Originally bred for smaller racetracks and for rabbit hunting, the Whippet can reach speeds of up to 35mph over short distances. Today's dogs still sometimes take up lure coursing for the pleasure of their owners and exercise rather than gambling. More often they live the pampered, carefree life of family companion.
- AKC (Hound)
- FCI (Group 10)
- KC (Hound)
- UKC (Sighthound and Pariah)
- 27-30 lbs
- medium-sized sighthound
- small, folded, rose ears
- long tail
- short, smooth coat
- can be any color
History of the Whippet
The Whippet originated in England in the 1800s and was once known as the Lightning Rag Dog or Snapdog. Their present name may have derived from ‘whappet’ meaning ‘a small dog that wapps’ (yaps). Rabbit coursing was a popular sport during the 19th century; however minors in the northern part of the country could not afford Greyhounds, so they set out to develop their own breed. As no records exist, there are several theories on how they achieved this:
1) They are the result of selective breeding by size from the larger Greyhounds.
2) Greyhounds were crossed with spaniels to create the breed.
3) Italian Greyhounds crossed with terriers (possibly the Manchester) to create the breed.
4) Greyhounds crossed with coursing terriers specifically to create the breed.
Any one (or more) of these theories may hold the truth, but by whatever means the result was a small coursing sighthound that was often described as the “poor man’s Greyhound” and today has become a popular companion.