How To Breed Whippets

How To Breed Whippets – History, Health Issues & Best Whippet Breeding Practices

If you are curious as to how to breed Whippets, we have combined all the breed-specific information you need to know. This is a popular companion breed that has been used for racing purposes for years. They are one of the fastest breeds of dogs for their size and weight and excel in the racing environment.

These dogs adore affection and overall have a calm temperament. They also love to play which helps to control their high energy levels. Summarised by the AKC to be a low maintenance dog, if you are a new breeder, this may be the ideal breed for you. Read on to learn about breeding whippets.

Background of Whippet Breeding

So you can properly inform buyers of how whippets came to be, you need to be aware of their background. This can inform your buyers of their most prominent traits and why humans tried to breed them this way.

Origins

The Greyhound has been a representative as one of the fastest sighthounds for years. The whippet is a close second. They originate in England, a country which adored greyhound racing from the start. Coal miners who enjoyed the sport got involved, but due to a lower working wage and long hours in their job, they struggled to feed and exercise the Greyhounds. This is when a plan was put into place to breed a smaller Greyhound, one they could afford to feed and had the time to properly exercise. With a total speed of 35 miles per hour, it is safe to say the miners accomplished their goal.

This breed is also known as a “snap dog” due to its high instinctual drive and use for ratting. Initially, they were used more as ratting dogs than racing. As time went on, there were two recognized forms of Whippet, the smooth-coated and the rough-coated Whippet. Today’s modern Whippet possesses a smooth coat. It is not known which breeds were combined to create the whippet other than the influence of the Greyhound, and in the case of the rough-coated Whippet, the Bedlington Terrier. By the 20th century, the Whippet was brought over to America and its general and racing popularity soared. Then in 1888 the AKC formally registered the Whippet.

Popularity

Rated 61st out of the 195 registered dog breeds in the AKC, you can assume this breed is still relatively popular in the United States. In the UK, the Whippet is ranked 38th out of 244 breeds and therefore it can be concluded that they are still more popular in the UK. This breed is not only popular in the obvious category of racing, but also dog shows, and lure coursing. One of the most popular forms of Whippet racing is Whippet rags, an event where a Whippet’s owner would wave a rag at the end of the finish line to encourage the Whippets to run to them. The Whippet would usually jump and grasp the rag in their jaws, of which the owner would spin them around, counteracting their momentum.

The Whippets are even recognized in popular modern literature thanks to the author Terry Darlington. He, his wife Monica, and their dog Jim traveled in a narrowboat and their adventures were recorded by Terry in the triad of the Narrow Dog books. The little Whippet Jim has been recorded in these comedic tales which sold over a million copies since the first book’s publication in 2005. The popularity of the Whippet increased with each book sold as they once more shot into the public eye. Especially due to the humorous personalities of little Jim and the newest member of the Darlington family, Jess.

Appearance

If you are considering breeding puppies that represent the breed standard, here is a quick summary of some of the criteria they will have to match:

  • Head: A keen, intelligent and alert expression, large eyes with preferable dark coloring and small, thrown back ears
  • Body: A long muscular neck and a smooth back with a natural arch. The tail should not be carried higher than the top of the back
  • Coat: Short, close, smooth, and firm in texture
  • Forequarters: Not too muscular or too skinny, they should be straight and of equal length to one another
  • Hindquarters: Long and powerful with the hocks close to the ground

This breed is regularly recognized as a ‘small Greyhound‘ as their faces and bodies are very similar. However, there are some key differences between the Whippet and Greyhound. Most obviously is their size, Whippets are half the size of the Greyhound and stand at only 18 – 22 inches tall.

Whippets can also be slightly less defined muscularly as Greyhounds can appear slightly more toned. Another difference is the texture of their ears, Whippets have finer ear fur than Greyhounds. Finally, the face of the Greyhound is ever so slightly more elongated than the whippet. However, your best bet is to simply look at the height and size of the dog in front of you to identify it.

whippets low maintenance
Whippets are rather low maintenance dogs!

Temperament

Whippets are a very sweet and gentle breed. This dog is perfect for a family who has time to give this pup a long walk daily. They are good with children of any age and will be careful and affectionate to them. Furthermore, despite their natural chasing instinct, they are usually great with cats as well. Therefore, if your home has a cat, you can still consider purchasing a whippet.

Another positive trait about this breed is that they are not known to bark a lot. They may do so occasionally, such as at a postman or squirrel, but they are by no means yappy. This can mean they can be considered to live in an apartment. This breed adores exercise and play but also loves the time they get to curl up next to you and sleep away the day.

Some negatives of the whippet include their likelihood of attaining separation anxiety due to their ease to create bonds with humans. Furthermore, as this breed has natural high hunting instincts, they are known to chase small animals. This means you may not want to purchase this breed if you have small rodents in the home such as pet rats. It may also mean you will want to consider walking your dog on a lead, disregarding in dog parks, else they may chase after a small animal and not come back until they are satisfied.

Racing Whippets

Whippets were initially bred to race and with their 35 miles per hour top speed, it is fair to say they are good at it. They compete in different kinds of amateur racing and lure coursing. They were initially used a lot for a type of racing known as Whippet rags, where owners would entice the whippet at the end of the track by waving a rag for them to jump up and grab. The Whippet Club has a whole section on their website dedicated to racing as it is such a strong element of the Whippet’s past and present. The Whippet Club Racing Association manages the standards and rules of Whippet racing across America. This includes everything from the starting cages to lures.

Although all Whippets have the instinct to chase, some training is involved to get a Whippet ready for racing. Initial training begins by encouraging your dog to play with rag games and become interested in them. This should start when a puppy is young and is interested in play. The next step is to get them used to loud noises so they remain calm before and during a race. Further training includes muzzle, trap, and running training, all of which require patience and training from a young age.

Health Concerns When Breeding Whippets

Whippets are generally quite healthy and can live up to 12-15 years. However, a breeder should know the common health problems in this breed so they can better avoid them in their litter.

Arrhythmias

An arrhythmia is an irregularity in your Whippet’s heartbeat. Their heartbeat may be too fast, too slow, miss or add in beats. Injury and genetics can play a role in causing arrhythmias as they originate from a change in heart tissue. When an arrhythmia affects your dog, they may feel dizzy or a little breathless until the arrhythmia passes. An EKG or ECG can be used to diagnose this.

Treatment is not usually required unless your Whippet’s heartbeat is slow. Activity is often advised to be restricted as increased or more strenuous exercise can lead to an increase in your dog’s arrhythmia, and therefore it is avoided. Similarly, vets will tell you to try and reduce your dog’s anxiety and stress to maintain a steady heartbeat. If your dog is overweight, your vet will encourage you to put them on a diet and increase steady, gentle exercise for weight loss. A heavier dog will have more difficulty pushing blood flow around their body and this can aggravate arrhythmia as their heart is strained.

Myostatin Mutation

Myostatin is a type of protein that causes much more significant muscle mass known to prohibit normal movement. This mutation creates ‘bully whippets’, a much more muscular version of normal whippets. Whippets enjoy being able to run high speeds and stretch, this mutation makes all those enjoyable movements difficult. The regular gene inhibits the function of myogenesis, also known as muscle growth, the mutation counteracts this. This mutation appeared at random but is hereditary, and therefore it should not be passed on.

Some owners desire the breeding of this mutated pup, but this is strongly advised against. Not only do these dogs feel discomfort, but also they have been recorded to feel very painful muscle cramps regularly. Furthermore, the appearance of a whippet should not compromise their health. A test exists where the mutation can be found in a potential parent, responsible breeders should screen their dogs prior to breeding.

muscular whipper myostatin
A normal whippet on the right, and the genetically modified whippet on the left. Wow, indeed.

Genetic Eye Defects

The Whippet breed is quite a healthy one, but they do suffer from genetic eye defects, although rarely. One common disease is progressive retinal atrophy in which the eyes gradually go blind. There is no pain with this disease, but there is no treatment either. There is a screening process that you can use on your potential dam and sire before breeding though.

Another eye defect includes cataracts, a common eye problem but it is easy to treat. It is when the lens of your Whippet’s eye begins to become cloudy and gradually deteriorates until the point of blindness. However, a simple surgery exists where the lens is removed and replaced to give your dog a clear vision. Always check the parents of a potential dam and sire, or at least screen them for hereditary health problems.

How to Breed Whippets

Understanding all the elements of breeding allow you to create an ethical, functional, and profitable business. When you adore a dog breed, surrounding yourself with them in a career path can be a dream. Now, let us give you the information so you can do so.

Choosing the Bitch and Stud

The first key step to choosing an appropriate stud and bitch is a health check and screening. Do a full-body examination of both the potential mother and father starting from the head and working your way down. Check their eyes, ears, ask about their eating habits and digestion. You will want to check every physical aspect of each dog. Next, apply for a health screening to see if there are any hereditary illnesses either parent could pass along.

You also want to observe their general temperament and reactive temperament. Are they generally calm or hyperactive? See how they react with people and if they are affectionate. Are they aggressive with strangers or strange dogs? Do they get severe separation anxiety? These are just a few questions to ask yourself. Furthermore, it is always recommended to only consider registered dogs. This proves previous ethical breeding and you can sell registered puppies for higher prices.

Litter Size

The average litter size for Whippets is between 5 and 7 pups with an average of 6. This is an average litter size for most breeds of dogs, and as whippets can give smaller litter sizes initially, you will need to be prepared financially to combat this. One way to do so is to aim to breed a litter matching the breed standard. These puppies will fetch a higher price than a regular Whippet puppy.

Another option you can consider is owning multiple sires and offering stud service for other whippet breeders. If these males are of the breed standard and registered, their services can go for quite a high price. Make sure that these males have been previously screened and that they are not eligible to pass on any hereditary health problems. This guarantee will increase the likelihood of services but also will prevent any negative reviews from being posted.

Birthing Issues

Any female has the possibility of being affected by dystocia, some breeds more than others. Whippets are affected less often than other breeds with birthing complications. However, during pregnancy and birth, you still need to be aware of the possible occurring issues so you can provide the aid your bitch needs. We always recommend having a vet you can contact at any time of the day in case of an emergency.

One issue to be aware of is if, for some reason, the mother is not passing a puppy past the normal time period. A puppy should be birthed around half an hour after strong contractions, if no puppy appears at this time, something may be wrong. This may be that the puppy is in an awkward position and the mother is struggling to push them out. Or, it may be something more serious such as a cord wrapped around a puppy’s throat, preventing birth and putting their life at risk. These emergencies may require a C-section.

Clientele

In order to create a business, you must consider the appropriate clientele you need to advertise to. Whippet lovers, pest control, families, and racing fans may all have an interest in this wonderful little dog. Firstly, consider creating social media accounts that advertise each litter and puppy you wish to sell, Instagram and Facebook may be good places to start. You can also find Whippet appreciation pages on Facebook or ask Whippet kennel or appreciation clubs if you could advertise through them. Each club has its own set of rules so it is always worth enquiring.

It may also be worth contacting whippet racing clubs or fans of them, to see if their interest can span to ownership. They could either participate in races with their very own pup or enjoy this wonderful breed in a family setting. Make sure to specify how wonderful this breed is with children, as it is a plus point for many.

whippets heat cycles
Female Whippets tend to have more regular heat cycles than other breeds.

Pricing

The price range for whippets in the USA ranges from $800 – $1500 depending on registration, proof of lineage and how closely a puppy matches the breed standard. Here are just a few physical elements which can penalize a whippet according to the AKC breed standards:

  • Yellow eyes, light eyes are just undesirable
  • Blue eyes or different colored eyes disqualify a dog
  • Erect ears are penalized severely
  • Shoulderblades with a wheelback, flat back, or a steep/flat croup
  • Muscular or narrowed shoulders which restrict movement
  • Weak or upright pasterns
  • A coat that is not short, close, smooth, or firm in texture
  • Sickle or cow hocks should be strictly penalized

All these physical traits can decrease a puppy’s price by hundreds. Furthermore, ensure you are registering each puppy. Not only does it prove to others you breed ethically and responsibly, but it will also increase the selling price for you. It’s a win-win and is definitely worth pursuing.

How to Breed Whippets – FAQs

To ensure you are fully prepared to begin breeding Whippets, we have also answered five of the most asked questions regarding the topic.

Are Whippets Smart?

Whippets are a very intelligent dog. They require high intelligence so they are easier to train for racing; Whippets need to learn how to remain calm in the Whippet trap before racing starts and behave well throughout. They have also been noticed to learn tricks very quickly, it may be because this breed is a people-pleaser and therefore training is not too difficult. Furthermore, they enjoy human interaction and training can create high bonds with them.

This is another reason that you need to make sure that this breed is walked regularly and exercised enough. it ensures that they are mentally stimulated enough. If they are not provided with enough stimulation, they can act out and start to behave destructively in the home. This will be out of frustration and is not to upset you.

How Long are Whippets Pregnant for?

On average, every dog is pregnant around 63 days. This is from the moment of impregnation and is not necessarily after the moment of mating. As a bitch’s eggs can remain fertile up to 48 hours after their release, and a sire’s sperm can live inside the female for multiple days, the exact moment of impregnation can be difficult to predict.

There are four stages to the female’s reproductive cycle, and by measuring your bitch’s hormones through the pregnancy, different stages indicate different waiting times. The four stages are proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. For example, if you test your bitch from the first day of diestrus, the last stage of the heat cycle, she will most likely give birth 56 – 58 days from then.

Whippet Breeding Guide!
How To Breed Whippets – History, Health Issues & Best Whippet Breeding Practices

Are Whippets Aggressive?

Whippets are not at all an aggressive breed. They are renowned for being docile and sweet-natured, which makes sense due to their adoration of human company. Furthermore, their gentle nature is not only limited to humans. They have been recorded to be loving with other dogs and cats as well. Whether they are strangers or live in the home, a Whippet’s first response is never aggression. Usually, they respond with fear or reluctance in unfavorable situations.

You should only be careful of your Whippet when they are near small prey animals. This breed was selectively bred to have a high instinctual drive and therefore chasing and even attacking these animals is a possibility.

How Many Times Do Whippets Have to Mate to Get Pregnant?

It can take one mating session a Whippet to get pregnant. However, if you have paid for the services of a stud male, often they will encourage their male to mate with your bitch around four times. This is to increase the chance of successful mating, especially as it is a service you have paid for. To ensure a healthy pregnancy and litter, you should screen both the sire and dam before mating to check for fertility. This can tell you the count and functionality of the male’s sperm and how hospitable the female’s womb is.

How long after Mating can you tell a Whippet is Pregnant?

Your vet can perform one of four tests to check for your dog’s pregnancy, the earliest test you can perform is at 21 days of pregnancy. Here are the four tests and their time frames after mating of which they are eligible:

  • Palpation: At 21 – 35 days into your dog’s pregnancy, a vet can feel for each puppy and their amniotic sac
  • Ultrasound: At 25 – 35 days into gestation, an ultrasound can be performed to test for puppies, the number there are and their heartbeats
  • Hormone test: Your vet can test for the hormone relaxin 30 days into the bitch’s gestation
  • X-ray: This method can count the puppies but can only be used as early as 42 – 45 days into the pregnancy, day 55 allows the best result though

Each breeder has a preferred method of testing for pregnancy based on cost, timing, and reliability.

Whippets are an intelligent breed with a lovely temperament. These fast little pups can be a great new family member or a wonderful breed to look into breeding. Be aware of their possible health complications and consider all their needs to make sure they are happy and healthy.

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