The Whippet is a sighthound breed of dog; they are generally loyal, friendly, quiet and gentle, but active and playful; their social nature makes them suitable pets, but they require regular exercise and the chance to run free and care should be taken with them on the street as it is difficult to instill any sort of traffic sense into some of them.

They are physically similar to a small Greyhound; they come in a wide variety of colours and marking patterns, everything from solid black to solid white, with red, fawn, brindle, blue, or cream; all manner of spots and blazes and patches are seen, sometimes all in the same litter; they are amongst the fastest of dogs running a course at 36 mph (58 km/h).

They are a medium-size dog averaging in weight from 15 to 30 lbs (6.8–14 kg), with height, under the FCI standard, of 18.5 - 20 inches (47 - 51 centimetres) for males and 17.5–18.5 inches (44–47 centimetres) for females; given proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care, most whippets live for 12 to 15 years; they are generally healthy and are not prone to the frequent ear infections, skin allergies, or digestive problems that can afflict other breeds.

Whippets were bred to hunt by sight, coursing game in open areas at high speeds; their versatility as a hunting, racing, exhibition or companion dog soon made it one of the most popular of the sighthound breeds; they have been called a "poor man's racehorse." and they are outstanding running dogs; they compete in lure coursing, straight racing and oval track racing; typically in these events, a temporary track and lure system is set up; the lure is usually a white plastic bin bag, sometimes in conjunction with a "squawker" to simulate a sort of prey sound or with a small piece of animal pelt.

One can find numerous representations of small greyhound-like hounds in art dating back to Roman times but the first written English use of the word "whippet" with regard to a type of dog was in 1610; however, it is believed that Whippets were first bred in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the 18th Century, when Greyhounds were crossed with long legged Terriers; the result was a small, super-fast breed of dog, which was used to hunt small game, especially rabbits.

Though because of their quickness it quickly became a popular sport for shire men to compete with these dogs; they would race them to see who had the fastest dog or which dog could catch the most rabbits; this eventually evolved into rag racing; rag races were more humane as the dogs would chase a rag that was attached to a string, rather than a live rabbit.

During this time, the wealthier people worked on improving the appearance of the breed by adding the Italian Greyhound to the mix; the working class of people continued to encourage the athleticism and drive to hunt; these dedicated breed developers helped make the Whippet the beautiful and quick sighthound that it is today.

In 1891, the Whippet was accepted as a recognized breed in the English Kennel Club, thus making the whippet eligible for competition in dog shows and commencing the recording of their pedigrees; seven years later, the Whippet was also accepted as a breed by the American Kennel Club; whippet racing became not only a Lancashire and Yorkshire sport, but a national sport, more popular than football.

On a more amusing note:

A visitor to a Yorkshireman's home notices that the Yorkshireman calls his Whippet 'Grieg':

The visitor - "That's an unusual name for a Dog, do you like classical music then?"
The Yorkshireman - "Well lad, I call him that cause all he does when he's in t'house, afore I can let yon bugger out is cock his leg and 'Peer Gynt Suite'"

NB. Peer Gynt, Op. 23 is the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's 1867 play of the same name.
Written by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1875.

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