Miniature Greyhound: the Origins of the Whippet

Dogs of the shape and type of a miniature greyhound have been around for centuries as it is testified by ancient Italian greyhound dog pictures. But what are the origins of the whippet?

The question if the whippet is a miniature greyhound is still controversial.

Some respected authors and whippet experts believe that the greyhound, the whippet and the Italian Greyhound come from the same genetic pool.

The type of the three breeds is in fact very similar and what mainly sets them apart is the size.

To compare greyhound, whippets and Italian greyhound dog pictures, click on the link.

Ted Walsh and Mary Lowe in their “The English Whippet”, state:

“We believe that with selective breeding from the same genetic pool one could, in few generations, produce an Italian greyhound and a greyhound from original whippet stock.

It is a fact that as whippets get larger they begin to look more like small greyhound, and, what is more revealing, they begin to gallop like greyhounds rather than like whippets.

Similarly, the smaller finer whippets tend to have the more rounded skull, protruding eyes and finer bone of the Italian. We do not believe that any amount of selective breeding would produce any sort of terrier, Stafford, Bedlington, Old English or Black and Tan.

Our conclusion, like Lewis Renwick before us, is that, far from being any sort of cross the whippet is essentially a small greyhound, sharing the same dominant purity of the breed.

So, these respected authors believe that with selective breeding, in only few generation, it would be possible to obtain dogs of dramatically different size from the same whippet breeding stock.

Whippets, 1981
Whippets, 1981
Bernard De...
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Other influential authors believe that in the breeding of the whippet was essential terrier and/or spaniel blood to increase speed and gameness.

Moran-Healy in The Whippet states:

”One of the theories I support is that these hounds were crossed with terriers. Many years ago different breeds would have been crossed for practical purposes.”

Probably the question will never be settled to a satisfactory conclusion.

The only certain fact is that a small hound, fast and elegant, of short coat and rose shaped ears, has been around for centuries.

Documents also testify that the workers of North of England at the end of 1800, crossed small hounds with terriers and used the resulting “snap dog” or whippet in races and rabbit coursing.

It seems almost incredible that the balanced and beautiful whippet that we know today comes from the selection of the rough snap dog of such humble origins.

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