Whippets have been called a “poor man’s racehorse.” As their heritage would suggest, whippets are outstanding running dogs and are top competitors insight hound events such as lure coursing, straight racing, and oval track racing. whippets are becoming successful obedience dogs. Many enjoy flyball and agility.
The Whippet is intelligent, lively, affectionate, sweet, and docile. This very devoted companion is quiet and calm in the home. The Whippet should never be roughly trained, for they are extremely sensitive both physically and mentally. Be sure to introduce plenty of variety when training them. The best results will be achieved by including games and running. They are good with children of all ages as long as the children do not roughhouse or tease the dog. Whippets are clean, virtually odour free, easy to care for and easy to travel with. They are good watchdogs but may be reserved with strangers. They will pursue and kill cats and other small animals if given the opportunity, but are good with other dogs. Household cats that they are raised with and have become accustom to will be left alone. They can be used to hunt. The Whippet’s sweet personality makes him a fine companion dog. The Whippet is the ultimate sprinter, unsurpassed by any other breed in its ability to accelerate to top speed and to twist and turn with matchless dexterity. Some can be difficult to housebreak while others housebreak quickly.
The Whippet is a medium sized sight hound that looks similar to his larger cousin the Greyhound and the smaller Italian Greyhound. The skull is long and lean with a fairly wide space between the ears. The muzzle is long with almost no stop, tapering to the nose. The nose is black, dark blue or dark brown, so dark they all look black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The small, rose ears are held back and folded and are semi-perked when they are excited. The oval shaped eyes are dark in colour. The front legs are straight and the feet are thick and cat like. The tail is long, tapering to a point. It is held low with a slight upward curve near the end, reaching to at least the hock. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The short, smooth coat comes in all colours including brindle, black, red, fawn, white or slate blue, either solid-coloured or mixed.
The Whippet’s smooth, fine, short-haired coat is easy to groom. A regular rub all over with a damp chamois will keep the coat gleaming. Brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. The coat of the Whippet is virtually free of “doggie odour.” But remember that this fine coat and lack of body fat means this breed feels the cold, and should not be kept outdoor. A dog coat can be used to keep them warm when walking in cold weather.
Whippets were bred to hunt by sight, coursing game in open areas at high speeds. One can find numerous representations of small greyhound-like hounds in art dating back to Roman times but the first written English use of the word “whippet” with regard to a type of dog was in 1610.In the nineteenth century, whippet racing was a national sport in England, more popular than football. It is only beginning with this period that the existence of the whippet as a distinct breed can be stated with certainty. The age of the modern whippet dawned in 1890 when the English Kennel Club granted the breed official recognition, thus making the whippet eligible for competition in dog shows, and commencing the recording of their pedigrees. In the United States, the whippet was recognized in 1888 by the American Kennel Club. Early specimens were taken from the race track by dog fanciers of the time and exported all over the world. The whippet’s versatility as a hunting, racing, exhibition or companion dog soon made it one of the most popular of the sight hound breeds.
Many whippets course, work and race and they have been bred for these jobs for many years. This has kept them a structurally sound breed which is predominantly free from the physical exaggerations that can lead to certain health problems.
Given proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care, most whippets live for 12 to 15 years. They are generally healthy, and are not prone to the frequent ear infections, skin allergies, or digestive problems that can afflict other breeds. Genetic eye defects, though quite rare, have been noted in the breed. Because of this, the American Whippet Club recommends that all breeders test for this defect in their breeding stock. Hip dysplasia is unknown in whippets. Although Undescended testicles are common in the breed.
The heart of a whippet is relatively large and slow beating, often being arrhythmic or even intermittent when the animal is at rest. This sometimes causes concern to the owner, or to the vet not experienced with the breed. Whippets will, however, demonstrate a regular heartbeat during exercise. In a health survey conducted by The Kennel Club (UK) cardiac problems were shown to be the second leading cause of mortality in Whippets.It is not clear, however, whether this is at all related to the breed’s somewhat unusual heart function.
Whippets are, just like other sight hounds, intolerant of barbiturate anaesthetics. This is in part due to their low concentration of body fat and their liver’s inability to metabolize the anaesthetics.