The Whippet is a svelte, elegant, and fragile looking dog. He looks very much like a small version of a greyhound. These dogs have long legs, intelligent expressions, and move with grace and dignity. The coat of the Whippet is close fitting, fine, and smooth. The coloring of these dogs can vary and includes blue, brindle, white, fawn, and black.
Affectionate, gentle, and sweet, the Whippet is an adaptable creature with an amiable attitude. These dogs are devoted pets and companions, and are fine with inexperienced owners as well as the more experienced. The Whippet does like to have a run around and play, but is also happy enjoying the creature comforts of home. These dogs love the attention of their owners, and enjoy interactive play. He does require daily exercise, and his play area must be safe and secure, as he is very agile and will be off and away before you realize. They are very in tune with the emotions of their owners, and are sensitive and sometimes timid. Early socialization is important with the whippet to promote a more confident, outgoing personality. When they put their minds to something and see something that they think must be chased Whippets are intensely focused. However, they are also dogs that enjoy snuggling up with their owners and relaxing on the furniture.
The Whippet will get on well with children, but he is fragile and should not be around younger, boisterous children that may pester and rough handle him. Some may be timid around strangers, whereas others will be polite. They do make good watchdogs, as they will bark is something appears to be amiss. With early socialization the Whippet should get on okay with household pets, although owners may want to be cautious around smaller, running creatures that could be seen as prey. Like other sighthounds the Whippet is very sensitive to touch, and should not be startled with unexpected physical contact. Their intelligence, eagerness to please, and quick learning rate makes these dogs relatively easy to train, although corrections must always be verbal because of their sensitive nature.
When it comes to maintenance the Whippet does not require much work. You can simply brush his coat occasionally to keep it looking sleek and it good condition. These dogs are also low shedder, and may therefore be suited to those with allergies.
The Whippet dog first came to be in Northern England in the middle to late 19th century. Breeders crossed small terriers with greyhounds with the intent and hopes of getting a small but fast hound that could successfully hunt rabbits and other small game. The result was the Whippet. It was mostly the factory workers, mine workers and other working class people in England that owned the Whippet, so the became known as "poor man's greyhound" or "poor man's race horse". In their spare time, the workers raced their Whippets in the fields or roads with the use of a piece of cloth as the lure and the dog had to run a straight 200-yard track.
The American Kennel Club registered its first Whippet in 1888 under the name of Jack Dempsey. In 1891, the Whippet dog was recognized by the Kennel Club of England and was then recognized as a registerable breed in England. Since then, Whippets have become one of the most popular of the breed of hound dogs at dog shows. They have one many championships in different categories.
Training your Whippet can be a fun and yet challenging experience. They are known for being very headstrong, but at the same time, they are eager to please their owner. Many dogs were bred years ago to do a certain thing and now that they are domestic, we expect them to become a different type of dog. Luckily for the Whippets, who were bred to race and course, we train them for the same things today. With patience and time, you can teach your Whippet obedience that will impress anyone.
It is important to remember that Whippets are very sensitive dogs and will not respond well to physical punishment or to loud, angry or stressful voices. In fact, it will be worse than no training at all. They are very capable of being taught the basic home commands such as sit, down, stay, etc. With time and patience, many dogs complete not only basic obedience but also go to compete in advanced obedience competitions. Many Whippet owners go all the way successfully with the training including lure coursing, racing, fly ball competition and agility. Lure coursing is chasing a plastic bag pulled by a string, but often has the appearance of a fluffy animal.
If you are planning to train your Whippet for any type of competition, it is important that he or she be in top physical condition. They require exercise regularly, good nutritional food and need to be free from parasites, which can make them weak and sick. You may want to have your local vet check him over to assure he is in top condition so he can do his best. Allow your dog to train around other dogs if possible to promote a sense of competition in him or her. Training for competition can begin as early as 3 months of age. Allows show your Whippet when he has done well. Be generous with praise and treats during training.
There are a number of health problems to look out for with this breed. This includes cataracts, lens luxation, heart problems, SA, PRA, thyroid problems, and sensitivity to chemicals and drugs. You should also remember that the skin of the Whippet is very thin and can easily get damaged by anything from garden nettles to the claws of an angry cat. They are very sensitive to cold because of their thin skin, and should be provided with a sweater in colder weather when outdoors. Make sure that you provide the Whippet with soft, cushioned bedding to protect his bones and joints from pressure. The parents of the Whippet puppy should have CERF certificates and clearance for sebaceous adenitis (SA).