The Whippet’s talent for snuggling and sharing a bed makes it ideal as a therapy dog for visiting the elderly and disabled.
A Whippet doing Barn Hunt climbs atop the bales to better hear and smell the hidden rat.
hound, bred to share hearth and home, providing companionship, small game hunting, ratting ability, and racing sport. Th ese roots can be seen in the nature of the Whippet today. Perhaps the fi rst thing that someone new to Whippets will note is their utter fearlessness in the face of mortal peril. Whippet puppies climb, run with scarce regard for obstacles, and leap o ff great heights. Th ey have little road sense, and have scant natural caution when it comes to hurling their young bodies into what- ever they have a mind to do. When they do become injured, they have a much higher pain tolerance than one would expect, per- haps the heritage of those tough old terriers that lurk way back in modern pedigrees. Th e second thing one notices is that EVERYTHING you go to do with them becomes a competition. Whippets compete to be the fi rst one out the door in the morning, and the fi rst one back inside. Walking several Whippets on a leash becomes a contest to see who can,
on several identically-long leads, still be the lead dog. Th eir competitive nature is on full display at one of their traditional purposes, racing on either the straight, or the oval (bend), track. While many breeds of dog will pursue an arti fi cial lure, when running against each other these dogs may appear to primarily be running after the lure side by side together. Whippets not only pursue the lure, but actually RACE each other, “trading paint” and attempting to box out and gain strategic advantage. A good racing Whippet does not shy from clean contact, but will deliberately run alongside another racer, putting his head down and extending additional e ff ort to make the pass, much in the way stock car drivers measure the strength and handling of their race cars against each other when they go two and three wide. Th e roots of the Whippet also show in their ease of care and relatively low expense. While many Whippet owners pursue more expensive feeding strate- gies, the vast majority of Whippets do
not require anything special in the way of rations in order to be healthy and live their normal span. Food allergies and digestive problems are quite rare. Grooming, obviously, is minimal. And other than the orthopedic injuries, often a direct result of the above-mentioned fearlessness and imperviousness to pain, the Whippet tends not to require much in the way of anything other than routine vet care. Th ey usually breed naturally, whelp naturally, and most Whippet dams are excellent, instinctive mothers. As with the Whippet owners of old who took their ratters and rabbit hunters and molded them into racers and show dogs, we modern fanciers are continually fi nding new things to do with our Whip- pets. While the breed has for over a 125 years been a show dog, and for longer than that has been used as a racing and rabbit-hunting dog, new dog sports are continually being invented and at many of these, the game and tenacious, athletic little Whippet has proven its ability to
Agility Whippet starting over a jump, but her eyes are on her trainer, looking for her next direction. Photo Credit: Steve Surfman
A Flyball Whippet speeds over the jumps.
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