Whippet dog

December 1st, 2008

The Whippet dog breed is playful, active, loyal and loves to chase, perfect for families.


Personality: Agile, nimble, playful, loyal, affectionate and fun all aptly describe this lovable pooch. But be prepared to make your Whippet a prominent member of the family as it will despair if not taken in as one of the pack.

Favourite activities: Snuggling under the blankets at night or grabbing the best part of the couch are definite favourites for this pooch, as is spending lots of time with its family. The Whippet also loves a regular run and enjoys playing frisbee. It does not need huge amounts of exercise but when you walk your dog, its a good idea to use a hound collar.

Backyard requirements: Because of its inbred tendency to chase after small moving objects, the Whippet needs a fully fenced backyard at least 180cm to ensure it doesn’t run off. It does not need extensive space for exercise and can even live happily in an apartment as long as it gets taken out regularly.

Watchdog qualities: This breed isn’t known for watchdog qualities but it will effectively let you know if there is a stranger about and will always defend its property and family if necessary.

Hereditary diseases: The Whippet is a hardy breed with no known inherited problems. Like all breeds, it can suffer from non-breed-specific ailments and problems associated with old age.

The agile and playful Whippet can come as somewhat of a surprise package to many people unfamiliar with this dog. Not only is it a breed totally unto itself not a Greyhound puppy it is also a fun-loving pooch which, although athletic, loves nothing more than lazing around the house with its human family. And don’t let that skeletal frame fool you into believing this is a delicate, fragile hound. To the contrary, the Whippet is strong and resilient, standing its ground under the toughest conditions.

Originating in England, the Whippet became very popular in the 1860s when Whippet rag racing grew to be a prized Sunday activity in the industrial towns throughout England and Wales. Many Whippet owners were miners who lived in these working-class areas and their agile pooches would sometimes bring them not only a stash of prize money from the racing track, but even maybe a hare or two for the dinner table.

Ask any Whippet enthusiast about this breed and they will talk at length about its endearing personality and fun-loving spirit.

My dogs are a joy to be with, says Angela Shepherd, Secretary of the NSW Whippet Club. They are always pleased to see me when I get home and are extremely friendly and enthusiastic.

According to Angela, the belief that Whippets are nervous, shaky dogs is a misconception. They are not like that at all, she points out. While your Whippet may zoom around in excitement at seeing you at the end of the day, as most dogs do, seriously neurotic Whippets are not common, according to the experts. Similarly, while the Whippet can give the impression of being distant and aloof, in reality this is a friendly and loving breed. It will bark at strangers, however, and attempt to protect its home should the need arise.

One of the Whippets greatest assets is that it is so easy to care for. I used to own Afghans, relates Angela, and eventually decided to change to a low-maintenance breed. The Whippet was the perfect choice. This breeds short coat needs little upkeep and it is a naturally fastidious dog, almost cat-like in its desire to be clean and neat. It needs only infrequent bathing and is refined and elegant, even eating neatly.

Due to its short coat, the Whippet can suffer in cold temperatures so owners should ensure their pooch has a well-sheltered place to sleep and stay when left alone.

Another misconception about the Whippet is that it needs constant exercise. While this breed does love a run from time to time and should be exercised each day, it will jostle with members of the family for its place on the lounge room couch and will happily laze there for hours on end.

Keep in mind, however, that when you and your Whippet are out on a walk, always keep your dog on-leash near busy roads because the Whippet is a sighthound and will bolt after anything that it thinks is a small animal, with no consideration to passing traffic. For the same reason, a fully fenced backyard is essential.

While relaxation time is high on your Whippets list of priorities, it should be able to have a good run or walk regularly and is especially well-suited to obedience and agility. And when it comes to catching the frisbee, the Whippet rates as one of the best ever!

Terry Crowley has owned Whippets since 1956 and recommends they be given daily exercise and time off the lead, but only in a safe area.

Terrys admiration for this striking breed is obvious when he enthusiastically describes their appearance. What I love most about them is their beautiful look. Like ballet dancers, they strike an elegant pose and are very majestic looking. Their lines are different from all other dogs.

Terry adds that the breed is good with kids and is easy to train. The Whippet is a great dog to have around the home, he says.

As with all breeds, early training and socialisation is important with Whippet puppies to ensure a well-mannered adult. This breed is known for its intelligence and desire to please, so it is easy to train. It will respond well to reward-based training and kind, positive reinforcement.

Whippet rescue
Unfortunately, the Whippet Club of New South Wales sees more than its fair share of abandoned and dumped Whippets. According to NSW Whippet Rescue, the dogs are given up for various reasons, including people moving house and deciding not to take their dog along, families who have a baby and then give up the family dog, and those who choose a Whippet without adequately researching the breed and its needs.

Many of the dogs at Whippet Rescue are beyond puppy stage, which means they are already house-trained, walk well on a leash and have good manners. Having lived with these older dogs, we appreciate the many benefits of a mature dog, say the staff.

Whippet Rescue stresses that these are dogs which have run into circumstances beyond their control. They find themselves in need of a new home and people willing to make that life-long commitment. We hope you will be one of those special people and discover the world of rescue dogs.

For further information on adopting a Whippet, call NSW Whippet Rescue on 0416 056 265.

Breed Care

Daily: This simple-to-look-after pooch enjoys a run here and there but will be happy with a walk once a day. The breed enjoys running off-leash but only allow this in a safe enclosed area. Make sure your Whippet has adequate warmth and shelter in cooler conditions.

Weekly: Check if toenails need clipping. A quick brush with a hound glove will get red of any loose hairs.

Monthly: Whippets are very clean dogs and will only need bathing when necessary.

Regular: Heartworm, gastrointestinal worming, flea and tick treatments. Annual vaccinations and teeth checks.

Breed Contacts

New South Wales: (02) 9798 6135
Northern Territory: (08) 8984 3570
Queensland: (07) 3252 2661
South Australia: (08) 8349 4797
Tasmania: (03) 6272 9443
Victoria: (03) 9376 2255
Western Australia: (08) 9455 1188

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