What age were you and how did you become involved in the world of Dogs ?
From early 2006 at 12 years old, I’ve been widely interested in cynology and show scenes in Poland. With continuous growing interest, support and encouragement from my family and many people I’ve met throughout this experience, I got involved in Junior Handling, where I successfully competed across the country, gaining essential experience and knowledge of handling various breeds of dogs, including my beloved Whippets.
My parents, unlike in most cases, never had pedigree dogs and were never involved in dog showing before I explored my interest.
A dream of owning a Whippet – or being owned by one, as it turned out – was soon born as I fell in love with their outstanding, loving temperament and elegant, delicate yet strong appearance and outline.
It took nearly ten years before the dream became a reality, but finally, after a long wait, my dream came true, and in 2015 I welcomed my first whippet, getting involved in the show scene in Ireland and the whippet ring.
What Breeds of Dogs have you had over the years ?
Over the years and as a child, I owned crossbreeds, including my beloved dog Boni, which we brought with us from Poland to Ireland when we first moved here in 2006.
My parents owned a basset hound, but whippets are my first owned pedigree dogs.
I imported my first whippet from Spain in 2015.
What Breeds of Dogs have you got now ?
I currently only have whippets.
What would you consider to be your main breed and the one people associate you with ?
What attracted you to this breed ?
What attracted me to this breed is their sleek, elegant, yet powerful appearance and easy-going, loving temperament. They are very versatile and adapt easily to family dynamics and different lifestyles. I believe that this, alongside their size and reasonably low overall maintenance, makes them a popular companion in recent years.
What advice would you offer to anybody that is interested in becoming an owner of the breed ?
Do your research, talk to different breeders, talk to the breed club, and attend a dog show where it’s possible to meet other whippet owners and breeders.
Although we know whippets are the perfect breed for us, we strongly feel that they are not perfect for everyone, despite their overall social and lifestyle versatility.
Sighthounds, in general, have unique requirements, so it is very important that you do thorough research before deciding you would like a whippet to join your family.
A dog of any breed is a commitment for many, many years to come. Therefore, acting responsibly and asking yourself if you are ready to provide all it takes to share your life with a dog is highly important.
We, as breeders, are always happy to chat with any newcomer interested in the breed!
Does the Breed have any specific requirements by way of exercise & grooming ?
One of the beauties of whippets is their low maintenance in terms of grooming and exercise. Many people think whippets (and other sighthound breeds) require an unlimited amount of exercise; however, they are ultimate couch potatoes, especially once they hit 2-3 years of age and will be content with a moderate exercise regime.
They like their walks and enjoy a good run – this is what they were bred for (alongside hunting). We do half an hour of on-lead walks twice daily and allow for off-leash exercise once daily, where possible, in a secured area.
We typically do a long-day trip once a week to enrich their routine, especially in spring/summer time.
Does the breed have any specific health tests that should be done before a Dog or Bitch is used at stud or bred from ?
Unfortunately, there are no specific required health tests for whippets. I’m saying “unfortunately”, as, despite the overall presumption that whippets are a healthy breed, in recent years, there are more issues creeping into the breed, including heart problems like mitral valve disease (MVD), dilated cardiomyopathy and pulmonic stenosis and spinal issues such as lumbosacral transitional vertebrae (LTV).
Autoimmune disease is also very common (across all breeds) and is of growing concern. However, these are very complex without testing available.
At Shannavarius, health testing plays a very important aspect in our breeding. Our dogs undergo heart and eye testing, have official LTV/spinal scoring from the Finnish Kennel Club (first and only whippets in Ireland, at the time of writing, with such scoring) and are also DNA tested.
We encourage all potential whippet owners to consider buying a puppy from only health-tested parents and breeders who go that extra mile to continue to improve and keep future generations healthy.
We believe the minimum testing should include heart and eyes.
How would you sum up the characteristics of this breed and what type of household would they best be suited to ?
From several years of owning whippets and sharing my daily life with them, I can honestly say I would never change them for another breed. Whippets are highly intelligent, versatile and devoted to their family. They are ultimate family members in the full meaning of it and adapt to every kind of lifestyle. They can be your best companion on a sunny outdoor day as well as professional couch potato when it’s rainy, cold and miserable. Whippet’s nature is sweet and loving, gentle and affectionate. They are elegant, easy going and, apart from one good run a day, they will be happy in the comfort of the best sofa in the house. Whippets are funny and highly entertaining. Even though they are not fully happy with you leaving in the morning, they will await your return home and welcome you with overwhelming excitement and wagging tails at the door. For whippets, Sundays are reserved for a lazy late morning in bed under the duvet followed by a wild adventure wherever you decide to take them – the beach, forest or the local fields close to home.
They are an addictive breed – once a whippet, always a whippet because you simply can’t get enough of them.
As fabulous as they are, I believe whippets are not a breed for everyone and may not suit every household and family. Whippet’s puppyhood can be challenging, and they will test you in ways you wouldn’t ever think a dog can. The good news is that once the adolescence stage passes at the age of 2-3 years, they are the best dogs and companions you can imagine having.