Description & History

The Whippet is a sporting breed which was developed by working men and their families in the north of England around 1850.

The upkeep of the Greyhound was too costly for the average man. He required a dog that would combine all the attributes of the Greyhound - speed, agility, stamina but most important of all the new breed had to be small.

The origin of the breed - which were known at one time as "Hitalians" - is not certain but, taking in to account the name they were once given and the reason for their creation, it suggests that Italian Greyhounds were crossed with small greyhounds and terriers. They were bred originally for hare and rabbit coursing, although at the turn of the century, when first used for track racing, they were more than capable of dealing with this new sport.

After rabbit coursing was banned because of its cruelty, track racing then became very popular. Racing took place in country fairs and stadiums. Handicapping was introduced when Whippets raced on straight courses.

Whippet racing first took place in Lancashire. The tracks used were both grass and cinder. Cinder tracks were much preferred by the owners as faster times were achieved.

The hare coursing season in Great Britain starts in the middle of September. Nowadays the object of coursing is not to kill the hare but to test the ability of the Whippets which participate. Only healthy hares are used; also, the ground where the event takes place is familiar to the hare and not the hounds.

The British Kennel Club recognised the breed in 1890. In 1899 the Whippet Club was inaugurated and it then became a show dog.

Owing to its background the Whippet should receive large amounts of exercise daily, in all weathers, so that it remains happy and healthy.

Rosamund Walters.



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