The Whippet’s Topline and Undercarriage

The Whippet can be a misunderstood creature in a show ring. A collection of dog parts finely knit together are a joy to examine with one’s hands – but when some judges step back for the overall picture, they struggle with a Whippet’s topline, namely, that glorious arch and its underside.

As this is a flexible breed, a gentle arch should appear over the loin, not over the back. A Whippet “hauling a@#” is in a double suspension gallop and thus, will phase in and out of movements that are concave-and-convex, concave-and-convex, repeat. An inflexible spine will prevent this supple extension and contraction.

An important aspect to a dog built for speed is what we call its “undercarriage,” or underline. While the topline’s purpose is flexibility, the undercarriage is, as one person put it, to act like a bellow. The breed standard reads, “having length over the loin,” for the simple reason that when the Whippet’s rear legs extend forward to reach for more real estate, the dog’s chest is going to be pushed into the loin. This is why the breed’s undercarriage is pronounced – an elegant illustration of form following function. A lack of a pronounced “underline” in a Whippet hints at a dog whose speed will be compromised.

Image: Whippet by LA Shepard/thedoglover
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