Showsight Presents the Whippet

JUDGING THE WHIPPET

T he most wonderful thing in the world for a Whip- pet judge is to place your hands on the neck of a fi t and correct Whippet and feel the taut muscle sing beneath your fi ngertips. Slide your hand onto smooth shoulder blades lying tightly against the body. Run your hand across the broad back and loin—the spine is slightly visible (not prominent) and from the quality of the muscle you know this is a fl exible back and croup. Onto the thigh— the muscle is thicker but not bulgy. Now, very important—continue to the second thigh, and fi nd the same tight muscle there, with good width, not narrow. Ahh. Heaven can wait. Th is fi t, fl exible Whippet is the ultimate pleasure. Often, judges who are new to the breed have trouble understanding the topline. It is a gentle arch over the loin, not over the back. What we are looking for above all is a fl exible body. A Whippet running full speed, in the double suspension gallop, will pass continually through concave- convex movements. In other words, the body has to be fl exible enough to look like a horseshoe when the legs meet beneath the body and a hammock when the legs are fully extended. A rigid, high spine will prevent this movement. Th at’s why I view a strongly arched topline as a serious fault, while less arch is not as seri- ous. Th e Whippet standard instructs that the dog is built for speed and work. Aspects of

By Sharon Sakson

incorrect structure that would impede speed are the most serious. Feet are very important. “No foot, no dog” is an old saying from horse breeders. A glance at a Whippet foot will tell you all you need to know. No need to pick it up or handle it. “Feet more hare than cat, but both are acceptable,” the standard says. Whip- pets have good feet. Flat, splayed or soft feet without thick hard pads are very rare in my experience. “ Th e back is broad, fi rm and well muscled, having length over the loin…. Th ere is a de fi nite tuckup of the underline.” Th e Whippet underline is strongly pro- nounced. Sometimes new judges ask if the topline and underline should match— the answer is no. Th e topline’s job is

fl exibility; the underline is a bellows. Th e ribs are extremely deep at the brisket to protect powerful lungs, and then each back rib is sculptured successively shorter. Th e standard requires “length over the loin” because all that deep chest is going to be pushed up into the loin during the concave moment. Whippets whose ribs remain approxi- mately the same length lack breed type; their underline will be more similar to a Labrador Retriever than a sighthound. Th is lack of a pronounced underline will diminish the Whippet’s speed and there- fore is a serious fault. Yet, judges reward many Whippets with this fault because their long bodies are able to move with lots of reach and drive. Whippet breeders sometimes cringe when a novice judge urges us to look at the wonderful movement on the dog they put up—if the dog achieved the movement by having a tubular shape or a loose body. Check the standard—shape comes fi rst. We don’t want to get a virtue (lots of reach and drive) by means of a fault (lack of under- line). It is possible to have “symmetry of outline” and “powerful gait” both, together, perfectly harmonized in a beautiful dog.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014 • 235

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