Those who do not know the breed quickly mistake the whippet for a young greyhound. The small English greyhound was formerly used to hunt rabbits and is one of the fastest breeds in the world with a top speed of around 60 km/h. Today it is hardly ever used for racing or hunting and adapts very well as a family dog.
The Little Whippet with the Shyly Carried Tail
Whippets are clearly recognizable by their height and very graceful physique. The facial expression is fat, the tail is carried between the hind legs, which sometimes makes him appear shy. Measured at the withers, males reach a height of 47 to 51 cm, females between 44 and 47 cm. A specific weight is not specified in the FCI breed standard but is usually between 9.1 and 19.1 kg.
- The head is long and lean, with a rather flat and fairly broad forehead. The stop is only moderately pronounced. The muzzle tapers slightly towards the tip.
- The color of the nose matches the color of the coat: black is desirable for all colors, the nose may be bluish with blue coats, the nose may be liver-colored with lightened colors and two-tone butterfly noses are permitted with white and piebald colors.
- The large eyes are oval and dark in color.
- The fine leathery rose ears, which are quite small and flexible, are set far back on the head.
The neck and loins are gracefully curved and long. The whole body is well muscled and strong, the chest is deep. The lower abdominal line is clearly tucked up.
- The well-muscled forelegs are vertical and flatly muscled. At the rear, the barrels are very well angled and set back slightly. The paws are oval with well-separated toes.
- When moving, the long and rather thin tail is carried in an upward curve but does not reach over the back.
- Bully whippets appear in some litters. Due to a gene mutation, their muscles are much more pronounced, making them appear comparatively compact and stocky.
The many colors
The greyhound’s coat is very short and lies flat against the body. Apart from merle colors, all colors are allowed. These colorings are the most common:
- Basic colors (single color or white with plates)
- Light brown to dark brown
- sable hair (dark tips)
Markings and spotting
- Brindle with black or blue stripes
- Black or blue mask
- Spotted white areas (spots black, fawn, or red)
- Very rarely, a black or blue saddle patch appears on the back of brindle or fawn whippets with white markings (tricolor)
- White markings often appear on the chest, paws, and as a blaze on the face if the coat is of a solid color.
The Origins of Whippets – Dog of the Poor or Dog of the Rich?
There are completely different theories about the origin of the whippets. Most breed enthusiasts accept the theory that whippets originated in northern England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hobbies of the English upper class at this time included hunting and dog breeding. Greyhounds have been crossed with terrier-like breeds to create small and agile hunting dogs. But miners also used greyhound-like hounds to catch rabbits – the smaller such a hound was, the cheaper it was to feed.
Noble dogs with ancient roots
Some whippet kennels state that the history of the dogs originated in Egypt and from there made their way to Rome and ultimately to Britain. Sighthounds have been depicted in works of art and pottery for thousands of years. The first portraits of small rose-eared greyhounds (outwardly indistinguishable from whippets) were made in the 14th century.
Close relatives of the breed
- Greyhounds have been known in the UK longer than whippets. They are unquestionably among the ancestors of the breed.
- Later crossings with Italian Greyhounds gave the Whippet its graceful form.
- Long-legged English terriers such as the Fox Terrier were probably also crossed.
The snap dog and its tasks
Whippets were kept by English miners and used for the so-called snap-dog game. In this game, rats or rabbits were released in a fenced area. The whippet that caught the most prey in a given period of time won the game. That’s why he’s also known as Snap Dog to this day. Whippet racing was popular in the 1930s but has not caught on overtime. The breed is rarely used for professional racing today, although top speeds are every bit as good as greyhounds and other sighthounds.
The Nature of the Whippet – Faithful Companion for All Situations
Whippets are universally described as the “perfect breed”. They are sweet and friendly to their peers and people, and they excel as companion dogs and working dogs. Your dog adapts to your everyday life and your lifestyle: With a calm and comfortable owner, the four-legged friend also develops into a balanced friend, in sporty and active families he becomes a lively joker.
Sporty but sensitive
With their thin fur and graceful physique, these athletic dogs are not exactly robust. They shy away from rainy weather and like it warm and snuggly instead of uncomfortable and damp. So they are not really outdoor dogs and they tremble easily when they are cold or when they are nervous.