Whippet racing is a nonprofit type of dog sport that involves your whippet chasing after an artificial lure to see which dog will cross the finish line first.
It is a fun, exciting event for your dog, as he will be more than happy to chase after the lure, and will show off some of his amazing sprinting abilities.
Your whippet’s score after the race will be an overall combination of how fast he ran and other attributes such as enthusiasm and ability.
The most common form of whippet racing is lure coursing, which will take place in a field where your whippet will chase a fake lure dragged ahead by a pulley.
Whippet racing will not require extensive training apart from some getting used to new equipment and arousing your dog’s prey drive instincts so that he will be more excited and cooperative during the real race.
Whippets are athletic, medium-sized dogs with a build and frame designed for running.
Descendant from Greyhounds, the fastest dog in the world, it is only natural for Whippets to display similar speed abilities. As well as that, these dogs are teeming with energy and love to exercise.
Will racing be a good option for fulfilling a Whippet’s physical activity needs and at the same time providing fun and excitement for him?
Of course, if you are considering taking part in any dog sporting event, it is important to educate yourself about it and to find out if it’s right for you and your dog.
This is the ultimate guide to whippet racing, which will explain more on what exactly is involved in this sport and whether your Whippet will be fit to partake in it.
What Is Whippet Racing?
Just like Greyhound racing, Whippet racing is a sport that involves letting out a Whippet from behind bars so that it chases a mechanical lure.
Most often this lure is a mechanically propelled or stuffed rabbit. The Whippets race each other to see who gets the rabbit first and wins.
This sport first became popular back in the 1800s, when English coal miners would organise Whippet racing or coursing events. In those times, the Whippet would most often chase after a rag which was waved a distance ahead of him.
This would stimulate the Whippet’s prey drive and incline him to dart at the lure at full speed.
It is for this reason that the Whippet earned its name, ‘The Poor Man’s Racehorse’. Back in those days, Whippet racing was a form of gambling. It would earn profit for those who betted on the winning Whippet and meant a loss for others.
Nowadays, however, Whippet racing does not usually involve betting or earning money. Instead, it is a hobby or sport that people involve their dogs in for the fun, excitement, and physical activity which comes with it.
Whippets enjoy taking part in racing, as they have plenty of energy, and this allows them to run it off and get plenty of extensive and enjoyable exercise.
Even though Whippet racing is not as popular or widespread as Greyhound racing, there are still many enthusiasts of this sport in the US and UK. In fact, a number of events are being held for Whippet racing throughout the states.
Are Whippets Good Racing Dogs?
Whippets are excellent racing dogs as a result of their speed and amazing acceleration ability. As a matter of fact, these extra fast dogs can reach the breathtaking speed of 35 miles per hour.
The Whippet was build for speed and sprinting, with its long legs, and flexible, lean, agile body. He can attain such speeds using double suspension, and their light body allows for them to propel themselves forward with ease.
As well as that, despite their thin frame, these dogs have strong legs and large, powerful muscles which aid them greatly in movement while on the race track.
Whippets also have a strong prey drive which inclines them to chase after small animals. It is for that reason that these dogs were once used for hunting small animals such as rabbits.
Races that involve them chasing after the lure will satisfy that drive to run after their quarry.
Racing is a great way of fulfilling the Whippet’s necessary physical activity requirements, as this dog’s natural instinct is to run and to chase. Racing is a way of giving a Whippet exercise, and at the same time doing it in a fun way that they will enjoy.
How To Train Your Whippet To Race
How can I train my Whippet to race? If you have considered taking part in racing with your Whippet, here are a few things you can practice with him before the event:
- Tie a lure (this could be a rag, toy, plastic bag, or stuffed animal plushie) to a rope, and hold the end of the rope in your hand.
- Have someone hold your Whippet back so that he does not break off into a chase too soon.
- When you are ready, your Whippet can be released at a given command. Run a distance ahead of him with the lure attached to the rope as he chases after.
- You can fly the lure into the air whenever your Whippet tries to grab it so you don’t make it as easy for him and the fun lasts longer for him.
- This will stimulate your Whippet’s chasing instincts and can build a great deal of enthusiasm, stamina, and endurance if you do it regularly and for longer periods at a time each day.
Another way to train your Whippet for racing is to purchase a battery-operated mechanical lure. This lure can be set into action to run at a high speed for your Whippet to chase after. This could be very similar to real-life Whippet racing.
Additionally, sometimes such mechanical lures can come with the ability to squeak or make other sounds. This naturally would add to the enthusiasm and excitement of your Whippet while he chases the lure as he originally would have chased prey.
You can also record the time it takes your Whippet to catch the lure, and see if you can beat that record time with each session.
Diet, Exercise & More
What and how often should I feed my Whippet if I want to involve him in racing?
Unlike a normal Whippet, a racing Whippet will have extra energy requirements and will therefore need to consume more calories to keep him in shape.
To ensure your Whippet is healthy and meets the energy requirements for a racing dog, always feed him a premium dog food with at least 20% protein and 30% fat.
The protein will strengthen his muscles and moreover aid the energy metabolism. Fat, on the other hand, recompensate for the burnt calories and provides energy and satiety. Fat will also prevent your Whippet from dropping down to an unhealthy weight.
As well as that, you can feed your racing Whippet 50/50 dog food and raw diet, where you include foods like red meat, fish, an occasional egg, brown rice, and vegetables – all for additional carbohydrates and protein.
You can even add beneficial supplements such as cod liver oil to your Whippet’s diet to keep him healthy and physically fit.
The feeding requirement for a racing Whippet is to feed them one cup of food twice a day. However, this will largely be based on the individual dog as it largely depends on the level of exercise they are getting.
The more calories your whippet burns, the more food he will need to be an effective racing whippet.
When it comes to exercise for a racing Whippet, a minimum of one hour every day is required. This can involve walks, playtime, and training or sprinting sessions.
Ensure your Whippet receives plenty of rest after racing so he can recover his energy and strength.
A crate is often used to provide a safe, secure place for your Whippet to rest between races if multiple ones are being held at the same event.
More About Whippet Racing
There are two different types of Whippet racing. These include track racing and coursing. Coursing falls into two categories, including lure coursing and open field coursing.
Tracking racing (also known as oval track racing) is a form of Whippet racing that involves the dog running around an enclosed oval track in pursuit of a mechanical lure. This is usually an electrical hare or rabbit, which goes around on the railing of the track.
Lure coursing takes place in the field, where an artificial lure, ranging from a plastic bag, toy, or mechanical rabbit or hare is dragged by a pulley across the field ahead of the Whippets.
This is the most popular and common type of Whippet racing. The point of this sport is for small groups of Whippets – two to three dogs – to chase after the moving lure.
The competitors are usually judged by assets such as their enthusiasm, stamina, speed, endurance, and overall ability.
Open field coursing is not as popular, and it involves letting Whippets chase a live hare or another animal in an open field to see which dog can catch and kill the prey first.
This type of coursing is considered a blood sport, and as a result, is banned in many countries due to the practice of allowing the killing of a live animal for the sake of a hobby.
When taking part in Whippet racing with your Whippet, two things you must consider is that during races your dog most often will be required to wear a racing blanket and a muzzle.
The racing blanket usually includes your dog’s number, while the muzzle prevents any potential danger of fighting among the dogs. It also helps determine the winner in the final photo finish.
As well as that, sometimes owners may put a dog jacket on their Whippet in colder months. This will help act as an insulation to keep them warm, as Whippets have little body fat, a short coat, and very thin skin, making them more susceptible to low temperatures.
For that reason, you may want to get your Whippet adjusted to these before taking him to a racing event. A Whippet should already be comfortable with wearing such things beforehand to avoid any issues during the race.
Often it is a good idea to put the muzzle on or racing blanket whilst training with the lure at home. Chances are, your Whippet will be so excited and focused on the lure, he won’t even notice.
Or else he will just simply associate these things with the race and therefore something fun, and won’t mind them.
You should also keep your dog on a leash whilst waiting for a racing event to begin, to avoid him from running off too soon at seeing the lure being prepared. A slip leash is usually what is used, as Whippets do not wear collars during races.
Other precautions to take are to never give your Whippet a meal before the race starts and to keep plenty of water with you for after the race to help your dog cool off.
While some breeders prefer to remove the whippets dewclaws at puppyhood, if your racing Whippet still has one, it can actually be beneficial to them.
The dewclaws act as a stabiliser and take the pressure away from the rest of the toes, making it easier for your Whippet to turn.
With the right preparation, Whippet racing can be a very fun event for both you and your Whippet.
It also gives your Whippet something to look forward to and allows him to perform intensive exercise which will satisfy his limitless energy.
Running at high speeds is something Whippets excel at, so it only comes naturally to them.
Even Whippets considered slower than others still do well in these races and events, and get to have plenty of fun.
The most common type of racing your Whippet can take part in is lure coursing. This is a great way of putting your Whippet’s prey drive and chasing instincts into play without the injury of another animal.