Whippets are medium sized hounds belonging to the sight hound category. This means they are hunting dogs with remarkable visual ability. They resemble the greyhound. Generally speaking they make wonderful family pets but caution is needed when they are around children. Do not leave them unattended as they may inadvertently injure young children. Nevertheless the dog is quiet and gentle by nature. They do bond with children and all family members. They actually spend a lot of the day sleeping. These dogs are so happy to receive their people that some suffer from a condition called excessive greeting disorder and will jump, bark and wag their tail forcibly when their family comes home after as little as a ten minute departure. This is where the dog can do serious harm to a small child, knocking him down etcetera. It is recommended that you confine your dog in a crate when you leave the house in order to minimize on accidents of this nature when you return home.
Despite the fact that they sleep a lot during the day while in the house, outdoors, they are both athletic and energetic. They chase after game with enthusiasm and gusto. Whippets are natural trackers so it is important to keep them on a leash to prevent them from chasing after every animal they come in contact with. These dogs can get away from you very quickly, They can run up to 35 miles per hour and many whippets lose their lives because they have been hit by an oncoming car before the owner has had a chance to catch up to them.
Indoors or outdoors, they are nicknamed “Velco dogs” because they are playful, loving, and cuddle up to their owners every opportunity that they get. They do not exhibit much independence, choosing not to stay put on the floor or carpet but to edge their way as close to their humans as possible; joining them on the bed or sofa. They also fit in well in a multiple animal family and are not aggressive towards other pets.
These hounds are easy to housebreak. However, when bored, they will start chewing things. Make sure they have enough chew toys to keep them amused.
Like Greyhounds, Whippets are known for their tremendous speed and racing ability. They participate in several national races: oval track racing, lour coursing and straight racing to name a few. They jump extremely well and will not hesitate to jump over furniture and kitchen counters treating them as an obstacle course.
This dog’s coat is short, smooth and very fine. Because the coat is so thin these dogs are not dogs to be kept outdoors during frigid winter weather.
Whippets can come in any color, they are generally found with solid colors in black, white, red, blue, cream, fawn, and brindle, as well as stripped, spotted, blazes and patches.
Whippets first came on the scene in Northern England in the middle 19 hundreds; the dogs were breed from the combination of a greyhound and small terrier to provide a smaller but very fast hunting dog for chasing rabbits and other small prey. Factory workers, mine workers, and other members of the working class population owned the first whippets. They would race the dogs in the fields and streets using a cloth as a signal for their dogs to run. As a result, the dogs came to be known as the “poor man’s greyhound” or the “poor man’s race horse”.
Interestingly enough, the American Kennel Club registered the first whippet the Jack Dempsey in 1988 and only in 1991 was the whippet registered with the English Kennel club. Whippets are among the most popular hound dogs and championship show dogs of the 21st century.
The breed does show a few sex differences; the female is stronger willed while the male shows more loyalty towards their human owners. Still, each dog will maintain its own unique personality and these differences will also show up in training sessions as well. All in all, they are very affectionate, loving, quiet, and gentle dogs. They are not known as barkers and will only bark if they are bored, alone, or need some individual attention. They do not bark when visitors come to the house; proving to be a blessing for many homeowners and apartment dwellers alike.
Whippets are both physically as well as emotionally sensitive dogs. They require a kind hand while training. They also pick up on any household stress and will react to whatever is going on in the house. They will become nervous to the point of making themselves physically ill. They are prone to neurotic behaviour and upset stomachs.
These intelligent creatures can display some independence especially when it comes to training. They may not execute a command to perfection. They bond very well with their owners but are distant towards strangers. They are not aggressive dogs by nature and do not make very good watch or guard dogs. The docile gentle nature of this dog makes them excellent companions for the sick and the aged. Even though they are energetic dogs bred to race, they prefer being home amongst the people they love.
The whippet is a healthy dog and can live up to 15 years providing it is well taken care of, diet, exercise and attention play and important role to this dogs general health. They are however, prone to some diseases.
Whippets can suffer from genetic eye disorders, but a recognized, reputable breeder will take the necessary precautions to weed this condition out. There is also a test to screen for these genetic disorders and the American Whippet Association strongly recommends that all whippets receive the testing.
Whippets can suffer from undescended testicles; this condition is readily rectified by a visit to the vet and an operation.
Whippets tend to have a slow heart rate when resting or sleeping and researchers believe this condition may be linked to heart disease. Heart disease is the second most common disease leading to death among this breed of dog.
Whippets are low maintenance dogs, because of their shorthaired coat. Very little brushing is necessary. Also because of their short coat there is very little shedding, but like all dogs they shed their coats during the spring and fall seasons. The good thing about it is that you will never find much hair on your clothes and furniture. A weekly brushing and rub down with a chamos cloth will not only keep your pet’s fur sleek and shiny it will add to your dog’s sense of well being.
Bathing is not a priority for these odorless dogs. Bathe sparingly and when you do, use a soft rubber brush, and rub them down. You may apply a conditioner after bathing to keep their skin lubricated. Clean ears and teeth and do not forget to clip their toenails. Avoid getting water in the ears by putting cotton balls in them while bathing. Dirty ears as well as wet ears harbor bacteria and are prone to infection. If your dog’s toenails are not trimmed regularly they can snag into cloth and other materials and the dog can actually rip away part of the nail. You should also cream their elbows and clip their whiskers with a clipper or scissors easily assessable at any vet.
Inspect your dog’s skin for any scratches or cuts that may require medical attention.
Whippets require exercise on a daily basis. Since they are tracking and racing dogs, they do require a good run or a daily walk on a leash so that they do not run off to chase prey. They don’t require a huge backyard but they do require a fence in area with enough room for them to run and play. The fence should be higher than there ability to jump. Dog gyms and obstacle courses would be a great way for your pet to expend its excess energy and get in its exercise quota.
Whippets can present a challenge when training; as they tend to be headstrong, they are however eager to please and thus balance out the equation. Fortunately training your pet can be a rewarding experience since you will want to train him to do the things he was bred to do; champion racing, lure coursing, fly ball competition and agility training. Give your dog and yourself enough time and you can train your dog to do just about anything. It will certainly learn to obey on command.