Whippet – Everything You Need to Know

Whippet, nicknamed the “poor man’s Greyhound,” is a lean, muscular, athletic dog who balances its power and strength with grace and elegance. The title ‘Whippet’ is synonymous with streamlined elegance. They exhibit the classic ‘inverted S’ lines of the sighthound. Whippets are not miniature Greyhounds but were developed by crossing Greyhounds with smaller terriers and, after that, Italian Greyhounds, resulting in a sleek, sweet-faced, amiable, dignified, and gentle soul. These breeds were the hunter’s best friend, speedily chasing after rabbits and killing small vermin. However, today Whippets compete in agility, lure coursing, rally, flyball, and obedience and is a loving therapy dog. A plus for city dwellers – Whippets rarely bark.

Whippet Overview

The Whippets are often called an ideal all-purpose dog who is an ultimate sprinter, unsurpassed by any other dog breed in their capability to accelerate to top speed and to turn and twist with unequaled agility. These breeds usually get along with other people and dogs. Yet, early socialization, such as exposure to different sights, sounds, people, and situations, is essential to keep your Whippet from becoming terrified of new situations. However, they may not be the best option if you’re fond of cats because of their strong prey drive. Although some Whippets peacefully live with cats and other small pets, they train and socialize them to accept the family cat. Also, it’s crucial always to supervise their interactions and never leave them alone. 

Whippet dogs prefer to be part of a pack rather than only a hound. Hence, they become very connected to their families and prefer being around kids and other dogs. Often called the “Goldilocks” of dog breeds, these medium-sized hounds require a few grooming needs, moderate exercise, and easy-going temperament. 

Whippet Pros and Cons

Very affectionate and great family petsStrong hunting instincts
Athletic and agileCan be stubborn during training
Easy to groomSensitive to cold weather 

Whippet Basic Information 

  • Name: Whippet
  • Origin: England
  • Group: Hound
  • Size: Medium
  • Height: Male: 19 – 22 inches; female: 18 – 21 inches
  • Weight: 25 – 40 pounds 
  • Coat: Short, smooth, and firm in structure.
  • Color: Black, white, red, fawn, blue, cream, and brindle. 
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Agility, confirmation, field trials, hunting tests, obedience, rally, guard dogs, therapy dogs. 
  • Barking Level: Low 
  • Shedding Level: Low
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 6 puppies
  • Other Names: Poor man’s Greyhound, Goldilocks, Snap Dog, and Lighting Rag Dog
  • Breed’s Original Pastimes: Hunting
  • Life Span: 12 – 15 years

History of Whippet

The Whippets were developed in the 19th century by miners in Northern England who couldn’t afford to keep a Greyhound. Hence, they invented their own smaller, less costly version. However, Whippets were used mainly for competitive rabbit killing, where rabbits would be released, and the first dog to make a kill won. This allowed the miners to engage in gambling with little cost. When this sport got banned, they shifted to rag-racing, where a cloth was dragged in a line, and these dogs would run. However, these two sports gave rise to the Whippets’ other titles – Snap Dog and Lighting Rag Dog. Today they have won fans worldwide as a gentle companion dog. 

  • The AKC recognized the Whippet breeds in 1888.

Whippet Highlights

  • Whippets aren’t excellent watchdogs because they rarely bark and are amicable toward everyone they meet.
  • Whippets require daily exercise and will enjoy running and romping in a fenced yard or on a leash.
  • Whippets have a strong prey drive and chase other animals for several miles.
  • Whippet’s thin skin is vulnerable to tears, scrapes, and nicks.
  • Whippets are generally quiet and calm dogs when their exercise needs are fulfilled.
  • While Whippets are intelligent hounds, they can also be stubborn. If housebreaking is a problem, crate training is recommended.
  • Whippets get cold quickly. Get a coat or sweater to wear when it’s wet, cold, or snowy.

Whippet Personality

Whippets are recognized for their unique companionship and charming personalities. In addition, they make excellent family pets and are patient with kids and the elderly. However, they are not ideal watchdogs as they welcome most people warmly. These medium-sized, muscular, high-energy breeds have a surprisingly delicate side with love and tolerance. They always strive for human companionship; the downside is they may feel lonely if these breeds are left alone for long periods. Pet owners must be confident dealing with Whippets as they are dominant. Early training is recommended to discourage chewing, house-soiling, and other bad habits.

Friendliness Overview

Affection level High
Family-friendly High
Kid-friendly High
Pet-friendly Medium to high
Stranger -friendly Medium to high

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment living High
Good to new owners Medium
Sensitivity level High 
Tolerates being alone Low to medium
Cold-tolerance Low
Heat-tolerance Medium to high

Whippet Physical Features

Head: Powerful and balanced head with large oval-shaped eyes, small rose ears, long and lean skull, powerful muzzle, and strong teeth.

Neck, Body, and Topline: Relatively long neck, firm and well-muscled broad back, deep brisket, and well-sprung ribs. 

Tail: Long and tapering tail.

Forequarters: The forequarters are athletic, with long shoulder blades, well laid back with flat muscles, straight forelegs, strong pasterns, long, well-arched toes, and short nails.

Hindquarters: The hindquarters are long and powerful, with broad, muscular thighs. 

Coat: Short, smooth, sleek, and firm in texture.

Color:  Black, white, red, fawn, blue, cream, and brindle.  

Gait: The gait is effortless and indicates smooth coordination. 

Disqualification (AKC Standards)

  • Blue eye(s)
  • Any blue color in the eye(s)
  • Overshot or undershot mouth
  • Any coat is other than short, smooth, and firm in texture. 
  • Height above or below the standard measurement
  • A dip behind shoulder blades, flat back, wheelback, or a steep or flat croup
  • Flat, soft, or splayed feet without thick hard pads
  • Sickle or cow hocks 

Whippet Temperament

Whippets are working hounds with all the humble sense of intention it delivers. They require intense mental and physical stimulation to be happy and engaged. These versatile dogs can be a guardian to their human family, including children, and will safeguard them with all their power. Whippets are clingy canines. Early socialization and proper training are required to ensure they are more welcoming to meeting strangers. So, if you are getting a Whippet puppy, find them chasing smaller animals around the house. 

Whippet Training

Early socialization is vital for Whippets, but it’s even more necessary considering their powerful body and strong-willed disposition. Despite their intelligence, Whippets may tend to be adamant during training. Although you can train Whippets easily they can get bored quickly. Patience, constant training, positive reinforcement, and treats will help your dog learn things effortlessly. Always remember that Whippet dogs were initially bred for hunting and have a strong prey drive, hence should be trained on the leash. Besides physical activity, they also require mental stimulation or can become fierce and moody. Here are some training exercises for your Whippet dogs:

Trainability Overview 

Easy to train Medium to high
Intelligence Medium to high
Mouthiness tendencies Medium to high
Barking and howling tendencies Low 
Prey drive High
Wanderlust tendenciesMedium to high

Whippet Exercise Needs

Whippets are highly active hounds that need at least an hour of daily exercise. In addition, they are sprinters by nature, and adequate exercise could take the form of several active retrieving sessions weekly with regular walks, the ball or flying disc, or play sessions in a safely fenced area. They have a high wanderlust potential acquired from their hunting lineage. So, always be cautious when allowing them off the leash. They may adore agility, obedience training, or activities that blend physical and mental activities. Here are some of the activities that your Whippet will surely enjoy:

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy level High
Exercise needs High
Intensity Low to medium
Playfulness High

Whippet Grooming

Whippets are incredibly low-maintenance, non-hypoallergenic moderate shedders. They must brush weekly once to remove loose hair and dead skin cells. Bathe them to keep their short coat clean from dirt and debris. It is necessary to keep their skin dry thoroughly after a bath to avoid infections from wetness. Check their eyes regularly for irritation, redness, or discharge. The nails need to be trimmed occasionally. Brush their teeth daily to prevent dental troubles. Ears accumulate dirt and must be cleansed once a week to prevent bacteria and other ear-related problems.

Grooming Overview

Easy to groom High
Drooling tendency Low
Amount of shedding Low to medium

Whippet Health

According to the American Whippet Club, Whippets are one of the healthier purebred dogs. However, it’s essential to help your Whippet maintain a healthy weight because their slender frame was not built for excess pounds. So, it is crucial to maintain good health care and regular vet check-ups.

Health Overview

Overall health Medium to high
Weight gain tendencies Low
Size Medium

Bully Whippet Syndrome: A deadly condition where gene mutation concerns muscle growth. 

Hip dysplasia: A hereditary condition in which the thigh bone fails to fit into the hip joint. One or both legs of your dog may become lame or ache. X-ray is the best way to analyze the situation. 


  • Wrong exercises  
  • Excessive weight gain  
  • Injuries  


  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run, or climb  
  • Enlarging shoulders  
  • Pain  
  • Stiffness  
  • Reduced activity and movements  
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass  
  • Grating in the joint during movement  
  • Lameness in the hind limbs  

Hypothyroidism: A dog’s metabolism is slowed due to insufficient thyroid hormone production. Symptoms are:  

  • Lethargy  
  • Gaining weight  
  • Reluctance to work out  
  • Hair Loss 

Von Willebrand’s Disease: This is a genetically transmitted blood disorder characterized by an inability to clot. 


  • Excessive bleeding post-surgery or injury  
  • Nosebleeds 
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bleeding in the stomach or intestines.

Anesthesia Sensitivity: All sighthounds are extra susceptible to anesthetics because of their low body fat.

Deafness: An uncommon condition in Whippets, but it happens occasionally. Whippets who are deaf have particular exercise and communication necessities, but there are many aids on the market, like vibrating collars, to make life easier for you and your puppy.

Eye Diseases: Some Whippets may develop various eye disorders. The breeder from whom you purchase your pup should have eye clearances dated within the past year for both parents, ensuring that their eyes are normal.

Recommended Tests for Whippet

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Hyperuricosuria (HUU)
  • Hypomyelination (HYM) DNA Test
  • Spinal Dysraphism (SD) DNA Test
  • Cardiac Exam

Whippet Diet and Nutrition

Whippets are high-energy hounds that require 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food. Several commercial kibbles are protein-enriched, but they should be fed with high-quality lean meat and canned dog food. According to the vet’s guidance, you can split their meal time into two. Some Whippets are prone to getting overweight, so watch their weight level and calorie consumption. Treats can be an essential aid in training, but giving too many treats can result in obesity.

Whippet Living Condition

Whippets require the following living requirements to lead a happy and healthy life:

  • A securely fenced yard (at least 6 feet high) and ample space to run around.
  • A regular exercise regime.
  • Some Whippets may exhibit chewing and digging traits. So, equip them with toys to keep them occupied.
  • If you live in an apartment, ensure enough time for their physical and mental exertion.

Did You Know?

  • While similar to the Greyhound, the Whippet has got better acceleration.
  • Whippet dogs can reach top speeds of up to 35 mph.
  • A Whippet was considered to act in Alien 3, but they were deemed too adorable for the role.
  • The three dogs that hold the Guinness World Record for the long-distance dock-diving jump are all Whippets: Slingshot (2018), Sounders (2019), and Cochiti (2012).
  • Other renowned Whippets are British comedian Jennifer Saunder’s dog Olive and famous painter Lucien Freud’s dog Pluto.
  • In 2018, a Whippet – Whiskey won the National Dog Show.
  • A Whippet named Bourbon was rewarded the Best in Show title, 2020 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin.

Whippet Club Recognition

Adding a Whippet to Your Family 

Getting a Whippet from a reputable breeder is best to prevent inevitable circumstances like health diseases and provide you with vaccination certificates. Also, checking with the puppy’s parents is best to ensure their health and happiness. On average, a Whippet puppy may cost around $900 to $2000, not including miscellaneous expenses.

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