My Experience Owning Whippet Dogs
Whippet Dogs: Small Game Hunters
Is this the face of a killer? This mild-mannered, sweet-looking, demure, and placid creature? Well, yes. This gorgeous creature is a prolific killer of rats, mice, lizards, possums, bush turkeys, galahs, and pigeons. Anything silly enough to enter the backyard is fair game—literally. When walking through the forest near home, if he gets off the leash, he will even chase deer, not to mention rabbits, foxes and kangaroos, and wallabies. Luckily, he has never caught anything other than a rabbit, although he got pretty close to a deer one time but he got frightened and backed away when he saw how big it was.
A thing to watch with whippets is that their heads are so slim and elegant and their necks so elongated that they are able to slip through a normal collar. A special 'whippet collar' is required to make sure they never get away. While it is good to let them off the leash and give them a chance to run, ideally this is better done at the dog park where there are fences. It's fun to watch the other dogs at the dog park chasing my whippets—they never catch them.
Whippet Dogs as Pets
There are several extremely informative articles about the qualities of whippets as pets, their characteristics, health, longevity, care and general nature. I will not go into specific breed details here, suffice to say that having had whippets now I will never go back to any other type of dog (other than something similar). One thing to note about whippets is that they really need to have company. They are not suitable as an 'only-dog'. When our male got to the age of about 12 months he developed a 'doggy depression'. He stopped playing with his stuffed toys, and constantly moped around. This was cured when we acquired another whippet as a companion for him. Now he is extremely happy and follows her everywhere. They curl up to sleep together often and, being a bit older than him, she enjoys 'mothering' him. She likes to groom him and doesn't hesitate to correct his boisterous behaviour when she thinks its necessary. The small game silly enough to enter the back yard is now in double danger. Like all dogs, the whippets have banded together to become a 'pack' and hunt together. Anything that might have stood a chance before with only one whippet, now has no chance.
How to Stop the Whippet Dogs Killing Small Animals
I am not concerned about the whippets killing rats or mice, but I don't want to see possums, birds or even rabbits die. Much of the local wildlife is nocturnal, so I lock my whippets inside at night. I only let them off the lead in places where they will do no harm. I have special collars for walks which they cannot slip out of. I feed them well, they are never hungry. I no longer put food in the wild bird feeders. This is a bit sad as the parrots that used to visit were beautiful, but far better for them not to come anymore. The local cats have all figured out that they should stay away, so they are safe. However, there is not much I can do to stop lizards, pigeons and galahs and bush turkeys from visiting.
I have had lots of dogs of all different types and I loved them all, but now the only breeds other than a whippet I would ever consider getting are other sighthounds. Sighthounds are a class of dog breeds which are deep-chested, extremely fast and agile and have excellent vision. They see their prey and race after it. This is why it is important to keep your sighthound on a leash in most places, once they see something worth chasing, there is absolutely no getting them back and they ignore every other thing in the pursuit of their prey.
Other sight-hounds include:
- Irish Wolfhounds
- Pharaoh Hounds
- Ibizan Hounds
- Scottish Deerhounds
- Italian Greyhounds
There are more sighthound breeds than these, but these are the more common ones.
Are Whippet Dogs Hypoallergenic?
I don't know the scientific answer to that, only that mine certainly seem to be. There are plenty of websites and other sources that list the dog breeds that do not affect people with allergies. Whippets are not often listed on these sites. I have relatives that come to stay on a regular basis who are allergic to all animals. Dogs, horses, cats etc. The little girl actually gets asthma from dogs, but not from my dogs. The only time she reacts to my whippets is when she pats them and then rubs her eyes with her hands. And even then it is just some redness and not the asthma attack she gets from other dogs. No Ventolin required, just some anti-histamines. My other relative does not react at all to the whippets and he generally reacts to all other dogs. I think whippets are hypoallergenic, but this is only based on my anecdotal experience.
I have never had such well-mannered, charming, sweet-natured dogs. They travel well, are good in company, seem to be hypoallergenic and are very affectionate. The only draw back is their incredible propensity to hunt small animals. Their efficiency at killing and dismembering the smaller creatures silly enough to enter our yard is frightening. No dog I have ever had in the past even comes close to their skill. The only advantage to this is that we no longer get cats coming into the yard to do their business and we certainly have no rats or mice. Otherwise it is very sad to see other creatures suffer in this way.
Perhaps whippets are such great hunters because of their incredible speed. Plenty of other dogs I have had have chased creatures, but never really managed to catch much. The whippets certainly seem to have the killer instinct, but luckily most of the time they just hang out on the couch.