July 4th is mostly known in the States for being America’s birthday. Among our canine companions, however, it’s important for another reason. It’s Whippet Day! A vet discusses these ‘pawesome’ pups below.
Whippets are closely related to Greyhounds. In fact, they look like a smaller version of the famous race dogs. They are categorized in the Hound Group and, like Greyhounds, are specifically listed as sighthounds. Like many other sighthounds, they have small heads, long legs, deep chests, and narrow waists. As one might suspect, these guys are extremely fast runners. Fido can run up to 35mph! He’s also known for being able to make very fast turns.
This branch of Fido’s family tree has been around for quite a while: dogs with similar appearances were depicted in Ancient Egyptian art. The Whippet was still charming people by the Victorian age, when they became renowned for their talents in coursing competitions and catching rabbits. This helped earn them the title ‘Poor Man’s Racehorse.’ In fact, the breed’s name is derived from the 17th-century word ‘whippet’ which means ‘to move fast’ or ‘to move quickly.’ (Whips probably had something to do with the original meaning, but that’s another topic.) Whippet racing became very popular in 19th-century England, particularly in Wales and in north England. The Kennel Club officially welcomed the breed into their ranks in 1891.
These sweet, lovable pups are very, very good at melting hearts. They are gentle, loyal, and affectionate. They can make wonderful family pets: they are good with children, and cohabitate well with other dogs and also with cats. Whippets also tend to be quite cuddly, and often enjoy being lap dogs. (It’s worth pointing out that they are so sweet that they are pretty much useless at being guard dogs.) One might think that these pups are extremely active, but they aren’t always set to ‘Full Speed/Go.’ While they do need vigorous runs and play sessions every day, they actually turn into adorable couch potatoes between these workout sessions. A few other things to love about Whippets? They don’t bark or drool much, and need only light grooming. That said, like any other breed, they do have some specific care needs. For example, they get cold very easily. Ask your vet for specific care advice!
Our Advice on Whippet Day in 2024
What is the origin and meaning of the breed’s name, ‘Whippet’?
The breed name ‘Whippet’ has intriguing origins in the 17th century. The term ‘whippet’ in that era meant ‘to move briskly’ or ‘to move quickly,’ aptly reflecting the breed’s remarkable speed and agility. This etymology is tied to the breed’s development in England, where they were initially bred for hunting and racing. The name also connects to the word ‘whip,’ reflecting these dogs’ swift, whip-like motion when running. Whippets were especially popular in 19th-century England for their racing prowess, embodying their name’s essence in both spirit and function.
What are the physical characteristics of Whippets, and how fast can they run?
Whippets are known for their distinctive, streamlined physique, a hallmark of their exceptional speed and agility. These dogs have small heads, long legs, deep chests, and narrow waists, all contributing to their aerodynamic build. Their physical structure is optimized for high-speed pursuits, making them one of the fastest dog breeds. A Whippet can reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour, showcasing their incredible athleticism. This burst of speed, combined with their ability to make sharp, fast turns, makes Whippets extraordinary runners, perfect for racing and agility competitions.
When did the Kennel Club officially recognize the Whippet breed?
The Kennel Club, the UK’s leading canine authority, officially recognized the Whippet breed in 1891. This recognition marked a significant milestone in the breed’s history, formally acknowledging Whippets as distinct. The Kennel Club’s recognition came when Whippets gained popularity in England, particularly for their prowess in racing and coursing events. The Kennel Club’s official recognition validated the breed’s unique characteristics and abilities, paved the way for standardized breeding practices, and increased interest in Whippets both in the UK and internationally.
What is Whippets’ temperament, and how suitable are they as family pets?
Whippets are renowned for their gentle, affectionate temperament, making them excellent family pets. They are known to be exceptionally loyal and loving, often forming strong bonds with their human companions. Despite their high energy levels during outdoor activities, Whippets are surprisingly calm and serene indoors, often enjoying snuggling and being lap dogs. Their friendly nature extends to children and other pets, including dogs and cats, making them a harmonious addition to multi-pet households. However, their sweet disposition means they are not ideal as guard dogs. Overall, Whippets’ blend of playfulness and placidity, coupled with their loving nature, makes them an excellent choice for families.
What are specific care needs for Whippets, especially regarding their sensitivity to cold?
Whippets have specific care needs, mainly due to their thin coats and low body fat, making them cold-sensitive. It’s essential to provide them with warm clothing like sweaters or jackets during colder months or when going outside in chilly weather. Indoors, they appreciate warm, comfortable bedding away from drafts. Additionally, Whippets require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being, but this should be balanced with their need to stay warm in cold weather. Lastly, routine veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and regular grooming are essential to keep them healthy and happy.
Do you have questions about your canine pal’s health or care? Contact us, your local animal clinic in North Miami Beach, FL!