“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself” – Josh Billings
Dogs truly are mans best friend and the whippet is no exception to the rule. Whippets were known as the ‘poor man’s greyhound’ back in the 1900’s and it was a pretty grey area of what exactly a whippet was until around the mid-1800’s. Throughout history as the whippet breed has developed, here are 11 things you should know about them.
A fawn whippet. They are very gentle by nature and happiest when they are involved and a part of your family.
#1 – History of the whippet
Whippets were used to hunt game in big open areas due to their impeccable sight, however, they were too small for stag hunting in the forests of England. Due to this, later on down the line, they were bred for hunting smaller prey such as rabbits and hares, soon becoming known as ‘snap dogs’ – Through this sport, they became a very popular breed.
However, at this point they hadn’t actually been named the ‘whippet’ yet, as it was unclear as to what they were, they were considered more of a ‘small greyhound’. They became an independent breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1891 and in time, became popular for their racing qualities with The British Whippet Racing Association (BWRA) being set up in 1967 – an association that is still active today.
It is also believed that Pharaohs may have bred the ancestors of today’s whippet to keep in their palaces.
#2 – Whippet racing
The BWRA was introduced after the popularity of whippet racing rose in the 1960’s. This was when it was decided that a set of rules would need to be introduced for racing. It started out with ‘rag racing’ when a whippet would be lured to the finish line with a white rag. Puppies would also be trained with this technique to eat their food.
In 1968 there was an attempt to try and get the BWRA to race pedigree whippets only, as they had started to cross breed with greyhounds to increase their speed. However this was declined and the Whippet Club Racing Association (WCRA) was created to race pure breed whippets, whilst the BWRA continued to race crossbreeds.
#3 – Getting to know whippets
The whippet is a part of the sighthound group and is family to the greyhound, Italian greyhound, the Irish wolfhound and many more. Sighthounds are primarily built to hunt for their speed and, you guessed it, their sight. As opposed to the more traditional scent track.
The typical build of a sighthound has a very deep chest, long legs surrounded with muscle as well as a very lean figure – supermodels of the dog world if you will.
Good to know Whippet facts and stats:
- Whippets are a fairly small breed with the average female measuring in at around 45-53cm and males 48-56cm.
- They can weigh between 8 kg – 15 kg depending on their stature.
- They have very sleek short fur, making them very easy to keep neat and tidy.
- Their average lifespan is 12-15 years.
#4 – Whippet markings
Whippets can have a variety of markings and colours. However, not all of them will be registered by the Kennel Club. They supply you with a breed standard so you know what to expect and which colours would be accepted if you decided you wanted to show them.
The primary colours of Whippets, as stated by the Kennel Club, are as follows:
- Black and White
There are then a variety of markings which can make up the combinations of each one.
Blue whippet. They can have a variety of different ‘masks’ to make up their beautiful markings.
#5 – Finding the right whippet for you
Finding your new little addition does take some time and it’s not something you want to rush. There are a couple of different routes you can go down to find the right one for you. You can adopt/rescue a pooch – It’s lovely to be able to save a life and there are a variety of shelters that you can support by rehoming one of their furry friends. Although, fortunately for our little whippet friends you don’t come across too many of them in shelters, that’s not to say they’re not in there of course.
There are specific charities that do look after our hound friends specifically and aid in their rehabilitation for whatever they have may have been through. It’s a lovely feeling being able to help them. But you do of course have to bear in mind that with rescue can sometimes come past trauma or poor care, consequently meaning possible issues later on.
However, rehoming isn’t for everyone and that’s totally okay. Not everyone can get approved for a rescue dog, through no fault of your own, but rehoming centres are very strict on rehoming guidelines, and rightly so. There are many factors that play into their decision and sometimes you might not be the right fit.
But never fear, you can buy from a breeder. There are mixed opinions on buying dogs as things like puppy farms do sadly exist. But there are plenty of sites that have approved breeders and trusted sources so it’s not all bad news. Pets4Homes is an excellent site that is very well controlled. You have to be aware of ‘overpricing’. Some people will do it purely for the money and charge silly amounts for these beautiful dogs.
The average price range for a breeder to sell their whippet pups, purely out of love and wanting to have perhaps just one litter from their beloved pet will usually range from about £500 – £800. If you’re in this price range then you know they’re a genuine family that isn’t just trying to make money from them.
The bottom line is that you have to make sure the dog is right for you and that you’re right for them.
#6 – Welcoming your whippet
So, you’re thinking of welcoming a little whippet friend into your family?
Whippets are extremely good family dogs. They are great around children and other dogs and are very docile by nature. Whilst they do love to run and are built for their speed, they are just as content curled up on the sofa under a blanket and sleeping away the day. They are generally quiet dogs so are a good choice if you need to keep the noise to a minimum.
Like any puppy, they’re going to be a little nervous at first. Whippets are naturally on the timid side but that’s not to say they don’t love the attention. It’s important to introduce them to people in the early days, as this can strongly influence their relationship with people in their adult life.
Introducing them to other dogs is also vital as this will shape their behaviour and attitude towards their fellow 4 legged friends.
Some key things that should be on your puppy shopping list:
- Plenty of blankets
- Puppy harness, collar and lead
- Food/water bowl
- Puppy pads
- Puppy food and treats
- Lots of love and cuddles
Whippet puppies take a while to develop their true features that so deeply define their whippet shape.
#7 – Puppy life
It’s probably good to know that your destructive puppy won’t be this troublesome forever. All puppies are going to be little rugrats and they will test your patience at times, but the lifetime of fun you will have outweighs all of that.
Whippet puppies have the tendency to try and push their luck. They like to be entertained and have plenty of toys, if not…your favourite pair of shoes may look rather appealing to them.
Whippets are inquisitive little pups and like a challenge. You can get a variety of ‘brain training’ toys and games to keep them entertained, it’s a good idea to leave them with something if you have to leave them alone for a while.
A Snuffle Mat is a good pacifier for your whippet pup as they can get their nose in between the tassels to hunt for treats. Hide some of their favourite snacks and it will encourage them that playtime is rewarding.
#8 – Caring for your whippet
Despite whippets being big snoozers, it’s not to say they don’t need their daily exercise. Being a runner, naturally, they love and need to burn off energy. This is usually done in the form of ‘zoomies’, a term used by whippet owners when their whippet decides that it is time to run around like they’ve had too many blue smarties. There’s no need to panic, your whippet is not broken and afternoon snoozes should resume in about 10-15 minutes.
A nice hour long walk is usually sufficient for you and your whippet friend. Obviously like any pooch, the length of the walk depends on how they are. Some days they may not feel like going for that long, other days it might seem they can go on forever. If you can’t get them out for walks every day, then make sure they’ve got plenty of space or perhaps an outside area to let off some steam.
You’ll be pleased to know that a whippets shedding level is pretty low. Obviously, you are going to find dog hairs, it’s inevitable and it’s kind of in the doggy contract. But, luckily for you, your whippet friend won’t sleep on your black outfit and leave their outline in hair when they get up. No Chewbacca work dress!
Whippets are fairly food orientated, there is the exception that isn’t, but 9 times out of 10 you can be sure your little pup is lapping up their food quicker than you can say Walkies! There is so much on the market in terms of dog food nowadays, yes, there’s even Pawsecco…I rest my case!
But in terms of measurements and what they like, it’s all personal to your dog. There is a guideline on food packs, but sometimes it’s way out of line. You will start to learn what your pup likes and how much they can manage. You just have to know what weight bracket they are in.
There’s no right or wrong on what to feed them, as with us humans, they’re not going to like everything you put in front of them.
#9 – Whippet temperament
Our little whippets have beautiful temperaments. They are very gentle and intelligent. It’s always good to teach your puppy some manners as soon as you can, as well as the basic tricks of sit and paw. It encourages them that they have to earn their treats as well as getting them to use their brains.
They are built to be indoor dogs. Their short fur means that they get cold easily and will usually be found next to the radiator. But with this does mean that they are very clean dogs, you will rarely need to bath them unless they do become misfortune to the dreaded fox poop.
As we have already learnt, they are designed for their speed, but this makes a good point to note that it’s better to keep them on a lead when out and about. You won’t be able to catch them if they see something across the field that looks more fun than you.
If you are welcoming a whippet into a family environment with young children, then it’s important to still remember that they are delicate dogs and they won’t appreciate being heavy handled.
Whippets like to be close and love their fellow kind. You will regularly find them under a blanket or by their favourite heater.
#10 – Being a part of your family
Whippets are massively family orientated. They like to be involved and feel a part of your life. I suppose you could say they’re needy little dogs, but in the best way possible. So if you want a loveable companion by your side then it’s possible that a whippet is the right pup for you.
They also make great friends to each other…whippets love other whippets, as well as other dogs. They will be so happy when you get home from work so expect a big greeting from them. They’re very affectionate and will always be there for you whenever you need them. If cuddles and cosy blankets are up your street then count your whippet in.
#11 – Insurance for your Whippet
Thinking about insurance for your new whippet is super important. You can shop around for quotes and see who offers you the best price. Some companies will want to charge you more because they think whippets are at risk of broken bones, in particular, broken legs. They put two and two together of their long legs and high speed running, equalling high insurance payout. However, you could put that as a risk for any dog so it’s just something to be mindful of when comparing sites.
So if you are looking for a companion that will always be by your side, is very low maintenance and guarantees you a warm welcome through the door and ready to get under that cosy blanket, then a whippet could be the right dog for you.