Showsight Presents the Whippet

whippet

WITH MARY BETH ARTHUR, JOAN GOLDSTEIN, BARBARA HENDERSON, IVA KIMMELMAN, JUDY LOWTHER, RANDY TINCHER, DAVID SAMUELSON & HAROLD “RED” TATRO

Q&A

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. JG: Yes, rear angulation. Also speed when dogs are moved is not to be excessive. BH: In my opinion I am seeing exaggerated rear over angulation 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 breeding 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 fascinating 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. HT: For a time, I would say that the over angulated or sweep- ing rear was prevalent. While we do still see some and they are often rewarded by judges who are not Whippet 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 pasterns. Outlines are much more consistent from one part of the country to another. JG: Yes, I absolutely do feel they are better today. Toplines are smoother without the sharp fall off and movement is better without the hackney movement that was so com- mon years ago. Feet also seem to be better. Some things I don’t care for, have come to the fore as well. One of these is straight pasterns which are also many times associ- ated with too tight, little cat feet. We are also losing the wonderful underjaw that should come with a breed that should be able to catch and hold prey. 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, beginning behind the skull and continuing down

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