The whippet is a well-mannered and undemanding dog breed, which makes it an excellent family pet. Whippets that have undergone proper training and socialisation are friendly towards kids and guests.
As you discover more about the whippet, one term you’ll likely encounter is the bully whippet syndrome. So, What Is Bully Whippet Syndrome? It is a medical ailment that affects whippets and causes them to have Hercules-like muscles.
Whippets with this syndrome appear to have a bulky muscular build instead of the breed’s natural slender build.
This article will help you grasp more about the bully whippet syndrome, the gene that causes it, and the rarity of bully whippets. You’ll also learn the manifestations of the bully whippet gene mutation and how to tell if your whippet has this mutation.
The Myostatin Gene
The myostatin gene (MSTN) is a unique gene that directs and regulates myostatin production. Myostatin is critical in controlling the growth and development of muscle tissue.
A spontaneous alteration in this myostatin gene can occur in humans, cattle, and sheep, resulting in a mutation where the gene instructs cells to generate low myostatin levels. When this happens, muscle growth isn’t regulated, and they overgrow.
Since myostatin occurs almost entirely in muscles, an affected whippet will only have enlarged muscles and not organs. However, this whippet disease is relatively benign and doesn’t adversely affect your pet’s health or well-being.
A study by Dr. Carlos Bustamante from Stanford Medicine shows that some mutations in this gene can be beneficial.
According to this study, one form of the myostatin gene mutation can result in a slightly more muscled dog that is more athletic than its natural counterparts. If your whippet has such a condition, it will be more athletic than other whippets.
This mutation type affects only one copy of the myostatin gene. Such a whippet isn’t technically called a bully whippet. Whippets that have this mutation form show a mild version of this ailment.
This syndrome means that your furry friend will be among the fastest whippet in racing and other competitions. However, suppose your whippet suffers from the severe form of this muscle gene mutation. In that case, it may not be as beneficial as the other form.
This second myostatin gene mutation is more severe. It leads to grossly over-muscled whippets that can reach a calf’s size. Such whippets cannot race or compete well because they often suffer from frequent muscle spasms and overbite issues.
Myostatin gene mutations can arise naturally or pass down through genetics. If your whippet’s parents had either of these two gene mutations, the puppy will likely also have these conditions.
Suppose one of the whippet’s parents is a carrier of this myostatin gene mutation. In that case, there’s a 50% possibility that the whippet’s offspring will also be a carrier.
If both whippet parents are carriers, there’s a 50% chance their puppies will be carriers and a 25% probability that they’ll become bully whippets. If only one parental whippet suffers from the bully whippet syndrome, the puppies will be 100% carriers of this trait.
If one parental whippet is affected and the other is a carrier, their pups will have a 50-50 probability of becoming carriers and bully whippets.
These myostatin gene mutations more apparent in whippets and don’t occur in other sighthound breeds such as the greyhound.
Are Bully Whippets Rare?
If you haven’t got a hint on what is bully whippet syndrome, you aren’t alone. Since purebred whippets aren’t always easy to find, finding bully whippets is even more challenging. This syndrome is so uncommon that it only affects the whippet breed.
Bully whippets are exceptionally rare because many breeders tend to put down whippet puppies that have this condition. Such breeders argue that bully whippets have normal-sized organs that often struggle to support their bodies, leading to health issues.
It is also widely considered unethical to breed whippets with this syndrome. Breeders tend to avoid bully whippets because animal rights activists condemn dog breeding that inherits disease or disorders to the offspring.
Some individuals don’t accept bully whippets as they are and consider them abominations. For this reason, some whippet owners also put down puppies with this genetic disorder.
Scientifically speaking, the mutation that causes whippet bully is also rare. To understand this line of thought, you’ll first need to know what is a bully whippet?
Bully Whippet Syndrome And It’s Causes
The syndrome occurs because of gene mutations that delete critical components of the MSTN gene. Such mutations that arise due to deletions rarely cause physical changes. It means that bully whippet syndrome is among such rare mutations.
Bully whippets are rare—one investigation on what is bully whippet syndrome happened to a whippet known as Wendy.
Wendy was a whippet who gained worldwide recognition in 2007 and amazed people with her stocky, muscular build brought about by a genetic disorder. Before this time, many individuals didn’t even know such a condition existed.
Although Wendy passed on in 2017, she is still an iconic figure. She serves as an unofficial bully whippet ambassador on the internet.
What Do Bully Whippets Look Like?
After looking at what is bully whippet syndrome, the next logical step is to understand how bully whippets appear. Whippets suffering from this condition start manifesting symptoms at a young age.
As discussed earlier, the extent of this whippet mutation can appear mildly or severely.
The Severe Mutation
Whippets suffering from the bully whippet syndrome often have several features that distinguish it from other normal whippets. Here is a comprehensive look at how bully whippets appear.
Bully whippets are heftier than the usual whippet and can weigh up to 30kgs (66 pounds). This mass is quite heavy considering that a normal non-racing whippet can weigh up to 11kgs (25 pounds).
Even racing whippets that have a mass of approximately 15kgs (35pounds) aren’t as heavy as bully whippets.
One trivial way of identifying bully whippets is by looking at the canine’s muscle build and concentration. Normal whippets have a slender, lean body and tend to look like miniature greyhounds.
A bully whippets tend to appear like a ripped Pitbull or mastiff dog. Regardless of the bully whippet’s sex, it will have huge bulging muscles, and the whippet may seem like it hits the gym.
Bully whippets tend to have short, stocky necks that have well-defined muscles. Other bully whippet parts with massive structural growth include the chest, abdomen, thighs, and upper arms.
A Visible Overbite
According to scientific research, close to 50% of bully whippets are susceptible to suffering a dental overbite. It is a condition where the whippet’s upper jaw protrudes over the lower one.
Due to uncontrolled muscle growth, bully whippets can develop an easily identifiable overbite, which makes the whippet’s jaw appear crooked. However, early medical intervention can help rectify a bully whippet’s overbite issue.
How Do I Know If My Whippet Carries The Myostatin Gene?
If you are worried whether your whippet is affected or is a carrier of this myostatin mutation, there’s only one sure technique of knowing. Your whippet must undergo a bully whippet double muscling test.
This test involves DNA analysis of your whippet’s genes to identify if your canine has bully whippet syndrome. This whippet DNA test is quick, reliable, and affordable. It works by identifying genetic genotypes responsible for the whippet bully syndrome.
Nowadays, numerous animal DNA centres offer diagnostic services for a wide range of genetic ailments, including myostatin gene mutations. It would be best if you contacted such a DNA diagnostics firm and procured a DNA testing kit.
Such kits come with all the necessary tools you’ll need to collect DNA from your whippet, including clear cut instructions and guidelines.
You can use cotton swabs to collect DNA from your whippet’s inner cheeks and send them to the genetics firm. After a few days, you’ll receive your bully whippet test results.
After the lab analysis, your whippet may have one of three possible results. First, the whippet may be classified as normal, which means it is unaffected by this genetic syndrome.
Secondly, your whippet may be a carrier. It means that your whippet is mildly affected by this genetic condition, and close to half of its offspring can become carriers.
Finally, your whippet may be affected, which means it is severely affected by the bully whippet syndrome. Depending on the results, veterinary specialists can offer several recommendations for your whippet.
Vets advise whippet owners with severe bully whippet syndrome to avoid breeding their hounds since it can result in other affected puppies. On the other hand, unaffected whippets can reproduce safely with normal whippets without producing any affected puppies.
However, breeding mildly-affected whippets isn’t a good idea because it can also produce severely and mildly affected pups.
In closing, what is bully whippet syndrome? It is a genetic disorder whereby some whippets lose the ability to produce a muscle regulatory protein. The result is a whippet with overgrown muscles.
Sadly, this bully whippet syndrome is untreatable. Whippet owners can only avoid it through selective whippet breeding to avoid this trait. If your whippet already has this condition, don’t worry; the only thing that will change is your whippet’s size and appetite.