The Whippet dog breed is dubbed as the “poor man’s racehorse” and first emerged in England. His name is inspired by the old English phrase “whip it,” which means “to move swiftly.” They were first mentioned in the 1600s, but they were referred to as a different type of dog.
Originally, Whippets were associated with English Greyhounds that were smaller than average. They were deemed too small for hunting stags and were returned to the breeders.
The breeders, usually peasants, were prohibited by law from owning Greyhounds. Despite this, they kept the rejected canines and continued to breed them. Various racing, sporting, and coursing breeds, especially the Greyhound, were used in the cross-breeding.
The breeders’ efforts produced a small Greyhound variety, which proved skilled at ratting and rabbit hunting. This new type of canine, the Whippet, was used for gambling. They raced and coursed, aside from hunting with their owners.
When the law banning Greyhound ownership amongst peasants was abolished, the Whippet dog breed started to grow in popularity. He began to be called “Snap Dog” for his propensity for snapping up prey that was close to him.
In the 1800s, Whippet racing, or rag races, grew and became a significant sport in England. It was also at this time that 2 varieties of the Whippet dog breed were identified.
One had the smooth coat, which is the Whippet that we know today. The other had a rough coat, which was a result of a Bedlington Terrier cross-breeding.
In 1888, the American Kennel Club officially recognised the Whippet dog breed. Then, in the late 1800s, the Whippet dog breed was acknowledged as a distinct breed by the Kennel Club. In 1930, the American Whippet Club was established.
The KC recognition enabled the participation of Whippets in dog competitions and shows. Since then, 3 dogs of the Whippet breed have won Best in Show at Crufts.
Today, Whippets are said to be one of the most popular Sighthounds, which also include the large-sized Afghan Hound and the medium-sized Azawakh.
How fast can a Whippet run?
Sighthounds such as the Whippet breed are well known for being nimble and fast on their feet. Capable of running at speeds of 35 kph, this Hound can outrun a kangaroo.
Same with his ancestor, the Whippet breed’s running style involves a double suspension gallop. He is an excellent contender in speed-based dog sports like lure coursing, agility, and fly ball.