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The Breed Standard: What Motivates Us

About Whippets

This is far from a comprehensive overview of our incredible Breed nor is it a comparative analysis of the Breed Standards described throughout the world.  (Interested parties can find on our Resources page links to the various Breed Standards).

What this page hopes to do is provide a brief overview of the Breed and Standard.  At Aureate, the Standard is simply and absolutely that, it is what we strive for.  It is what is constantly in our mind when evaluating our litters, planning potential pedigree matches and when we step back and reassess where our Program is at.  More simply, the Standard, is the "Ideal" of which we strive.  We will never achieve perfection, but perhaps a glimpse for a moment!

The Canadian Breed Standard for the whippet describes a dog of "moderate size, very alert, that can cover a maximum of distance with a minimum of lost motion, a true sporting hound. Should be put down in hard condition but with no suggestion of being muscle-bound."  Our interpretation of this, keeping in mind the original purpose for which whippets were used is a fast, fit and functional dog capable of great speed at short distances.  Although we will concede this leaves much to the imagination of the reader what this medium sized dog actually looks like.  Fortunately, the American Kennel Club describes under General Appearance: "medium size sighthound" (read 25-45 lbs)"giving the appearance of elegance and fitness, (read sprinter with a body ready made for cutting turns, well assembled rear or engine and balanced fore) "denoting great speed, power and balance without coarseness" (read an extremely efficient athlete with no forms of exaggeration, everything in balance and proportion, everything in its place).

Size in Canada is stated to be sex dependent "Dogs 48-56 cm (19-22”); for Bitches, 46-53 cm (18-21”)".  Although this is an idealized size, without serving as absolute limits.  (Meaning slightly over or under will not serve as a disqualification against said animal).

In the US they provide a more definite limit, "height for dogs, 19 to 22 inches; for bitches, 18 to 21 inches measured at the highest point of the withers. More than one-half inch above or below the stated limits will disqualify." Meaning if the dog or bitch does not meet this criteria they will be deemed ineligible to compete in AKC events, although still be AKC registered.

Another point of the Standard we feel is worth discussing is Temperament, which between both CKC and AKC is virtually the same.  In the Canadian Standard it describes a dog that is "gentle, affectionate, even disposition, but capable of great intensity during sporting pursuits".  Meaning in all of this, the whippet is a sighthound.  Remember this Breed was used to work independent of its owner, it did not track game, point or flush.  It did not retrieve like Labradors, so in that very sense it did not work for its Master.  Like all hounds, it retains an air of independence and that cannot be overstated to those new to the Breed or to our newly licensed judges.  This Breed, although not the most primitive of sighthounds, take their Saluki  or Azawakh "cousins" for example, but in the same note, one should not expect the work-ability of a Retriever in a Whippet.  The Whippet is described as to be the most affable and least aloof of any of the Sighthounds.  Newcomers to the Breed should not expect their Whippet to provide strangers with exuberant greetings.  Many do and in fact in North America we tend to select for the exuberant and outgoing temperaments in our Programs as they make great show dogs, BUT it is not the traditional Breed Temperament.  Once the Whippet is familiar with an individual, than yes, it is the standard greeting to be welcomed into their presence with the most abundance of joy.


Another key tenant of the Standard yet almost altogether lacking in the Canadian Standard is the description of gait "low, free moving and smooth, as long as is commensurate with the size of the dog".  Notice how this makes no mention of the Breed typical "daisy clipping" movement.  It makes no mention of the dog initiating at a trot the point of origin coming from the shoulder, not the elbow.  Why?  Let's go back to the purpose of which the Whippet was bred.  He is a running breed; a galloping breed.  So why is there no mention of the double suspension gallop of which the Whippet like all Sighthounds undeniably has mastered above ALL other dogs? We believe this goes back to those founding fathers of the Breed in the UK.  Our Breed like many was championed by old horse masters, those that took their foundations in the Equestrian world, where being able to select for efficient and exceptional movers was a necessity.  Those with upright pasterns would make uncomfortable work for their riders across the various terrains, jarring their riders.  The horse would break down far earlier compared to their well assembled peers. Now if you revisit the Standard with this in mind, it becomes easier to accept that mastering movement was not a luxury afforded to a few, but a very necessity in the every day life of those involved in animal husbandry. 

It is also important to remember that in the past our Breed was shown at a walk, meaning the handler did not fly around the ring as they often do today.   The whippet walked, the handler walked.  Those with Equestrian backgrounds will recall that of any of the gaits the walk is the most challenging to ride, without ruining, the most revealing and the most humbling.  "The walk" is the great revealer and the great equalizer!  What a shame we no longer are called to show this way!

Now if we revisit the AKC Standard which describes the gait as "low, free moving and smooth, with reach in the forequarters and strong drive in the hindquarters".  Although at first glance this does not call for the initiation of movement coming from the shoulder, on closer study it does!  What is the forequarters primarily made of?  The shoulder, which encompasses far more than the angulation fore; an important part of  the overall balance of the dog (when matched in the hindquarters), but where the shoulder is attached to the brisket; which  subsequently determines the layback. The Standard goes on to describe "the dog has great freedom of action when viewed from the side; the forelegs move
forward close to the ground to give a long, low reach; the hind legs have strong propelling power."  Meaning a Whippet's sidegait should be powerful, effortless and groundcovering at a trot, momentum being initiated in the rear with powerful thighs and well set hips, carried over the topline and met with equal reach in the forequarters to match the drive in the rear. Notice how balance when not even directly mentioned is written into everything!  The AKC Standard also describes the that in coming and going (so when the dog is moving towards the observer or away from them) their movement should be "true" meaning not outside of the original axis plane.  Why? Well this goes back to the working of any machine, unnecessary movement  outside of the true axis will predispose the joints and ligaments to injury.  In the evaluation of any Breed we must always state that "Type" must come first followed by "Form".  Meaning Type and Function are inextricably linked together, they are one.  A whippet not built for galloping will surely be lacking in type.  

In an attempt at brevity we will not continue to expand on the Breed Standard here but welcome interested parties to reach out to us for further discussion or education.  The greatest resource in one's Breed Education would be to make good study of the American Whippet Club's Illustrated Standard (2011).

If you are interested in reading a Breeder's Insights regarding General Education check out our Blog.

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