Whippets are among the most loved family and working dogs worldwide. Their soft and charming demeanour, sleek coats, small size, high intelligence, and dog-free smell make them a preferable apartment buddy for most people.
Besides their character and look, whippets are incredibly fast runners and have a high prey drive. If you don’t know much about whippet history, you may mistake the whippet for some lazy and weak dog due to their slim bodies, but that’s far from the case.
However slim they might look, whippets are strong and muscular too. So, are you curious to know more about the whippet and its origin? Then you’re in the right place.
This article has everything you need to know about whippet history, origin, how they became so popular, why they were bred, and acquired their lovely elegant look. Keep reading on to learn more about this loving and affectionate dog.
The Origins Of The Whippet
Whippets’ origin is to some extent obscure, and the debate on the actual whippets’ age is a concern to many people. There are two general theories supporting the whippets’ origin. One of them suggests that the whippets originated from ancient Rome and Egypt.
This theory provides shreds of evidence of paintings, pottery, tapestry, artefacts, and statues with a small greyhound-like dog, with a rose-shaped ear whippet have. A painting dates back to 1350 in the British Museum with a dog’s portrait that inexplicably looks like a whippet.
So you can say that whippets are an ancient breed. Solid pieces of evidence are supporting this theory.
Another theory states that whippets evolved in Northern England during the 18th-19 centuries. During these two centuries, most people from this region had better jobs. Average citizens could only be tenant farmers, work in the mills, or be coal miners.
The wealthy ones had massive estates, and one of the many things these estates had was kennels, which kept an array of dogs, including greyhounds.
The miners decided to breed their terriers with greyhounds to provide the working class with a hunting and racing pooch, commonly known in today’s world as the whippet. They were later bred with Italian greyhounds to give them their elegant and soft look.
The whippets provided entertainment to the working-class men through a game called the snap-dog coursing. In this game, the whippets were made to chase after loose rabbits or rats in an enclosed field, and the whippet that snaps the most prey wins, while its master collects the winnings.
The snap dog coursing game led whippets to nicknamed ‘snap dogs.’
After a while, this game was declared vicious and comprehensively banned. Another track tracing game was then introduced called rag racing. In rag racing, whippets competed by chasing after a waving rag—the first one to catch the rag wins.
This game became a popular and reliable solution for most people to earn a living and also gain pride, hence giving the whippets’ another nickname, ‘the poor man’s greyhound.’ Besides entertainment, whippets were great hunters too. Most owners used them for hunting rabbits and often slept and ate with them together.
When Did Whippets Become So Popular?
In the 30s and 20s, the whippets’ popularity grew rapidly, not just as a status figure but also as excellent racers. However, they faded in the public eye starting from the late 30s. It again became popular from 16th April 1890 when the American Kennel Club first adopted their first whippet and their 46th dog breed.
This day, the American Kennel Club decided to subsequently accept whippets into its studbook and give whippet classes at the shows.
The first recorded whippet champion was called Zuber in 1896, and it was brown and white in colour. In 1899, a group led by a Duchess from Newcastle approached the AKC, asking them to acknowledge a new Whippet Club they formed to be the official whippet breed organization.
The AKC permitted them, and the duchess became the first president of the club. This decision had a great impact on this dog breed. Most people became more interested in them. In only one year, the Saks studbook list doubled.
During world war 1, most whippets were wiped out, but it wasn’t for very long. They again became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. By the early 2000s, whippets were known to be one of the most well-known dog breeds in the dog society, having more than 3000 registrations yearly.
Some of the whippets that ensured the continuity and popularity of this dog breed are Zubers grandson Ch. Shirley and Shirley’s son Ch. Maori. After a short while, Ch. Willesbeaux came along and was exported to the United States.
Another whippet called Ch. Towyside was chosen to be the main centre of focus on Tiptrees breeding program, which significantly the development of whippets in America and England after the second world war.
Whippets continued to gain popularity during the 1960s and 1970s and were on the headlines all over America. After that, the most common whippet breed was called the Laguna, found in the Tiptree breeding program.
Laguna whippet had a significant influence on whippet history. They are the most common whippet champions in America, England, and worldwide.
Since the 1980s, the British have had a very minimal influence in the United States. Today, American whippets are widely shipped globally and lead on most dog championships, even in Great Britain.
Brief Detail About Whippets Temperament And Behaviour
After learning about the whippet history, it’s often common to be curious to know what they’re like. Identifying whippets is relatively easy since they are generally slim, fast, agile, and at the same time loving and affectionate.
But how do they actually behave can be a considerable concern to most people, especially those owning one or planning to bring a whippet home soon?
Here is a brief detail about whippets’ personality and behaviour.
Whippets Personality And Behaviour
Whippets are described as amazing all-purpose dogs. Do you know why? Because they are perfect as house pets and can even be used as working dogs.
Their agility, speed, and sighthounds vision ability elect them as fantastic working dogs, while their small size, charming, and affectionate personality make them excellent house pets.
Whippets love staying around people and often get attached to one person. Their slim and short fur bodies make them fragile; hence they need proper care, a warm and comfortable environment free of cold and excess heat.
Due to intelligence level, whippets aren’t hard to train, but they aren’t highly trainable like other dog breeds such as the Border Collies and German Shepards. Whippets usually don’t have dog odour and are clean dogs; hence they don’t need much grooming like most dog breeds.
Whippet history has an immense impact on how whippets behave in today’s world. For instance, whippets have high hunting instincts since they’re from a line of racers and hunters. Therefore, its recommended to strongly consider helping your whippet control its prey drive to improve its safety and manners.
You should secure your whippet if you have small pets such as rabbits and cats, and there’s no one to watch it. The good news is whippets are always willing to please, loyal, and friendly. Therefore, if you train him to behave the way you want, he’ll definitely learn.
Unlike most puppies, whippets don’t bark a lot. He might not be the best dog for individuals considering a protective dog, as he will likely lick intruders that strike and protect you.
Whippets Size And Life Expectancy
If you want an apartment buddy who can live with for more than a decade, then whippets the best option, with a lifespan of about 12-15 years.
To sustain it for many years, your whippet will need proper feeding, grooming, exercising, up-to-date vaccinations and vet checks, and socialising to be healthy, happy, and comfortable.
Averagely, male whippets weigh about 34 pounds and stand approximately 19-22 inches. The female ones usually are 29 pounds with a height of about 18-21 pounds.
Whippets Energy Levels
Although highly predacious and fast, whippets can be surprisingly gentle and calm. Some whippets can sleep on the couch for hours or beside their owners watching a favourite daily show.
But due to the whippet history of being excellent sprinters and overactive, you’ll need to ensure your pup has regular exercise every day.
Most people usually confuse whippets for marathon runners, but they’re sprinters. Meaning they only run for short bursts, not distant runs. Daily exercise is crucial for your whippet’s bone and muscle development and its mental sanity.
Sighthounds are popularly known for being independent thinkers, including whippets. This dog breed has high intelligence, speed, and an independent breed, making them excellent dogs for agility duties.
Take advantage of your whippet’s gentleness, outgoingness, and obedience to model a fun, satisfied, and happy canine buddy.
In A Nutshell
Whippet history has significantly impacted the temperament, popularity, and behaviours of whippets. Their vast prey drive is due to breeding parents, the terriers, which have a high killer and chasing instincts.
However, your whippet doesn’t have to stay like that if you don’t want to. You can always shape him to be the exact buddy you want in your home through proper training and maintenance.
One of the best training approaches is using rewards to keep your pup motivated and always eager for another lesson until they grow older and you can remove the rewards.
Hopefully, after this post, you now have a better understanding of the history of whippets, and have learned a thing or two about this amazing breed.