A dictionary word from the 1550s defines the word Whippet as a ‘lively young woman’. This elegant dog is rather similar to the Greyhound, but in the early days of the breed, it was considered to be the cheaper alternative to its larger Greyhound cousins. In reality, the Whippet may actually be able to sprint faster than the Greyhound. Let us study some cool facts about this elegant sighthound.
Fun facts about Whippets
- Little is known about the origins of the breed. Some experts believe that the Whippet is a product of the cross between the Greyhound and a terrier (the Manchester terrier) or possibly even with the Italian Greyhound. It was due to this reason that the Whippet was once called the ‘Hitalian’.
- So what exactly is a Whippet? A Whippet is a little race dog that is calculated to gallop 200 yards at terrific speed. It is the fastest domesticated animal capable of speeds up to 35 mph or 56 km/h.
- Like Greyhounds, Whippets have been and are still used for racing. In Victorian Britain, this pastime of Whippet racing was associated with poorer, mining areas.
- If you want to further compare Whippet vs. Greyhound, the Whippet might be faster but it lacks in stamina and hence would fare less-well on a full-length racing track.
- The sport of whippet racing started with the dogs chasing rabbits in an enclosure. However, animal rights activists felt that this was a cruel and inhumane practice. The sport was then replaced with rag-racing where the Whippets had to chase a rag or cloth down the track. Each contesting Whippet was held at the tail and neck by a handler until the starting gun was fired.
- Today, Whippet racing has moved on from its ‘mining’ past and is enjoyed as a pastime in many nations. In fact, Whippet racing clubs are common in the US, Finland, Australia, and the UK.
- A famous racing pigeon was once matched against a whippet over a distance of 100 yards. The match included the rule that neither contestant was to rise more than 6 feet over the ground.
- The Whip is a Greyhound in miniature. Ideal height for bitches is about 17 inches and for male dogs, it is about 17-20 inches. Weight is about 21 lbs or between 11-18 kilos.
- The Whippets coat is fine, short, and dense. It feels firm when patted. However, shot coat means that their skin can be easily damaged. Colors range from blue, black, fawn, red, sable, tan, white, and brindle patterns.
Where to find a Whippet
Your search for a purebred Whippet starts with a good breeder who is genuinely concerned about the breed’s welfare. A good place to start your search is the Whippet Club of America. Your vet can also guide you to a good breeder. Avoid breeders who keep several different breeds; they are probably only breeding dogs for the money. Dedicated breeders will be associated with the American Whippet Club or other reputed clubs. Expect to answer several questions about your household and your reasons for keeping a Whippet as a pet. Based on the breeder’s reputation and the puppy’s pedigree, expect to pay anywhere between $1000 and $2000 for a Whippet.
As with any breed, temperament of a Whippet is based on its genes as well as its environment. Unfortunately, many lines of Whippets in America have produced shy, fearful, timid, and anxious dogs. This could be in part due to puppy mills and also inadequate socialization. However, these are not the inherent qualities of a Whip. In fact; Whippets are known to be friendly, amiable, extremely loyal, easy to train, intelligent, and capable of producing good results in sporting activities. When selecting a pup, ask to meet the dam because the dam’s temperament is often predictive of the pup’s temperament.
Whippets make fairly easy-to-manage pets. They are incredibly easy-going and readily adapt to their owner’ lifestyle. You won’t need to use too much shouting or physical force as Whippets are naturally civilized and often seem more sophisticated than other dog breeds.
Whippets need tons of regular exercise to maintain muscle tone and vitality. Just as you do with all your pet’s activities, set a regular exercise routine for your Whip. Sporting pursuits like agility trials provide an excellent outlet to whippet puppies to expend their energy. Whippets love long walks and most trainers and breeders recommend a combination of on-lead walks and free runs around fenced/enclosed yards. In the first year of his life, a Whippet puppy should not be over-exercised as it could put a strain on his joints. Short walks at a comfortable pace and play sessions in the yard are good for a growing pup. You can slowly increase his exercise as your pet grows.
Training a Whippet
Before beginning training, get your pet used to collars and leash. Choose a collar that is not bulky and heavy; he won’t enjoy training if his leash is uncomfortable. Leash training and housetraining should go hand in hand. Each time you take your puppy out to do his business, you must use the collar and leash.
If you have the time, you could enroll your pet in obedience training classes. Begin with puppy kindergarten so that your pet also learns to socialize with dogs of all sizes. Whatever you learn in this class, you can also implement at home. Later on, you can start teaching basic commands to your Whip such as Come, Stay, Heel, etc.
It is important to start grooming your whippet right from his puppy days. This will teach him to sit still during grooming and he will also come to appreciate these bonding sessions with you. Whippets do not need too much grooming and things will get even easier if you give him regular once-overs with a natural bristle brush. This will remove dead hair and skin and also eliminate parasites like ticks and fleas. Regular brushing will also stimulate the natural oils and keep your Whip’s coat shiny and soft. You must also trim his toenails every few months. Whippets are fairly easy to take care of.
As recently as the mid-1990s, Whippets were considered to be exceptionally healthy dogs free from any inherited diseases. However, over the years, canine disease diagnosis and recording have undergone a change. The quality of diagnostic testing has also improved over the last few years. As a result, vets are finding out more about some of the inherited diseases in the breed. Thankfully, dedicated breeders are working hard to minimize these issues in the new lines. Therefore, whippets are generally healthy dogs. If your dog races, then, like the Greyhound, they are prone to developing injuries, especially in the paws. Vitreous degeneration, a disease of the eyes, is also seen in commonly Whippets. If left untreated, it can advance into complete blindness. Glaucoma, lens luxation, and retinal atrophy are also common. The life span of Whippets is about 14 years.