The Whippet is a medium sized sighthound recognised upon first impression for its speed, agility, and slender build.
They are known to have originated from their larger cousin the Greyhound, which gives the Whippet a very close appearance and likewise similar attributes.
Enthusiasts of the Whippet breed may know a range of information on Whippets and probably a lot of facts about them and their origins.
However, there are a lot of whippet facts that you may have not known before – or may have heard of but never looked into.
This may include the origins of its name, properties that distinguish it from other breeds of dogs, and what conditions Whippets may be prone to.
Here are 9 whippet facts that you didn’t know before:
1. Whippets Were Called ‘The Poor Mans Greyhound’
Back in the 1700’s, Greyhounds were expensive dogs which were only accessible for the rich, nobles, and the aristocracy.
Whippets, which descended from the Greyhound, and, like the Greyhound, originated in England, were more readily available and did not come with such a high cost.
For this reason, they were owned by people of the poorer class, as they could afford these dogs which looked like smaller versions of the Greyhound.
As a result, Whippets became known as ‘The Poor Man’s Greyhound’. Sometimes, they were also called ‘The Poor Man’s Racehorse’.
Even though Whippets date as far back as the 1600’s, they were only became officially recognisable in the 1800’s as a breed.
At first, their main purpose was to hunt small prey, vermin, and rabbits, but it was not until the 1800’s when these dogs, just like Greyhounds, started being used for racing.
The sport of Whippet racing was born after a certain amusement sport became deemed as unethical by animal right groups.
This particular sport involved locking in a Whippet with a rabbit in an arena, where the Whippet would snap on and kill the rabbit.
This is why at that time Whippets were being referred to as ‘snap dogs’.
This was a form of gambling, where people would bet on whose rabbit would be killed first. When this sport was no longer a common practice, men would wave a rag for the Whippet to chase instead.
Seeing how fast and swift the Whippet was as a race dog, Whippet racing came into popularity as much as Greyhound racing.
2. Most Whippets Don’t Smell
For the better part, Whippets do not develop a specific odour like some other dog breeds.
Even after getting caught in the rain, Whippets don’t produce a very offensive odour like other dogs, and any mild smell they may have will vanish as they dry.
This is not just due to the fact they have a short coat, but also because they do not secrete as many oils responsible for a strong dog odour as some other dog breeds.
This makes their washing requirements not as extensive as those of other dogs.
Additionally, they do not shed as much, especially if brushed weekly with a slicker or bristle brush to remove any loose and excess hair.
3. Whippets Are Prone To Shivering
Whippets are a breed of dog which are prone to shivering, shaking, and trembling a lot.
These dogs have very short fur, thin skin, and they are very slim, therefore have little body fat to keep them warm. As a result, they get colder more easily than other breeds.
If you live in a cold climate or it is winter, these dogs most often will be very sensitive to the cold and will shiver. Shivering helps them generate warmth and thus raises their core body temperature.
This is because muscular activity is activated, and as the muscles contract they will generate energy which turns into heat and helps a Whippet warm up.
During cold or winter days, it is important to keep your Whippet at home in the warmth or give him a dog jacket for warmth when outside, as it will provide insulation.
4. Whippets Require Special Collars
Whippets have a different build than a lot of other breeds of dogs. They have a narrow head, a deep chest, and a neck that is slender and does not have tough skin or fat to protect them.
A regular collar is not always suited for a Whippet. It makes it easy for a Whippet to slide out of, as it is not made for a narrow head and slender neck.
As well as that, if a Whippet jumps forward suddenly or starts off in a run suddenly, a regular collar could put too much pressure on the neck and damage it over time inadvertently.
This is why Whippets usually need a special type of collar designed for sighthounds.
One type of collar ideal for this breed is that which is wider at the front and narrow at the back called a Lurcher collar. Another good collar is the Martingale collar, which Whippets cannot slip out of.
5. Whippets Could Be Born With A Genetic Mutation
Occasionally a Whippet can be born with a genetic mutation which gives them an extremely muscular and bulky appearance.
While a Whippet needs to have two myostatin genes to receive a normal, slender build, having two defective mutant genes will cause double muscling, giving it a heavily muscular appearance.
Double muscling in Whippets is known as Bully Whippet Syndrome. Double muscling does not just occur in Whippets, but it is also common among cattle with this defective gene.
6. Whippets Are Generally Quiet Dogs
Unlike a lot of other smaller or medium-sized breeds, Whippets are not very vocal and are in fact rather quiet dogs which for the most part do not bark much.
Since a Whippet is a sighthound, these dogs were bred to use their eyes and not their voice to hunt. Whippets are alert and some can even make instinctively good watchdogs.
However, Whippets prefer much more to observe keenly than to bark or howl.
If a Whippet barks, it is most often a way of letting the owner know something is wrong and to gain attention or notice.
7. Whippets Can Run At Speeds Of Up To 35 Miles Per Hour
Descending from the larger Greyhound, Whippets are one of the fastest and swiftest runners among dogs. They are in fact the 2nd fastest dog in the world and are used as racing dogs till today.
Their name, Whippet, is thought to come from the phrase ‘Whip it’ which means to go swiftly and is a reference to whipping horses in the olden times to increase the pace at which they are galloping.
They can run at the top speed of 35 miles per hour and have the fastest accelerating speed of all dogs.
They can also jump 5 feet high in the air, and some are reported to even jump higher.
8. Whippets Are Pack Animals
Whippets are a breed which are known to be prone to separation anxiety if left on their own for many hours every day.
Whippets are not only loyal dogs that get strongly attached to their owners, but additionally, they are pack animals.
This is due to the fact that they belong to the hound group, which would often hunt together in groups from the 17th to the 19th century.
For this reason, it is best to own other dogs which will keep your Whippet company if you work long hours or are not always at home.
This will prevent or decrease nervousness, loneliness, and potential separation anxiety.
9. Whippets Were Introduced To America By Mill Operators
Whippets were brought to America from England by mill operators in the late 1800s, and ever since that time had been gaining popularity in the U.S.
Nowadays the Whippet is much more popular in the U.S than its native homeland, England. In fact, the Whippet is the 55th most popular dog owned in the U.S.
Just like all other breeds of dog, Whippets have some interesting attributes which separate them from other breeds.
They have a different build which allows them to run at an incredible speed, and are in fact one of the fastest dogs on the planet.
As well as that, their slender neck and narrow head make typical collars not as effective for them, because they do not suit the Whippet’s body properties.
Whippets have a coat that is short and usually doesn’t smell but will not protect them from the cold. They also are not a vocal breed unlike many other breeds and are generally quiet and shy.
Whilst once called ‘The Poor Man’s Greyhound’, and owned by the poor class, nowadays the Whippet is one of the most common family companions in the U.S.
In fact, it stands in place #55 as the most popular dog breed. Whippets are loved and favored for their energy, intelligence, and the bond they form with their human partner.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these whippet facts and learned a thing or two about this amazing breed that we all love.
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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!