Showsight Presents the Whippet

whippet Q&A with eugene blake, kathleen davenport, espen engh, russell mcfadden, david r. miller, todd miller, christy nelson & sharon sakson

Whippet is much closer to my ideal Greyhound shape than my ideal IG shape. The Greyhound, like the Whippet, has more gently flowing curves from the neck to the rear and the movement should be similar—low, reaching, effortless “daisy clipping” motion. The ideal head to me on a Grey- hound is slightly different than my ideal Whippet with the Greyhound head having very slight more fill in the muzzle and very slightly less stop than the Whippet. In summary, I feel that the IG has a very unique shape and gait that is very different from either the Whippet or Greyhound. While the Whippet and Greyhound are very similar in many ways, they, too have their distinct differences. Therefore, to keep each breed unique and special, the breeders of both athletic sight hounds need to work to keep the Whippet-like Greyhounds and Greyhound-like Whippets out of the ring and out of their breeding programs. CN: Interesting question. I have owned and shown all 3 sizes. I feel Whippets are between the Greyhound and Italian Grey- hound. The Whippet is not as long and heavy as the Grey- hound and not as overly curvey and porcelain looking as the IG. Otherwise, very similar. SS: This question gets people worked up because Whippets are described as small Greyhounds; yet to the experienced eye, Whippets and Greyhounds look quite different. Whippet breeders and Greyhound breeders are never confused when looking at outlines about which breed it is. Whippets have more curvy shape; Greyhounds have longer backs and loins. But genetically, Whippets are small Greyhounds. The genes for Greyhounds are in there; if you breed enough Whippet litters you eventually get one who grows up nearly to Grey- hound size. The tallest Whippet can be 22 ½ inches at the shoulder; the smallest Greyhound can be 60 pounds. There have been plenty of really big Whippet males over the years. When I went to racetracks in England with Gay Robertson, we saw tiny Whippets that weighed less than 18 pounds. And they were avid, powerful racers! They are divided by weight and the first classification is 16 to 18 pounds. They still had more bone and substance than Italian Greyhounds but there was a strong resemblance to that breed. 4. 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 suggest 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, cathedral fronts, straight upright pasterns and broad shoulder blades. Although many of these individu- als may have adequate side gate, these problems cause inef- ficient 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 movement. 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 cor- rect 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 gen- tly 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. CN: I feel this is totally impossible to answer. Even if I felt that I found or breed the perfect Whippet, not all would feel the same about it. 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 beautiful, muscular, powerful Whippet butt. You know he has the ability to leap from a standing start to top speed. 5. 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 and 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 gen- tly 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 coming 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

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