You may have heard that whippets are exceptional hunting dogs, also known as working dogs.
They are small dogs that have been used for many years to hunt small prey such as rabbits or rats.
Whippets are part of the sighthound family, which means they use their speed and sight to hunt.
They are intelligent dogs that can hunt independently of the hunter, meaning they don’t need commands to hunt small prey.
Whippets were used throughout England to chase rabbits in an arena, which is where they got the nickname “the poor man’s racehorse”.
At the time, only the upper class and wealthy could afford a racehorse, so many working-class had to used whippets as they were much cheaper to acquire.
In this post we are going to answer, is a whippet a hunting dog?
To help you decide whether or not a whippet is a good option for those who need to manage pests on their land.
Let’s take a closer look…
Are Whippets Good Working Dogs?
The first thing we need to identify is are whippets good working dogs?
A working dog is one that is put to work in controlling pests such as rabbits or rats.
Usually, a hunter will take their whippet to an area that is overpopulated with these pests to help the landowner manage them, this can be done with other means such as air rifles too, but whippets are extremely effective.
Whippets were bred to hunt here in England in the 1600s; they are the offspring of the greyhound, a much larger dog that whippets often get confused with, and a terrier, a smaller working dog.
Whippets have a natural hunting instinct that’s deep within them, they will chase many small animals that they see, so it’s important to keep them under control whilst around pet rabbits, cats or rats.
A whippets hunting instinct will often override any level of training, it’s deep-rooted into his core and will never go away.
Whippets make exceptional working dogs because of their heritage, as well as their physical attributes and incredibly strong instinct.
Why Whippets Are Good At Hunting
But why are whippets good at hunting?
Well, first of all, they have the ability to run at speeds of up to 35mph.
This is incredibly fast for such a small dog, and actually makes them the second fastest dog on the planet.
Not only that but because of their lightweight frame and large leg muscles, they can accelerate at high speeds, they are the fastest accelerating dog of all.
Whippets generally weigh anywhere between 6.8kg and 14kg, combine this with their large muscles; they are able to catapult themselves off the start line as soon as they see a prey animal running.
These large leg muscles also give whippets the ability to jump too, providing they have the right training.
It’s not uncommon for a whippet to be able to jump 6ft fences when trained correctly, their large leg muscles propel them off the ground allowing them to bound over fences, gates and any other obstacles that get in their way of the chase.
Another reason why whippets are excellent hunter is that they are part of the sighthound family, which means they hunt primarily with sight and speed.
A whippets eyesight is one of it’s strongest assets, they are able to spot prey for far away and have the speed to chase them down.
They naturally have a great sense of smell too, so are able to sniff prey out if they’re hiding in bushes or brambles.
What Do Whippets Hunt?
What animals do whippets hunt?
Given that these dogs are very small, they are only able to hunt small prey that they are able to catch in their mouth.
This is generally rabbits and rats, as these vermin are small enough for the whippet to grab in their mouths.
Unlike the larger greyhounds, which were used for coursing, whippets were more commonly used to hunt game that their owner could catch and eat in medieval England.
Whippets were sometimes called “snap dogs” because they would enter arenas with rabbits and “snap” them up.
Whippets will chase almost any small animals that run, they have an incredibly strong instinct and will chase down many animals.
However, you should be very careful, as some animals that they chase could be very dangerous, badgers, foxes etc could cause serious harm to your beloved whippet.
You should never let your whippet chase any other animals, as this could be a disaster and end up very badly.
Whippets Were Bred To Hunt
Whippets were bred to hunt here in England to chase rabbits for sport in an arena.
They were used for coursing, where the working men would place bets on whose whippets would catch the prey first.
Whippets were given the name “a poor man’s racehorse”, as in them days racehorses were only for the upper class, so many of the working class settled for whippet racing.
A whippet is the offspring of a greyhound and a terrier, with a greyhound being much larger and having breathtaking speed, and the terrier being a smaller, more aggressive dog that’s used to hunt smaller prey.
This gives us the whippet, a dog that looks like a greyhound only smaller but has the hunting instinct of the terrier, making them excellent hunting dogs for small game such as rabbits and rats.
Whippets were bred to hunt; this is why they still do a fantastic job at doing so even hundreds of years later.
How To Train A Whippet To Hunt
Training a whippet to hunt rabbits and rats can be quite tricky, as you’ll need a lot of time on your hand as well as plenty of open space.
Many individuals choose to use lures, and I’ve found this one of the most effective methods over the years.
A lure is essentially a machine that has a long piece of fishing wire attached to it, you would then tie a rabbit skin to the lure, and the machine would pull it in.
This gets your whippet used to the smell and looks of a running rabbit so that when you come to the real thing he knows what to do and can spring into action.
Learning your whippet to hunt should be done at an early age, usually around the age of one.
The whippet will need to be fit, healthy and have a strong instinct if he’s going to be a good hunter.
Thankfully most whippets have a high natural instinct and will chase prey animals naturally, but the trick is getting the dog to bring the catch back to you and release it.
This is what needs to be practised time and time again with a lure, and can take months, even years for your whippet to master.
Training a whippet to hunt rabbits may seem easy, but it takes a lot of time and dedication to training your whippet to be a master hunter.
So is a whippet a hunting dog? Absolutely!
Whippets were bred to hunt and absolutely love doing so.
They will chase small prey animals such as rabbits and rats and can be excellent at keeping these pests under control.
Whippets are known throughout the UK as excellent working dogs, this is because they can run at lightning-fast speed and have exceptional eye-sight.
Whippets have everything they need to hunt small prey, including the ability to jump very high over fences or obstacles they come across.
They don’t even need commands from the hunter to be able to catch prey, making them very independent hunters.
Whippets will try to chase many other animals, but some could be very dangerous, so it’s important to keep your whippet on a leash when out in the woods, as you never know what you may come across that your whippet may chase.
I have heard many horror stories of whippet running after larger game animals and becoming injured in the process, so it’s super important that you keep your whippet under control especially out in the sticks.
As a whole, whippets are very successful hunters; they are used by many farmers and landowners to keep control of the pests.
Rabbits and rats are no match for a healthy hunting whippet, these dogs have been used as working dogs since the 1600s in England, and are still used to this day.
Hopefully I have answered your question of is a whippet a hunting dog, and you’ve learned a thing or two in the process.
Whippets are excellent working dogs that have done great hunting for many years, and they continue to do so to this day.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!