The annual Crufts dog show took place earlier on in March, seeing over 22,000 dogs compete over the course of four days at Birmingham’s NEC arena, all hoping to be in with a chance at winning the coveted Best in Show title. This year’s winning dog was a West Highland White Terrier called Devon, but narrowly beaten to the top spot and coming in with a close runner up second place was a whippet named Hazel, a two year old dog from Scotland owned by a 19 year old owner whose day job is serving in the McDonalds fast food chain!
Every year, the breeds that reach the finals at Crufts always receive a lot of interest and attention from both the press and the dog-loving public, and interest in ownership of the breeds that land the most coveted spots always rises exponentially over the following year.
In this article, we will turn the spotlight onto the whippet dog breed, which this year took the Reserve Best in Show position at Crufts. Read on to learn more.
Whippets have won the top spot at Crufts a few times historically, most recently being in 2004 and 1992, and after this year’s near miss, they are back in the public eye once more! The whippet is a dog from the sighthound grouping, which is composed of dogs that hunt by sight, visually finding and fixing on their prey rather than detecting its presence by scent.
Whippets are closely related to greyhounds, being similar in appearance but slightly smaller. Originally used for hunting, poaching and lamping due to their speed and tenacity when on the chase for small prey, whippets are also widely used today for dog racing, as well as being popular pets. A significant number of ex-racing whippets are retired and rehomed every year, and so there is never any shortage of adult dogs looking for homes!
While whippets are among the fastest of all dog breeds when it comes to running and chasing, they are also, like most sighthound breeds, rather lazy at heart, and only require moderate amounts of exercise to keep them fit and happy, whiling away the rest of their days sleeping and relaxing!
One challenge that faces owners of whippets and those that would like to keep them is the breed’s highly attuned prey drive. This means that they are active hunters that will work hard to seek out prey and catch it, and due to their speed when running, they are often successful.
This can make whippets a threat to wildlife such as rabbits, and also means that they may well be apt to chase domestic cats, particularly if the cat runs away from them. As the possibility that a whippet can catch a cat is high, this means that whippet owners have to take measures to protect other animals, such as walking only on a lead, finding fenced-in open spaces for running, and potentially, muzzling their dogs.
However, whippets can potentially share their homes with cats, if they are properly introduced and taught not to chase them.
Whippets have a very fine, short coat, which is about the easiest to look after in terms of care and maintenance overall. Their coats are so short that brushing is largely wasted on them, and they are also not apt to get particularly dirty, as they are both long legged, and not fluffy enough to pick up a lot of muck! Other than the occasional bath, the whippet’s coat care is minimal, but their fine, thin coats and low body fat ratios do mean that they are apt to feel the cold-which is why you rarely see whippets out walking in winter without a fabric coat of their own!
Added to this, they are fairly fragile as their coats do not provide any significant protection from scratches and scrapes, and their fine, lean legs can easily be injured when running around.
If you are looking for a really lively, energetic dog that will run around all day and make a good exercise partner for active people, the whippet is probably not the dog for you! They need daily exercise and the chance to stretch their legs, but they are otherwise fairly lazy, and spend a lot of time lying around! They are very affectionate and soulful dogs that love to have company and someone to cuddle up with, and they also generally share their space happily with another dog, often bonding strongly with them too.
They are very tolerant and well behaved around children, but because they are fairly quiet and not overly robust, will not be able to withstand a lot of rough play or being pulled around. If you like to take a couple of gentle strolls a day but otherwise are looking for a quiet dog that loves their home comforts, the whippet may be the right choice of dog for your home.