The Whippet is the smaller relation of the Greyhound and was bred to course and hunt. Over the years these slight, elegant dogs have proved themselves to be extremely good at their job becoming a firm favourite with many people throughout the country and elsewhere in the world. Also known as the "Snap Dog", whippets are capable of showing an extremely fast turn of speed with records of them reaching 35 miles per hour when in full flight.
They are gentle characters by nature and are known to be one of the cleanest dogs around. They thrive on human company and are highly adaptable being just at home in a country house or large castle. They are one of the most popular sporting-type dogs on the planet for these very reasons.
There are records of Whippet-type dogs that date back to the 1600s at which time they were used for coursing and hunting earning themselves a tremendous reputation for being very able sight hounds. Although the exact origins of the breed are a little obscure, what is known is that Whippets became very popular by the 1900s both in Europe and here in the UK, particularly in north eastern England where they were bred to race.
It is thought the breed was developed by crossing several sporting, racing and coursing breeds including the Greyhound. Today, Whippets are just as popular both on the race track and as working dogs, but they are also hugely popular as family pets and companion dogs. These elegant, slight dogs also prove themselves to be very good at obedience and agility which they thoroughly enjoy taking part in.
Height at the withers: Males 47 - 52 cm, Females 44 - 47 cm
Average weight: Males 9.1 - 19.1 kg, Females 9.1 - 19.1 kg
Whippets are elegant, yet powerful, muscular yet athletic looking dogs that show a great of grace giving the impression of being capable of great speed. They boast having long, lean heads that taper nicely to their muzzle and a slight stop. There is a nice width between a dog's eyes and their jaws are clean-cut and powerful. Noses are black although dogs with blue coats have bluish noses, cream coated dogs can have liver noses, parti-colours and white coated dogs are allowed to have a butterfly nose.
Eyes are oval in shape with dogs always boasting a bright and expressive look in them. Their ears are rose shaped, small and fine in texture. Whippets boast having a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are long and well-muscled with dogs carrying them elegantly arched. Shoulders are well laid back with a moderate space between a dog's shoulder blades at their withers. Front legs are straight with dogs standing very upright.
The Whippet has a very deep chest and brisket with a well-muscled, broad, firm and longish back that gracefully arches over their loin. Ribs are well sprung which adds to a dog's powerful yet elegant look with bellies being nicely tucked up. Hindquarters are strong and powerful with a broadness across the thighs and well-muscled second thighs. Feet are oval in shape and well split up between each of a dog's toes with well arched knuckles and strong nails with dogs boasting thick pads. Whippets do not have any feathering on their tails which are long, tapering to the tip which dogs carry with a delicate curve in them.
When it comes to their coat, Whippets boast having a short, fine and close coat and any colour as well as mixtures are acceptable as a breed standard.
Whippets are generally quiet and gentle dogs, but can sometimes be nervy and shy if not well socialised from a young age. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of introducing them to new situations, lots of people and other animals so they grow up to be more confident adult dogs. They are often wary of strangers and have a tendency to bark if they feel they are being threatened in any way.
They are not high energy dogs and would happily turn into couch potatoes if they are allowed to. However, when out on a walk, Whippets come alive and should only be allowed off their lead in a safe and secure environment or they may just decide to take off after a small animal they spotted in the distance.
A Whippet's training has to start early paying particular attention the "recall" command. However, their training has to be consistent and always fair because these slight dogs are sensitive by nature and do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or training methods. Whippets need to be handled with a gentle yet firm hand for them to respond well to training with many of these slight dogs being quite highly strung.
With this said, Whippets are a good choice for first time owners because in the right hands and with the correct amount of exercise and gentle training, these charming, elegant dogs become valued members of a family.
Whippets are clever dogs, but they can be hard to train simply because they are not as "quick" to learn new things like other breeds. As such, it takes a bit more time and a lot of patience on the part of an owner when it comes to teaching a Whippet new things. They do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavy handed treatment and need to be handled fairly and gently when they are being trained to achieve good results. In the right hands and with the right sort of guidance, Whippets can be trained to take part in obedience competitions and agility both of which they enjoy taking part in.
The Whippet is a great choice as a family pet because they are known to calm and gentle around children. However, they are more suited to families where the children are older and therefore not the best choice for people with toddlers. Any interaction between the children and a dog should be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too rough or boisterous. Loud noises and raised voices tend to make Whippets quite nervous, so best avoided.
Care has to be taken when Whippets are around cats and other small animals because of their high prey drive. It would be a mistake to trust a Whippet with and other small pets in a household for this reason.
The average life expectancy of a Whippet is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Whippet is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Whippets need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Whippets are low maintenance when it comes to keeping their coats looking good. A weekly brush is all it takes to keep on top of things, although a daily brush is a good idea to check for any injuries or wounds that could turn nasty if not caught in time. It's important to use softer brushes when grooming a Whippet because their skin is so delicate and sensitive.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Whippets are athletic dogs that need at least an hour's exercise a day and it has to be something more than just a sedate walk in the park. A shorter walk in the morning is fine, but they need a longer and more exciting walk in the afternoon to be truly happy and healthy dogs. Once a Whippet has been given enough exercise, they are quite happy to relax and curl up in their beds.
Because they are so prone to injuries and fractures, it's best not to let a Whippet run free over rougher ground. They are much happier and safer when they are allowed to let off steam on even ground. With this said, young Whippet puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives.
If you get a Whippet puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature Whippet twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Whippet, you would need to pay anything from £300 to over £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Whippet in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Whippet and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Whippet would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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