The Whippet is an average sized sight hound, originating from the Greyhound
breed. It may have derived from a mix between small Greyhounds and even smaller dogs to
be used by peasants for hunting rabbits and other small animals in the eighteenth
century. Along with hunting, peasants also used the Whippet breed for
entertainment. They created a game called “snap dog” where bets were made on which dog
could “snap up” the most rabbits before they could escape from a circle. The Whippet was
mixed with ratting terriers as a way to increase their quickness and hunting abilities.
However, the Industrial Revolution was when the true Whippet breed stared to develop.
Tons of rural workers moved to industrialized areas and brought their Whippets with them as a
form of entertainment, playing “snap dog.” However, without a plethora of rabbits, they
found that their dogs would also race toward a waving rag. This game of rag racing became
a hugely entertaining game for coal miners. The Whippet was labeled as the “poor man’s
race horse.” A family who owned a Whippet took great pride in their dog and also used it
as a source of extra income and means of getting food. Along with these specific uses,
the Whippet was also a great companion to the families. Whippet racing is still going on
today, yet not as commercialized as Greyhound racing. It was officially recognized as a
breed in 1888 and began to be appreciated for its unique appearance and relations to the
Italian Greyhound. The Whippet slowly gained recognition and popularity, but with its
elegance, grace, and friendly companionship, it has created quite a devoted following.
Today, the Whippet is the most popular dog in the sight hound breed and is greatly respected
for its skills as a show dog, lure-courser, racer, and family companion.