Whippets are intelligent, quiet, and usually friendly. As with other sight hounds, the speed of the pet Whippet means it needs physical and mental stimulation, which may include participating in dog sports such as lure coursing, racing, flyball, Frisbee, agility, and obedience as sport. The Whippet can also bond with people through jogging, which takes advantage of its ability to run, or by being animal-assisted therapy dogs. The gentle nature of the Whippet and its reputation as a good family dog means it can be around children; however, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the child or dog and to avoid the dog's subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression.
Many people believe that the Whippet's origins began in nineteenth century England when miners bred the Whippet to race in farmer's fields when they had a day off. The races were known as "rag races" and the dogs were commonly referred to as "the poor man's racehorse" and "the poor man's greyhound." However, this origin story is not true. While the miners of that area did indeed breed the dogs, that is not where the breed originated. The name "Whippet" was actually given to the breed in 1610 and Louis XV was presented with two of the dogs as a gift. In fact, a famous portrait of Louis XV shows him with Misse, one of the two Whippets he was given. It's not hard to see why the breed was used for racing. The Whippet is definitely a fast runner, being able to reach speeds of up to thirty-five miles per hour, and they are also known to be great hunting dogs. The Whippet was imported to the United States by English mill operators in Massachusetts and the popularity of the breed quickly spread. The Whippet was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1993.