There is much speculation as to the origin of the Whippet. Some think the dog has its roots in ancient Egypt, but the more commonly accepted origin is England. In the 18th and 19th centuries in Northern England coal miners, factory workers, and tenant farmers were thought to have crossed a small greyhound with terrier type dogs, possibly the Bedlington Terrier, to create a small keen sighthound which later was dubbed the Whippet. This breed was commonly referred to as the "poor man's racehorse" or "poor man's greyhound".
The early Whippets were used to hunt rabbits to put food on the table, but also were used as a sporting hound for 200 yard "rag-races" and "snap dog coursing" (these were conducted in an enclosure where rabbits and sometimes rats were killed by the Whippets, and the Whippet who killed the most rabbits won) events. Snap dog coursing was outlawed eventually by humane organizations, due to the cruel nature of the event, but rag-racing continued to be a favorite pastime of the hard-working miners and farmers.
The first Whippets brought to North America in the late 1800's were believed to have arrived with English mill operators in Massachusetts. Massachusetts served as the center of Whippet racing in North America for many years. Later the sport moved southward to Baltimore, Maryland, which became an active location for Whippet racing as well. The Whippet breed continued to gain in popularity and a Whippet name Jack Dempsey, bred by P.H. Hoffman of Philadelphia, PA was the first Whippet to be registered with the American Kennel Club in 1888. The Kennel Club of England recognized the Whippet as a registerable breed in 1891.
Below you will find links to other websites that have good information regarding the history of the Whippet breed.
Whippet View History Page