In most rabbit hunting circles, the beagle is the dog of choice. With their natural inclination to follow a scent trail and physical agility, it is hard to beat a pack of beagles in hot pursuit of a rabbit. In addition to making great hunting buddies, beagles are fabulous companions as well as wonderful family pets. All in all, the beagle is a breed that's hard to beat, but they are certainly not the only breed option that will serve you well in the hunt field.
Photo: Italiano da Lontano
Another dog that has excellent skills when it comes to hunting rabbit is the Cirneco dell'Etna. Although the name may seem complicated, the dog itself is an example of graceful simplicity. Easy on the eyes, the Cirneco is a lean yet muscular and compact canine. Their color is typically tan or chestnut, which appears in varying shades. White markings are not always present, but when they do appear are an acceptable part of the breed standard. The coat is short and requires minimal grooming.
Initially known as the Cirenco (pronounced cheer-nec-ko) before "dell'Etna" became part of its name, this dog hails from Sicily where its roots trace back to the Pharaoh Hound as well as other breeds present in that area. It is favored for hunting purposes due to its ability to traverse rough terrain and because it is a dog that can operate well in harsh conditions such as extreme heat with limited food and water intake. This trait likely evolved due to the existence of this breed in and around volcanoes such as Mount Etna which is incorporated into the breed's name and is located on the east coast of Italy.
Photo: Petz Mag
When hunting, the Cirenco operates not only on scent but also utilizes sight and hearing as well. With a reputation as a successful small mammal and fowl hunter, this is a dog that is well suited for the rabbit hunting field. It is a sturdy animal with endurance on its side and is a good size for the job, measuring between 16-19 inches in height depending on gender.
The temperament of this breed also contributes to them being a good choice overall. They are alert and generally intelligent as well as inquisitive. The Cirenco trains easily when gentle methods are used but it does need to be stimulated mentally. As far as the pet aspect, they are friendly dogs overall that are affectionate towards handlers, adapting well to a family setting. Their medium size also makes them an acceptable companion in the home if that is where you prefer to keep them.
Photo: QZ Life
Though the beagle is the preferred rabbit hunting dog overall, it is good to know that other options do exist in dogs that have the same hunting skills and inclination. Although you may wish to stick to your beagles, at least there is the option to add a little Italian flare to your hunting pack if you so desire. If you wish to browse available dogs, this is a good place to start.
Would you ever consider a different breed of dog such as the Cirneco dell'Etna or does your heart remain with the beagle? Let us know in the comments!