How to Find a Whippet

So you’ve decided you want a Whippet—great!

You have a few big decisions to make—a playful, but higher-needs puppy or an already-housebroken adult? From a rescue organization or a responsible breeder? Male or female? Would you be willing to open your arms to a Whippet with special needs, behavioral issues, or one in its senior years? 

To assure that your new Whippet will be the right companion for you, your family, and your living situation, think carefully and HONESTLY about all of these options and what kind of home, time commitment and exercise opportunities you are able to provide.

Whippet Rescue

The national rescue organization for Whippets in the USA is WRAP (Whippet Rescue and Placement). WRAP is an independent rescue group and not affiliated with the AWC, but many WRAP volunteers are members of the AWC. There are other, smaller, regional organizations as well as private individuals who perform Whippet rescue and foster Whippets until homes can be found. Most of these dogs have lost their homes through no fault of their own, often due to aging owners, job transfers, family emergencies, or uncertain economic times, with a subset of dogs that required rehoming due to behavioral issues that arose. Foster caretakers can counsel you about any Whippet you are considering adopting and what type of home situation would be best for that particular dog. If you are willing to open your heart to an adult Whippet that has lost its home, particularly to a dog who is senior or has some health or behavior issues to manage, you will find that the love you get in return makes it all worthwhile. Expect to pay an adoption fee of around half the cost of a puppy for any healthy, non-geriatric rescue Whippet you adopt. However, very few healthy young adult or puppy Whippets are available through rescue nationally at any point in time. This is a credit to the careful placement policies of the Whippet breeders, but it can be frustrating to families or individuals whose first choice is adoption of a rescue Whippet. Bear in mind that many of the adults Whippets available for adoption are not “cat safe".

Rescue organizations specializing in Whippet rescue:

WRAP (Whippet Rescue and Placement)

Whippet Rescue Southeast

Buying A Whippet Puppy

Whippet puppies are adorable and oh so very active! If you have the time and the schedule flexibility to attend to the Whippet puppy’s more frequent need to go outside to potty, and the patience to train a puppy to be a good canine citizen, a puppy may be the best choice for you. Puppies are also a good choice for any home which has a pre-existing adult cat or cats, as the puppy should learn to respect the household felines and this will be less likely to become a problem later when the Whippet’s prey drive kicks in and it is large enough to seriously injure a cat. Homes with well-behaved, well-supervised younger children are also good situations for a puppy. Whippet puppies are available as companions from responsible breeders nationwide, but as very few Whippet breeders produce more than two litters a year, you may have to spend some time on a local breeder’s waiting list if you want to buy locally.

Buying an Adult Whippet

Adult Whippets, crate-trained and housebroken, with socialization and leash training, are very popular choices for people who are obliged by their jobs to leave their dogs alone at home during the day. Many breeders "grow puppies out" until they are between 8 months and about 2 years of age, but may decide that the dog is not turning out to be of competition or breeding quality and is therefore available to a companion home. Such dogs do not remain available for very long as there are more people usually looking for healthy young adults with considerable training than there are young adults available. But if this is your preference, you will eventually be able to connect with a breeder offering such a dog to a companion home. Occasionally, there are dogs that are rehomed due to behavioral situations in the household, and most responsible breeders will take back a dog which is not working out to assess it, attempting to find a lifetime home that will work well for that dog. With the long lifespan of the Whippet, a potential owner should not reject a dog that is a few years old. Chances are good that you will have at least ten years to spend with your new companion. Whippets transfer their loyalties quite quickly once they realize they are getting food, love, and care from the new owner.

Show-bred, race-bred, lure coursing-bred, or a combination?

The majority of responsible Whippet breeders in the USA are breeding at least in part for success in the show ring, but there are a number of breeders who seek to breed top competitors for racing and lure coursing, and seldom, if ever, show their Whippets. There are also breeders who breed for versatility, and have a mixture of show and running-titled dogs in their pedigrees and enter their dogs in varied events. Good companions can be had from all categories of Whippet breeders, although they will vary somewhat in appearance and there are a larger proportion of solid blacks and blues among the race-bred population at this time. If you are interested in a companion only, the competitive background behind the puppy you purchase is not as important as getting a good personality match for your lifestyle, and finding a breeder with whom you feel a sense of rapport and trust. If you have an interest in possibly pursuing some form of competition with your companion Whippet, best to get a Whippet from a litter with parents who are titled and have won at the events that interest you. Please go to our Whippet Activities page to see more.  With the exception of conformation showing, all of the Whippet activities are open to spayed or neutered dogs, although for some activities, breed disqualifications apply as well.

How to identify an ethical and responsible Whippet breeder

With very rare exceptions, ethical and responsible breeders breed primarily to produce both competitive puppies and healthy companions. It is unusual for an ethical breeder NOT to have dogs active in some facet of Whippet competition—how else to know if one is producing the same quality, talent, and/or speed as those other breeders who are focused on the same areas? Being part of the larger Whippet community, by competing in Whippet events and joining clubs such as the AWC and local all-breed, racing, or lure coursing clubs, bring breeders who are serious about breeding healthy, high-quality dogs into contact with each other, keeping their knowledge of any genetic problems current and allowing them to see quality potential sires and dams to use to improve their stock.

Ethical breeders health test their stock. At the very least, the parents of any prospective puppy should have had their eyes checked clear of genetic eye disease and it is considered very good practice nowadays to have current cardiology evaluations available for inspection.

It is ideal in the beginning to visit with the breeder whose puppies you are considering at their home. During your visit, you should see Whippets in good health and weight, housed appropriately for a short-coated breed, with outgoing, friendly temperaments. Bear in mind that a bitch that is heavily pregnant or nursing a litter of puppies will not be her usual frisky, gregarious self, but the breeder’s other dogs should show evidence of good care and socialization. Although litters, especially large litters, are messy and can be difficult to keep clean at all times, the rest of the area where the Whippets are kept should not have foul odors or filthy bedding. You may or may not get to meet the sire. Few breeders nowadays are able to maintain a suitably large and diverse breeding population on their own premises, and even those who can find that periodically, an excellent dog owned by another breeder is needed to address problems or weaknesses in their line. This is evidence of good and responsible breeding, as using someone else’s sire is an expensive proposition and shows that the breeder is serious about breeding the best Whippets that they can. However, if the breeder does own a compatible pair, and many do, there is nothing wrong with using one’s own males.

A responsible breeder will have a lot of questions for you, and will care enough to make sure that you are an appropriate home for a Whippet adult or puppy. Do not be offended by what may seem like an interrogation; the purpose of those questions is to determine if that breeder can trust you to provide a home that will be permanent, loving, and secure, and if you are someone who will honor your agreements with them and the contract they should expect you to sign. In return, you should have questions for the breeders you contact, such as, what health testing has been done with the parents/grandparents, what ages do the puppies get released to new homes, and what recommendations the breeder has for feeding, training, and housing the new puppy. You will likely be asked about your home, your fencing (if any), the amount of time puppy will need to spend alone at home each day, other pets in the home, and how active you and your family are.

--Rhonda M. Gold photo

Your responsible breeder should register the litter with the AKC and provide registration applications upon request. The American Whippet Club encourages the registration of all Whippets, even those bought solely for companions, and you may find that if you develop an interest later in coursing or obedience, you will be glad that you have a registration number for your dog. Some breeders withhold registration papers until proof of spaying or neutering is provided. Your responsible breeder should provide you with a sale contract that offers some health guarantees, plus a lifetime commitment to take the puppy back or assist with rehoming it should you at any point run into a problem that would prevent you from continuing to keep and care for that Whippet. With your new puppy or young adult, you should be getting a health record showing vaccines and worm treatments appropriate for a dog of that age, and a sample of what puppy is currently eating.

How to Find a Whippet Breeder

The AWC offers contact information on our Find a Whippet Breeder page. While you may search the Internet for a breeder, many breeders who are not considered ethical or responsible may have impressive-looking websites. Responsible breeders of a relatively uncommon breed like the Whippet do not have puppies available all the time. Responsible breeders do not have many older puppies still available from past litters with more litters on the way. These are red flags. It is best to get a personal recommendation from our AWC Breeder-Referral volunteer, or from someone you know who already has a Whippet and is happy with his or her experience with the breeder from whom they got their Whippet.

Another way to meet Whippet breeders and owners is to attend a dog show with a reasonably large entry of Whippets or a lure trial or race meet. The activity links section will take you to searchable websites for the various activities so that you might find out what is going on in your area. Bear in mind that Whippets at racing and coursing can be extremely excited and intense. It is still best to contact a breeder and visit with the breed in a relaxed home setting. That is a more accurate picture of what your daily life with your new Whippet will be like.

What should I expect to pay for a puppy?

Puppy prices vary by region, with the West Coast, Mid-Atlantic, and New England being on average the most expensive. Whippets are generally priced mid-range for purebred dogs as a whole, and prices anywhere between $600 and $1500 are normal. Most breeders in a given area who are active in the same facet of competition will be fairly close to each other in price. Young adult prices vary based on the reason that young adult is being rehomed, but expect prices to be comparable for an older puppy or young adult with no behavioral issues or other special needs.

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