The Whippet is a medium size dog breed originating in England. They are directly descendent from grey hounds and have similar characteristics to them. Besides being similar in appearance, these dogs also have similar speed. Whippets are often used in dog sports and they are the fastest types of dogs for their weight and size. Generally speaking, they can match grey hounds in speed but have the fastest acceleration of all the dogs in the world.
Whippets were originally grey hounds which were deemed unfit for hunting. If a dog got maimed, it would disqualify it to continue being used in hunting. Instead they bred the unfit dog together which resulted in a smaller breed that has similar hunting characteristics. It was used to catch rodents and rabbits at first. This is why it was often referred to as “the poor man’s racehorse.” Today they also refer to them as miniature grey hounds.
Whippet History & Origins
Whippets first started as sighthounds and were used to hunt their prey by coursing it into the open. They were originally used in Ancient England until the ban on dogs of this size was imposed. The descendants of the Whippet breed are English Greyhounds. All of the smaller grey hounds that were not eligible for hunting were actually maimed in some way to prevent them from being included into hunting. These dogs were breed together and it resulted in smaller grey hounds which were subsequently dubbed Whippets. They were used around the house to hunt rodents and rabbits, and once the hunting ban was lifted, they were reintroduced back to hunting.
But once their great speed was discovered the dogs quickly started to be used in dog racing. They had a lot of success and were really famous in the Northern parts of England as well as Wales. It took a while for their popularity and use to spread to other parts of the country. At that point there were also two types of Whippets, ones with shorter coats famous in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and ones with a rough coat, bred from Bedlington Terriers. The former ones are actually the ancestors of modern Whippets. The Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1891.
Characteristics & Temperament
Whippets actually make excellent house dogs. They are gentle dogs that enjoy the company of people. And what is also great is that they are very quiet. They rarely bark and are very quiet. But they also have a lot of energy which they need to exert. You can easily house train your dog and they will enjoy spending their time inside. But if you keep them outside, you might consider putting them on a leash as they will certainly try to run around. Even with high levels of energy, Whippets can be real couch potatoes. When they are not running, they mostly spend their days lying down or sleeping.
Training a Whippet is easy to do. This breed is very affectionate with humans, which also makes them very bad guard dogs as they also befriend strangers easily. You will have no problems keeping them around your children as well. But what you simply have to do is allow them space to train. Since they are racing dogs, they need a lot of practice and space to run so they develop properly. They also have a tendency to chase smaller animals as they are sighthounds by nature.
Whippet Appearance, Colors, Size
Generally speaking, Whippets are medium sized dogs. They can grow to be anywhere between 15 to 42 pounds. But there are different standards for their height, as American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club accept larger types. The accepted height is 18.5 to 22.5 inches inches for males and 17.5 to 18.5 inches for females, while by North American standards they are allowed to be 18.5 to 22.5 inches for males and 17.5 to 21.5 inches for females.
Whippets have a short and smooth coat. But as far as the color is concerned, it is deemed not so relevant. They come in a wide variety of different colors such as solid black to solid white, with red, fawn, brindle, blue, or cream.
They can develop great speeds for their weight and body shape. Approximately this breed is able to run at a speed of 35 miles per hour. They achieve this by using a specific running style characteristic for these dogs only called a double suspension gallop.
The Whippet breed is generally a very healthy one. If you allow it proper nutrition and everything that they need, they can live somewhere between 12 to 15 years. But due to their low body fat, Whippets are intolerant to barbiturate anesthetics, which is the case with many sighthounds. There are also probabilities of the dog having a myostatin mutation, which is an inherited form of a gene which causes disproportionately large musculature to develop. These dogs actually have not health problems in this form, but it just causes their bodies to become different from a standard Whippet.
Other illnesses and conditions that you have to be aware of include deafness, eye Diseases and von Willebrand’s disease.
Grooming & Shedding
Whippets have short and soft hair which does not shed so much. They are medium shedders and will only cause problems for you during shedding seasons. In other cases it will still require you to groom them a bit. Daily bushing during these periods will keep your dog satisfied and his coat shinny. You will also need to give it occasional baths, but this too is not so necessary and you can do it if the dog gets dirty.
But due to their short and soft coats, they are very susceptible to scrapping and injuries. They will have a lot of injuries on their bodies, so you will have to check from time to time and inspect. Do not forget about dental hygiene and nail trimmings as well.
Price and Breeders
A Whippet is now easy to find. Established breeders are developing these types of dogs almost everywhere. Dog racing is very popular and this is one of the reasons why the breed expanded as it did. But it is also easy to find and buy one. The price is anywhere between 600 USD and 1,500 USD for a single pup, depending on the pedigree.
The best alternative to buying a Whippet is rescuing one. Luckily, there are a lot of organizations which will allow you to do that. Located all over the world, shelters and groups which strive to rescue these animals also allow you to adopt and get one for your home or any other need that you have. Some of the more famous organizations that you can check out include National Whippet Club of Canada, Northern California Whippet Fanciers Association and Whippet Rescue and Placement.