In my last article about great hunting dogs other than beagles, I highlighted some stellar breeds that will aid you on the hunt. But I think the whippet deserves special attention because of its sporting abilities and small size. These dogs are descended from greyhounds and are known as the poor man's racehorse. The name whippet literally means whip it, because of its fast speed.
If you're looking for speed and agility, this is a dog to consider. They are primarily sight-hounds, dogs that use speed and sight over scent. Their history goes back to England as the original greyhound. But royalhunters eventually decided to do away with smaller greyhounds, because they were not deemed worthy to hunt. These dogs were returned to their breeders, who were normally peasants, but these unwanted dogs were further bred to create the whippet breed. In the end, these royal hunters of old were proven wrong, since this it is the smaller dog that makes the best hunter, especially when chasing smaller and agile prey like rabbits.
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The whippet is considered a racing dog and can play a wide array of other sports.
Ironically, the whippet is known as a couch potato, and is a dog that tends to jump on the furniture, much like the Great Dane. But they do require regular exercise, and they are docile animals. When they aren't up and about, they usually spend their time sleeping. These are dogs you can take just about anywhere because of their tame personalities, and they are friendly around people. This is a great dog to have around your children. They are definitely a dog you would want to consider as a pet, but you may be in for some extensive indoor training if you don't like your dogs on furniture. And one of the more curious aspects of the breed is that they are oversensitive to touch. They tend to get startled easily if surprised or touched unexpectedly. When training them, it is best to use a delicate and diverse approach. Running and fetching exercises are best with this dog. They are known for chasing smaller animals, and sometimes killing them, but they will learn to recognize indoor cats as fellow members of the family. This is a dog you'll want to keep fenced in at all times to avoid thetargeting neighborhood animals. In general, they get along well with other dogs and breeds, but you have to act as alpha male on a consistent basis; otherwise, they will act out and form behavior problems. When going on the hunt, act as the pack leader, and remind them it is their job to bring you the hunt.
This breeds will live anywhere from 12 to 15 years, and they are above common canine ailments like allergies or ear infections. And they also do not get rare ailments such as hip displacement, although they can be found in some of these breeds. There are some minor problems with stomach and skin irritation, but it is nothing to be too worried about. Be aware if your whippet is going under the knife in any fashion, since their bodies are unable to handle barbiturate anesthetics due to the liver being unable to process the chemical. This is a breed with little hair, if you're looking for a dog without the hassle of shedding, but these dogs do not do well in the cold because of their short fur. They are also an odorless breed.
If interested in this dog, your local breeder should carry them. It is a great dog to have in conjunction with scent-based hounds.