Lure Coursing

Lure coursing is a fun sport for all sighthound breeds, including Whippets. It is designed to simulate a rabbit or hare hunt in an open field without the actual chasing of live game. An artificial lure (usually white plastic trash bags on a strong continuous line) is pulled through a series of pulleys by a lure machine. The string is turned by a wheel or take-up reel attached to the lure machine and the operator is able to control the speed of the lure to keep it strategically placed in front of the hounds. The course is laid out before the trial and may vary in length from 600 yards to 1,000 yards or more. This can include turns, straightaways and can run up and down hills and over ravines, depending on field terrain

The dogs generally run in groups of three, and are distinguished by different blanket colors: pink, blue or yellow. Judges watch the course and score the hounds for their overall ability, speed, agility, endurance, enthusiasm and willingness to closely follow the path of the lure throughout the course. All hounds run at least twice, and their cumulative scores determine where they place relative to each other. Any hound who shows aggression to his running mates, or who playfully or deliberately interferes with them during the course, is disqualified or dismissed from further running. At the end of the trial, ribbons and prizes are awarded. Points can be earned toward championship titles based on the number of dogs running and the final order of finish.

Because the Whippet was bred to chase game, top lure coursing Whippets have come from almost every type of breeding program, and many field-titled dogs were originally purchased as a pet or obtained through rescue. The instinct to chase a moving object with great intensity is still found throughout the breed.  Because the dogs are scored in several categories, it is possible for a Whippet which is not extremely fast but turns well and shows good endurance to receive a higher score than a very fast Whippet which turns poorly. Good conditioning and a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the Whippet are keys to success in lure coursing. Spayed and neutered hounds are welcome at lure trials where all dogs are inspected for breed disqualifying faults (see the breed standard).

Lure coursing is available in most regions of the continental US and Canada. Trial locations and dates are listed on the websites as well as instructions on how to enter a trial. The two main organizations that sponsor lure coursing trials and award titles in the United States are ASFA and the AKC. The United Kennel Club offers lure coursing in some areas of the USA as well.

The American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA)

The American Kennel Club

The United Kennel Club

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