THE WHIPPET

The Whippet originated from the U.K and is part of the UKC, Sighthound Group and the AKC Hound Group. This breed first came about more than 100 years ago and was bred in the late 19th century. Initially used for racing, these dogs are great in track running over short distances and can reach high speeds in seconds. They were named the “poor man’s racehorse,” because they were used for gambling in the U.K. by the working class.

Brief History

This lightning-fast sprinter dog breed is a smaller version of the Greyhound. During Victorian times, miners enjoyed dog racing and rabbit hunting, but found Greyhounds to be expensive in their upkeep. To solve this, they bred a smaller version, resulting in the Whippet.

This is the fastest breed of its size and can run up to 35 miles per hour. It is believed that this breed descended from a cross of various terriers, Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds and possibly Pharaoh Hounds. The name is thought to have been derived from “Whappet,” an old word that means small dog that makes a lot of noise. This breed was recognized by the AKC in 1888 and by the English Kennel Club in 1891. They enjoys hunting, racing, agility, sighting, and lure coursing.

Physical Features

The Whippet is a medium-sized dog that is elegant and muscular. Their length is typically equal to, or slightly longer than, their height. With a long, narrow head and a powerful, long muzzle, the Whippet has a black nose and small ears. This breed also has a long neck, with a long tapered tail. Their coats are smooth, short, and in a wide range of colors. This breed has a keen and alert expression with a smooth, muscular and strength. Their hindquarters are long and powerful.

Average Height:

18-22 inches

Average Weight:

20-28 pounds

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years

Temperament

This is a friendly and amiable dog breed that enjoys people and other animals. This breed does well with children. Although the Whippet has a pronounced prey instinct, when positively trained, they can be one of the easiest breeds to live with. This pup is capable of great speeds when running and is totally focused when doing so. They do best with lots of exercise with a fenced and secure garden or backyard. This is a very sensitive dog breed that needs tons of positive reinforcement and does well with lots of attention and affection.

Special Needs

This athletic dog breed does well with plenty of off-leash exercise. Early socialization with other dogs, people and animals is recommended. Puppy training classes help overcome any shyness issues. That said, the Whippet is sensitive, active and playful. This breed does well with an active family and enjoys most canine sporting activities. In fact, this bred excels at many of them. They also enjoy lounging on beds and couches.

Positive dog training for this breed needs to be consistent, yet one needs to take sensitivity and intelligence into consideration, and not break their playful spirit with unnecessary reprimands.

Attentive and experienced pet parents are recommended. These dogs do well with either country or city living, as long as they gets the right amount of exercise. This breed’s skin is very thin, and needs to be protected from cold or from vegetation that may cause skin lacerations. Weight needs to be maintained in this breed. They need to live indoors with their thin body frame. Be sure to have a plush dog bed nearby.

Possible Health Concerns

This is a healthy and active dog breed that may be susceptible to the following:

  • Cardiac Diseases: Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is common in Whippets. Soft systolic hear murmurs are common in dogs that perform in athletic training. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
  • Cancer: Older dogs may be predisposed to osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mastocytoma, melanoma, histiosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma. Canine cancer is on the rise. Consult with your veterinarian regarding any changes in your elderly dog. Feed a healthy natural high-quality diet.
  • Hypothyroidism is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone, and can cause weight gain in this breed, as well as constipation, and cold sensitivity.

Exercise

This dog breed needs regular exercise and plenty of off-leash runs.

Don’t allow for young Whippets to play with larger dogs. All pups enjoy playing so much that they forget how big other dogs really are. Make sure to protect your puppy from injury when they’re playing with other dogs. This breed also needs protecting from skin lacerations if outside, or with other dogs.

Whippets are usually calm at home, but have explosive energy when at the dog park. This breed needs to have long supervised runs. Be forewarned: puppies can climb and jump over garden fences easily. Lure coursing and agility are favorite canine sports for this breed. They are athletic, fast and have tremendous energy. That said, a well-trained and well-exercised Whippet makes for a well-balanced dog that is a pleasure to have at home. They don’t do well in the cold and must be protected from low temperatures in winter months.

Nutrition

This breed does well on a high-quality dog food. If you’re opting for home-prepared dog food, consult with your veterinarian first. The Whippet has a tendency to metabolize food quickly and lose weight, so make sure you’re attentive to their appetite. At the same time, make sure to watch their weight.

Look for high-quality ingredients such as whole meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains, and take heed of different macronutrients like proteins, fats, and carbs.

Grooming

The Whippet has almost no odor and is a clean breed. This dog breed needs minimal grooming maintenance, and is easy to groom. Weekly bathing, together with everyday grooming help keep skin free of dirt and healthy. Nails need to be trimmed as needed. This breed needs to be brushed every day, and also needs to have daily dental brushing, and ear cleanings.

The Whippet is a popular breed because of its size and friendly personality. That said, be sure to have your home well prepared. Secure fencing is a must! With their alert and intelligent personalities, Whippets escape easily, so new pet parents must be sure that all back gates are locked and the backyard is super safe.

This breed is sensitive, caring and needs lots of TLC. They are also easy to travel with and to take along on trips. They may be shy with strangers, but are gentle all round. Once Whippets have decided to chase something, there’s no stopping them. Off-leash runs need to take place somewhere safe like the dog park. 

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