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What's a Whippet?
Where the Whippet Started
What's a Whippet? It's not a dance but a Whippet dog breed. A Whippet is a medium sized sight hound (a breed bred to hunt by sight) that looks like a miniature greyhound. Actually the American Kennel Club calls the Whippet an English Greyhound in miniature. Dogbreedinfo.com says the Whippet is similar to it's cousin the Greyhound. The Whippet is smaller than a Greyhound but larger than an Italian Greyhound. Back in the 1800's the Greyhound was a popular breed but most ordinary people could not afford a Greyhound. It is said this is when the Whippet was bred with smaller terriers. The Whippet breed was recognized by the American Kennel in 1888.
Whippets originated in England and were first brought to America in 1891 for racing. Massachusetts was once the center of Whippet racing. Why racing? Well, the Whippet can reach speeds of up to 35 m.p.h. If you've ever seen a Whippet run, you'll easily see how people would want this dog to race. Grace and speed in motion! However, its easy going temperament led to its desire as a companion dog. They shed very little and tend to have a love of upholstered furniture.
;Whippets offer a Lot of Variety
Unlike many breeds, Whippets come in a variety of colors, you can find blue Whippets, black Whippets, white Whippets and brindle Whippets. There are also white Whippets with different spot patterns. Obviously this dog offers a lot of variety. There are also long haired Whippets! Every dog owner has his preference and I understand there are different breeds and different varieties to suit us all but I have to admit I have a hard time with the Bully Whippet.
The only thing I can think of when I see a Bully Whippet is the Hound of the Baskervilles. It is unfair as I understand they are just as docile and loving as a regular Whippet and at the mercy of missing genes. The bully whippet is evidently a mutation. It seems dogs lacking a protein/gene called myostatin windup with an unusual body type and its condition is sometimes referred to as "the Bully Whippet Syndrome". It is also said if the dog has one copy of the gene he is super fast but if he has two copies of the gene he is not. Also due to their size they don't don't live as long as regular Whippets. The picture of Wendy that I have included is all over the Internet. It seems every article I read about Bully Whippets included a picture of Wendy. The last and saddest thing I learned is this mutation may be caused by inbreeding. An article on The Tech Museum states that many Bully Whippets are put to sleep at birth because they don't conform to the Whippet standard. That would account for why we've not seen many of these dogs around. The Whippet isn't among the most common dogs in the neighborhood to begin with. FYI this gene has the same effect in people and was used in the TV series "The Incredible Hulk", though of course fictionalized and highly exaggerated.
Back to the regular, normal Whippet. The best thing about Whippets, though is their temperament. They are gentle dogs, sometimes shy. They are docile and not prone to snapping which makes them very good with children. Of course it's important to make sure children don't hurt the Whippet. Though they love to run they can actually do without excessive exercise. However, it is good to take them for a run occasionally or provide a space where they can run like a large, fenced in backyard, although they like nothing better than to lay around all day. They are very loyal to their owners but are not known to be aggressive - so they really don't make good watch dogs. According to the American Whippet Club this is one species where the animal's sex might matter. It appears males tend to be more loyal and playful but in the long run it might be difficult to tell.
Except for the long haired variety, Whippets don't do well in the cold and really aren't suited to be outside dogs. When walking them or letting them out in cold weather it would better suit them to have a coat.
A Whippet in Our Family
We have a Whippet in our family, Daisy. Daisy is a doll. Very easy going and stays to herself a lot. We had the chance to dog sit recently and she was no trouble at all. Though my daughter brought Daisy's bed, Daisy decided my loveseat was much more comfortable. She greeted me in the morning when I got up by just coming over and looking at me with those big sad eyes. When it was time to eat and I got her dish out she would again just stand and look at me.
Outside is when you see the Whippet come out. She's not too fond of stairs and walks them with caution and a bit timidly but once she hits the ground she's a whole other dog. One of the times I let her out I had a camera in my hand to take her picture but she spotted a squirrel and was gone before I could even turn the camera on. She sprinted across my yard in three leaps! To date she has caught, killed, and buried three squirrels that I know of. I don't know about you but when squirrels take off, I'm impressed how fast they run, so knowing Daisy caught them just adds to my admiration of her speed and grace.
I can truly say this is a wonderful house dog that will give you years of devotion and loyalty. As with purchasing any dog, remember to check animal rescue. There are many Whippet Rescues out there.
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