The Rough Haired Whippet by: Christine Cormany
How the little rough-haired member of this breed came to be has long been shrouded in mystery and even in the days when he was at his best, breeders, owners, and English exporters were un sure of his beginning. Probably the one person who knew best was Freeman Lloyd, who was closely associated with the breed in England and America. In his book, “The Whippet or Race Dog” he writes, “For the sporting Whippet, I should be inclined to pick the rough- haired variety, not the linty Bedlington sort, which some people describe as a “miniature Deerhound”. I would rather go in for the hard-coated variety – one with a grizzled face and a fairly dense coat – I think these are more suitable for the work, and can stand the weather better than the animal that has to be clothed in the winter and even pampered in the summer.”
The Bedlington terrier breeders and Whippet breeders of the early days often tried to find substantiated proof that the Whippet was even used in the beginning of the Bedlington, however, there seemed to be more material gathered to indicate that it was the other way around. Looking at a picture of the Bedlington of around 1925, he doesn’t even resemble todays silver coated polished specimens, so it could be assumed that probably the Bedlington of around 1890 didn’t look anywhere near like his 1925 brother. Most of the roughs my Father owned were of the grizzled face variety, as can be seen from the photo and I’m sure Mr. Lloyd would have been pleased with their “terrier guts” which he so often wrote of being a requirement in a racing Whippet.
The conformation of the rough-haired variety often compared favorably with the smooth and I can remember in one instance where a judge placed a rough over a smooth only to have his decision bear fruit on the race track where the rough indeed defeated the smooth again. The roughs were shown on very rare occasions and such occasions were when a race meet was in conjunction with an all breed show and we would support the entry of Whippets, such as they do today.
Of the two pictured with my Father, the one to the right, Kerryline, only weighed 15 lbs. and won 58 races out of 60 in her short career. In the early days, racers were handicapped by weight, so Kerryline had a good head start, but was fast enough to hold the lead and win by a good margin. As she grabbed the rag Dad waved for her, he would swing her up under his arm out of harms way. Even with a muzzle on, a 15 pounder could be badly rolled by a jolt from a 25 lb. dog. The other bitch, Happy Sally, got a bad bump as a puppy and it was almost a year before she regained enough confidence to race again. Through her we carried the rough line for another generation or two, as Kerryline would have nothing to do with a male. A young rough male was sent to the Meander Kennels but for some reason he didn’t seem to adapt to his new environment and his life ended early. When racing declined in Southern California and we found ourselves forced to move from the wide open spaces to a refined city life!?, rather than have the some 25 odd dogs exploited, they were nearly all put to sleep (roughs and smooths) and thus ended the era of the rough haired Whippet.
Some will probably wonder how the rough coat was kept in our breeding operations, a rough was usually bred to a rough but when bred to a smooth they usually came out half and half, half rough and half smooth. Colors were not of a wide range, black, fawn and silver were the usual, as far as I can recollect, we never had a white, brindle or parti-color. The roughs weighed around 22 pounds and I don’t really remember any of them being over that, so they were not a large dog, attesting once again to the Bedlington in their veins, and the majority of them were the best racers and won the most races over the smooth.
Nice to see a history of the whippet by somebody who knows the breed. Very interesting. I have a rough coated lurcher who may or may not be part whippet, who is only slightly larger than a pure bred. She is a wonderful character 🙂
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And most of the so called AUTHORITES in the US never really acknowledged that the rough coated existed even though history proves it did.