...watch out cats!

Whippets are one of the fastest dog breeds. They are small / medium sized short haired dogs with stream - lined, sleek bodies. They are often raced and were bred initially to hunt by sight, running down game in open fields. To this end, they are very much like miniature greyhounds.

The fact that they are fast runners leads people to think that these dogs need a lot of exercise, but this is far from true. They are built for short bursts of speed but are happy with a daily walk or jog on level terrain. Remember, always exercise them on lead, because they will chase and catch smaller animals. They also have no road sense. The rest of the time they are placid and happy to be quiet household members. They make ideal therapy dogs because of their gentle nature.

Whippets are great with children, but can become frightened of boisterous children or toddlers who poke and prod them. For this reason, they are not really suitable for households with young children. They are real 'people' dogs - they love to be near you and get lots of cuddles and affection. They suffer terribly from separation anxiety if you leave them alone for too long. For this reason, a companion dog is sometimes a good idea, but don't even think about a companion cat!

Whippets are very easy to house train and are incredibly clean animals. They take a bit more effort to obedience train but they are eager to please and if you are persistent and gentle they will master all the commands you want. These dogs are highly strung, so shouting at them should never be considered.

As watchdogs they are hopeless. They are very trusting of all people and are just as likely to welcome a burglar into the house.

Weekly grooming is good to maintain Whippets' coats, but their skin is very soft and delicate and tears easily. For this reason only soft brushes and gentle strokes should be used. Be mindful, too, of shampoos and find one suitable for sensitive skin. If their skin does tear it is best to have it sutured by a vet.

Apart from this, Whippets are healthy dogs with very few common health problems. They need good quality food as their stomachs are quite sensitive, but they will live well into their teens with just a little maintenance and a lot of love.

<ul> <li>Small / medium speedy dogs</li> <li>Very gentle - great with children</li> <li>Some daily exercise needed</li> <li>People pleasers</li> <li>Very docile at home</li> <li>Poor watchdogs</li> <li>Will chase and catch smaller animals</li> </ul>