Acknowledgement: The Whippet Club of NSW website
Whippets aren’t always the first choice of dog but once you own a whippet, it will certainly be your only choice of dog! They are addictive — you simply cannot stop at one!
Many people think that whippets are skinny, nervous, fragile and won’t come back off lead, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are versatile, athletic, muscular, robust, playful confident and responsive.
We hope the following information may be of help to you in deciding to add a Whippet to your life.
A member of the Sighthound family, the breed developed from the United Kingdom – firstly as a poachers’ dog then as the poor man’s greyhound for the Welsh miners. Whilst there is limited whippet racing opportunities, the breed is now very popular as a family pet the world over.
Whippets are sweet natured with people, easy to house train and enjoy sharing life in the house with the family. They are smooth, short coated and require little maintenance aside from love, food and being almost completely lounge lizards. They are, however, still sighthounds, and as such, will instinctively chase rapid moving objects.
Whilst they will mostly be content to live indoors and share your life, they are able to take virtually any amount of exercise you can give them. They are athletic enough to jump, and skinny enough to squeeze through, so your fencing needs to be in good order and high enough to keep them in. Don’t be alarmed – a 4′ fence will keep most whippet in and, generally, they don’t want to leave home; however, there have been the occasional whippet who will jump 1.8m if there is something tempting enough on the other side.
SEX? BOYS VERSUS GIRLS
Outside, boys tend to water the plants; girls tend to leave small brown patches on the grass lawn. Inside, they are a clean animal.
There is little difference in personality between the sexes when it comes to being a good pet. Some say boys are more dependent on owners, follow you around more and are softer in character and the girls are more alert.
Whippets come in all colours – either solid (black, white, blue, red, fawn) or broken with white (parti coloured) and with or without brindle. The colour range and markings means that there is a huge variety, but you can rest assured that the character of each and every whippet is the same.
It is recommended that you use a soft collar that is broad in the middle – either with a check action or martingale style. Whippets have long, narrow heads, and they can easily reverse and slip out of a normal collar. Check out our links for Sighthound collars and matching leads.
The Whippet is not a breed that requires lots of exercise or a huge backyard to run in. They will fit in with whatever exercise you are able to offer. Your whippet will happily run with you if you are training to be a triathlete or will also be happy to just take a short stroll each evening.
Remember, whippets dearly love any opportunity to stretch out and have a good gallop. After all, they were bred to run and chase and they certainly do that at a very fast speed. Sighthounds can easily be distracted by any moving object, so if you let your Whippet off lead, ensure it’s in a safe fenced area.
A walk once or twice a day is ample for a whippet. Whippets love toys and will spend hours amusing themselves with their toys. They aren’t destructive and often have their puppy toys into the adult life.
Each breeder will differ slightly on the food and brands they recommend and they should provide you with a diet sheet outlining the basics of your puppy’s food needs. Your vet may recommend something different. There’s a range of foods available and it can be quite confusing. Generally, the better the food you feed, the less motions you have to pick up.
Whilst there are always exceptions to the rule, many whippets are “cat” like in that they graze. They’ll eat their food if there’s nothing else of interest going on. Even as baby puppies, they tend not to empty the bowl of food. But that’s not to say that they won’t get fat and there’s nothing more unattractive than a fat whippet! You should always be able to see the outline of the last rib only and at least one of the vertebrae (spine) bones on the topline.
GROOMING AND CARE
One of the absolutely delightful aspects of the Whippet is that it needs the barest minimum of grooming. With such a short, sleek coat, the Whippet is not a breed that has a ‘doggy’ smell. They love to be clean themselves and are rather cat-like in this aspect. Regular clipping of toe nails, teeth cleaning and the occasional bath or wipe down is all that is needed. They are a clean dog by nature which makes them an ideal house pet.
The major consideration in owning a whippet is because they are thin skinned and lean without much body fat, they feel the cold. Whippets need a coat in the cooler months but when buying, ensure you ask for a coat suited to a whippet so that the back is curved to fit the dog.
Your Whippet’s teeth are essentially no different to your own and they need the same care and maintenance. Please discuss this aspect of your dog’s health with your breeder and vet.
It’s a good idea to get into a routine for clipping toenails. Start early, when you first have your puppy, and set aside a time each week or fortnight to clip the tips off the toenails. If you do this regularly, and reward your dog, it will be an easy and pleasurable experience.
Many breeds of dogs undertake regular screening for diseases, and any dog can develop cancer or life threatening disease, but Whippets live uncomplicated lives free of specific hereditary diseases. Any dog can develop a life threatening disease, but your vet should confirm that whippets are a very healthy, hardy breed which enjoy a long life (14-17 years).
TEMPERAMENT & CHARACTER
Whippets love life whether it’s chasing a leaf that’s fallen from a tree or being curled up in your lap whilst you watch TV. They are best described as wild and wicked clowns of the dog world and you’ll always be laughing with your whippet.
They are non aggressive to other dogs and people and it is extremely rare (even unheard of) to hear of a whippet biting anyone. They happily co-exist with other breeds – and cats!
They will bark and alert at visitors but more from excitement at a new lap to try out!
Whatever activity you want, your whippet will fit in. They learn routines and adapt quickly, easily keep up with joggers, are excellent agility dogs, love lure coursing, make wonderful pets as therapy dogs, can be trained for the obedience ring, are excellent conformation dogs and best of all, are a wonderful family companion.
There is the perception that you can’t let whippets off leash in an open area as they won’t come back but that’s not entirely true. When let off lead they love nothing more than to run in a huge circle around you (and by huge we mean 30 mtrs away) and as soon as they’ve let off steam, they come back – with a big smile. Sure, if there’s something interesting to chase, a whippet will run after it, but like any dog, your whippet should be trained to come back as soon as called.
If you look closely, you’ll see that Whippets are a different shape (outline) to Greyhounds and Italian Greyhounds. They should have a long, lean head and be a series of graceful curves. This is especially helpful so that they can get their nose under your doona, then shimmy under and curl up into a ball!
It is law in NSW that every dog sold must be microchipped. Your breeder will be able to provide details of microchipping and you will be required to complete a change of ownership to transfer your puppy’s microchip details to you.
Whippets are suitable for EVERYONE – families with young / older children; couples; singles; older people; disabled people; houses with yards, townhouses and even units and apartments. Whippets fit in anywhere – on your lap and in your bed!
ONE WHIPPET OR TWO?
Whippets are quite gregarious creatures and do like each others’ company. They are happy enough on their own in a house where there is company, however, two do curl up together and play together when you aren’t around much.
HOUSING / SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS
Whippets are ideally suited to indoor living as they are a good sized, short-coated dog and clean by nature. Whippets are not suitable as an outside dog. Because they are thin skinned, short coated and generally don’t have much fat, they can lose weight quickly in cooler months. They love your company and enjoy cosy, comfort. A soft dog bed or cushion is strongly recommended.
Whippets have no road sense whatsoever. If they see something inviting to chase across the road, they’ll go, so always ensure they have a lead and collar on when not in your fenced yard.
Yes, they have a fine, short coat, but all dogs will shed coat at some point in the year – generally change of season. When this happens, a brush through will remove most of the loose hair and you should have it over and done with quickly.
If you want a laugh each day and a dog in your life, then a Whippet is right for you.
ACTIVITIES & SPORTS
Dog Shows can be a fascinating and fun hobby. It is a great way to have fun with your dog plus meet other like-minded people for socializing. If you intend to show your Whippet, make certain to buy it from a registered breeder who has knowledge and a reputation for selling quality dogs. Come along to one of our Whippet Championship Shows, meet the dogs and breeders.
Whippets love to chase, so mechanical lure coursing is great fun. The Afghan Club of NSW organise lure coursing days at Erskine Park in the cooler months. They chase a plastic bag over varying distances, with twists and turns. It’s great fun and the dogs absolutely love it.
Whippets have become great obedience champions, but if the hard work and dedication of Obedience is not for you, after you have mastered the very basic commands (stay, heel, sit), then you might like to try Agility which is loads of fun for you and your Whippet. Agility is another strong suit of Whippets. This is where a course something like show jumping for horses is set up. You train your dog to negotiate all manner of obstacles like jumps, ramps, tunnels, see-saws and even jumping through hoops. The fastest clear round wins, and we know that Whippets are fast!
Another sport to consider is Flyball which is a very fast sport and attracts many spectators. Dogs are in teams and race up, hit the board, catch the ball and run back to their owner. Fastest team wins. Again, Flyball is suited to Whippets.
Consider obtaining your Canine Good Citizen Certificate with your Whippet.
Have your Whippet assessed as a Pets As Therapy Dog and visit nursing homes and hospitals. As Whippets are ideal as they are small, light, agile and love people, they make ideal visitors for the elderly or infirm. They can jump onto a lap or bed and will curl up happily with a hand on them.
Many of these activities are run through obedience clubs. For further information, please refer to the Dogs NSW website – contact details or a link on our Links page.
You’re bound to meet other Whippets and their owners if you go to dog parks. Take along a Frisbee or tennis ball for the dogs to have a good game.
Whippets can be excellent watch dogs and will announce the arrival of visitors and strangers, however, they are extremely unlikely to bite anybody.