Breeding

Here at Kentfield, our whippets are bred in keeping with their heritage and history. The whippet was developed as a courser of small quarry and as a rag dog or racer in its home country of England. Although racing and coursing is different in the US than when the breed was in its infancy, our whippets are still bred to race and course with skill and speed much like their decendents of yesteryear.

Much thought goes into the process of selecting which sire and which dam will be matched together with the hopes of producing a top racer and courser. We try to select individuals that possess a strong keenness and desire for the lure. Without this desire to chase, we feel the whippet does not really conform to breed type and will not be a factor in our breeding program. We also try to select for a dual purpose whippet; one that that can compete at sprint track racing over a short distance, oval track racing on bends and coursing ability in the open field.

One of the first considerations for selecting a sire and dam is temperament. We look for "good doers"; meaning ones that eat well, travel well, are disease-free and can be handled by anyone.

Next comes speed. We like to time by a stop watch, but failing that, male whippets who have excelled against top competition over a fairly long period of time will be top of our list. With the bitches, due to their coming in season we do not expect quite as much from them but we still look for a good amount of speed against the better competition or good times put up on the stop watch.

Next, we look for correct size, bone and physical soundness; all of which is nothing without the right pedigree and cannot be understated. We prefer that every dog in the pedigree be bred for performance either in the open field or on the track. He/she must have had some degree of success at at least one or more of the different venues. The faster either parent is, the better.

We like to see either English race whippets or European oval champions in the pedigree where possible. The English whippets have been bred for racing much longer in their country of origin than here in the USA so we prefer that they carry as much English blood as possible. We like the European whippets for their oval ability and desire. Both of these types make the best crosses.

Rearing

Our approach to puppy rearing is very simple; give the bitch the best food you can and make sure she is taken out for exercise right up to the day she whelps. This way, they have a better chance of an easy and quick delivery with fewer problems. A healthy bitch in good condition with lots of exercise will produce a healthier litter and be more content with her litter when they are born. When whelping is imminent, the bitch is given a very soft bed made up of 3 inch or 4 inch foam fitted to exact proportions into a large #500 crate or cardboard box. Our bitches *love* the nice soft bed and are very content to lie in their box/crate for as long as their pups need them. We change the blanket every day and make sure the ends are well tucked in so to keep the pups from getting caught up in the blankets. Our bitches spend their entire time in the whelping box with their pups and are just content to sleep, nurse or clean their offspring.

We don't force any weaning on the pups and leave that *entirely* up to the bitch. We only start the puppies on solid food when they seem interested in eating which for us is around 5 weeks. Our bitches continue to nurse them until about 8 - 11 weeks.

Once the pups are up and walking about, they are shown the dog door to the outside. House training is quick and easy as the pups start going outside at 5 weeks and only need the newspaper at about the 4 to 5 week stage and then they willingly go outside to relieve themselves.

At 6 weeks we do crate training and travel training - all on the same day! We put the pups in 2 crates - half the litter in one and the other half of the litter in the other crate and place them in our van. We then take the pups on a nice little drive. We usually run errands, that way they get to experience the car stopping and starting, different noises, people, other vehicles and even a trip to a friends house for some socializing.

At 6 weeks, we also start taking the pups on walks around our farm. For the first time out on our pasture, they don't go far and don't stay out for too long. By 7 weeks, they are doing an entire lap around our 5 acres. By 9 weeks, they are romping over the entire property, investigating the creek and bridge and playing chase games over and around the entire place. Because of the freedom and exercise they receive, they also eat and sleep very contentedly and remain very healthy.

Socializing consists of the pups being raised up underfoot in our house. They are not kenneled or crated and are only placed into an x-pen connected to a crate at nighttime to sleep. The rest of the time, they are in and out of the house, in the sun room or out playing Pups who remain with us continue to receive daily runs on our property as well as full house and yard privilages. By 4 mths, they are coming on walks to the hay fields and are starting race training.

NO exercise is forced and they are able to run as little or as much as they wish in one of the yards. We do not limit them and find they are more easily house trained and socialized if allowed to mix with the adults the entire time.

We also take the pups from 6 weeks on to race meets to visit with other people, kids and other dogs. We join a few x-pens together and put them in it while we are racing. We encourage all the kids at the race meet to get into the pen with the pups and play with them. There seems to be no substitute for kid and puppy socialization. Its a win/win situation any way you look at it.

By time our pups are about 9 - 11 weeks of age, they are ready for their new homes. They have already been eating a raw diet since about 5 weeks of age and are mostly weaned from their dam. They are also crate trained, house trained and have been socialized with kids, the outdoors and race meets.


A Kentfield Litter

Kentfield's ER Marika and her first litter of pups