Whippets are the greatest of companions – they are speedy and super lazy. They form strong bonds with their owners and flourish with human contact. Here are 11 facts about these elegant and gentle dogs.
Nothing beats the elegance of a whippet at full speed. Whippets can run up to 56 kilo metres per hour (35 miles per hour) making them the fastest breed for their size. Adult whippets range from 9 kilos to 19 kilos (18lb to 41lb) and are considered a medium size dog. However, they can’t run at full speed for long, think of them as sprinters not marathon runners.
Speedy when they choose to be, whippets don’t need as much exercise as commonly thought. If the weather is inclement and does not meet with your whippet’s approval, a warm bed will be the choice of most. They love to loaf around with their humans in the warm, chilling with you on the sofa or keeping you company at the office.
Their laziness makes them ideal pets for country or city living, lead walks are fine but they do love to stretch their legs several times a week.
Some whippets have a strong prey drive leading them to chase rabbits, squirrels, other dogs and sometimes bigger animals like deer. They were first bred in the North of England by working class families with a desire for a small hunting and racing dog that would be cheap to keep. They became known as the poor mans greyhound. So, the instinct to chase is strong, but many just love to chase other whippets to see who can win!
If trained from a young age to play with a ball or frisbee, or even a tug toy this desire to chase can be controlled but, if a squirrel is spotted at a distance, don’t be surprised if your whippet makes a run for it.
When you get a whippet, be prepared to buy lots of blankets, you’ll need them for their bed, the sofa, the garden, going out to the pub, in fact anywhere you want your whippet to settle. Even take one along to training class, no whippet will sit on a hard floor! Whippets love blankets, a warm fire to curl up in front of and a human to dote on them, while providing plenty of treats.
In northern England in the late 1800’s greyhounds and larger sight hounds were kept by wealthy land owners for hunting, requiring space and lots of land to exercise. Only the gentry were allowed under Forest Law to hunt with dogs. Smaller greyhounds were given back to the working classes, who had bred them, to keep. It’s thought that the modern whippet descended from these small greyhounds. Some were mixed with Bedlington Terriers to produce a longer haired hound.
Whippets were the perfect dog in these smaller houses, providing rabbits and small game for the pot and keeping the children warm in bed at night.
The breeds first champion was a dog called Zuber, born in 1889 and it’s thought today that Zuber can be traced back from every pedigree whippet in the world. It took 64 years before a whippet won Crufts, in 1992 Pencloe Dutch Gold won. 2004 and 2018 have also seen whippet champions.
The thin skin of a whippet means they feel the cold more than most dogs. A warm jumper and coat are the very minimum needed to keep a whippet warm in cold weather.
Thin skin is delicate and prone to cuts, brambles, sharp items run past at speed even other whippets front teeth can all tear their skin. Their thin skin makes them more prone to skin allergens such as grass seed. Wearing a tee shirt can help to protect from environmental allergens and also help to cover a healing wound avoiding cumbersome cones.
One of the joys of whippets is their large array of coat colours. From blue (aka grey) to fawn to brindle, black and white. Rarely do you see two identical. Those with more than one colour are called parti colour for example, a coat with white, fawn and black.
The rarest colours are white and dun – a sort of chocolate – in twenty years I have never seen one!
Whippets can live long and healthy lives but lifespan will depend on breeding and environmental factors but most consider 15 to be a good age.
The oldest whippet is thought to have lived to 21, but dig deep enough on the internet and you can find talk of others living to 23.
Feeding a breed appropriate diet, raw or fresh cooked food is thought best for a healthy biome, the key to longevity. Good regular exercise and natural treats all help to keep weight within an acceptable range, giving your whippet the best chance of living longer.
Whippets hate the cold and will visibly shiver, stubbornly not moving or sitting when it’s windy refusing to walk. Keeping them warm is paramount to their happiness and your sanity!
Luckily our whippet jumpers with cosy snood necks and long leg options are here to keep your shivering sight hound snug as can be. They aren’t keen on rain either so a well fitted rain coat is a must for any whippet – preferably one you can layer over a jumper or tee shirt for extra cold days. For whippets in really cold climates, North America and Scandinavia a fleece lined coat is a must.
Whippets have long, slender, delicate necks, traditional collars are not suitable as they can easily back out of them, not what you want in a busy park by a main road.
Wide leather collars are popular as these help to protect a larger surface area of neck to distribute pressure evenly and are harder to back out of.
Martingale collars are also a popular choice for whippets, when fitted correctly will slip over the head with ease and only pull to the size of your dogs neck so it can’t back out of it.
Adjustable wide collars which fasten with a clip are a good choice for those who like to roll in dirty, smelly stuff as these are washable.
‘Look at that skinny dog’ a phrase you will hear often while with your whippet and you might get tired of replying that they are MEANT to be skinny!
A healthy whippet will have visible vertebrae and ribs – but still showing plenty of muscle tone. Their skinny bodies are perfectly suited for speed but they can be prone to shiver when standing still so having a warm layer to hand is essential for much of the year in the northern hemisphere. They love to be snuggled under a blanket – or your duvet – appreciating their creature comforts.
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