What Is A Whippet Dog?

The whippet is a medium-sized dog and according to the American Kennel Club, they rank number 61 out of 197 breeds for their popularity. They are affectionate and devoted companions and make wonderful family pets.

Whippets are the second-fastest dogs in the world and can reach breathtaking speeds over 30mph! This means you’ll need to always have your eye on them on walks and outings, as they can be off in a flash.

If you’re wondering, what is a whippet dog? Never fear! In the following article, I will tell you everything you need to know about making a whippet your newest family member.

Whippet Breed Characteristics

When it comes to the whippet characteristics, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Listed below are some characteristics and traits of the whippet.


The whippet is a sleek and slender dog, but don’t let their fragile look fool you. Although they move with elegance and grace, they are more muscular than you might think. Although whippets have what look like thin legs, they are incredibly strong and powerful.

Female whippets can measure 18 to 20 inches tall, while males can be 19 to 22 inches. Both sexes weigh from 25 to 40 pounds. They tend to look skinny and malnourished with their deep chest, but this is their normal stature.

The whippet’s ears are rose-shaped and large but fold over and they usually have saucer-like dark eyes, which makes them extra adorable.

Whippets have short velvety coats, with colours that can vary from red, fawn, cream, blue, black, and white.

With very short fur, they don’t require much grooming which makes the perfect for keepin indoors.


Whippets have an excellent temperament. They are intelligent, fairly easy to train, and quick to learn. They are a very loyal breed and become quite attached to their family.

Traits that come easily for a whippet are being very friendly and well-mannered, greeting visitors and strangers, and getting along well with other dogs because of their “pack” mentality.

Whippets are also great with children and never get carried away or vocal, as they rarely ever bark.

Whippet Breed History

The whippet is a breed of sighthound that originated in England in the 1800s, although art has been found of a smaller greyhound breed from the times of the Ancient Egyptians. Arguably the whippet, but maybe the Italian Greyhound cousin.

In fact, displayed in art throughout history, statues of dogs and adorned pottery have been of whippet likenesses exhibited by the Greeks. “Group Of Dogs,” is a piece of art from Greco-Roman times with the depiction of whippet-like dogs and is on display at the British Museum.

It is believed that the modern whippet originated by crossing an Italian greyhound with the Old English white terrier or the Manchester terrier in England.

Breeders wanted a dog with the stamina, speed and elegance of the greyhound along with the feisty, energetic terrier attitude.

The whippet’s emergence was wholly to the credit of the coal miners of Northumberland, Lancashire and Yorkshire, England.

They couldn’t afford to feed the bigger greyhound and they needed a smaller hunting dog, thus the modern whippet was born.

Fun fact – This whippet of today is more than one hundred years old!

what is a whippet dog?
Image: Fotomomente

The working class in Britain became familiar with the whippet and used them for hunting rabbits and small game, as well as coursing.

The whippet is a sighthound and locates its prey by sight, then quickly chases it down and “snaps” them up. This has earned them the nickname of “snap dog.”

Whippets have also been used for racing for many years, and in the case of the coal miners were cheaper to care for than greyhounds, giving them another nickname of “the poor man’s racehorse

Whippets were recognised in 1891 by the Kennel Club of the UK.

In the nineteenth century, whippets arrived in America with immigrants from Britain and in 1888 became the whippet breed in The American Kennel Club.

Why Whippets Are A Wonderful Breed

There are so many reasons why whippets are a wonderful breed that I’m sure I could fill an entire book with. But below are listed a few of those qualities.


Even though whippets are considered medium-sized dogs at 25 – 40lbs, they don’t take up much space and are not a very big or bulky dog. This makes them great for those that live in small houses or apartments.

For car trips, whippets will easily fit in your vehicle, this is perfect for trips to the beach and walks in the countryside. As long as they get out for daily exercise, walks, runs or fun at the park, they are happy campers wherever you are.

Low Maintenance

Compared to breeds that are continually shedding or have their twice a year shedding season, the whippet’s maintenance is quite low key.

They don’t need a whole lot of brushing, and an occasional bath will suffice. Whippets do not have any “doggie” odour and there is no drooling or slobbering either.

However, whippets do need their teeth brushed, ears cleaned and nails clipped on a regular basis.


Whippets are crammed full of so many great traits to make for an excellent personality and dog to own.

They are affectionate, friendly, loving, easy-going, intelligent, quick to learn, fun-loving and sensitive, being in tune with their owner’s moods. They will quietly cuddle up with you if they sense you’ve had a bad day.


Although whippets can be called the couch potato of dogs, they do need their exercise and they love to run, but walks are good too. Exercise for them means exercise for you too.

If you’re a runner; perfect, otherwise walking is great and taking your whippet to a fenced-in ballfield is a great place for them to run and get all of that energy out.

If you have a fenced-in backyard, all the better! Exercise will benefit your health as well as your whippets.

Good With Children, Senions & Other Dogs

Whippets are great with children too. As long as children are taught to be gentle, never rough, they’ll enjoy games together and build an incredible bond.

They are not big on repetitive games, only retrieving a ball in a game of catch a few times. They are not into roughhousing like some dogs and will retreat if games get too wild. If someone is napping, however, count them in!

Whippets are grand companions for seniors as well. Their calm and well-mannered behaviour and low maintenance make them an ideal pet for grandparents.

Whippets are also great with other dogs. Because of their pack mentality, they love to make new dog friends.

No Barking

If you are looking for a guard dog, the whippet is not for you. These dogs rarely, if ever, bark and that’s another good reason they make a good apartment dog. No barking equals no complaints from your neighbours.

If your whippet does happen to come out with a loud bark, check it out. There is a reason.

More About The Whippet Breed

Even though the whippet is an all around great breed, just like other breeds they need socialisation and training.

Socialisation is essential from an early age. Yes, the whippet is friendly but they can be timid and quite shy too. Exposing them to people, other dogs and many new places, sights, sounds and smells will help them overcome that.

Training is also a must for a well-mannered whippet. Teaching them right from wrong; good and bad are important for a well-behaved whippet as well as for their own health and safety.

Whippets were bred for hunting and will chase rabbits, squirrels, and other small prey animals. It’s important that your whippet be in a fenced-in area when off-leash or be trained to come to you when called.

what is a whippet dog?
Infograph: PawStruck

Obedience classes are a good idea, especially if you are new to dog training, plus, it includes social time for you and your pup.

The whippet is a stellar breed for the novice pet owner. If you’ve never had a dog before, they make a wonderful first dog with their low maintenance and pleasing demeanour.

After owning a whippet as your first dog, you will definitely look no further for your second!

Other Considerations

If you are wondering about the health of whippets, they are a breed that is healthier than most other dogs and are mostly free from genetic diseases that plague many other canines.

The genetic issues that can affect whippets are hypothyroidism, certain eye defects and cardiac disease.

A few common health problems in whippets are heart murmurs, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, PRA cataracts, which will cause loss of vision, and irregular mitral valves. These conditions are common but not definite.

Whippets also have a low amount of body weight and do get cold. When outdoors they will need a sweater or coat to keep them comfortable. Indoors they love to snuggle on the couch, sometimes underneath a throw or blanket.

Don’t be alarmed if your whippet shivers or shakes. They don’t shake because they are scared or afraid. It’s generally because they are cold.

Sometimes it can also be caused by anticipation of a walk or treat that can cause shivering. They are just excited!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you now know a little more about my favourite breed, the whippet. If you now know that this dog is for you, it’s time to look for a breeder.

This is one of the most important parts of adding a healthy whippet to your family. Check out breeder websites, visit and speak with breeders, talk with whippet owners and speak with a veterinarian before plunging in.

You want a pup with no health issues and one that has been well taken care of from birth with healthy parents as well.

Do some research and soon you can welcome one of these affectionate, cuddly, adorable and lovable dogs into your family.

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