Showsight Presents the Whippet

THE WHIPPET

good development and definition. However, coarseness or excessive bulginess should be faulted.” “The Whippet is a series of smooth S-curves. As you first approach the dog, step back from the ramp/ground and look with your eyes, from the nose to the tip of the tail. If your eye stops, go back and figure out why. Remember that while color is immate- rial, markings can be deceiving. Now put your hands on the dog. Please do not reward a Whippet that is stressed or panting (unless the weather is hot) or one that obviously doesn’t want to be there. You can make some allowance for a puppy, but nervousness is not correct Whippet temperament. Whippets are mostly an owner- handled breed, so don’t dismiss a good dog that is not stacked well. Many times the dog will transform off the ramp or table. Examine on the ramp/table, but judge on the ground! Please don’t focus on ears. If the dog uses its ears once, that’s sufficient. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. They don’t run on their ears! Color is immaterial—we mean that! You should not care what color they are. A flashy dog might catch your eye, but it is not necessarily the best dog. Don’t get hung upon the ‘chrome’—flashy colors don’t help to catch the prey.” “For new judges, and especially those coming from non-sight- hound breeds, the shape and topline of the Whippet is often difficult to grasp and feel comfortable judging. Shape defines the Whippet, so please reach out to AWC approved mentors or those on the judges committee for help to understand this part of our breed. Remem- ber, the color is immaterial and every dog in your ring should be considered regardless of color and markings. I strongly recommend attending a racing or coursing event so that you can fully appreci- ate the Whippet as an athlete and understand their intense desire to do what they were bred for. This is a lovely breed to judge and we have a great group of owners and handlers, and the majority of our breed is breeder- and/or owner-handled. Examine details on the table or ramp, but judge on the ground. Remember, you will never see these words in our Standard: ‘dainty, meek, fragile, porcelain statue.’ Please judge the Whippet as the athlete it is meant to be.” In summary, the Whippet is not an ornamental breed. He is a medium-sized dog of very modest heritage that was developed to serve a functional purpose. He has no other reason for being. His outline is unique to him. He is smooth and curvaceous with an “S” curved topline and complimentary underline, but these curves must be balanced and flowing and muscular. He is, above all, an athlete, a sprinting dog with no equal. His signature make and shape are punctuated by fitness and athletic ability. If judges would prioritize the features of the breed as described by the experts above and pay much less attention to color, flash and dash, showmanship, baiting, the unnecessary constant use of ears, and racing around the ring, they would go a long way toward understanding what the Whippet is all about, and what we, as pres- ervation breeders, hold so dear.

“Today I think there is too much emphasis on baiting and it drives me crazy! I like to see them as natural as possible and I stress that to other judges.” 5. What is most important for a person wanting to judge Whippets to focus on? “The General Appearance section should be the start and it is very good…I also encourage attendance at coursing and racing events.” “Outline and movement, and, in a perfect world, a prospec- tive judge should attend a field trial to truly get a feeling for the importance of the Whippet structure and standard. They need to see how the Whippet utilizes its body (and especially its pasterns) in the field.” “Too many judges don’t understand the curves or the underline, and that needs to be said over and over.” “I believe those wanting to judge Whippets need to understand that it is not an easy breed to judge. Understanding anatomy—the rise over the loin—requires one to know what and where the loin is. Do not judge on ears, and Whippets should not have TRAD!” “Learn to see the correct outline of the Whippet both stand- ing and moving. Learn to appreciate the Whippet that is fit and firm both to the touch and when moving. Understand that the U.S. Whippet Standard has a large range in height from top to bottom and all are equally acceptable. We have no preferred height if it’s within the Standard. Forget about the flash and dash of perfectly marked colors, or the dog that stands like a statue with pretty ears up for hours staring at bait!” “I think some of the hardest things for new judges to understand are the variations they will see in shape and size. I think many judg- es think Whippets should be small even though our size descrip- tion and limit hasn’t changed in over 50 years. When mentoring, I am regularly asked whether the longer—or shorter—cast dogs are correct. I then discuss how both can be correct as long as the dogs have balance and shape. Do the dogs move with rhythm and smoothness, and do they maintain shape and hold their topline? The Standard allows square to slightly rectangular, so it can vary. Also, since color is immaterial, the judge should look at a dog from both sides, especially if the markings are random, which may give false impressions.” “A judge of Whippets should focus on balance, both standing and moving. There should be coordination of action and symmetry of stride between the front and rear when moving. When stand- ing, balance means all the parts appear as one unit, fitting neatly into one another. Remember, a Whippet should not be faulted for being too big or too small if it measures within the breed Standard. Attributes that are detrimental to running ability are to be faulted. The dog should be fit and hard to the touch. Well-conditioned muscles should not be faulted. Well-conditioned muscles will have

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Phoebe Booth has been breeding Whippets under the “Shamasan” prefix since 1972, and has bred approximately 100 Champions. As a handler she has finished many more and has handled at least six different Whippets to multiple Best in Show awards. Equally important, she has bred Whippets with multiple titles in most of the performance sports: racing, coursing, obedience, rally, agility, as well as some barn hunt and dock diving. She bred the top-winning solid blue and the top- winning solid black dog of all time. She has been a breeder, exhibitor, handler, dog show photographer, and the AKC Gazette Whippet columnist for decades. She is now a licensed Whippet judge, and is an honorary lifetime member of the American Whippet Club.

154 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2020

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