A Whippet is a dog breed that was originally bred in England in the middle of the 19th century.
These dogs were originally bred for hunting and are specifically known for their speed and agility.
The word "Whippet" indeed, is derived from an Olde English word that meant "to move briskly."
Let's discover more about a whippet's ancient history, and how they have become the dogs we know today.
What is a Whippet?
Also known as "snap dogs," whippets are small dogs resembling a scaled-down version of greyhounds. These dogs are known for their speed and agility.
Whippets have a long, thin body, a short coat, a long, thin muzzle and large eyes.
The ears may be cropped to make them stand up straight.
Ear cropping is a surgical procedure that involves cutting the cartilage and skin of the dog's ear to create a point.
The procedure is done for cosmetic purposes, to conform to breed standards, or for identification purposes.
However, according to the American Kennel Club, erect ears in this breed are severely penalized.
Whippets are Sighthounds
A sighthound is a type of hunting dog. Also known as gazehounds, sighthounds hunt primarily by sight, speed, endurance, and scent.
These traits make them great dogs for hunting birds, rabbits, and other small animals.
Sighthounds have excellent hunting skills and are highly intelligent. Thy were used for hunting in large open areas.
These dogs have a wide range of vision, and sharp eyesight, making them a great choice as hunters.
They also exhibit what is known as a double-suspension gallop. This gait is asymmetrical and like the gallop consists of four phases.
Unlike the gallop though, there are two suspension periods. While this is the fastest gait, it doesn't offer endurance, which is why sighthound races last very little.
Sighthounds include the whippet, greyhound, Irish Wolf hound, Italian Greyhound and many more.
Did you know? Whippets, like other sighthounds are blessed with a wider range of vision (up to 270°) compared to the regular range of vision of other dogs (250°). A human in comparison has a field of vision of just about 180 degrees!
The History of the Whippet
The Whippet is a small breed of dog that has a long and rich history.
These fast dogs have been selectively bred for rabbit coursing.
Rabbit coursing is a sport that involves the hunting of a live rabbit with dogs trained to chase and catch the rabbit. The sport was developed in England in the 19th century.
Later on, these dogs were simply used for racing.
They were nicknamed, "the poor man’s racehorse" due to them being an alternative to the more expensive greyhound.
Indeed, these dogs being smaller in size required less food and less space to raise.
Whippets were introduced to Massachusetts by English mill workers during the Industrial Revolution.
Did you know? Whippets are very fast and can reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour!
Who are The Whippets' Ancestors?
The origin of the Whippet dog is a controversial issue.
There are various theories about the ancestors of this breed--some say they are descendants of Greyhounds and others say they share ancestry with the Italian Greyhound or an Egyptian hound.
Others believe they are the result of crossing greyhounds with smaller dogs such as terriers and Italian Greyhounds.
Interestingly, we have testimony of dogs sharing a similar, whippet-like appearance depicted in art from ancient Egypt.
Do Whippets Make Good Family Dogs?
The Whippet has the potential for making an excellent family dog.
This breed does not bark excessively, but is attentive to their surroundings and can be an excellent watchdog.
The whippet is one of the most affectionate dogs in existence.
If you have the time to devote to caring for a Whippet, he will be the perfect pet for your family.