If your wondering is my whippet underweight? Then you’re in the right place!
The whippet, often described as a “poor man’s Greyhound”, has become a favourite household companion.
Bred back in the 17th century as a sighthound, the modern Whippet has mainly evolved from the breed that became popular in the English Midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire in particular.
Whippets became an official breed in the late 19th century, when the American Kennel Club, followed by UK’s The Kennel Club, granted them recognition as a separate breed.
Though unsuited for larger game such as stag due to their smaller size, Whippets were great for hunting the likes of rabbits, squirrels or foxes.
Given their ability to “course”, that is, chase prey for short bursts, and attain high speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, racing Whippets emerged as a popular pastime in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Nowadays, there are Straight and Oval Races, typically run for titles and ribbons rather than cash prizes.
The Whippet Racing Association (WRA) in the US organizes Straight Races for certified dogs.
The Whippet’s body has evolved to maintain its sleekness and speed in a medium-sized frame.
As we discuss below, you should not make the mistake of thinking your pet is undersized without understanding what makes for a healthy, happy companion.
How Much Do Whippets Weigh?
The Whippet is a MEDIUM size dog. Males stand 19 to 22” in height, females are an inch or two shorter on the average.
Most importantly, they are built to move quickly – the streamlined medium frame allows them to get up to top sprinting speed very quickly.
While a Whippet’s weight can reach as high as 48 lbs., you are more likely to have a pet that weighs between 25 and 35 lbs.
They are supposed to be all muscle and sinew, not leaving the space for a whole lot of flesh or flab on their frame.
Whippets look similar to Greyhounds, a trait that has endured due to crossbreeding between the species by owners that wanted good racing dogs.
However, the Whippet is considerably smaller, something that needs to be considered when discussing their ideal weight.
Some pet owners, especially newbies, may overfeed their Whippets thinking that they look underweight. Read on for some tips in this regard.
How To Tell If Your Whippet Is Underweight
Whippets have the typical look of a sighthound with classic “inverted S” contours – lean head, long and arched neck, deep chest and trim waist.
But they are not meant to be large dogs. Even Whippets at a healthy weight may look skinny to some owners who are not familiar with a sighthound and may be comparing them to heavier-bodied, less sleek dogs.
The American Whippet Club advises that you “should be able to detect at least two vertebrae at the top of the spine, ribs should not protrude but should be easily felt under a thin layer of flesh and hipbones should not be sunk into fat so as to give the appearance of dimples.”
Having said that, if you Whippet is below 15 lbs. and over 20” tall (i.e. reasonably big in frame but under what you may consider being a standard weight), you may want to look a little more closely.
In particular, go back to the spine and vertebrae. If you can feel each bone and joint separately and distinctly while the skin hangs loose, your Whippet may be underweight – or leaning in that direction.
Also, be on the lookout for other tell-tale signs – significant weight loss over a short period, unusually high lethargy (allowing for the fact that Whippets tend to sleep 18-20 hours a day) and complete unwillingness to go for a run or exercise at least once a day. Those may be cause for concern.
Unless you see such cause for alarm, please do not give in to your impulses and overfeed your pet.
Whippets need to maintain their slim, sinewy figures and get an hour or two of exercise every day in order to lead a healthy and happy life.
Overfeeding will inevitably lead to a fat, lethargic pet which suffers from other health problems.
How To Put Weight On Your Whippet
As a medium breed dog, your Whippet will typically eat all dog food.
You don’t need a small or large-dog breed diet formula, nor do you need special or power diets.
Whippet puppies can eat almost any puppy food but be aware that the typical Whippet gains 90% of its body weight in the first 6-8 months (which is faster than most dog breeds).
So, it may behove you to use puppy food for a few months, then move down to adult dog food so as not to cause obesity.
When choosing dog food brands, remember that Whippets need the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in their diet.
The protein needs to come from animals – this is why the foremost ingredient of dog food for your Whippet must be meat.
There should also be a balance with plenty of vegetables, legumes and essential oils.
Low-quality dog foods, that often substitute meat protein with soybean meal, wheat gluten or corn, are not a good way to put weight on your Whippet – they fill the stomach without delivering the required nutrition.
Whippets typically like to be fed twice a day, though puppies or highly active dogs may prefer more frequent feedings.
Puppies’ food should include more protein and fat, comparatively speaking, than adults.
A senior Whippet may eat the same food as a normal adult, but they need fewer calories – so need to be fed in smaller quantities, or less frequently, or both.
There are exceptions, of course. If your Whippet continues to stay undernourished (perform the checks mentioned above), start maintaining a journal to log feeding times, amounts and caloric content.
Feed smaller portions, more frequently and check if that aids digestion. Weigh your dog regularly. And do not forego exercise, it’s a critical component of health.
You can choose snacks that help your dog gain weights, but do not overboard with this plan – it’s more important to choose a quality dog food than overindulge your pet.
As with all other diets, you should alter intakes that may cause flatulence, rashes or incontinence. Consult your vet if necessary to chart out a good diet.
Sometimes, none of these may work – your Whippet may have intestinal parasites or even suffer from a hormonal imbalance. Consult your vet in such a case.
How Many Calories Should Your Whippet Be Eating?
According to the National Research Council, adult Whippets between 28-32 lbs. in weight require 894-kilo calories (kcal) of daily nutrition.
However, this is a broad standard – the specific intake should be tailored to the type of Whippet you have, in particular their stage of life, physical characteristics and other factors such as whether they engage in high levels of activity.
In general, Whippet puppies require more calories (proportionate to their body weight) during their growth phase. A 4 to 12-month old pup requires 733 kcal despite it only weighing about 20 lbs.
Dogs that have been neutered, or older dogs, may require less.
Finally, if your Whippet goes in for exercise more than is average (i.e. an hour or two in your backyard or your local park), it will need more nutrition.
The same average-sized (30 lbs. or so) Whippet will need close to 1500 kcal in nutrition if it engages in regular coursing activities.
Whippets are calm, affectionate and playful – the attributes of ideal house pets.
But do not let them dawdle around, even if it seems that they are perfectly happy on the couch all the time.
Whippets are coursing and racing dogs, they get antsy and more destructive when they are not able to work off nervous energy.
The longer they sit still, the higher chance that they could lose their poise and cause mischief.
Fitness and stamina are good for Whippets. Let them out into the yard regularly, take them for a run, or sign them up for coursing sessions.
Plus, you can train them – remember that coursing and racing have been bred into their genes for over 400 years.
You can even register them for certifications through the AKC or the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA).
Such a certification would also enable you to enter your puppy in races, were that to be of interest.
One thing to be cautious about – Whippets do not take kindly to extreme heat or cold.
They were bred for short forays on to the field, not prolonged exposure to the elements like herding dogs. So, they need to be coddled a bit.
Carry a water bottle on a hot day or dress them in a sweater on an unusually cold day if you are taking them out.
It may also be a good idea to wait till puppies mature to 3 or 4 years of age, their capabilities and stamina would be higher and some of their natural friskiness and tendency to ignore orders will have abated.
Whippets are a racing, coursing breed – sleek and shiny. But they are a medium breed of dog that needs to stay in shape.
Be careful to find out the details regarding your pet’s ideal body weight before you conclude that your Whippet is underweight and shovel more food into the doggy bowl.
A moderate, healthy diet based on your dog’s level of activity, combined with regular exercise, is the key to a long and healthy life.
Hopefully we have helped you answer your question of “is my whippet underweight?”, and you now have a clear understanding of some actions to take to get your whippet back to fit and healthy.