Whippet Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Whippet General Appearance: A medium size sighthound giving the appearance of elegance and fitness, denoting great speed, power and balance without coarseness. A true sporting hound that covers a maximum of distance with a minimum of lost motion. Should convey an impression of beautifully balanced muscular power and strength, combined with great elegance and grace of outline. Symmetry of outline, muscular development and powerful gait are the main considerations; the dog being built for speed and work, all forms of exaggeration should be avoided. Size, Proportion, Substance: Ideal height for dogs, 19 to 22 inches; for bitches, 18 to 21 inches, measured at the highest point of the withers. More than one-half inch above or below the stated limits will disqualify. Length from forechest to buttocks equal to or slightly greater than height at the withers. Moderate bone throughout. Head : Keen intelligent alert expression . Eyes large, round to oval in shape. Small and/or almond shaped eyes are undesirable and are to be faulted. Eyes to be dark brown to nearly black in color. Eye color can vary with coat color, but regardless of coat color dark eyes are always preferred. Light eyes are undesirable and yellow eyes are to be strictly penalized. Blue eye(s) or any portion of blue in the eye(s), as well as both eyes not being of the same color shall disqualify. Fully pigmented eye rims are desirable. Rose ears , small, fine in texture; in repose, thrown back and folded along neck. Fold should be maintained when at attention. Erect ears should be severely penalized. Skull long and lean, fairly wide between the ears, scarcely perceptible stop. Muzzle should be long and powerful, denoting great strength of bite, without coarseness. Lack of underjaw should be strictly penalized. Nose leather to be entirely and uniformly pigmented. Color to be black, dark blue or dark brown, both so dark so as to appear nearly black. Teeth of upper jaw should fit closely over teeth of lower jaw creating a scissors bite . Teeth should be white and strong. Undershot shall disqualify. Overshot one-quarter inch or more shall disqualify. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck long, clean and muscular, well arched with no suggestion of throatiness, widening gracefully into the top of the shoulder. A short thick neck, or a ewe neck, should be penalized. The back is broad, firm and well muscled, having length over the loin. The backline runs smoothly from the withers with a graceful natural arch, not too accentuated, beginning over the loin and carrying through over the croup; the arch is continuous without flatness. A dip behind shoulder blades, wheelback, flat back, or a steep or flat croup should be penalized. Brisket very deep, reaching as nearly as possible to the point of the elbow. Ribs well sprung but with no suggestion of barrel shape. The space between the forelegs is filled in so that there is no appearance of a hollow between them. There is a definite tuckup of the underline. The tail long and tapering, reaching to at least the inside of the hock when measured down along the hind leg. When the dog is in motion, the tail is carried low with only a gentle upward curve; tail should not be carried higher than top of back. Forequarters: Shoulder blade long, well laid back, with flat muscles, allowing for moderate space between shoulder blades at peak of withers. Upper arm of equal length, placed so that the elbow falls directly under the withers. The points of the elbows should point neither in nor out, but straight back. A steep shoulder, short upper arm, a heavily muscled or loaded shoulder, or a very narrow shoulder, all of which restrict low free movement, should be strictly penalized. Forelegs straight, giving appearance of strength and substance of bone. Pasterns strong, slightly bent and flexible. Bowed legs, tied-in
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elbows, legs lacking substance, legs set far under the body so as to create an exaggerated forechest, weak or upright pasterns should be strictly penalized. Both front and rear feet must be well formed with hard, thick pads. Feet more hare than cat, but both are acceptable. Flat, splayed or soft feet without thick hard pads should be strictly penalized. Toes should be long, close and well arched. Nails strong and naturally short or of moderate length. Dewclaws may be removed. Hindquarters : Long and powerful. The thighs are broad and muscular, stifles well bent; muscles are long and flat and carry well down toward the hock. The hocks are well let down and close to the ground. Sickle or cow hocks should be strictly penalized. Coat: Short, close, smooth and firm in texture. Any other coat shall be a disqualification. Old scars and injuries, the result of work or accident, should not be allowed to prejudice the dog's
chance in the show ring. Color : Color immaterial.
Gait: Low, free moving and smooth, with reach in the forequarters and strong drive in the hindquarters. The dog has great freedom of action when viewed from the side; the forelegs move forward close to the ground to give a long, low reach; the hind legs have strong propelling power. When moving and viewed from front or rear, legs should turn neither in nor out, nor should feet cross or interfere with each other. Lack of front reach or rear drive, or a short, hackney gait with high wrist action, should be strictly penalized. Crossing in front or moving too close should be strictly penalized. Temperament: Amiable, friendly, gentle, but capable of great intensity during sporting pursuits. Disqualifications: More than one-half inch above or below stated height limits. Blue eye(s), any portion of blue in the eye(s), eyes not of the same color. Undershot. Overshot one-quarter inch or more. Any coat other than short, close, smooth and firm in texture.
Approved October 9, 2007 Effective January 1, 2008
JUDGING THE WHIPPET
T he most wonderful thing in the world for a Whip- pet judge is to place your hands on the neck of a fi t and correct Whippet and feel the taut muscle sing beneath your fi ngertips. Slide your hand onto smooth shoulder blades lying tightly against the body. Run your hand across the broad back and loin—the spine is slightly visible (not prominent) and from the quality of the muscle you know this is a fl exible back and croup. Onto the thigh— the muscle is thicker but not bulgy. Now, very important—continue to the second thigh, and fi nd the same tight muscle there, with good width, not narrow. Ahh. Heaven can wait. Th is fi t, fl exible Whippet is the ultimate pleasure. Often, judges who are new to the breed have trouble understanding the topline. It is a gentle arch over the loin, not over the back. What we are looking for above all is a fl exible body. A Whippet running full speed, in the double suspension gallop, will pass continually through concave- convex movements. In other words, the body has to be fl exible enough to look like a horseshoe when the legs meet beneath the body and a hammock when the legs are fully extended. A rigid, high spine will prevent this movement. Th at’s why I view a strongly arched topline as a serious fault, while less arch is not as seri- ous. Th e Whippet standard instructs that the dog is built for speed and work. Aspects of
By Sharon Sakson
incorrect structure that would impede speed are the most serious. Feet are very important. “No foot, no dog” is an old saying from horse breeders. A glance at a Whippet foot will tell you all you need to know. No need to pick it up or handle it. “Feet more hare than cat, but both are acceptable,” the standard says. Whip- pets have good feet. Flat, splayed or soft feet without thick hard pads are very rare in my experience. “ Th e back is broad, fi rm and well muscled, having length over the loin…. Th ere is a de fi nite tuckup of the underline.” Th e Whippet underline is strongly pro- nounced. Sometimes new judges ask if the topline and underline should match— the answer is no. Th e topline’s job is
fl exibility; the underline is a bellows. Th e ribs are extremely deep at the brisket to protect powerful lungs, and then each back rib is sculptured successively shorter. Th e standard requires “length over the loin” because all that deep chest is going to be pushed up into the loin during the concave moment. Whippets whose ribs remain approxi- mately the same length lack breed type; their underline will be more similar to a Labrador Retriever than a sighthound. Th is lack of a pronounced underline will diminish the Whippet’s speed and there- fore is a serious fault. Yet, judges reward many Whippets with this fault because their long bodies are able to move with lots of reach and drive. Whippet breeders sometimes cringe when a novice judge urges us to look at the wonderful movement on the dog they put up—if the dog achieved the movement by having a tubular shape or a loose body. Check the standard—shape comes fi rst. We don’t want to get a virtue (lots of reach and drive) by means of a fault (lack of under- line). It is possible to have “symmetry of outline” and “powerful gait” both, together, perfectly harmonized in a beautiful dog.
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THE WONDERFUL, WRUNNERFUL WHIPPET!
By Karen Lee
A Whippet in the READ program patiently listens to young readers.
T he American Whippet Club has long promot- ed the Whippet as “the Versatile Breed”, and that’s not just a catchy slogan—versatility is in the Whippet’s very DNA, going back to the earliest attempts of canny working class people in the north of England to develop a dog that was cheap to feed, easy
to house, and capable of providing many kinds of sport. Th e genetic origins of the breed are still a subject of debate. It has generally been held that the original Whippets fi rst described by dog writers who observed them were crosses between a now-extinct long-legged terrier and Greyhounds, with a later addition of Italian Greyhound add- ed for elegance as they began to become
more standardized in appearance and participate in conformation dog shows. Recent research (1), however, has cast doubt on that timeline, and corroborates at least one earlier report that the origi- nal cross was between terriers and Ital- ian Greyhounds, while a small amount of greyhound blood may have been added a little later (2). Regardless, the end prod- uct was a small, tenacious little sporting
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The Whippet’s talent for snuggling and sharing a bed makes it ideal as a therapy dog for visiting the elderly and disabled.
A Whippet doing Barn Hunt climbs atop the bales to better hear and smell the hidden rat.
hound, bred to share hearth and home, providing companionship, small game hunting, ratting ability, and racing sport. Th ese roots can be seen in the nature of the Whippet today. Perhaps the fi rst thing that someone new to Whippets will note is their utter fearlessness in the face of mortal peril. Whippet puppies climb, run with scarce regard for obstacles, and leap o ff great heights. Th ey have little road sense, and have scant natural caution when it comes to hurling their young bodies into what- ever they have a mind to do. When they do become injured, they have a much higher pain tolerance than one would expect, per- haps the heritage of those tough old terriers that lurk way back in modern pedigrees. Th e second thing one notices is that EVERYTHING you go to do with them becomes a competition. Whippets compete to be the fi rst one out the door in the morning, and the fi rst one back inside. Walking several Whippets on a leash becomes a contest to see who can,
on several identically-long leads, still be the lead dog. Th eir competitive nature is on full display at one of their traditional purposes, racing on either the straight, or the oval (bend), track. While many breeds of dog will pursue an arti fi cial lure, when running against each other these dogs may appear to primarily be running after the lure side by side together. Whippets not only pursue the lure, but actually RACE each other, “trading paint” and attempting to box out and gain strategic advantage. A good racing Whippet does not shy from clean contact, but will deliberately run alongside another racer, putting his head down and extending additional e ff ort to make the pass, much in the way stock car drivers measure the strength and handling of their race cars against each other when they go two and three wide. Th e roots of the Whippet also show in their ease of care and relatively low expense. While many Whippet owners pursue more expensive feeding strate- gies, the vast majority of Whippets do
not require anything special in the way of rations in order to be healthy and live their normal span. Food allergies and digestive problems are quite rare. Grooming, obviously, is minimal. And other than the orthopedic injuries, often a direct result of the above-mentioned fearlessness and imperviousness to pain, the Whippet tends not to require much in the way of anything other than routine vet care. Th ey usually breed naturally, whelp naturally, and most Whippet dams are excellent, instinctive mothers. As with the Whippet owners of old who took their ratters and rabbit hunters and molded them into racers and show dogs, we modern fanciers are continually fi nding new things to do with our Whip- pets. While the breed has for over a 125 years been a show dog, and for longer than that has been used as a racing and rabbit-hunting dog, new dog sports are continually being invented and at many of these, the game and tenacious, athletic little Whippet has proven its ability to
Agility Whippet starting over a jump, but her eyes are on her trainer, looking for her next direction. Photo Credit: Steve Surfman
A Flyball Whippet speeds over the jumps.
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adapt and provide new sources of sport- ing fun for its owner. While one would expect to see Whip- pets excel at anything to do with running, and they are certainly top- fl ight racing and coursing hounds, their athletic ability has suited them very well to some of these newer sports. Perhaps the fastest growing of all canine sports is Agility, and while the Whippet is unlikely to seize the crown away from Border Collies and “sport mixes” atop the agility heap, among its hound brethren, the Whippet’s jumping ability, agility, and fearlessness makes it a top contender. At the 2013 AKC Nationals held in concert with the Eukanuba, Whip- pets swept the top three placements in the Hound Group. Anecdotally, the most dif- fi cult element for Whippets to master is the weave poles, but they can be spectacu- lar on the portions of the course that call for athletic displays of aerial excellence. Not all Whippets are natural retriev- ers, but for those which are, or which can be trained to retrieve, Disc Sport, Dock Diving, and Flyball are three ven- ues where Whippets have demonstrated serious talent. Th e Whippet who did the most to expose the American public to Whippets was of course, the famous Ashley Whippet, whose halftime shows thrilled all who were fortunate enough to see one. Whippets today still enjoy com- peting in fl ying disc competitions. How- ever, two newer activities have shown great growth potential among Whippet owners today. Dock Dog or Dock Div- ing is perhaps the most surprising, given that Whippets have never been noted for their love of water or their swimming ability. However, the Whippet’s natural power and athleticism give it an advan- tage in the “Big Air” division, and the current world record holder in this event is a racebred Whippet from Washington State. Flyball, another fast growing sport, is heavily-populated by Border Collies and sport mixes, but purebred Whippets can, and have, achieved advanced titles. Th is loud and fun team sport requires a lot of investment in training time, but the Whippet’s fearless nature and speed can render a well-prepared Flyball Whippet an asset to its team.
Recently, the Whippet has had an opportunity to go back to its very ancient roots as a ratter, with the new sport of Barn Hunt. Whippet owners have taken rapidly to this new sport, and Whip- pets are racking up titles and having a wonderful time doing it, fi nding the rat amongst bales of hay. While certainly not as talented in trailing as the Scenthound breeds, the Whippet nonetheless possess- es a perfectly functional canine nose, and enjoys using it in both Tracking and the newer activity of Nosework. Tracking is, of course, the sport version of search and rescue, while Nosework is the sport ver- sion of security work, such as is done by drug and bomb-sni ffi ng dogs. Truth in advertising—Whippets are not generally noted as a breed that an OTCH-level competitor should choose for an obedience prospect. Th at said, their disposition is steady and amiable, and with modern motivational training meth- ods, they are perfectly capable of gaining their titles. Rally Obedience seems to be particularly well-suited to Whippets, who enjoy a more “active” form of obedi- ence and receiving verbal encouragement from their trainers. In 2013, we saw an amazing Whippet obedience achieve- ment: High in Trial at the AWC National went to a Whippet bitch who received her third qualifying leg in UTILITY with an amazing score of 193! Th is inspiring performance proves that with the right Whippet and a very dedicated and talent- ed trainer, the Whippet can excel. Racing, coursing, hunting, jumping, retrieving, and even performing a series of trained exercises on command are all admirable sporting pursuits and make use of the foundational qualities of the Whippet breed. But the most important quality is their value as steady and lov- ing companions, and in those roots as the companion of hearth and home, we fi nd a modern application—the Whippet as Th erapy and Personal Comfort Dog. So valued is this aspect of our breed’s capabilities that an award is given each year at our AWC National—the Willow Award—privately-sponsored and publicly awarded to the Whippet Th erapy Dog of the Year. Whippet Th erapy Dogs are
active in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. Th ey have proven their worth, laying quietly with the sickest children as they receive their chemotherapy, com- forting the elderly, and sitting quietly for petting for hours by schoolchildren prac- ticing their reading skills in the READ program. Th e gentle, non-reactive nature of the breed and their medium size makes them ideal Th erapy candidates, and we in Whippets are so very proud of those own- ers who have dedicated themselves and their Whippets to this valuable work. So, if you have a Whippet—what’s holding you back? Give one of these many activities a try! You may fi nd your Whip- pet has a real talent for it. And whatever you choose to do with your Whippet, no matter how much or how little—the most important thing is to HAVE FUN. References 1. Genetic Differences between Western bred Sighthound (FCI group 10) and Primitive breeds (FCI group 5) Summary of a talk by Dr. Dr. Barbara Wimmer, Eurofins Medigenomix GmbH summarized by Dr. Dominique de Caprona, 2013. http://sloughi.tripod.com/preserving/ge- neticswesterbredsighthoundsgermany.html 2. Compton, Herbert. The Twentieth Century Dog: Volume II. London: Grant Richards. “The Whippet”, p. 426.
A young Whippet in training is encouraged to increase its distance as it dives from the dock. Photo Credit: Rhonda M. Gold Photography
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BY PHOEBE J. BOOTH
Submitted by Donna Lynch
I t is an exciting time to be a Whippet fancier. The breed is enjoying unprecedented success and popularity in so many areas of com- petition. As breeders we have always emphasized the versatility of the Whippet, and labeled it a well-kept secret. Now, for better or worse, the secret is out, and Whippets are setting records at the highest levels in the show ring, and dog sports as varied as agility, dock diving, flyball, lure coursing, and barn hunt, not to mention Whippet racing, which is actually the breed’s original purpose and forte. The Whippet, not the Greyhound, was the original breed of dog designed to compete on the racetrack, as well as serving other purposes in his humble history. The origin of the Whippet remains somewhat debatable. Clearly there were medium-sized sighthound type companions and hunting dogs portrayed in early Roman sculpture and artwork. The ancient Greeks depicted small Greyhound type dogs on pottery and sculpture as well. And, of course, there are many early tapestries that show hunt- ing dogs of a Greyhound style, many larger, but some smaller, in their coursing and hunting scenes. All of these throw the original descendants of the breed into question. It is ironic that the Whippet as he is regarded today has a reputation as a cultured companion, because the origin of the breed in its modern incarnation was extremely humble and that of the lower and working classes of British society. There is no doubt that this smaller racing dog and all-purpose utility dog was established with the miners of the north- ern counties of England. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, a quick and hardy, smallish and streamlined hound was prized by the col- liers and was considered the “poor man’s racehorse.” J. Wentworth Day, in his volume Th e Dog In Sport (1938) writes, “They were bred originally for rabbit coursing, and it is generally reckoned that the bitches are faster than the dogs. To-day no miner in the North of England considers him- self properly equipped if he is not the owner or part-owner of a Whippet. Apart from rabbit coursing in the open, a great deal of Whippet-racing goes on in industrial and mining districts, and in a good many country villages all over England. Racing is generally known as ‘straight run- ning.’ The dogs race down a series of lanes or tracks divided from one another by string. The ‘lure’ is a handkerchief or colored rag which the owner waves frantically at the end of the track.”
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The truth is that Whippets—not Grey- hounds—were the original racing dogs, and the weekend race meetings were a means by which the often impoverished citizens of Nor- thumberland and Durham could add a few shillings to the family coffers. In addition, the dogs served a useful purpose in poaching rab- bits for the stewpot, and ridding the pantry of vermin. A versatile and accomplished Whippet was an important part of the collier’s family and enjoyed his prized role serving as house- hold companion and excellent foot warmer in addition to his other duties. These duties required an efficient dog of great speed, quickness, and sprinting abil- ity. There is no doubt that some terrier blood is part of the Whippet’s development, which added gameness and courage. He hunted more closely to his master than any other sight- hound. To hunt far afield would have been a likely death sentence for both the poacher and his dog. Thus, we have a dog that was bred for at least two centuries to be an efficient small game and sometimes vermin killer, an incom- parable sprinter, and one that is affectionate and utterly devoted to his human family. This dichotomy of character is one of the most appealing aspects of the breed, and all good breeders of Whippets share a great admi- ration for his versatility, and they breed to pre- serve all of these desirable traits. As breeders, we consider it vital to respect the origin and purpose of this elegant, sound, and especially athletic hound. The Whippet Standard does an excellent job of describing the essentials of the breed. The American Whippet Club also has an Illus- trated Standard, available on the AWC website, which can help aspiring judges to grasp and understand these priorities. Around the world the Whippet Standard may have some varia- tion, but the “non-negotiable” aspects of the breed, that of a medium-sized, very fit, elegant athlete, with smooth yet muscular curves, and low but not exaggerated side gait, are universal. To further expand upon the Standard and to provide some insight to aspiring judges, I have compiled some commentary from a num- ber of Whippet breeder-judges. Their respons- es are both illuminating and consistent, and I suggest that anyone who judges the breed, or wishes to judge the breed, take these comments to heart. All of the judges I have requested com- mentary from have enjoyed great success not only in conformation, but also in many of the performance events that Whippets compete in: racing, coursing, agility, obedience, rally, barn hunt, dock diving, and others. Their experi- ence in the breed cumulatively totals more than 250 years, and they are all AWC approved mentors. The list includes: Mary Beth Arthur (Marial), Gail Boyd (Ableaim), Lisa Costel- lo, Tracy Hite (Tivio), Iva Kimmelman
Submitted by Iva Kimmelman
Submitted by Lisa Costello
Submitted by Lisa Costello
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National AOM Ch. Marial’s Padneyhill Illusion, C.D., ARM. Louis was the top racing Whippet in 1979. Photo by Phoebe Booth.
Submitted by Donna Lynch
Submitted by David Samuelson
No preference to color or markings. My priorities: Shape/Type, Bal- ance, Athleticism, Soundness.” “I prioritize traits that make the breed a beautiful athlete. My ideal has its parts fitting together in a harmonious way, not looking like they were put together by a committee. My ideal has a smooth outline in profile, from above, and from head on. It has a flexible topline that does not drop off steeply or have an accentuated arch. There is depth of body with a pronounced curve of underline, a fit body with adequate length of loin; broad thighs in profile that carry down the second thigh; true moving down and back with low, effortless and balanced side gait, but not TRAD.” [ed. Note: TRAD = “tremendous reach and drive.”] “First look is for correct outline as without this the dog is not a good Whippet. Then I look for overall fitness and athleticism… overweight, soft and flabby is the only thing I have ever withheld a ribbon for! Movement is easy to assess as there is no coat…but there may be color and markings that create illusions. Soundness with reach and drive that is not overdone is what I want. Finally, I look for the ‘icing’ features: a good head, nicely made with a strong underjaw; large forward-placed eyes (dark eyes are pleasant, but one must learn about eye color of the dilutes as well); a broader backskull and a nicely-set, crisp rose ear. I also want a good, sound foot as this is a running hound and foundation is critical. Thus overly long or splayed, flat toes (or conversely) a very small cat foot is not desir- able. Since ‘all forms of exaggeration should be avoided,’ I desire a foot in between a cat foot and a hare foot. One feature I ‘split hairs’ with is tail carriage on the move. Whippets with higher tailsets will often carry their tail too high, breaking the horizontal plane of the topline—this distorts the outline that I desire in a Whippet.” “For me, my priorities when judging the Whippet is shape, which includes topline and bottom line, continual flow from a well arched neck, smooth neck into shoulder, a flexible loin, and finished off with a powerful rear. Not correct is the one that peaks in the middle of the back and falls off fast. At first glance, the Whippet should impress the judge as an athlete. On the move, wasted motion would alert that there will be a reduction in speed.” “I look for a moderate package with correct outline/underline, properly conditioned. A Whippet should move effortlessly, without wasted motion. Not always easy to find…” “Conditioning is very important to me and I carefully evaluate muscle when judging.”
(Merci Isle), Donna Lynch (Hamrya), David Samuelson (Dashing), Cindy Scott (Brookwood), Harold “Red” Tatro (Redglen), and Denise Tatro (Redglen). HERE ARE SOME OF THEIR COMMENTS WITH REGARD TO JUDGING THE WHIPPET: 1. Do you think that the Standard adequately describes the Whippet? “I think our General Appearance section says it all. I refer to it first when someone I am mentoring asks me about Whippets.” “Yes. It defines the key characteristics, medium size, elegant and fit…a graceful outline balanced with muscle, powerful gait and elegance is the Whippet. The best line: ‘all forms of exaggeration should be avoided.’” “When educating judges or judging the breed myself, the gen- eral appearance of the Whippet Standard is always at the top of my mind. Great thought is given to the three main considerations: ‘Symmetry of outline, muscular development and powerful gait are the main considerations; the dog being built for speed and work, all forms of exaggeration should be avoided.’” “Since the publication of our Illustrated Standard, I have heard many compliments from non-Whippet people that it is outstanding and I agree. It really spells out what a Whippet should be.” 2. Would you add anything to the Standard? “In my opinion, I think it’s fine as it currently reads…I do wish there was an easy way to drive home the phrase, ‘form follows function.’” “I would address the correct head shape and eye. I would change words. I do not like the wording about ‘barely perceptible stop.’ This has allowed for fill between the eyes and some almost down- faced Whippets to be viewed as correct.” 3. Please comment on your priorities when judging. “My priorities while judging/breeding for our breed is foremost: type, shape, and balance. Athletes! Our Standard describes a ‘medi- um-sized athlete.’ I then look at conformation and structure. All of these aspects will lead to whether or not the dog is sound and how he will carry himself on the move. While moving, I want to see the shape of the dog to remain present with a correct topline. The side gait should be easy, without big effort, showing reach and drive. The head is the last thing I consider…I do love a beautiful expres- sion and face with a long strong neck, but barring any faults, I will not put a pretty face over a better dog. And color is immaterial.
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“For me, the Whippet is an athlete first and foremost…when it comes to structure, I look for those traits that will contrib- ute to a functional, running dog. The overall body shape is the essence of the Whippet. Correctly placed curves in both topline and underline allow full body extension and flexion in the dou- ble suspension gallop. Muscle width and length through the loin is the ‘engine’ of the running dog. The arch in the topline should be placed over the loin, not in the middle of the back and not over the rump. There should be a gentle slope through the croup, not round, not flat. Too much or too little topline can result in poor extension and/or inefficient stride recovery leading to less speed and agility. Shoulder assembly and how it is attached to the body is also very important. Although we do not have the 90 degree angle desirable in some breeds, there should be moderate angulation, good layback of shoulder and length of upper arm paired with bend of pastern. I also look for moderate rear angu- lation, not too straight, and especially not excessive (overangula- tion) which is counterproductive to speed. I look for a strong rear with shorter hocks that can drive from the hip, and a front with reach that extends from the shoulder and not the elbow.” 4. Are there any particular concerns with Whippets today? “Two things: One, over-angulated hindquarters created by an excessive length of second thigh. A second thigh longer than the upper thigh is a detriment to the Whippet’s speed. Second, the Whippet’s underline is just as important as the topline. In profile, the deep brisket should extend back from the elbow, then curve upward to the tuckup.” “In comparison to many breeds, I feel our breed is in pretty good shape. I guess my biggest concern for our breed would be shape: we are getting a lot of long bodied dogs with short legs. This is not conducive to what they are made for and what the basis of our breed is.” “I think like all breeds, the fronts on Whippets are the area that needs improvement. While we may not have a breed with a 90 degree angle in shoulder, I think we are seeing many upright shoulders and shorter upper arms that restrict the reach of the dog. We don’t see as many over-angulated rears anymore, but there are still some that are sickle-hocked and shuffle in the rear and don’t have the powerful drive the breed should have. Many breeders prefer the longer-bodied Whippets, but those run the risk of being flatter in topline; but they typically have big sidegait which often blinds some judges!” “Straight pasterns and an overwhelming abundance of flat backs or incorrect toplines (the rise beginning too soon).” “Unfortunately, we have some of the same issues many breeds do: straight fronts with shorter upper arms; lack of return of upper arm; straight pasterns; and cathedral fronts. We also tend to see longer rears and over-angulation that makes for extended sidegait. While the Standard states powerful gait as a main con- sideration, this does not mean TRAD, or moving like a GSD. Some lines have tall hocks—this kills rear drive. We also contin- ue to have a color prejudice in the breed (parti-color and white), particularly under all-rounder judges.” “One thing concerning to me is the number of Whippets I’m seeing with an actual pro-sternum. Understanding the dif- ference in front fill and pro-sternum is important. Front fill comes naturally with well-placed shoulders and return of upper arm, while pro-sternum gives the appearance of heaviness and reduces speed.” “The heads especially concern me. I am also concerned about loss of body shape as well as extreme side gait. This is what I consider to be the ‘drag of the breed’ right now.”
Submitted by David Samuelson
Submitted by Iva Kimmelman
Submitted by David Samuelson
Submitted by Iva Kimmelman
Submitted by Donna Lynch
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good development and definition. However, coarseness or excessive bulginess should be faulted.” “The Whippet is a series of smooth S-curves. As you first approach the dog, step back from the ramp/ground and look with your eyes, from the nose to the tip of the tail. If your eye stops, go back and figure out why. Remember that while color is immate- rial, markings can be deceiving. Now put your hands on the dog. Please do not reward a Whippet that is stressed or panting (unless the weather is hot) or one that obviously doesn’t want to be there. You can make some allowance for a puppy, but nervousness is not correct Whippet temperament. Whippets are mostly an owner- handled breed, so don’t dismiss a good dog that is not stacked well. Many times the dog will transform off the ramp or table. Examine on the ramp/table, but judge on the ground! Please don’t focus on ears. If the dog uses its ears once, that’s sufficient. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. They don’t run on their ears! Color is immaterial—we mean that! You should not care what color they are. A flashy dog might catch your eye, but it is not necessarily the best dog. Don’t get hung upon the ‘chrome’—flashy colors don’t help to catch the prey.” “For new judges, and especially those coming from non-sight- hound breeds, the shape and topline of the Whippet is often difficult to grasp and feel comfortable judging. Shape defines the Whippet, so please reach out to AWC approved mentors or those on the judges committee for help to understand this part of our breed. Remem- ber, the color is immaterial and every dog in your ring should be considered regardless of color and markings. I strongly recommend attending a racing or coursing event so that you can fully appreci- ate the Whippet as an athlete and understand their intense desire to do what they were bred for. This is a lovely breed to judge and we have a great group of owners and handlers, and the majority of our breed is breeder- and/or owner-handled. Examine details on the table or ramp, but judge on the ground. Remember, you will never see these words in our Standard: ‘dainty, meek, fragile, porcelain statue.’ Please judge the Whippet as the athlete it is meant to be.” In summary, the Whippet is not an ornamental breed. He is a medium-sized dog of very modest heritage that was developed to serve a functional purpose. He has no other reason for being. His outline is unique to him. He is smooth and curvaceous with an “S” curved topline and complimentary underline, but these curves must be balanced and flowing and muscular. He is, above all, an athlete, a sprinting dog with no equal. His signature make and shape are punctuated by fitness and athletic ability. If judges would prioritize the features of the breed as described by the experts above and pay much less attention to color, flash and dash, showmanship, baiting, the unnecessary constant use of ears, and racing around the ring, they would go a long way toward understanding what the Whippet is all about, and what we, as pres- ervation breeders, hold so dear.
“Today I think there is too much emphasis on baiting and it drives me crazy! I like to see them as natural as possible and I stress that to other judges.” 5. What is most important for a person wanting to judge Whippets to focus on? “The General Appearance section should be the start and it is very good…I also encourage attendance at coursing and racing events.” “Outline and movement, and, in a perfect world, a prospec- tive judge should attend a field trial to truly get a feeling for the importance of the Whippet structure and standard. They need to see how the Whippet utilizes its body (and especially its pasterns) in the field.” “Too many judges don’t understand the curves or the underline, and that needs to be said over and over.” “I believe those wanting to judge Whippets need to understand that it is not an easy breed to judge. Understanding anatomy—the rise over the loin—requires one to know what and where the loin is. Do not judge on ears, and Whippets should not have TRAD!” “Learn to see the correct outline of the Whippet both stand- ing and moving. Learn to appreciate the Whippet that is fit and firm both to the touch and when moving. Understand that the U.S. Whippet Standard has a large range in height from top to bottom and all are equally acceptable. We have no preferred height if it’s within the Standard. Forget about the flash and dash of perfectly marked colors, or the dog that stands like a statue with pretty ears up for hours staring at bait!” “I think some of the hardest things for new judges to understand are the variations they will see in shape and size. I think many judg- es think Whippets should be small even though our size descrip- tion and limit hasn’t changed in over 50 years. When mentoring, I am regularly asked whether the longer—or shorter—cast dogs are correct. I then discuss how both can be correct as long as the dogs have balance and shape. Do the dogs move with rhythm and smoothness, and do they maintain shape and hold their topline? The Standard allows square to slightly rectangular, so it can vary. Also, since color is immaterial, the judge should look at a dog from both sides, especially if the markings are random, which may give false impressions.” “A judge of Whippets should focus on balance, both standing and moving. There should be coordination of action and symmetry of stride between the front and rear when moving. When stand- ing, balance means all the parts appear as one unit, fitting neatly into one another. Remember, a Whippet should not be faulted for being too big or too small if it measures within the breed Standard. Attributes that are detrimental to running ability are to be faulted. The dog should be fit and hard to the touch. Well-conditioned muscles should not be faulted. Well-conditioned muscles will have
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Phoebe Booth has been breeding Whippets under the “Shamasan” prefix since 1972, and has bred approximately 100 Champions. As a handler she has finished many more and has handled at least six different Whippets to multiple Best in Show awards. Equally important, she has bred Whippets with multiple titles in most of the performance sports: racing, coursing, obedience, rally, agility, as well as some barn hunt and dock diving. She bred the top-winning solid blue and the top- winning solid black dog of all time. She has been a breeder, exhibitor, handler, dog show photographer, and the AKC Gazette Whippet columnist for decades. She is now a licensed Whippet judge, and is an honorary lifetime member of the American Whippet Club.
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MARY BETH ARTHUR
I began in Whippets in 1963 under the prefix Marial. My husband of over 50 years, Doug, co-owns Marial Whip- pets with me and is also is a member of the American Whippet club and is an Emeritus AKC judge. I served on American Whippet Club Board of Directors, 1972-91, hold- ing various Officer positions—Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President. I was a breed columnist for the AKC Gazette Pure-Bred Dogs magazine 1980-2001; chair of the AWC Judges Education Committee from 1990-2001. I received the AWC Certificate of Achievement in 1989 and the AWC Lifetime Achievement Award (Lifetime Membership) in 2009. BARBARA HENDERSON I live in Laurel, Maryland. I have been in dogs as long as I can remember. I am a practicing Veterinarian and it leaves little time for other activities outside of dogs. I began judging Whippet’s three years ago. I have been an active member of the American Whippet Club for 40 years, on which I served as a board member for 11 years, holding the positions of Vice President and President. At the 2014 National I was honored to be recipient of AWC’s Life Time Achievement Award, am currently President of Whippet Rescue and Placement and actively involved in AKC judge’s education giving breed and structure seminars. IVA KIMMELMAN I have been loving Whippets for more than 50 years. I live in New England with a dog crazy husband of 31 years and 13 Whippets. We own a chain of retail pet supply stores and we enjoy great food, museums and for good health, I cycle in a virtual reality world four times a week. I also compete in lure coursing with my dogs and hope the sport will con- tinue to thrive with new fanciers discovering the charm of this breed. JUDY LOWTHER I live in Cleveland, Ohio. Outside of dogs, I don’t do much. My daughter has her own family now and the grands aren’t interested in doggy pursuits. The dogs keep me sane when the IRS drives me crazy. I’ve been in dogs forever. I started in organized dog events in 1990. I’ve been showing for 26 years and judging for 18 years. I got my first conformation breed (Whippets) in 2007.
We live in Inner Grove Heights, Minnesota where I own a dog grooming business. We have had great success with the ancestors of our first Whippet. Our Whippets compete in the show ring; at lure coursing and racing field trials and most importantly they have also proven themselves as producers. We have had the good fortune of having the top producing Whippet dam in the country for the year 2000. I believe it is important that we give back to the sport we love so I serves as the regional Show Chair for the American Whippet Club North Central Region Specialty. At the All-Breed level I am a Director of the St. Croix Valley Kennel Club and serve as the All-Breed Show Chair. Nationally, I am the Past President of the American Whippet Club and the current AWC Judges Education Coordinator. I have been showing since 1971 and judging Whippets since 1991. HAROLD “RED” TATRO III I live in Crowley, Texas, a suburb on the Fort Worth side of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. My start in competitive purebred dogs began in 1980 with a Doberman Pinscher who I trained in obedience and competed through the Util- ity level. Whippets began after I met my wife Denise around 1986. She also had a Doberman and was one of my competi- tion in Obedience! Although fierce competitors, we became close friends, dated and married in 1988. We participate in conformation, agility, rally, obedience, straight racing and lure coursing. I am currently serving as the President of the Ameri- can Whippet Club. A member of the Lone Star Whippet Club and was the founding President. I belong to the Fort Worth KC where I serve as their AKC Delegate. A longtime member of the US Lakeland Terrier Club currently serving as their JEC and have served on its board as an officer in all the various positions. I am currently approved by the AKC as a conformation judge for Whippets and nine other Sight- hound breeds, the Terrier Group and Junior Showmanship. I’m looking forward to judging the AWC National specialty in 2017. RANDY TINCHER I live in St. Louis with my partner (now husband) of over 30 years, Britt Calhoun. I am a manager for a major luxury fashion retailer and love to travel and garden. I grew up show- ing American Quarter Horses on a national level. Through the horses, I met Fran Friedman who gave me my first Whippet, Rahil Tripletime of WW. “Gia”. This not only hooked me on the breed, but supplied the kennel name. I have bred Whip- pets for 40 years under the Tripletime prefix and have been
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an AKC approved judge for over 15 years. I am most proud of the contribution Tripletime dogs have made to other Whip- pet breeders programs.
They are the athlete of the canine world and I cannot tolerate any soft, marshmallow dogs. Everything about them should denote speed and power and yet be elegant without being coarse. I also want a nice correct Whip- pet head as the headpiece is also a feature of type. Think about it—would you accept a Whippet head on a Borzoi or a Borzoi head on a Whippet? A correct head has a nice broad backskull between the ears, strong jaw on a paral- lel plane with the top skull and large, forward looking eyes. I do not like the ones that are severely down-faced with narrow heads and obliquely set eyes—that is not correct type. Lastly, a trait that I think that is hard to find anymore is the low daisy-clipping reach of the front. Too often we see dogs with short upper arms and no reach or moving from the elbow with a goose stepping action. RT: While judging any breed, I first look for breed type. This means they must have the proper silhouette with gentle curves top and bottom and a head that says Whippet. We can have variations in styles, but these key determi- nations of type must be present. Secondly, there must be long, flat, hard muscle. This muscle helps the athlete maintain the required elegance, think dancer not weight lifter. Finally, Whippet movement should be flexible, long and low. A Whippet should not appear to work to get from one side of the ring to the other. In other words, the effortless movement of a true athlete should be rewarded. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? MA: Over angulated hindquarters and excessive reach and drive. Whippets are a galloping breed, not a trotting. BH: In my opinion I am seeing exaggerated rear over angula- tion which is not balance. The Whippet should have balanced reach and drive, not TRAD (tremendous reach and drive). IK: Too much white! Breeders need to really work on breed- ing away from the piebald gene, high white. There are proven links to deafness and china blue eyes, a breed disqualification. There are inexpensive one time tests available to breeders for the S locus (and other fascinat- ing color tests) and they need to use them. I speak from my own hands on experience, not conjecture. JL: We’ve gone through a period when Whippets were being shown with very exaggerated rears. It made for wide open side gait, looked real pretty going around the ring, but not so pretty going away from you. Dogs with too much rear hurt themselves when running. DS: Exaggerated might not be the right word here, but our toplines are all over the place. If you look at a ring of Whippets, you will see a wide variety of toplines. The topline is one of the most important features of the Whippet and must be correct for it to function properly. Whippets are a breed that must be able to do a double suspension gallop and the topline is essential to that function. We have a lot of conversations about keeping outline on the move, but this is neither a rigid topline or a flat topline but more of a flexible topline. The Whippet should maintain a flexible rise over the loin standing and moving.
1. Describe the breed in three words. MA: Athlete, swift and elegant BH: Elegant, versatile Sighthound. IK: Athletic, sensitive and beautiful. JL: Elegant, fast and typey/balanced. DS: Athlete, muscular and elegant.
HT: Smooth, curvy athlete RT: Elegant, athletic and fast.
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? MA: All curves in outline should be gentle and smooth. Suffi- cient length of body and loin required. Curve of under- line essential—brisket extends back from the elbow, then curves upward to the tuck up. Forelegs fall beneath the withers in profile so the front assembly is set somewhat under the body. Adequate bend of pastern is important. Must have broad and muscular hindquarters and a low, effortless side gait that is balanced and symmetrical in reach and drive. On the down and back, legs that con- verge toward the center but don’t single track. Soundness in coming and going are important. Must be fit and well- muscled with large, dark eyes and stable temperament. BH: Balance, substance and style. IK: Athletic ability with a strong desire to chase combined with a balanced, shapely outline. This attractive unique dog will also have a correct head with adequate back skull and large, dark eyes. If you can’t tell it is a Whip- pet from looking at its head and outline from a distance, the dog lacks breed character. A well-made Whippet will have soundness coming and going, converging just slightly and easy, balanced side gait that is not extreme. This is a galloping breed; they are not a moving fence like a GSD. In my dream dog show ring, the dogs would be running around at a fast gallop to show how well made they are. You can see flaws in a Whippet when they are running full out that you can only guess at when standing or trotting. JL: Correct structure and muscle condition. If they have that everything else just falls into place. I do like a nice head. I like to be able to look at a head and not have to question whether it’s a dog or bitch. But if it comes to a choice between structure/movement and head, structure wins. DS: From the general appearance of our standard—symme- try of outline, muscular development and powerful gait are the main considerations. I don’t think we can empha- size this statement enough in our standard. HT: The traits I think that define type and are an abso- lute must are the S-curves of both the topline and the underline. Those curves must be Whippet-y as there is difference in the S-curves of the Greyhound and Italian Greyhounds. The slight rise is over the loin and the loin begins where the last rib is attached. It should not be too far back which gives the high in the rear look when moved around the ring. The Whippet has a distinct out- line which is the essence of type. A Whippet also must be in fit muscular condition that is smooth and not bulky.
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