The Silken Windhound is a rare American breed of dog, a member of the sighthound family.
The Silken Windhound is a graceful, small to medium-sized sighthound with a moderately long silky coat. This breed owes its unique appearance, elegant build, and the athleticism of a true coursing dog to champion Borzoi and Whippet ancestors. The Silken Windhound can be any combination of coat colors and markings, from spotted to solid, black and tan, saddled, brindle and sable, pure white and reds to deep black and blues, and a rainbow of colors in between.
Silken Windhounds are as comfortable in the sporting fields as they are on the couch at home with their humans. They are generally affectionate and playful, and make ideal family companions and good playmates for gentle children. They are unsuited as guard dogs due to their trusting and friendly nature. Like all sighthounds, Silkens excel in racing or lure coursing but have also proven to be intelligent and responsive enough to also enjoy less typical sighthound activities. They are successful in agility, therapy, flyball and obedience. They do well with smaller household pets indoors if socialized to them properly, but their sighthound nature means that any small, fast running animals in the field may be chased.
Training The Silken Windhound is a gentle, intelligent breed, they train easily and most effectively using reward and affection based training in short, positive sessions. Using positive training methods, Silkens will work eagerly and form strong relationships with their owners. Harsher training based on corrections do not work well with this breed, and will often create a fearful Silken rather than an obedient one. Like many in the sighthound family, most Silken Windhounds can slip out of a standard buckle collar, and the collar most often used with these hounds is a martingale dog collar, or a semi-slip collar.
Health With proper care, many Silken Windhounds will live into their late teens, with some living until they are 17 to 20. Bone and joint ailments like hip dysplasia are generally not a problem, nor is bloat. Some dogs in this breed are sensitive to Ivermectin and related drugs; a simple test is now available to find out if a dog carries a defective MDR1 (multi-drug resistance) gene. Responsible breeders are working to eliminate this faulty gene from the breeding pool. There have been some cases of cryptorchidism, umbilical hernia, and lotus syndrome, as well as deafness and cataracts in geriatric dogs. Thanks to the efforts of the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, Silken Windhounds are going to be the first dog breed to have their genome mapped.
The Silken Windhound was created by Francie Stull, a successful breeder of top show and performance American Kennel Club (AKC) Borzoi and Deerhound who utilized her decades of experience with AKC hounds in the formation of this breed, combining the best aspects of some of the top performance Borzoi and Whippet bloodlines in the Americas. The first Silken Windhound litter was whelped in 1987 and the breed club was formed in 1999. In early 2011, The Silken Windhound was recognized by the United Kennel Club. Silken Windhounds now are located all over the US, Canada, and Europe. Silken Windhounds were bred to be a small to medium-sized sighthound. Like other members of their group, they hunt by sight, and can course game in open areas at high speeds.
Event Venues In addition to specialty shows held worldwide, in the US, the Silken Windhounds are registered with the United Kennel Club and are shown and participate in a variety of performance sports there. Silken Windhounds are also welcome to show in the rare breed show venues NAKC, IABCA, and NCA, competing as part of the Hound groups. In Slovenia, the Silken Windhound is an accepted part of the Slovenian Kennel Club, member of the FCI, and also participates in the Hound group. Silken Windhounds are also able to participate in sighthound performance sports, and in addition to competing alongside other sighthounds in Finnish lure coursing and straight racing events, the ISWS has established a straight racing program, and an oval track racing program that enable Silkens to compete and win points towards performance titles. In late 2009, Silken Windhounds were accepted as a Limited Stakes breed in ASFA American Sighthound Field Association. Over forty dogs competed in ASFA limited stakes in their first month of acceptance. In late 2010, Silken Windhounds were accepted as a breed in NOFCA, the National Open Field Coursing Association and can participate in open field events.