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Known as the Ferrari of the dog world, the Whippet can run as fast as 56 kph. Also known as Snap Dog and English Whippet, this breed is a descendant of its larger cousin, the Greyhound. Despite its speedy reputation, this canine likes to lounge on couches. Gentle, quiet, and friendly, this dog rarely barks and is good with children. It is easy to house-train and thus makes a wonderful family pet.
The Whippet is highly adjustable and can live in small spaces. The short-haired variety is remarkably odourless and easy to groom. However, it is known to chase small animals due to its high prey drive. As such, it is not advisable to add a smaller pet, such as a cat, to a home that has a Whippet.
The “poor man’s Greyhound” emerged in England. Although the Whippet was first mentioned as far back as the 1600s, it referred to a different type of dog. Originally, the name was associated with English Greyhounds that were smaller than average. These dogs were deemed too small for hunting stags and were returned to breeders.
The breeders, usually peasants, were prohibited by law from owning Greyhounds. Despite this, they kept the rejected canines and kept on breeding them. Various racing, sporting, and coursing breeds, especially the Greyhound, were used in the crossbreeding. Their efforts produced a smaller variant of the Greyhound, which proved skilled at ratting and rabbit hunting. This new type of canine, the Whippet, was also used for gambling. Whippets raced and coursed, aside from hunting for their owners.
When the law banning Greyhound ownership among peasants was abolished, the new breed started to grow in popularity. It began to be called “snap dog” for its propensity for snapping up prey that was close to it.
In the 1800s, Whippet racing grew and became a significant sport in England. It was also at this time that 2 varieties of this sighthound were identified. One had the smooth coat, which is the Whippet as we know it today. The other had a rough coat, which was a result of Bedlington Terrier crossbreeding. Then, in the late 1800s, this canine was acknowledged as a distinct breed by The Kennel Club. Its name is inspired by the old English phrase “whip it”, which means “to move swiftly”.
The TKC recognition enabled the participation of Whippets in dog competitions and shows. Since then, 3 dogs of this breed have won Best in Show at Crufts. Today, the Whippet is said to be the most popular among the sighthounds.
The average Whippet size is medium, with a height that ranges from 44-52 cm. Its weight ranges from 9-19 kg.
Like its bigger ancestor, this sighthound is elegant, lean, and powerful, with a muscular body and an athletic look. Its distinctly long and lean head is slimmer than its also long and muscled neck. Its nose is usually black although the colour can vary depending on the coat variation.
This canine’s oval-shaped eyes are remarkable for their night vision quality and 250-degree sight. The average human sight range is just 180 degrees. Its eyes are placed further to the side of its head, allowing more range.
Its chest is very deep, with a broad and moderately long back that arches beautifully. Its ribs are well sprung and its belly is tucked. The Whippet’s hindquarters are powerful and muscular, with broad and muscled thighs. The legs are long and thin, ending in oval shaped feet with thick pads and decked with strong nails. Its feet are hare-like, giving this dog the ability to claw into the ground to propel itself more powerfully even with a light tread.
Capable of running at speeds of 56 kph, this hound can outrun a kangaroo. As with its ancestor, the Whippet’s running style involves a double suspension gallop.
The Whippet’s single coat is generally smooth, short, and lies close to the skin. However, there are others of this breed with a longer coat. Remarkably, the short-haired ones have odourless coats. It comes in a wide variety of coat colours and patterns. However, considering this animal only has a single coat, it needs added insulation against cold weather.
Grooming is a low maintenance affair for Whippets due to its short coat.
The Whippet temperament is wonderfully gentle, affectionate, and quiet. It may be a running fiend on the track, but it is a certified softie off it. Despite its athleticism, this hound is a couch potato. It is happy just lounging about or cuddling with its family after a spot of vigorous exercise.
This intelligent dog breed is highly adaptable, capable of thriving in small apartments, seldom barks, and is good with children. It is not prone to snapping and makes a wonderful family pet. When it seeks attention, it may nudge its human with its nose.
Although the Whippet is a generally calm and quiet dog, it may not be so for the first 3 years of its life. However, it is a sensitive canine and should be trained using positive reinforcement. It should also not be startled as it may overreact or jump at unexpected touches.
Being a sighthound, this canine has a high prey drive and will chase small animals, like cats. As such, it must be put on a lead when taken outside for a walk. Further, it tends to be shy and jumpy when it has not been socialised well at an early age. It tends to be cagey around strangers and may even bark at them. However, it is not known to show aggressive behaviour, preferring to keep its distance.
First-time owners who can provide enough exercise and appropriate training will find the Whippet a suitable pet. It is loyal and can form a strong bond with its human. As such, this canine should not be left alone for long.
The Whippet is a muscular, athletic dog. As such, it should be fed a high quality diet with sufficient levels of protein. Its meals should consist of about 20-25% of protein and 10-15% fat. A regular feeding schedule must be followed, preferably twice a day. The same food should be served to avoid gastrointestinal issues. Should there be changes in the diet, it should be done gradually.
Whippet puppies should be fed 3-4 times daily. It should be fed 48g-183 g of food from ages 2-6 months, depending on its size and activity level. At 7 months old, it may be fed 40 g-166 g of food. From 8-10 months, it’s best to feed it 39 g-141 g daily. Once it reaches 11 months, it may be given adult food.
For adult Whippets, feed about 103 g-120 g for those weighing 7 kg and 114 g-132 g for those weighing 8 kg. Those weighing 10 kg can be given 135 g-156 g of food, whilst the 14 kg and above dogs may be given 154-176 g daily.
On average, the Whippet can live for 12-14 years. Unlike many canine breeds, it is not prone to hip dysplasia. Despite being a healthy dog, it has been known to be affected by the following hereditary health conditions:
This breed may be a canine sprinting machine but it doesn’t need much exercise to keep it happy. An hour’s physical exertion daily is sufficient for this hound. It should be given opportunities to run a bit, but preferably in an enclosure. Homes with yards should ensure fences are at least 180 cm high. This is to keep the Whippet from running off after something that caught its eye.
As this sighthound has a single layered coat, it should be provided added insulation or protection when taken outdoors in cold weather.
A pedigreed Whippet puppy may cost anywhere from £300-£500. The costs of insurance can range from £24 (basic) to £45 (lifetime) monthly. Good quality food can range from £30-£40 every month. Veterinary expenses, including vaccinations, health checks, and spaying/neutering, may reach £800 annually.
Overall, the average expense in caring for a Whippet is about £60-£90 each month. This is dependent on the insurance coverage. Annually, overall lifetime cost estimates can range from £8,640 to £15,120 (12-14 years).
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