Showsight Presents the Whippet

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

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2017 • 279

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