Showsight Presents the Whippet

“THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT CONFORMATIONAL TRAITS IN WHIPPETS ARE THE IDEAL COMBINATION OF SUBSTANCE AND ELEGANCE—THE SMOOTH, CURVY OUTLINE AND THE TYPICAL DAISY-CUTTING LOW AND LONG MOVEMENT.” whippet Q&A WITH EUGENE BLAKE, KATHLEEN DAVENPORT, ESPEN ENGH, RUSSELL MCFADDEN, DAVID R. MILLER, TODD MILLER, CHRISTY NELSON & SHARON SAKSON

of elegance and fitness…” and yet people will bring in Whippets with no muscle tone. It is so easy to keep a Whippet fit. When I lived in London, I saw people walk- ing through the parks with their Whippets. The beings on both ends of the leash were fit. Really, with even mild exercise. Whippets get good muscle tone. If they don’t, they must have been forced to lie in crates all day or they are not correct genetically. The point is, don’t bring an unfit Whippet into the ring. Get him into good muscular condition. You don’t have to give up elegance to get ath- leticism. They co-exist in correct Whippets. Our breed is basically in good shape so there are many good examples out there. 3. We are all looking for the perfect Whippet. Based on your personal experience and judging assignments, what one trait in the Whippet breed would you sug- gest breeders focus on improving, and why? EB: I am not a Whippet breeder, but as with any breeder, I would think each would be attempting to improve their breeding with every litter they produce. KD: I believe that front assembly has been, and is still, a major problem in our breed. To me, the front is the “engine” of the dog. Without the proper lay back of shoulder, lay back of upper arm and the depth of chest, this animal could break down and injure itself in most performance events. I still see too many cut-up, cathe- dral fronts, straight upright pasterns and broad shoulder blades. Although many of these individuals may have adequate side gate, these problems cause inefficient action and wasted motion. EE: Whippet type is defined by the correctly balanced curves in the right places. This should always be focused on. The underline is often underestimated as at least equally important to the topline in creating that beautiful outline. A deep chest is necessary as the starting point of the underline. Both the English and the US standard call for a very deep chest on a Whippet. You will only get this with good front construction, with a good layback of upper arm resulting in the elbows being set well under the dog and creating a good fill of forechest. This is also a requirement for producing the typical Whippet move- ment. Consequently I would advice breeders to focus on front construction and outline. RF: Front assemblies have been, and to some extent still are, a problematic area in Whippets. I still occasionally see shoulders that are too upright and recently I have seen a lot of straight pasterns in the breed. There also seems to be a tendency to breed and show Whippets with toplines that are flatter than I think should be rewarded. DM: Breeders must center upon a medium-sized dog, bal- anced, which permits the front and rear angulations to be balanced with no exaggeration. Terribly sweeping rears distract from function. Straight upper arms impede correct movement. Balance without exaggeration is the key to this breed. TM: The focus of my breeding program is to create the ideal shape that allows my Whippets to move like a powerful,

well-oiled machine with maximum motion and minimal effort. So I emphasize the shape as the paramount feature of the Whippet breed. The shape comes with proper “smooth gently flowing curves” on top and bottom. It is my hope that through creating Whippets with proper balanced angles from shoulder to croup, this will allow them to maintain the proper gait that allows for agile and efficient movement in the ring or on the field. SS: The rears are what need work right now. When I started judging 15 years ago, I didn’t concentrate much on the rears because they were mostly all good! “The thighs are broad and muscular, stifles well bent...” Rear movement was powerful. Nowadays, I’m appalled by the many weak rears I see. Thin, narrow thighs, either too much or too little second thigh—this is not good. I love to see a beau- tiful, muscular, powerful Whippet butt. You know he has the ability to leap from a standing start to top speed. 4. What are the three most important conformation traits you look for in your lineup and in what order do you place the importance of each? EB: Breed type, balance, temperament, movement, timing. KD: First and foremost is breed type. The shape of the Whip- pet is unlike any other. Without proper shape, a Whippet is just another running dog! My ideal Whippet will have a gently flowing curve from the top of the head to the base of its tail. It will be properly proportioned and portray a perfect picture of balance and symmetry. When viewed from the side, it will move with free flowing, effortless strides without trepidation. When viewed com- ing and going, it will not toe-in nor will it have sprung or turned hocks going away. Lastly is presentation. It is quite unfortunate to see a high quality specimen poorly handled. If the entry is not presented well, the dog is at an unfair disadvantage. EE: The three most important conformational traits in Whippets are the ideal combination of substance and elegance—the smooth, curvy outline and the typical daisy-cutting low and long movement. When judging, I am looking for the individuals that get those things right; the rest is just the icing of the cake. RF: Elegance (outline) and soundness, correct movement and correct size—in that order.

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

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