Other names: English Whippet, Snap Dog
Gentle, affectionate, and well-rounded, the Whippet is a medium-sized sighthound with a short coat. Discrete and sensitive, it’s a dog one needs to learn to understand in order to seamlessly communicate with it. Respect and goodwill are key in obtaining this dog’s cooperation, and once he is fully at ease, he will reveal himself to be an exceptional life companion. Active, enduring, and much more robust than his appearance may lead you to think, this sighthound must be taken in by available owners, ready to meet his need for regular outings.
Key facts about the Whippet
Origins and history
His origins go back more or less a century, since the Whippet was officially recognised by the UK Kennel Club in 1900. The first specimens actually saw the light of day in the 17th century. This breed probably descends from a cross between a Fox Terrier and Bull Terrier, and according to some other sources, the Italian Greyhound. The sighthound reportedly owes its name to the old English expressions ‘whip up’ or ‘whip it’, signifying ‘fast as lighting’. These expressions would be used by English miners as commands, aimed at encouraging the hounds to chase for hares, or during races.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 10 - Sighthounds
Section 3 : Short-haired Sighthounds
Physical characteristics of the Whippet
Female : Between 17 and 19 in
Male : Between 19 and 20 in
Female : Between 20 and 35 lb
Male : Between 20 and 35 lb
All colours and colour combinations are admissible.
Type of coat
The coat is short.
The coat is thin and close-lying.
They are generally brown, and their respective shades adapt to the coat’s colour.
The Whippet is a dog of powerful muscular constitution, exuding a balanced strength that renders him elegant and graciously built. The head is long, lean, flat in the upper part, with a rather wide distance between both eyes; it tapers down along the muzzle. The eyes are shiny, and very lively. The ears are small, of a fine texture, and rose-shaped. The thorax is deep, the stomach tucked in. The limbs are long, lean and muscular. The tail is long, thin, worn slightly curled over when in movement.
Good to know
He used to be dubbed the ‘snap dog’, which is a nickname that suits the ever-dynamic Whippet pup very well.
This dog is very affectionate once it has given you his trust- until then, he could seem rather distant. He can be very cuddly with his owners, but can just as well retreat to his corner and make himself discreet.
When still a pup, the Whippet is a real jester who loves playing: he enjoys chasing in particular, and likes engaging in friendly ‘scuffles’ with his fellow canines. With time, it is true that this tendency is reversed, depending on the individual in question, of course.
You could say that this sighthound is a ‘fake stoic’. He can indeed be very discreet, but reveals himself to be a real fireball when released into big wide spaces.
This dog is very smart and takes pleasing his master to heart. If a relationship based on trust and respect is established, this sighthound can pull various tricks out of his sleeve to reinforce the bond with his master.
The English Whippet is, as any respectable hound would have it, a born hunter, even if this is no longer his primary function. He mainly hunts for small animals: birds, rodents, rabbits or hares, but also for cats that he does not know, or which haven’t been introduced to him.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Contrary to popular belief, the English Whippet is not a wary dog but is quite withdrawn if he does not know the person in question. You mustn't mistake his sensitivity for fear.
The female has a more independent personality than the male. The Whippet’s temperament resembles that of cats.
Behaviour of the Whippet
If he has been accustomed to staying alone from a young age, this dog- often mistaken for the miniature greyhound- can tolerate his owners’ absences without a problem. Bear in mind, however, that these should not be prolonged. Walks both prior to and right after periods of solitude are necessary, especially if the dog lives in a flat.
Easy to train / obedience
This sighthound has very good memory and functions on the ‘if it works, let me do it again’ principle. Actually, as soon as the Whippet pup integrates the home, certain rules of conduct and limits must be established, to prevent the dog from developing any bad habits.
Training must be strict but gentle at the same time, given how easy it is to offend this highly sensitive dog.
Very discreet indeed, the Whippet rarely barks.