Whippets! I kept one for 17 and a half years, surprising our vet, and I miss him dearly. Also, I came here since you're a friend of a friend I played DND with, and stayed because of the intriguing (and at times hilarious) fantasy creature anatomy treatises.
How are you going? Sorry it’s taken me so long toe get around to your breed, the queue has been… long.
Please note the disclaimer that these
posts are about the breed from a veterinary viewpoint as seen
in clinical practice, i.e. the problems we are faced with. It’s not
the be-all and end-all of the breed and is not to make a judgement
about whether the breed is right for you. If you are asking for an
opinion about these animals in a veterinary setting, that is what you
will get. It’s not going to be all sunshine and cupcakes, and is
not intended as a personal insult against your favorite breed. This
is general advice for what is common, often with a scientific
consensus but sometimes based on personal experiences, and is not a
guarantee of what an individual animal is going to encounter in their life.
These little dogs can be thought of as miniature greyhounds, though they are smaller, not as strongly selected for racing and don’t go through the same training and supplement regimes as greyhounds often do.
Overall they are reasonably healthy. It’s rare for me to see them for an orthopedic injury that isn’t the direct result of the dog jumping off something too high. They do get the usual collection of old age diseases, but this is largely because these dogs are actually achieving old age.
Like greyhounds, whippets often have relatively thin skin, making them prone to minor scrapes and cuts, and are sensitive to barbituate (but not all) anaesthetics.
Dental health is very hit or miss with this breed. They either do very well, or their mouth turns into a sewer and needs multiple tooth extractions.
Anxiety seems particularly common in this breed, and not just as the vet clinic. I don’t think this is any kind of flaw in so many dog’s upbringings, I think it is a genuine predisposition within the breed. Many are manageable without medication though.
Eye problems the breed is predisposed to, but not nearly as commonly as other breeds, are cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, both of which can result in blindness.
A quirk of this breed is that when they gain fat, they don’t always balloon out in the middle like many other dogs do. They tent to distribute their fat more evenly, so you can end up with a very fat whippet who does not actually look fat unless you are used to seeing this breed. If these dogs continue to gain weight you end up with something that looks like a whippet head on a stafford body.
Like many dog breeds, whippets will grow lipomas in their old age. These benign fatty tumors are usually limited to the body, rather than the limbs. In most breeds they’re rounded like an egg, but in whippets and other sighthounds they are often flatter and have a firmer texture. Fine needle aspirates can be performed to confirm in any case.
Bully whippets are the result of a homozygous myostatin mutation, effectively doubling the musculature of the dog. To my knowledge this mutation is unique to whippets, and affected dogs don’t seem to have any major issues from this mutation, other than occasional muscle cramping.