Every year, thousands of dogs take part in the world-famous Crufts dog show at the NEC Arena in Birmingham, with every competitor holding out hopes of taking home an award. The most popular and prestigious award of the whole show is the highly coveted and hotly contested Best in Show trophy, which is the most-watched section of the competition.
After the show ends, the dog that beats all of the competition to win the Best in Show award receives a lot of media attention – and serves as an ambassador for their breed as a whole. This year’s winner was a whippet named Tease, shown by owner-handler Yvette Short from Edinburgh.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that the whippet has taken a place on the Crufts podium either – in 2016, the runner-up for Best in Show went to another whippet called Hazel, who also hails from Scotland!
If watching the show has already piqued your interest in the whippet and you want to find out more about these lean, lithe and very quick little dogs from the hound group, we’ll shine the spotlight on the winning dog and the breed as a whole within this article. Read on to learn more.
A whippet is a pedigree dog breed that falls within the hound group for showing, and they’re a small, shorthaired sighthound breed that is very lean and finely built.
Whippets were originally used for hare coursing and hunting, before becoming much in demand as both pets and racing dogs within the UK and all across the world. However, unlike the large number of racing Greyhounds that are left homeless after their racing careers end, whippets tend to be kept as pets first and racing dogs second, and so they are generally much loved by their owners and rarely surrendered or rehomed after they leave the tracks.
The whippet breed is the 36th most popular dog breed in the UK overall, and registered pedigree dogs of the breed sell for an average of around £546 – but show-winners like Tease and other dogs with a great pedigree will often be much more expensive!
This year’s Crufts winner is called Tease – or to give her her full name, Collooney Tartan Tease. She’s a two-and-a-half-year-old whippet from Scotland, who was shown in the ring by her owner/handler, Yvette Short.
However, the awarding of the Best in Show trophy itself and Tease’s big win was eclipsed somewhat by a stage invasion by a protester – which saw the culprit tackled to the ground by arena security as Tease’s owner reacted quickly and instinctively to grab her dog and take her to safety, in a move that has been much praised on social media and in the press.
The protester was carrying a banner for the controversial self-styled animal welfare organization PETA, who were quick to claim the credit for the disruption.
However, unlike many more controversial dog breeds that are plagued with conformation defects and hereditary health issues, the whippet breed as a whole tends to be healthy, robust and fit for life, and not prone to the effects of detrimentally selective breeding to produce appearance traits that can be harmful to the dog’s health.
Whippets are small enough to thrive even within small homes, and whilst they are very quick off the mark and can reach high running speeds, their exercise requirements are around the middle of the pack rather than very challenging.
They thrive on a couple of varied walks per day where they can stretch their legs and run around, but assuming that this need is met, they are otherwise fairly quiet housemates that like to cuddle up on the sofa with their creature comforts.
They have short, single-layered coats that don’t require a lot of grooming, and they aren’t particularly heavy shedders – and they don’t tend to be particularly smelly dogs either!
Whippets are very loving and affectionate dogs that form strong bonds with their favourite people, and they are also very fun-loving and sometimes mischievous, and love to play. Whippets love company and don’t like being left on their own at home for too long, and they tend to be very sociable with both other dogs and people, including well-behaved children.
They are around the middle of the pack when it comes to canine intelligence, and can learn and execute all of the essential core commands.
Like all sighthound breeds, whippets naturally have a strong prey drive, which means that care must be taken to train the dog for good recall skills, and take care when off the lead that they don’t pose a threat to other animals like wild rabbits or domestic cats.
However, many whippets live in a home with a cat or other small animal companion perfectly happily, providing that they are trained and socialised with the other animal from the get-go and not left alone with them until they have proven themselves trustworthy.
The average lifespan for the whippet is 12-14 years, and while there are a number of breed-specific health issues that can pose a risk to the health of the breed as a whole, they are not a high-profile breed nor one that has more than their fair share of unhealthy dogs.
Whippet breeders are advised by the Kennel Club to have their parent dogs tested for heart health, and screened for potential eye problems before going ahead with a mating match, which helps to ensure that known issues don’t spread to compromise the health of the breed’s wider gene pool.
If you are considering buying or adopting a whippet, ask the breeder or seller about their health testing protocols, and research the breed in detail before committing to owning a dog of this type. Whilst they make for great pets for people from all walks of life, the whippet is not a good match for everyone – so take the time to go out and meet some whippets, talk to other owners, and find out more before you set your heart on owning one.