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Whippet

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Whippet Books

Group: Hound - Breed Standard

Origins

The Whippet is a breed of dog, specifically a member of the sighthound family. These dogs were bred to hunt by sight, coursing game in open areas at high speeds. One can find numerous representations of small greyhound-like hounds in art dating back to Roman times but the first use of the word "whippet" was in 1610. There is a picture by Jean Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755) of "Misse", one of two English whippets presented to Louis XV, in the Washington National Gallery and another, with her companion, "Turlu", by the same artist in the Musee National de Fontainebleu. In the Nineteenth century, whippet racing was a national sport in England, more popular than football but the modern whippet was created when the English Kennel Club recognized the whippet as a show dog in 1890 and starting recording pedigrees. Early specimens were taken from the race track by dog fanciers of the time and exported all over the world. The whippet's versatility as a hunting, racing, exhibition or companion dog soon made it the most popular of the sighthound breeds. Like all dogs, it was often crossed with other breeds to suit its owner's purpose but it was not as is often mistakenly stated, "created" by working class people in the North of England although it was - and is - extremely popular there.

Description

Height: dogs: 47-51 cms (18½-20 ins); bitches: 44-47 cms (17½-18½ ins)

Whippets are a medium-size dog which can be seen in a wide variety of colors and marking patterns, everything from solid black to solid white, with red, fawn, brindle, blue, or cream. All manner of spots and blazes and patches are seen, sometimes all in the same litter.

Character/Temperament

Whippets are generally quiet and gentle dogs, content to spend much of the day sleeping. They are not generally aggressive towards other animals, and although especially attached to their owners, they are friendly to visitors. They are not prone to snapping, so they are good with young children. Because of their friendly nature they have often been known to be used in aged care facilities. They may or may not bark when strangers arrive, and are not suited to be guard dogs due to their trusting and unsuspicious nature. They do however tend to attack cats that stray onto their territory. Outside, particularly when they are racing or lure coursing, they demonstrate their superb athletic skills and will pursue their "quarry" (even when it is an artificial lure) with the heart of a lion. Unlike some other breeds, the males are as easy to housebreak, and no more aggressive, than females. Both sexes make excellent pets. Males are sometimes considered to be slightly more loyal and to enjoy repetitive play. Females can be a little more complex and strong-willed, but are equally devoted to their owners. Whippets are not well adapted for living in a kennel or as outside dogs. Their coats do not provide the insulation to withstand prolonged periods of exposure to the cold. Their natural attachment to people makes them happiest when kept as housepets. They are most at home in the company of their owners, in their lap or lying next to them on the lounge. Whippets are quiet and thus well suited to apartment life, although they do need regular exercise.

Breed Health

Given proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care, most whippets live for 12 to 15 years. They are generally healthy, and are not prone to the frequent ear infections, skin allergies, or digestive problems that afflict other breeds. Genetic eye defects have been found in the breed, but are still very rare. Undescended testicles are common in the breed. Whippets, like many sighthounds, are sensitive to barbiturate anaesthetics. The heart of a whippet is large and slow beating, often being arhythmic or even intermittent when the animal is at rest, sometimes causing concern to the owner, or to the vet not experienced with this breed. The whippet will demonstrate regular heartbeat during exercise.

Exercise

Whippets require regular exercise with the chance to run free in open spaces. Care, however, should be taken with Whippets on the street as it is difficult to instil any sort of traffic sense into them.

Training

See our books on training


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Last link added: 12 Mar, 2008