What's the Truth About Sighthound Puppies?

By Sharyn Hutchens, Timbreblue Whippets

Meg, Ruby, and Whimsy, 6 weeks old, November 2005Someone asked about (the energy levels or activity levels of) sighthound puppies. They are bad. Many are very, very bad. Because they are so agile, they can get into things that other puppies don't even think about. At five weeks, our Whippet puppies are racing up and down the stairs. At six months they can leap onto your kitchen counters. At nine months they can leap from behind the sofa and land on the floor in front of it. They have energy to spare and if you don't get them proper exercise, you'll have a coiled spring in your house ready to BOING as soon as it gets a chance. They don't like being alone and will get in more trouble in five minutes than, say, a Collie puppy will get in all day. On the plus side, they are endlessly entertaining, very affectionate, and way more fun than any dog I've ever had.

We don't sell Whippet puppies to homes in which no one is home for most of the day. Leaving a Whippet pup alone for more than a couple of hours is a recipe for a problem dog. Some folks get away with it, but every Whippet with behavior problems we have ever taken into rescue came from a home where no one was there during the day. Around three years old, magic occurs and the Whippet turns into a perfect dog. Before then, you need to be ever-watchful, ever-patient, and ready to replace furniture when necessary.

We know of young Whippets who have:
  • leaped onto the counter and eaten the top out of an apple pie, then stuffed a dishcloth in it to "bury it";

  • stolen a bottle of liver-flavored antibiotics from the counter and eaten the entire contents (that was the day of the puke-a-thon... We didn't know who had gotten the bottle, so we had to induce vomiting in four dogs);

  • opened my computer cabinet and eaten the mouse (three times, until I realized I really had to lock the cabinet every time I left the room for even five minutes);

  • gotten on top of the refrigerator to get at food;

  • leaped out of a second story window;

  • run full speed into a tree and broken her neck (very tragic and does occasionally happen -- thank goodness never to any of ours).
Patches and Neo, 6 weeks, November 2005Obviously we adore these dogs or we wouldn't have so many of them, and as I said, after three years old, they're pretty much perfect. But as puppies, they are demon spawn!

Aloofness is very unusual in the ones I've known. Ours all suffer from EGD (Excessive Greeting Disorder) and that applies to me, Walt, the mailman, the UPS guy, and I'm sure to burglars. They love *everybody.* We've had a few rescues through here who weren't accustomed to much affection from humans and so were less exuberant than our own, but after a few weeks or months living in a proper Whippet home, they always come out of their shells and learn to totally overwhelm anyone coming through the door. Let's put it this way. When people come over to meet the dogs or see puppies, we warn them to wear old clothes and be prepared for excessive greeting. After five minutes, the Whippets settle down and curl up in the stranger's lap, but that first five minutes is quite an experience for most people.

"What's the Truth About Sighthound Puppies?" Copyright © 2005 Sharyn Hutchens.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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