Dubbed as the “poor man’s racehorse, the sleek, elegantly statuesque Whippet is undoubtedly lightning-fast in sprinting, as well as in melting people’s hearts. He is a mild-mannered, non-aggressive, and quiet, making him an ideal family companion. However, be prepared when he sees a moving object or something to chase, he’ll dart to it with slickness and grace. While he’s not a guard dog, he is an alert sighthound that will keep your home free from stray cats and mice that might steal food from your house. And, despite his exquisite look, he is an easy-to-groom dog, which is a surefire bonus.
Origins of the Whippet
The Whippet traces its roots in Northern England, probably during the 1700s. Working men found amusement in sports involving dogs, such as rabbit hunting and dog racing. However, they don’t have the resources to feed, keep and exercise larger athletics dogs, like the Greyhounds.
With that, they looked to produce a “humbler” version of the renowned dog, by crossing them possibly with the fast, long-legged terriers. The brainchild is the smaller, swift Whippet that boasts incredible racing and hunting spirit.
At the onset of the 20th century, the working men started to move to New England, bringing along the Whippets. The breed also became popular in the United States, as Whippet racing also captured the interest of many people from all social statuses.
The American Kennel Club registered its first Whippet, “Jack Dempsey”, in 1888. Today, the Whippet is still revered for its all-aroundness, elegance, and excellent companionship.
Characteristics of the Whippet
Height: 18-22 inches
Weight: 25-40 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
The Whippet resembles a small greyhound, but with more arch and curve to its loin. He is slender, long-legged, with a tucked up abdomen, and deep chest. All in all, it implies that he is, indeed, a dog built for speed. His size is right enough for him to sit on your lap, but also adequate enough to be your agile running partner. He is a short, sleek coat, which is velvety to touch. However, such a short coat and adding their lack of body fat, make them deter colder weather.
In terms of personality, the Whippet is an affable and gentle dog inside the home, but expect him to go extreme in the chase. If he sees a bunny or a cat, don’t be surprised to see him taking off to catch them at high speeds. He has a prey drive and can pursue small creatures for miles. If you don’t have the same stamina and agility, it is best to get him a stable, fenced yard or get them in a leash when going outdoors.
While he can have spurts of pursuit, he also values relaxation, stretching out and lounging for extended periods. During these times, he is happy to be your loving family companion, cuddling with you or warming your feet. However, he is not that sociable to strangers and often reserves his affection to close family members he establishes deep bonds with.
Moreover, the Whippet rarely barks, and will only do so if there’s anything worth barking at. His alertness makes him an excellent watchdog, but he is an awful protection dog. He is not also known to be obedient, as he has an independent side. While it might be challenging, he can learn to follow command if training is given patience and extra effort.
Caring for the Whippet
The Whippet is one of the easiest dog breeds to groom. Weekly rubbing with a hound glove can suffice in removing dead hair and debris. While they shed minimally, getting a lint roller can be handy. He hates hard and cold surfaces, and you’ll see him often on your furniture or bed. The rest involves primary care, such as brushing his teeth regularly, trimming his nails when necessary, and cleaning his ears weekly to prevent any infection.
As sprinters, Whippets need plenty of exercises to flourish. Regular walks, retrieving tasks, or play sessions in a fenced area are good options to keep them physically stimulated. Agility and lure-coursing can also serve as great alternatives for them to showcase their athleticism and vigor.
When it comes to feeding, the Whippet will do well eating two meals per day. He can eat commercially manufactured or home-prepared dog food. However, it is best to consult with a vet to get a diet plan that is fit with the dog’s age and needs. In general, he is one of the healthier dog breeds and does not have significant health problems. Just maintain him in a healthy weight as its slender frame is not built for extra pounds.