Cy’Era Cirnechi

How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?

M. Lucia Prieto: The Cirneco is extremely bright and biddable. As such, they learn quickly; the greatest obstacle is boredom. In order to properly assess conformation, the Cirneco should be allowed to free-stack, and I work to have them find their own balance.

Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?

M. Lucia Prieto: Principle issues: Movement is too fast around the ring. This is not a reach and drive movement breed. Movement is a “springy trot.” “Springy” has a marked vertical component which is destroyed with speed. Excessive extension is specifically undesirable per the Breed Standard.

Over-manipulation of the Cirneco usually leads to over-extension and improper presentation of rear angulation and topline.

Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?

M. Lucia Prieto: Thankfully, at this time, there are no health concerns identified with this breed. There has been nothing observed with any degree of statistical significance. Health issues appear to be those endemic to old age and/or environmental pollution. We are exchanging information with the country of origin, and the Sicilian parent club is currently working on producing a meaningful health survey to be used internationally.

Insofar as nutrition, I seek high protein kibble which is, at every meal, complemented by food that I cook; eggs, dairy, meat, vegetables, and some form of starch, including a wide array of pork, lamb, beef, fish, poultry, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, etc., with pasta or rice, chickpeas, lentils, and beans.

In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?

M. Lucia Prieto: Only seven years into breed recognition and we are already losing breed type through the rewarding of dogs lacking “emblematic” breed characteristics such as proper ear set, shape, and carriage. There are improper head planes in very high profile exemplars, improper movement, and a lack of understanding of a straight, sloping topline that rewards Whippet-like curves as well as extreme tuck-ups that are proper in a coursing dog but not in a Cirneco.

Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?

M. Lucia Prieto: The Cirneco is an excellent family dog that does well with children. The best fit for a Cirneco is a family that is looking for an active participant in family life. Although Cirnechi are excellent couch potatoes and bedmates, they are not a decoration and they need a “job,” which can take on many forms. Participation in canine activities, Conformation or Performance, is obviously good, but including them in family activities such as hiking or traveling is imperative. A bored Cirneco is not a happy Cirneco and, by extension, not a happy family. They can handle intensive physical activity but do not require it.

Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?

M. Lucia Prieto: Unfortunately, no. A market has been created and is filled with social media-driven misinformation. There is little or no vetting of breed information that is broadcast from sources all over the world; sources with little time invested in learning or understanding the breed.

For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Hound?

M. Lucia Prieto: Too many to relate!