The Whippet is a medium- sized dog breed; they are a sight hound originating in England. The original Whippets were believed to have been English Greyhounds that were deemed too small for stag hunting in the English forests. They were bred to hunt by sight, chasing game through open areas at high speeds. Often times, because of their size often times the dogs were returned to their breeders who were usually peasants, and because of Forest law, they could not own hunting dogs. Because of this the dogs were often returned back to their breeders maimed, either by removing the toes on one paw or by cutting a tendon in the leg. The breeders continued to breed the dogs, producing a smaller version of the Greyhound that was well suited for catching rats, rabbits and hare. After the Forest law was repealed, these “small greyhounds” became very popular. They were then known as “snap dogs” because of their tendency to “snap up” nearby prey. They then became popular in dog racing and were also known as “the poor man’s racehorse”. Today the dogs are still used as racing dogs and they have the highest running speeds of their breed’s weight (40 mph), and are also the fastest accelerating dog in the world.
The Whippet is a medium-sized dog and weighs between 15-42 pounds and stand 19-22 inches for males and 18-21 inches for females. He should give the appearance of fitness, and elegance, power and balance without coarseness, and denoting of great speed. His head has a keen, alert, and intelligent expression. The eyes are round to oval in shape and are large. They should be dark brown to nearly black in their color. The rose ears are fine in texture, small, thrown back and folded along his neck. The muzzle of the Whippet should be powerful and long, denoting great strength of bite. The bite is scissors. His tail is long and tapering, and when measured down along the hind leg should be reaching to at least the inside of the hock. While the dog is moving it should be carried low with a gentle upward curve. The coat of the Whippet is short, smooth and firm in texture, and close. The coat comes in a wide variety of colors and marking patterns.
The whippet is quiet, smart, and is not prone to barking. They do require regular exercise. This is a gentle breed and is often content spending much of the day resting. The AKC standard describes them as “quiet and dignified in their owner’s living room, and they make excellent house dogs”. While they were bred for racing, this breed can be couch potatoes. Due to their sighthound nature, they are prone to chase small pets, but are not prone to fighting. They also tend to jump or overreact when touched unexpectedly, as they are touch sensitive. AS long as children do not play rough with the Whippet, they are generally good with children. They may be reserved with strangers which makes them good watchdogs.
With the proper diet, exercise, and vet care, the Whippet’s average life span is 12-15 years old. This is a generally healthy breed, however genetic eyes defects (though rare) have been noted in the breed. Hip dysplasia is also rare in the Whippet.