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Celebrating The Whippet

February 15, 2024

One of the pets in the doggy spotlight this month is the Whippet. The 19th is Whippet Day! We’re more than happy to celebrate this breed. Whippets aren’t as well known as their larger kin, the Greyhound, but they need a lot of love. A local veterinarian in Louisville, KYoffers some insight into the breed.

What Is A Whippet?

The Whippet is a sighthound, which means it was developed to follow game visually. They look a lot like Greyhounds. Males can grow up to about 22 inches, while females average 18-21 inches. Whippets weigh between 25 and 40 pounds and can live for about 12 to 15 years. With their soulful eyes, these guys can make very sweet pets!

Fido’s name is derived from a 17th-century word, which means ‘to move rapidly’. The description is very accurate: Whippets are extremely fast. In fact, the Whippet is often considered the “poor man’s Greyhound.” They have the fastest idle-to-running acceleration speed among all our canine pals, and can reach speeds up to 35 mph. And although the Greyhound holds the record for being the fastest dog on earth, Whippets can sometimes beat them.

What Are The Whippet’s Exercise Needs? 

Daily walks are a must with these dogs!  Whippets can be a lot of fun. They often enjoy playing with other pups. Your dog may also enjoy chasing a flying disc or lure. Your pet may also enjoy jogging with you. 

You will need to take a few precautions here. As with many sight hounds, Whippets can get fixated on things like cats and squirrels. After all, Fido is pretty much hardwired to run after small prey! You’ll need a good leash when walking. Special collars, called Martingales collars, are also necessary for Whippets, because their small heads can slip out of regular collars. 

Are Whippets Easy To Train?

Whippets are quite intelligent, and often pick things up quickly. However, the Whippet’s instincts often override his petucation. They are quite easily distracted, and will run off after anything that catches their attention. Training may not be enough to keep Fido from chasing things or running into traffic. 

Are There Any Famous Whippet Dogs? 

There aren’t a lot of famous Whippets. One was supposed to be in Alien 3, but he was too cute for the part and lost his job. However, Fido’s cousin, the Greyhound, has appeared in many films and television shows. In fact, Santa’s Little Helper, the Simpsons’ dog, was a Greyhound.

What Is The History Of The Whippet Dog?

Fido’s family tree is quite large. English Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, and terriers were used to breed the Whippet. However, the breed is also closely related to other sight hounds, like the basenji, the Pharaoh hound, or the saluki. Similar dogs have been with us for quite some time: they’ve been depicted in ancient art from Egypt and Turkey. Greyhounds may also have been used by the Celts.

During the early 18th century, Whippets became popular racing dogs in England. They became popular with gamblers as well. Fido gained fame as a Snap Dog, a sport in which the winning dog was the one who snapped up the most rabbits in a certain period of time. (That sport is now outlawed, fortunately.)

Do Whippets Need A Lot Of Grooming? 

Whippets can sport one of 12 different coat colors and patterns, including fawn, red, orange, tan, cream, black, brindle, and blue. White or dun are also officially allowed, though these colors are relatively rare. 

Fido won’t need to be bathed very often, but should be brushed regularly. Use a soft brush: hard bristles may be too rough for Fido’s delicate skin. As with Greyhounds, these guys are very sensitive to chemicals. You’ll need to use a very gentle shampoo.

Due to their thin coats and lack of body fat, Whippets do not do well in the cold. Fido will need sweaters and jackets in chilly weather. They also dislike hard floors, so a comfy bed is essential.

What Kind Of Personality Do Whippets Have?

Whippets are very, very cuddly, and love to snuggle with their owners. They rarely bark, which may appeal to those who prefer quiet dogs. They’re also good with kids, and tend to get along well with other dogs. As far as cats go, it depends: if Fido is raised with Fluffy, they may get along just fine. However, we wouldn’t recommend bringing a Whippet that hasn’t been around cats into a home with a kitty.

Is The Whippet Dog Very Energetic?

One may think that these dogs have high levels of energy. However, Whippets usually turn into couch potatoes once they have burned off their zoomies. After his daily doggy workout, Fido will happily nap and dream of chasing squirrels for most of the day.

Do Whippets Have Any Health Problems?

Whippets are fairly healthy. However, when considering adopting one of these dogs, it is important to note a few things. The breed is not really built to bear excess weight. Obesity can be especially harmful to them, as it can lead to orthopedic problems. The issue here is that their lean build may cause some to mistakenly believe they need more food. That sometimes results in overfeeding. To ensure your pet maintains a healthy diet and exercise regimen, consult your Louisville, KYveterinarian regularly.

A few specific tests are recommended by the breed standards, including the Ophthalmologist Evaluation, BAER Testing, and Cardiac Examination.

Like many other Sighthounds, Whippets have a unique physiology. Their blood work may look a bit different than that of another dog. They’re also very sensitive to chemicals. That will come into play with things like sedation and parasite control. You should consult with a veterinarian who is familiar with the breed.

How Do You Celebrate Whippet Day? 

If your canine buddy is a Whippet, then by all means, treat Fido to something special, like a new toy, a comfy new sweater, or a fun play session. You could also play the Devo song, or maybe watch the 2009 roller derby movie Whip It. You may also want to give your pup a Pup Cup, which is whipped cream, though you don’t want to give him too many sweet treats.

If you don’t have time for much on the 19th, make sure to mark July 4th for International Whippet Day. 

How To Help Whippet Dogs

As you may be aware, racing dogs have faced numerous challenges throughout history. They were once highly sought-after for racing, but unfortunately, the industry prioritized profits over animal well-being. This resulted in widespread mistreatment and an abundance of rescued dogs. While there has been progress in the U.S. with the prohibition of dog racing in many areas, there are still various Greyhound and Whippet rescues in operation. 

You can also help Fido’s cousins. In Spain, the Galgos dog, a similar Sighthound, definitely needs help. This sweet pup is recognized as one of the most mistreated breeds in the world. One way to help would be to contribute to or show support for a rescue organization dedicated to their cause.

In Conclusion: The Whippet makes a wonderful pet for the right family. Just make sure to do plenty of research before adopting.

Contact us, your Louisville, KY pet hospital, if you have questions about Whippet care! We provide both excellent care and top-notch service.

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