Whippet Dog: What You Need to Know


Often mistaken for a greyhound, the Whippet is a distant cousin to this racing breed. With its long and lean face and its graceful features, the Whippet is a dog that looks as if it could be something more than just a regular dog, and that could not be closer to the truth. This is a dog with exceptional intelligence and a very affectionate nature. It’s a dog that many people might not consider for their own homes because they’re unsure what it is and that it is not just a greyhound. However, any family in the market for a dog with high intelligence and a very docile personality will want to consider the Whippet for their own home. Like any other dog, you might not be the right family for the Whippet, which is why we always encourage our dog-fans to get to know the breed both on paper and in reality before committing. Dogs are a lifelong commitment that should not be taken lightly. Fortunately, the Whippet will probably make a wonderful addition to your family.

Personality and Temperament

The Whippet is an exceptional dog with a lovable personality. Once you get past the fact that you will spend the rest of your Whippet’s life explaining to everyone that he is not, in fact, a greyhound, you will learn that this is a dog that is unlike any other. Not a small dog in terms of lap dog sizing, the Whippet is still a wonderful companion. He is quite happy to sit down and stay as close to his owner as possible without being intrusive. He is very quiet and very docile, gentle and affectionate in nature. A dog that is very sensitive, he needs a quiet home with a quiet owner who prefers positive reinforcement and a firm tone along with positive education. Harsh words and a harsh tone will scare this dog and make him fear you, and Whippets cannot fear their owners.

Despite its overwhelming desire for quiet and peace, the Whippet is actually good with kids. However, he will not do well with very small kids that love to roughhouse and play rough with him. He loves kids that are gentle and quiet (so he would not do well in my house) and they make wonderful watchdogs. Perhaps the biggest draw for most people, however, is the fact that this is a breed that loves to be clean and does not have that ‘dog’ smell to it.

Another consideration to make is the fact that Whippets do not like cats. No, they like cats; they like to chase cats and then kill cats. They do not, however, typically love to live in harmony with a cat. Unless your dog and your cat are raised together from the time they are born, bringing a cat into a home with a Whippet that’s been around a while is not going to end well for the cat. They’re great with other dogs, however, so that is a consideration.

Lifestyle and Expectation

Knowing what you can expect when you have a Whippet is a great way to know what you can expect for the next 15 years of your life. Not a large dog, the Whippet is also not a small dog. Around 22 inches tall and anywhere from 25 to 45 pounds, the Whippet varies in size with the males typically a bit larger than the females. They are very active pets that love to run freely and quickly, so a yard with a fence or a really nice leash-free dog park near your home is going to prove beneficial.

If your Whippet is given a lovely yard in which to run or a long daily walk that will give him plenty of time to exercise, he will do all right in an apartment or a small home. However, without sufficient exercise your Whippet will not thrive. On a good note, however, the Whippet is a very simple to groom dog with a short coat. It sheds, but not so much that the breed is going to make you feel as if all you do is live in the midst of dog hair. One thing you should know is that the Whippet is very sensitive to cold weather. It’s best in areas that do not get particularly cold, but it will do all right if you purchase the dog a coat on colder days.

Finally, you must know that the Whippet is a healthy dog in general, but the breed is prone to health issues with the stomach and skin. If you notice anything that seems unusual, such as your Whippet’s bathroom abilities or any skin conditions, a trip to the vet becomes more than a little necessary. You’ll want to get the dog to the vet immediately to ensure he or she is treated quickly and back in good condition as quickly as possible.

Breed History

Whippet’s are very fast dogs, and that is where they receive their name. They’ve been around for a few centuries now after they were bred in the 19th century by someone who thought that a mix between a greyhound, an Italian greyhound and a terrier might make a wonderful type of animal. Very fast, the Whippet will astound you with its ability to reach speeds as fast as 37 miles per hour in only a few seconds time. For many years, the Whippet was known as the “poor man’s race horse,” though today it’s more of a companion dog with much to offer those who are looking for an intelligent, quiet and well-behaved dog to keep with them at all times.

The Whippet is a wonderful breed, but it will not want to live in just any household. Make sure this breed is right for you before you commit to living with one for the next decade and a half, and it will prove to be a very wise decision. This dog makes a wonderful pet, but you also have to be a wonderful owner.

Photo by Getty Images

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