Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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.” BY PHOEBE J. BOOTH THE Whippet
Submitted by Donna Lynch
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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 withWhippets 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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HT: For a time, I would say that the over angulated or sweeping rear was prevalent. While we do still see some and they are often rewarded by judges who are not Whip- pet or Sighthound specialists, most understand that this type of rear is not functional for a sprint running breed. The long second thigh is not balanced with the upper thigh and will not give the Whippet any of the superior speed the breed was created for. It may be make for some impressive big side gait but TRAD is not correct for a Whippet. RT: Over angulated rears that do not have the balancing angles in the front end. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? MA: The breed has greatly improved over the years. Although side gait has become too TRAD-like, one almost never sees hackney movement in the Whippet ring anymore. Stick straight fronts were common in the past, but not so much today. Head, eyes and ears are far better than in the past. Fronts are greatly improved, as are pas- terns. Outlines are much more consistent from one part of the country to another. BH: The most important thing I have seen in the breed is awareness to health issues. When I started in Whippet’s the only health issue were eyes. Now there is the Whip- pet Health Foundation which is recognized by the American Whippet Club that is not only checking eyes but is now checking hearts, hearing, thyroid and other issues that might involve the health of the Whippet. I commend the breeders that are annually doing health checks before breeding. IK: The breed is definitely better in overall appearance, temperament, talent at coursing/racing and health than it was just two decades ago. There is still a sad lack of men- tors and mentorees who think they even need a mentor, but I would like to believe that situation is in the minor- ity. After more than 50 years loving this breed, I still learn new things about them, especially in the whelping box, on a regular basis. That kind of attitude will help anyone who is willing to keep an open mind. JL: I see much less of the excessive rear angulation now than a few years ago. Straight fronts aren’t as much of an issue. DS: As a whole the breed has greatly improved since the early 80s. Many exhibits in the 80s could mostly be judged on type because our movement needed so much help. Today we see a much improved balance of breed type and powerful movement. HT: Well since I have only judged for 13 years I really can’t say that is long enough to see any great changes. I can say in the 29 years I have been involved with Whippets I think that improvements have been made in overall bal- ance. While fronts continue to be the bane of almost all breeds, they have gotten better in regards to the proper bend of pastern a Whippet needs to run effectively. Short upper arms and straight shoulders are still on the needs improvement list. RT: In my opinion, Whippets today are generally sounder movers than when I started. I would say that the day in day out depth of quality in type is not always present.
That being said, I am excited to see the depth of quality at specialties.
5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? MA: The top neckline should be gracefully arched, begin- ning behind the skull and continuing down the neckline. The neck should merge gradually into the withers, with no suggestion of abruptness. The withers slope slightly downward to a very slight dip and from this point the topline begins to rise and form an arch. The highest point of the arch should not be any higher than the high- est point of the withers. The arch should flow gracefully over the loin and into the croup. The croup leads into the tail, which should be long with a gentle sweeping curve. The angle of the pelvis helps to determine the ability to extend the hindquarters behind the body. If the pelvis is steep, the hindquarters are restricted in their backward extension. Topline should be flexible with powerful back musculature to bow and straighten the topline to aid the double suspension gallop. Topline should be evaluated on a relaxed dog standing on the ground on its own. BH: Topline and balanced movement. IK: I believe judges who really like Whippets try hard to find the best ones presented to them. I think most judges who come from the breed or other Sight hounds do a fine job. It is often very hard for newcomers to understand why some dogs win that shouldn’t, if shown by a famous breeder or a professional handler. Be honest about your dog’s quality as a potential breeding animal and your abil- ity to show that good dog to best advantage. That mat- ters, yet newcomers don’t always get that. In my dream dog show ring, there would be one judge and one han- dler showing all the dogs. Every dog would be presented as needed, the judge would do a verbal critique, wouldn’t know who the owner was and the evaluation would be enjoyed by everyone. JL: I think that new judges, especially those coming from non-Sighthound breeds don’t get the length equation. The standard clearly states that the length should be over the loin, not in the back or in the over angulated rears. Also the slight rise over the loin. The word here is slight, not an exaggerated rise which leads to a dropoff croup. There are very few truly flat backed Whippets. There are some that look flat in comparison, but remember slight rise. If you think it’s too flat, put your hands on it. Feel the rise starting just behind the last rib. DS: I serve as the Judges Education Coordinator for the American Whippet Club and the most asked questions by judges is about our toplines. I encourage all judges to look at our Illustrated Standard which can be viewed at http://americanWhippetclub.net/sites/default/files/ WhippetIllustratedStandard_0.pdf . HT: The topline and underline. The most asked question of us as mentors is, “Which topline is more correct?” It can be difficult to explain to individuals and most are not tak- ing into account the underline that is required in order for the outline to be of correct type. The deep chest and tuck-up flowing into a smooth bend of pastern to low hocks should complement the curve of a long neck flow- ing smoothly into the withers with a strong back and rise S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2018 • 295
over the loin into a nicely rounded croup. The only sharp angle we have on a Whippet is at the hock joint. RT: There are times judges seem to have difficulty under- standing the silhouette and when to look for it. The most important time to judge the shape is on the move. The Whippet should be able to keep curves top and bottom on the move. There should be no flattening out over the loin. Sometimes we see curve over the loin, but no tuck up in the underline. An exaggerated curve over the top is not ideal. Our illustrated standard has really great drawings that demonstrate the ideal Whippet shape. It always bothers me to see a judge stand back and profile on the table or ramp. All you really do with this exercise is prove who is the better table trainer. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. MA: Whippets do not have to be judged on the table. They can be judged on the ground. If judged on a table, do not evaluate outline there, just do the hands-on exam only. BH: I was honored to have been elected to judge the 30th AWC National Specialty show this year. I was thrilled to examine so many correct and beautiful Whippets. This was truly an amazing experience and I feel proud to be a part of this wonderful breed. I personally feel the breed I love is in great hands of today’s owners and breeders. Not only is the Whippet a versatile dog but is a treasured family member. IK: Whippets are sensitive dogs. They need socialization, especially to other dogs from the time their ears open to seven months of age. They need positive experiences with people, especially children, other breeds of dogs and the world around them. Once that window is closed at seven months, it is too late to undo the good or bad. Although I absolutely believe that temperament can be hereditary. This extends to the new homes they send their dogs to. A frightened, shy, non confident dog is unhappy and at risk for health problems. JL: That length over the loin and the tuckup that makes them so elegant/different looking is what allows them to do that beautiful double suspension gallop that they are famous for. It allows them to fold in half, which adds to their speed. If I could have one wish about judges applying to judge our breed it would be that they would be required to attend a performance event, and see these dogs at their very best. AKC now gives you credit for attending a performance event, but they don’t require it and don’t stipulate what kind of event. They give the same weight to any event and that has that breed there. DS: The Whippet is an athlete first and must be viewed as a breed with purpose. The structure has purpose in every way it functions from head to tail. The head has large forward facing eyes to view game. The front is its shock absorber and should have well laid back shoulder angula- tion and bend to pastern. The hind quarters are the engine and propel the dog forward in its quest for game. In between is the topline and underline which blend in a perfect harmony of “S” curves allow the Whippet its abil- ity to perform the double suspension gallop. Symmetry of outline is the it factor of this breed and although not always seen, must be sought after.
HT: This breed is about being a fast, sprint running Hound. So please be take some time to talk to those breeders who participate in the events that evaluate the function- ality of the breed. Things like straight upright pasterns, long over angulated rears, thin second thighs and overly short loins are not functional and detrimental to the abil- ity run fast and turn on a dime they are known for. Don’t become one of the great bait off judges who feel the best is the one who can stand and stare at food with their ears up for the longest amount of time! Yes, they should be able to free stack so you can assess their structure with- out having had their feet placed perfectly by the exhibi- tor. It is also nice to see that the ears are mobile and do not stand upright in the show ring as this helps you see the expression of the Whippet. A beautiful rose ear folded like gull wings with large dark rounder eyes gives the Whippet it’s soft, intelligent and warm expression. RT: We have a height disqualification. If a judge feels a dog is not within the limits, they must measure the dog. I have spoken with judges that said they knew they were not going to place a dog so did not bother to measure them. This does not help us as breeders maintain the standard. Fast movement does not equate to proper movement. If a dog has a long stride, he will have a long stride even at a walk provided he is uninterrupted by the handler. 7. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? BH: I was exhibiting at one of the AWC National Specialties. We had a foreign judge who I knew and as he turned to exam my entry he saw a cute Chihuahua. Never cracking a smile, he examined the dog and then excused my dog for lack of merit and told me that he even lacked testicles. I acted shocked and the judge just broke out in laughter. IK: It was at my very first dog show in the early 70s. I went into the ring with a little bitch I had purchased from a top breeder in Southern California. I had not been to more than a few handling classes under Peter Gaeta and it showed. My bitch slipped out of my hands as we were going around, I hit a ring pole and she ran out of the ring and away! It could have been really awful. She let me catch up to her quickly and I went home in shame. JL: I was stewarding and yelled at a junior handler who was being a pain while checking times for the handler she was working with, heard by a group of people at a supported entry. When the handler walked up and said, “It’s okay, she whelped this one and can yell at her if she wants.” Another time that same handler coerced me into taking a WD back in the ring for breed. He had a special, his partner had WB and they wanted her to get the cross over major. While being hissed at to not touch him because he was supposed to lose, I managed to run over the special in front of me, let the dog snag a cuticle while trying for the tiny piece of bait I’d been given, so I have my hand fisted in my pocket to keep from dripping blood until I could get the stewards attention and still went BOW. DS: It is hard to come up with just one! I will say there is so many things that people do with dogs that you have to laugh at. It is a funny sport, one I truly enjoy! HT: My wife and I were showing at the finger lakes shows in western New York. It was a beautiful outdoor show site.
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finished going around. As fortune would have it, I did win the points but decided against a photo. RT: “Loretta” chews her lead if I am not paying attention, which is often. One day I was gabbing and the person I was speaking with said where is “Loretta”? She had chewed through the lead and was found in a Dachshund set up on their table waiting to be groomed. The Dachs- hund guys thought it was funny. Their dog (also on the table) was not amused.
It had rained before the shows so the rings were soggy and the clubs decided to put straw in the rings to help with the muddy paths. After a few breeds and people running over the straw it had become slick. On the go around, it slid out from under me and I did a full slide along my side like I was sliding into home plate! When the judge saw he declared me safe. Luckily the dog I was showing just stopped. I stood up, covered in mud, and
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S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2018 • 297
THE WHIPPET with EUGENE BLAKE, KATHLEEN DAVENPORT, ESPEN ENGH, RUSSELL MCFADDEN, DAVID R. MILLER, TODD MILLER, CHRISTY NELSON & SHARON SAKSON
1. Describe the breed in three words. EB: Elegance, grace and power. EE: Substance-with-elegance, curves and movement. RF: Elegant, sound and curvy.
not true. I believe there are several different “types” of Whippets and everyone has the right to pick and chose which suits them best. It is the obligation of every judge to study and learn what the Whippet Standard demands. EE: I am sorry to say that I agree that far too much empha- sis is put on showmanship and the “pretty” picture, but more so in the US than elsewhere. The breed is actually much more about functional qualities which include the ideal combination of substance with elegance, propor- tions and an outline characterized by smooth flowing delicate curves in topline and underline and low to the ground, supple movement demonstrating the ability to turn on a dime. If you learn to recognize those elements, you will be able to judge Whippets. RF: The standard describes the ideal Whippet as: “A medium size sighthound giving the appearance of elegance and fitness, denoting great speed, power and balance without coarseness.” If a judge is not considering the entire picture of both elegance and fitness that this statement requires of the Whippet then, in my opinion, they are not correctly judging this breed. One will rarely find absolute balance of elegance and fitness, but to judge a Whippet with anything less in mind than the notion of finding that absolute balance is just simply wrong. DM: I believe the essential keys to the breed are located in the general characteristics—medium size, elegance and fitness, beautifully balanced muscular power and strength combined with great elegance and grace of outline. The proof of the pudding lies deliberately and quite importantly in the movement—covers a maximum of distance with a minimum of lot motion. If the speci- men does not adhere to this caveat of movement, balance and structure are compromised which impairs from type and function. In my estimation, I believe the American Whippet excels in form and function. The Whippet in the United States has retained a certain refined, endear- ing expression with a full muzzle and under jaw in many exhibits. TM: That is simple for me. I have been participating in lure coursing since 1997 and am a licensed AKC and ASFA lure-coursing judge. This very much affects my conforma- tion judging of sight hounds as I will always prefer a fit, athletic dog that looks like they can work or run forever. As a judge, I will always notice those that have free, easy, effortless movement. CN: Whippets have evolved into a very showy breed! In my opinion, judges will notice the well-trained, flashy, showy dog that they recognize and overlook the true Whippet that is built to course. SS: The Whippet standard is one of the best. It is clear in describing the Whippet. Yet when I’m judging, I so often feel that the exhibitors have not read it! The first line says, “A medium size sighthound giving the appearance
DM: Athletic, balanced and moderate. TM: Athletic, shapely and stunning. CN: Athlete, elegant and agile. SS: Balanced, muscular and elegant.
2. Exhibitors often complain that too many judges just look at showmanship and the pretty picture. How do you reconcile the AKC Breed Standard’s admoni- tion to consider both elegance AND the athleticism to perform at the traditional sporting purposes of the breed? EB: Judging should begin with breed type. I don’t feel that the AKC breed standard is “warning” me to judge a Whippet, by calling for elegance and athleticism, because a correct Whippet is just that. I don’t believe that is a contradiction; they can and do go together, in a correct Whippet. When I think of a Whippet, several words come to mind to describe the breed: elegant, grace, curves and power. The one thing I find most often is people get confused with where the correct placement of the curve for the topline should be, it is not a hump in the back, but should be a gentle curve, all parts flow- ing together. The standard also uses the words, “grace of outline” and “symmetry of outline”—this is key, as it denotes balance and should evoke an image in your mind. As far as showmanship, in my opinion, exhibitors, breeders and judges put too much emphasis on ears. Han- dlers and exhibitors baiting dogs all the time in the ring and expecting them to stand with their ears up all the time. In my opinion, that is not necessary. Whippets are supposed to have a rose ear, and when I judge Whippets, I am looking for expression and the correct ear. So that one time I asked for ears and expression is all that is nec- essary for me personally. I don’t have to have a dog stand there the whole time they are in the ring with their ears up. Showing of dogs has evolved to the point where a lesser quality animal will prevail just because it can stand there, self-stacking and with its ears up. Yes, it is impres- sive, but people are distracted by the showmanship and not evaluating the dog for its quality, they are not able to get beyond the showmanship, in my opinion. KD: This has been a huge subject of controversy within the Whippet fancy for many years. For those that are active in performance venues, their focus seems to be on suc- ceeding in the field, track, agility and any other athletic event outside of the conformation ring. It appears that there is little or no regard to the guidelines of the Whip- pet Standard. I’ve heard it said that, “A great running Whippet should win in any show ring.” Of course this is
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