Breeds

Whippet

GROUP 4 - HOUNDS

History

Many people think that Whippets are skinny, nervous, fragile and won’t come back off the lead, but nothing could be further from the truth.They are versatile, athletic, muscular, robust, playful, confident and responsive.

A member of the Sighthound family, the breed developed in the United Kingdom, firstly as a poachers’ dog, then as the ‘poor man’s Greyhound’ for the North Country miners. While there are now limited opportunities to race Whippets, the breed has always been very popular as a family pet worldwide.

Appearance

Whippets come in all colours, either solid (black, white, blue, red, fawn) all shades of brindle, with or without white trim, and parti-coloured (and solid or brindle, broken with white). The colour range and markings mean that there is a huge variety of Whippets, but you can rest assured that the character of each and every one is the same.

If you look closely, you’ll see that Whippets are a different shape to Greyhounds and Italian Greyhounds. A Whippet should have a long, lean head and a body with a series of graceful curves. This is especially helpful when it wants to get its nose under a blanket, shimmy under and curl up into a ball.

Temperament

Whippets love life, whether chasing a leaf that’s fallen from a tree or curling up in your lap while you watch TV. They are funny, loving with a definite sense of humour, usually at their human’s expense.

They are not aggressive to other dogs or people and happily co-exist with other breeds. They will bark and alert at visitors, but more from excitement than hostility.

Training

Whatever your activity, your Whippet will fit in. They learn routines and adapt quickly, easily keep up with joggers, are excellent agility dogs, love lure coursing, make wonderful pets as therapy dogs and can be trained for the obedience ring. They are excellent conformation dogs and, best of all, are wonderful family companions.

There is a perception that you can’t let Whippets off-leash in an open area as they won’t come back, but that’s not entirely true. When let off their lead, they love nothing more than to run in a huge circle around you, normally up to 30 metres away. As soon as they’ve let off steam, they come back with a big smile. If there’s something interesting to chase, a Whippet will run after it; like any dog, your Whippet should be trained to come back as soon as it is called. 

Suitability

Whippets are suitable for everyone, singles, couples, families of any size and owners of any age. They can happily live in houses with yards, townhouses and even units and apartments. Whippets fit in anywhere, on your lap and in your bed. Whippets gladly gravitate towards children and they can become good little friends. However, supervision is always important with young children.

They are not an aggressive breed and will also happily co-exist with cats, if they are introduced at a young age. The males can be slightly more sooky than the girls, however they are all good cuddle monkeys.

There are also many fun activities you can do with your Whippet, which includes Lure Coursing, Obedience and Agility.

If you want a laugh each day and a dog in your life, a Whippet is right for you.

Care & Health

With such a short, sleek coat, the Whippet needs minimal grooming. Regular clipping of toe nails, teeth-cleaning and the occasional bath is all that is needed. They are clean dogs by nature, which makes them an ideal house pet.

The major consideration in caring for a Whippet is keeping it warm; as they are thin-skinned and don’t have much body fat, they feel the cold more than most other breeds. Whippets need a coat in the cooler months: ask for a coat suited to a Whippet, so that the back is curved to fit the dog.

Whippets are a very healthy, hardy breed; they enjoy long lives (up to 14– 17 years). Autoimmune diseases have been linked to Whippets, but these are not common.

Information from the Whippet Club of NSW
Image supplied by Margot Quinn 

In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the Whippet you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Whippet and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.

@dogsnsw