Longhaired Whippets, or as they’re more commonly known in the US, Silken Windsprites, are beautiful dogs. They are a similar size as purebred Whippets and have the same elegant and athletic body shape.
However, unlike purebred Whippets, Windsprites have a double coat with long and silky fur as opposed to a short and smooth single coat.
In this post I’m going to discuss the Longhaired Whippet… or Silken Windsprite if you’d prefer! I’ll focus on providing the following details:
Table of Contents
- History of the Longhaired Whippets
- Longhaired Whippet Appearance
- Silken Windsprite Health
- Exercise and Care for Longhaired Whippets
- Images of Longhaired Whippets from Instagram
History of Longhaired Whippets
Despite its name, the Longhaired Whippet is not a Whippet, though it does come from the same family… and this is where some controversy has arisen.
In the 1980s, an American Whippet breeder called Walter Wheeler claimed to have developed a long haired variety of Whippet by activating a recessive long hair gene found in the purebred Whippet.
While indeed a recessive long hair gene has been found in both Whippets and Greyhounds (a Whippet ancestor), Wheeler’s claim that he’d created a new purebred dog breed was both disputed and criticised heavily.
Many believed that Wheeler had crossed purebred Whippets with long haired purebred dog breeds such as the Shetland Sheepdog (a breed that Wheeler also kept). Indeed, studies identified that Longhaired Whippets have a recessive gene found in Shetland Sheepdogs but not in Whippets. This supports the view that the long haired variety is not a new breed but is in fact a Whippet mix.
The discussion about whether or not the Longhaired Whippet is a purebreed or a cross are ongoing. To date, neither the American Kennel Club nor the American Whippet Club acknowledge the Longhaired Whippet as a breed in its own right.
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At some point the Longhaired Whippet received a kind of rebrand, taking the rather more fancy name of Silken Windsprite. Perhaps this was designed to separate it in name from its Whippet association.
Since 2017 in the US, the Windsprite moniker has been used commonly. However, in Europe Longhaired Whippet is still frequently used today.
Longhaired Whippet Appearance
Like the purebred Whippet, the Longhaired Whippet is a medium sized dog. It stands between 16 inches to 22 inches and weighs between 20 lbs to 35lbs. Females are generally smaller than males.
Both Longhaired Whippets and purebred Whippets share a very similar physique. They’re both medium sized dog breeds and have the same long neck, deep chest and narrow waist and they’re both very fast runners.
The principal difference between both breeds in terms of appearance is their coat.
Purebred Whippets have a short, smooth coat, whereas the long haired variety has a coat that’s long and wavy (silken). This gives the impression that the Longhaired Whippet is the larger of the two breeds when in reality they’re very similarly sized.
Longhaired Whippets are known to be affectionate, loving and gentle dogs. They’re also playful and enjoy games, especially if they involve chasing something.
While it’s great fun to have a dog that loves chasing, it does mean that you’ll need to be careful if you have other smaller pets at home with them. Like purebred Whippets, Longhaired Whippets are Sighthounds and have a very strong prey drive.
I’ve written before about my experience of Whippets and cats living under the same roof… it didn’t work for us. The same would likely be true for any sighthound breed, since they can’t help but chase small, furry things that run from them.
As a consequence, you may need to work hard to train this tendency out of the Longhaired Whippet, but you might find this impossible, since it’s inherent in all Sighthound breeds.
All dogs can be aloof if they’re not properly socialised. Longhaired Whippets are loving family dogs and will be people oriented… with people they know! In order to ensure your dog is happy and confident, it’s really important to provide training to help them.
This article on Whippet socialisation gives some tips on how to start the process of training puppies to be confident in any environment.
Silken Windsprite Health
As descendants of Whippets, Silken Windsprites have a solid physique and do not tend to suffer health issues such as hip dysplasia and digestive problems that some breeds do.
They have a lifespan of between 12 to 15 years and assuming they’re not overfed and have a sufficient amount of daily exercise, they should remain healthy and happy.
Purebred Whippets are prone to the following health problems:
- Mitral Valve Disease
- Canine Hemangiosarcoma
- Canine von Willebrand’s Disease
- Orthopaedic Injuries
- Sensitivity to Anaesthetics
These may be conditions that Longhaired Whippets have inherited.
As with any dog, it’s important not to overfeed a Longhaired Whippet. Like their parent breed, they will take any opportunity to snaffle food that’s unattended.
In most cases, this isn’t a major problem (as long as it doesn’t happen on a regular basis), however there are some foods that dogs should never eat. Some of these are extremely dangerous to dogs.
I know this from experience when we had to take our Whippet to our local veterinary practise when she ate raisins: I don’t recommend the experience!
Purebred Whippets can easily tear their skin, since they have short fur and very little body fat. This is something else we’ve experienced when our Whippet Misty badly tore her skin on a tree stump while running past it.
Longhaired Whippets have more protection here because their double coat and long hair makes their skin less prone to cuts and grazes. Their coats also help to keep them warmer in colder weather… purebred Whippets suffer terribly from cold temperatures and need a Whippet sweater or coat to keep cozy.
Find out about more about Whippet health problems.
Exercise and Care for Longhaired Whippets
Like all Sighthounds, Longhaired Whippets need to run. In terms of exercise, they need up to an hour each day off the leash. This enables them to sniff around without restriction, chase toys you might have or play with other dogs.
They’ll also need mental stimulation at home. Playing with toys and having fun with them in an enclosed garden will give them extra entertainment and exercise, which will help curtail potential destructive behaviours.
Learn more about Whippet exercise needs.
It’s also likely that Longhaired Whippets will not enjoy being left alone for very long periods in the day. My recommendation would be to not leave a Sighthound at home alone for more than 4 hours, especially one that’s been bred from Whippets.
Whippets can experience separation anxiety (like many dog breeds) as they love their families and can’t bear to be apart from them for too long.
Assuming a correct level of exercise, socialisation and quality time with you, a Longhaired Whippet will likely be a couch potato and happily spend much of the day snoozing.
All dogs shed and there’s no breed that can’t cause allergic reactions to people with allergies. Purebred Whippets are not hypoallergenic, and Longhaired Whippets fall into the same boat.
Although Whippets don’t shed very much, they still shed. Longhaired Whippets will likely shed similarly but the effects of their shedding will be far more noticeable. Grooming once a week should help to keep fur and dander to a minimum and help to reduce allergens in the home.
Find out more about Whippet grooming.
Images of Longhaired Whippets from Instagram
Longhaired Whippets share many characteristics and needs of purebred Whippets. If they offer anything like experience I’ve had with Whippets, they’ll make a great family pet for someone who can give them the time they need.
Do you own a Longhaired Whippet? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below to tell me about your experiences.