Race Bred vs. Show Bred

Two race breds chasing a show bred – they could case less what their pedigrees say

If you want to start a lively conversation, ask a whippet fancier the differences between race bred and show bred. The topic is so hot it has been banned on some internet whippet lists.

What does race or show bred mean?

Basically it has to do with the dogs pedigree and how they were selected for breeding. There isn’t a ton of cross-over between race dog and show dog pedigrees, especially recently. Race bred dogs are chosen for their speed and athletic ability, looks can be secondary. Show bred dogs are chosen for how they look while standing and at a trot, pure speed and athleticism can  be secondary. Of course there are plenty of race breeders who will argue that looks are important – just as many show breeders who will argue that athleticism is paramount. In reality you won’t find the top speed in show bred dogs, just as you won’t find conformation champions among the race dogs. Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either approach as long as health testing is done and there are homes for the pups.

Why the controversy?

Without going in to details – there have been accusations of pedigree fraud among the race breds. Some people insist that lurchers or greyhound crosses have been fraudulently registered as pure bred whippets. Show breeders are accused of choosing form over function, which diminishes the breeds supreme athletic ability and speed – which are hallmarks of a whippet. The big question (that no one can definitively answer) is what makes a dog a whippet? Is it the shape, outline, or incredible speed? If a whippet won’t chase or is slow, is it still a whippet?

Differences between the two

From a pet owners standpoint there really isn’t much difference going with a race bred or show bred. If you want to race competitively, definitely go with a race bred. If you want to show competitively go with a show bred. If you want to do a little of everything, race, show, course there are some breeders who have blended race and show lines. As far as temperaments go they run the gamut in both types. You can find outgoing, hyper, shy, laid back, highly trainable, or nervous dogs in both lines. Sometimes people confuse “race bred” with retired racing greyhounds and assume they will have the same traits. This is a complete fallacy, unless the dogs were bred at a farm and raised like track greyhounds or kennel dogs.