Showsight Presents the Whippet

JUDGING THE WHIPPET AS A NEW BREED, GROUP OR BEST IN SHOW JUDGE

by JOAN GOLDSTEIN

I have been approached many times to mentor someone who is going to apply for Whippets. For most of them, even those with much experience in other Hound breeds, the Whippet seems to be a very intimidating breed. There are many rea- sons for this, foremost being the lack of understanding of the Whippet topline and the corresponding underline. When evaluating a piece of real estate, the three most important aspects are location, location, location. When evaluating the Whippet, the three most important aspects are outline, outline, outline. Whether you are judging at the Breed, Group or Best in Show level, this is the area in which to begin. The Whip- pet is a “what you see is what you get” breed. No hair to hide anything! When initially observing the Whip- pet, “smoothness and athleticism” should be the operative words. From the top of the head to the tip of the tail, there should be one continuous curve with no lumps or bumps to break up the outline. This top curve should be mirrored by a smooth underline curve; forming the signature “S” curves of the Whippet. This seems to be the appropri- ate place to bring up the examination on the table or ramp. Whippets can be examined on the ground, ramp or table—all must be examined in the same manner. The table/ramp is a tool that if used properly, can be a big help and energy saver to the judge. Improp- erly used, it can be a disservice to the dog. The judge should use the table/ ramp to examine the essentials: bite, testicles, muscle tone, eye color, spring of rib and bone. Feet should be exam- ined on the table/ramp, especially if the ring has grass that might hide the proper (or poor) foot. Do not pay too much attention to the topline on the table/ramp. The Whippet can do really

bad things to itself when not perfectly comfortable. If it is a cold day and he is on the table, it’s amazing what the Whippet can do to destroy himself. He can pull his rear under himself so that you will see no angulation, dissolve his croup into a ski slope or he can hump his topline and convince you that you are looking at a first cousin to the camel. Therefore, get the essentials done, put the dog on the ground and observe the topline on the move and on the stack. It is especially helpful if the dog will free bait into a natural topline, then you can determine if the dog’s topline is natural- ly correct or if it really does have all of or some of the above faults. Remember, smoothness is the key word regarding topline. The Standard does a very good job of describing this area. The backline runs smoothly from the withers with a graceful natural arch, not too accen- tuated, beginning over the loin and carrying through over the croup; the arch is continuous without flatness. A dip behind the shoulder blades, wheel back, flat back or a steep or flat croup should be penalized. The correspond- ing underline is described as having a definite tuckup. Again, I have to stress that the topline and underline are signa- tures of this breed! The smoothness of the outline should carry through to smoothness of movement. Topline can level out some, but, not flatten completely on the move. Any excess motion is wasted motion. Lifting the front legs in a hackney motion, wastes energy and gives a chop- py appearance to the gait and should be strictly penalized. The Standard, again, is well worded: gait to be low, free mov- ing and smooth with reach in the fore- quarters and strong drive in the hind- quarters. Side movement is given added importance in the Standard where it is described as having 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. The Whippet is a dog meant to run. It cannot do so without having that reach with its front and propulsion from the rear. Short hocks and correct second thigh muscling, enhances this rear propulsion. The above are the absolute bare bones requirements of judging the Whippet. At the very least, these are the things the newer Judge must look for. Next come the points that separate the merely acceptable Whippet from the one that will win. The first sentence of the Standard is truly all encompassing and deserves further examination. “General appear- ance: a medium size sighthound giving the appearance of elegance and fitness, denoting great speed, power and bal- ance without coarseness.” The term “medium size” in this context is fully described in the next paragraph under size, proportion, sub- stance: “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. These are ideal heights, one-half inch over or under does not DQ, but, of course, ideal is better and should be rewarded if all else is equal. If I get through to you on this one point, I will consider this article to be a suc- cess. Do not guess! If unsure of the dog being within the specified limits, measure, measure, measure! Do not put your hand by your knee, put a pin in your skirt or trouser and do not do anything that approximates to you the height of the dog. If it is that close to give you doubt, measure! (As an aside, if you do measure, you must note in your Judge’s Book that the dog was measured and if he measured in or out. A dog can

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2017 • 285

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