The Whippet is the smaller relation of the Greyhound, bred to hunt and course its prey by sight. While it is slight and delicate in appearance, it is a dog with a lot of strength and speed which makes it perfectly adapted for the job for which it was bred.
The Whippet or Whippet like dogs have been recorded in history since the 1600's being used as dogs for coursing and hunting by sight in open areas. The exact origins are obscure, but they were popular dogs on the European continent and by the 1900's they had worked their charm on the British and gained in popularity being used in areas of, mainly northern England, for coursing rabbits, a sport beloved by the working classes.
Smaller in stature that Greyhounds, they were still as versatile and soon became popular in the US as racing dogs.
Average height to withers: Males between 18-22.5 inches and females between 17-21 inches.
Average weight: Both males and females are between 6-14 kg.
Lean and graceful, the anatomy of the Whippet is light yet muscular with a very flexible spine making it capable of long, flowing and extended strides which can accelerate the dog from a stand to its top speeds of around 36km in a matter of strides.
The head of a Whippet is fine and tapered, flowing into a graceful and long neck, powerful but slender legs and a deep ribcage to accommodate the large lungs and heart. The tail is whip like and reaches the hock of the hind legs.
They Whippet has a very short coat and can suffer in colder conditions quite easily. The colours of this breed come in many variations including fawn, brindle, black, grey, white and another colour, and these can appear on its body in many patterns or as a solid block of colour.
Whippets are generally very quiet and gentle dogs but can sometimes be nervy and shy if not socialised from a young age. They are sometimes wary of strangers and have a tendency to bark if they feel threatened or feel their family is under threat. As with the Greyhound, they do not require excessive amounts of exercise and will happily sleep for much of the day given the chance. Once out exercising, they do require your supervision when off the lead as they can chase smaller animals due to their hunt-prey drive, but this can usually be remedied with strong recall training. They are relatively receptive to training and should be handled in a quiet, firm and consistent manner. They will not respond to harsh training methods, which will only serve to make them nervous of people generally.
Whippets make good family pets and are quiet reliable with children, being playful and gentle.
A healthy Whippet can live for over 15 years and this is regarded as a very healthy breed! They display few hereditary diseases and are so hardy they suffer relatively few illnesses.
Like Greyhounds, however, they are sensitive to some barbiturate based anaesthesia and it is important that your vet is aware of this. This is largely due to their low percentage of body fat and their livers inability to metabolise the drug. In addition to this, undecended testicles appear quite frequently in the males and may require surgical attention.
This is a short haired breed so requires little in the way of grooming but it most defiantly will require a coat in colder weather conditions for precisely that reason. Because of this, the Whippet is not suited to living outdoors and will relish a comfortable bed to curl up in. Due to prominent bones of this dog, it will require a well padded bed to avoid sores which are likely to arise if it has to sleep on hard surfaces.