Choosing a Whippet
At first glance, many people mistake the whippet for a Greyhound puppy. Although very similar in body structure, the whippet is his own breed entirely! Named for their whip-like tail, the whippet is a lean and muscular dog well known as a keen hunter. Affectionate and loyal, he is a wonderful companion.
History and Origin
Whippets originated in northern England in the late 19th century. It is believed that whippets were developed from crossing greyhounds with terriers and/or Italian greyhounds. Originally owned and bred by factory and mine workers, the whippet is also known as "the poor man's race horse." The workers would race their whippets in rag races, so named because they chased a lure made of cloth. It is said that the workers cherished their dogs above all other things. Whippets were known to sleep in their master's bed, and eat better than their master's own children. The breed was also used to hunt small game. Their ability to hunt provided many rabbits for their master's stew. As a member of the sighthound group, this dog relies on his extraordinary vision to detect prey.
Whippets began to gain popularity in the United States in the late 1800s. They were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888, and quickly became one of the most popular sighthounds in the show ring. Due to their well-rounded disposition, they are gaining popularity as pets.
The whippet is a regal and elegant breed. Their well-sculpted bodies and lean, muscular build make them a sight to behold. The ears are shaped like rose buds, and usually kept folded back against the head. Large, dark eyes add to the whippet's mystique.
Their short, smooth hair coat takes little or no grooming. Brindle is a very popular color, although they can be any combination of colors. Whippets have very thin bodies, with minimal fat.
Whippets are medium-sized sighthounds. At the shoulder, they stand between 18 and 22 inches. They weigh between 27 and 30 pounds.
Widely known as couch potatoes, whippets are quiet, gentle and loyal. They are friendly with other animals, and become very attached to their owners. Whippet puppies are known to be chewers. Training at an early age is recommended.
Home and Family Relations
Whippets are not suitable as guard dogs; they tend to greet strangers with a kiss. Not prone to biting or nipping, whippets are excellent with children. They can be intense at times, taking their play and chase very seriously. Because of their lack of fat, whippets tend to sleep on soft surfaces, being especially fond of their owner's bed.
When around small animals that are new to the household, whippets may need some initial supervision. They will soon recognize them as part of the pack.
Whippets can be extremely excitable when greeting you at the door, but they soon settle back in their favorite spot on the couch.
As many whippet owners can attest, it is difficult to share your life with just one whippet. Similar to potato chips, you just can't stop at one.
A highly intelligent breed, whippets are easily obedience-trained. But be aware that they can be stubborn with forceful training and do not respond well to punishment. Positive reinforcement, and lots of treats, are all a whippet needs to learn the rules. Crate training is recommended.
These sighthounds require a lot of exercise. A large, fenced in yard is ideal. Letting a whippet run free can be very dangerous. As with many hounds, they should always be in a fenced area, or on a leash.
Cold weather can be a problem for the whippet due to his lack of insulating body fat. A sweater or coat is recommended for colder climates.
Common Diseases and Disorders
Overall, the whippet is one of the healthiest breeds. Their primary health concerns are trauma related. Whippets have long, lean bones that have a tendency to fracture. Their thin skin is also prone to lacerations.
In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:
- Congenital Hypotrichosis – is a congenital disease causing symmetrical hair loss.
- Corneal dystrophy is a primary, inherited, bilateral (both sides), symmetrical condition of the cornea that is not accompanied by corneal inflammation or systemic disease.
- Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to loose transparency and can result in blindness.
- Lens luxation is a dislocation or displacement of the lens within the eye.
- Progressive retinal degeneration (PRA) is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition can lead to blindness.
A whippet's life expectancy is from 12 to 15 years.
We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.