Intelligent, affectionate, devoted and playful are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Whippets. These medium sized dogs often provoke cries of "Do you feed that dog?!" because of their very lean body type. Sometimes confused for Greyhound puppies, Whippets also excel in running and racing. Fanciers of the breed affectionately call them couch potatoes because of their love of comfort and rest during the majority of the day, but they do require a daily session of exercise in order to use up stored energy. Whippets are said to be excellent pets for families with children and are not excessive barkers.
Here are some more interesting facts about Whippets:
It is generally agreed among experts that Whippets were developed in North England in the middle of the 19th century. Believed to have been developed from Greyhounds crossed with terriers, they became popular with working class hunters for hunting rabbit and other small game.
Because Whippets were often owned by the working class, they were often called "the poor man's Greyhound" or even "the poor man's race horse." Even in its beginnings, Whippets were raced in what were often called "rag races" because the dogs were often lured with a piece of cloth.
It is thought that the first Whippets arrived in America by those working for English mills in Massachusetts.
The Whippet is one of the rare British breeds that found acceptance in America before Great Britain. Jack Dempsey, the first Whippet to be registered by the American Kennel Club, earned his registration in 1888. The Whippet wouldn't gain recognition from the Kennel Club of England until 1891.
Whippets are very quick runners, reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour, which is only slightly slower than their cousins, the Greyhounds.
Fanciers of Whippets claim that they are not the best breed for guarding, as they rarely bark and are more likely to run and hide if faced with a threat!
Whippet racing, both in field lure coursing and straight racing, has increased in popularity over the years and has even become fairly nuanced with an elaborate handicapping system, steeplechases and racetracks. Unlike Greyhound racing, however, gambling on Whippet racing is strictly forbidden.
While Whippets are likely best known for their racing events, they are very versatile dogs and have achieved success in events such as obedience, agility, and flyball, which is a hurdle relay race with teams of four dogs.
Most Whippets are "one person dogs," meaning that they will love the company of the whole family but usually form an attachment with one person in the family.
The name Whippet can find its roots in the Latin word "via," which means route or path but also came to mean quickness, movement or traveling. Other words with the same root include vibrate, vibrant, whip, wife and whiplash. The word whip has its roots in the Middle English word "whippen" or "wippen," which meant to move smartly or quickly, hence the name for this lively and quick dog.