Are Whippets "Different"?

By Karen Lee of Surrey Hill Whippets

RevaI definitely think Whippets are "different", although not perhaps in all the ways you might think. As I think back on all my experience selling puppies, I would say as a generalization that the buyers I've had who have been most disappointed in their Whippets were people who were longtime fanciers of another breed first. Like I said, that's a generalization, but most of the time, if you consider a (fill in the name of any other breed) your "ideal" pet, and have liked them well enough to have several down through the years, you aren't going to be very happy with a Whippet. To be honest, I've had better success making devoted Whippet fans out of people who had cats first, then people who had (fill in the blank again) first. So, to the extent that any other breed or mix is "everydog", Whippets are WAY different.

The good ways in which Whippets are "different"

Annoying things like "idiot barking" and "lick granulomas" are non-existent in Whippets. They do not bark simply because they are bored and enjoy the sound of their voice (caveat--they do scream, though). They also do not wag their tails apropos of nothing. If a Whippet barks, he has something worth barking at, and if he wags his tail, then he has something worth wagging about. It's not a mindless reflex, either way.

They have very little doggie odor and are ridiculously easy to keep clean and groomed and tidy and neat. They even help by cleaning themselves like cats. Most Whippets will self-groom. Most Whippets don't even like to be dirty or muddy or gross, with the exception that a little smear of cat poop or a dead animal behind the ear is akin to "Doggie Chanel No.5." But, other than that....

They have quite a high pain threshhold, which can make it very hard to tell when they are really hurting. But on the plus side, they practically never have to wear those dreadful Elizabethan collars after surgery, as they generally leave their stitches alone.

The bad ways in which Whippets are "different"

Despite being easy to housebreak in general, extremely cold or wet weather can activate the secret "Bad Weather Clause" in their Whippet contracts, which specifies that in the event of inclement weather, they are to be allowed to do their poops on a dark corner of the most expensive oriental rug in the house. What? You didn't read the fine print? <SPLITCH> Well, too bad. Just don't track it all over the rest of the house, please.

They have no padding on the pressure points of their joints, so this means they are entitled to soft bedding at all times. If you do not provide something suitable just for them (preferably with a luxurious fake fur covering), then your furniture is ALL fair game. Also, obedience sits and stays on mats which are either filthy or cold, or in wet, cold grass outdoors are right out of the question. In fact, it is considered to be torture by the Whippet Geneva Conventions. Whippets have gotten a taste of indoor obedience on ballroom rugs at our Nationals, and they feel that this is how it should be all the time. Why should they be expected to hold an obedience down-stay on some Moss-Bow Foley rubber mat that a Cairn Terrier piddled on the weekend before?

Their necks are very long and their jumping ability good, so do not think anything on any counter is safe, once you leave the kitchen. What's theirs is theirs, and what's yours is theirs.

Everything is a race to a Whippet. This includes going out the door as a group in the morning. They will scream and yodel and crowd in an effort to be out the door first. And if you really want to see pushing and shoving and competition, put a pan with a bit of grease or gravy in it down on the floor.

They will crawl into your dishwasher if the door is down, and lick all your dishes and cutlery. It is best if this happens before you run the dishwasher. Or, if afterwards, make sure your non-doggy houseguests have all gone to bed.

How Whippets are NOT "different"

Whippets can most certainly be disciplined and trained, and are tough enough to handle a fairly stiff or stern correction. You just have be that much more determined. Some do better with separation issues than others, but the younger you start getting them used to a pattern of when you are there for them and when they have "quiet time" alone, the better off you will be in future.

The real difference between Whippets and the generic "everydog", I find, is that the "everydog" reacts to what the master dishes out. He waits eagerly to see what the master wants to do, and is miserable and bored when the master doesn't provide stimulation and affection. The Whippet, in contrast, is perfectly capable of making its own fun. It's just that the Whippet's idea of fun might not coincide real well with yours, so it is best if you can reach an understanding early on. The Everydog sees itself as a tool of the master. The Whippet sees its master as a tool.

So long as you understand this vital difference, and are prepared to either accept your subservient role or reprogram the relationship by taking evasive action early in puppyhood, I think the Whippet makes, as Seigfried Farnon used to say, "the best sort of dog there is."

"Are Whippets Different?" Copyright © 2004 Karen Lee.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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