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Adopt a Whippet


Whippet Dog Breed

Picture: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis

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Family:

sighthound, Southern (sighthound)


Area of origin:

England


Original function:

racing, rabbit coursing


Average size of male:

Ht: 19-22, Wt: 20-40


Average size of female:

Ht: 18-21, Wt: 20-40


Other names:

none


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    Energy

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    Exercise

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    Playfulness

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    Affection

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    Friendliness towards dogs

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    Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Grooming

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Whippet Dog Temperament

Perhaps the most demonstrative and obedient of the true sighthounds, the Whippet makes an ideal pet for people who want a quiet house dog and absolutely devoted companion. The Whippet is extremely gentle with children and can make an excellent companion for them. He is calm indoors but loves to run and play outdoors. The whippet is extremely sensitive (both physically and mentally) and cannot take rough treatment or harsh corrections.

Whippet Dog Care

The Whippet can make a good apartment dog if taken for a long walk or run daily. Grooming is minimal. The Whippet must have a warm, soft bed. He dislikes cold weather intensely and cannot be expected to live outside. The Whippet can play and run in snow and cold weather but should spend inactive times in warmer temperatures. The hair is extremely short and fine, and the whippet is virtually free of "doggy odor."

Whippet Dog Health

Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: none
Occasionally seen: deafness, some eye defects
Suggested tests: none
Life span: 12-15 years
Note: sensitive to anesthesia; prone to lacerations

Interested in the history of the Whippet dog breed?

A medium-sized sighthound, the Whippet stems from greyhound roots. The Whippet's progenitors may have come from crosses between small Greyhounds and even smaller dogs that were used by peasants for poaching rabbits and other small game in the 18th century. The peasants also found entertainment in "snap dog" contests, in which bets were made on which dog could "snap up" as many rabbits as possible before they escaped from a circle. Crosses with ratting terriers were probably made to increase quickness and gameness. It was the advent of the Industrial Revolution, however, that spurred the development of the true whippet breed. Masses of rural workers moved to industrialized areas, bringing with them their snap dogs and a need for entertainment. Without a supply of rabbits, they found their dogs would just as readily race toward a waving rag. Rag racing became the sport of coal miners; in fact, the whippet was dubbed the "poor man's race horse." A family's whippet was not only an immense source of pride but sometimes also a source of extra income and procurer of food for the pot. As a valued family member, he shared the family rations and often, the children's beds, and came to be valued as a companion as well. Whippet racing is still popular today, but it has never gained the commercial appeal of Greyhound racing and so remains strictly an amateur sport. After the Whippet was officially recognized as a breed in 1888, he began to be appreciated for his aesthetic appeal, and crosses with the Italian greyhound further refined his appearance. The whippet gained popularity slowly, but his unequaled combination of lithe elegance and gracious companionship gradually created a devoted following. Today the Whippet is the most popular of the sighthounds and is highly valued as a show dog, lure courser, racer and family companion.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DOG BREEDS by D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.

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