Whippet Dog Breed Information: Complete Guide

whippet dog breed

The whippet is becoming an increasingly popular breed of dog across the globe.

But why are they so popular? Well, firstly let’s take a more in-depth look at the breed, and then we’ll cover some good information that will hopefully help you on your journey to learning about this amazing dog breed!

In this post, we’re going to give you a full guide of the whippet dog breed and ensure you have some good foundational knowledge about this breed before you leave this article.

So let’s jump right in…

What Is A Whippet Dog?

The whippet is a small-medium sized dog that is from the sighthound family.

This means that he is a dog breed that was originally meant for chasing down prey, with their speed and sight, which is what they were originally bred for.

Nowadays, the whippet has become more of a house pet, but they are still used as racing and working dogs today.

The reason for this is because they are incredibly nimble and fast, in fact, they are capable of running at breathtaking speeds of up to 35mph!

The whippet has a slim, but well-muscled build and they are incredibly light for their size.

They were bred for the working class in England and nicknamed “the poor man’s racehorse” as the working class could not afford such expensive racehorses.

The whippet in today’s modern world is used for agility, lure coursing, flyball, rally, and more.

More On The Breed

This breed has an affectionate, loving, and sweet demeanour, and they adore their family.

Whippets are also incredibly intelligent and can learn things very quickly; this makes them easy to train and perfect for first-time dog owners.

Although they don’t make good watchdogs, as they are very quiet and rarely bark, they make perfect companions for family homes, especially those that have kids.

Whippets love to play with children and they are perfect for tiring each other out.

They make excellent pets for those in small homes as they are very small dogs.

The average whippet weighs around 12kg and is around 65cm in height.

This makes them suitable for apartment living and allows them to live happily in small homes.

Whippets are also fond of sleeping, so make perfect pets for anyone who likes to take time out in front of the TV.

Whippets are also good with other animals and live happily with cats (sometimes!) and other dogs.

This breed is not aggressive and is kind and gentle, making the perfect family pet.

Whippets History

The whippet breeds history dates back to the late 1700s, where they were used for hunting hares.

Originally bred in England the whippet was first called the ‘snap dog’ as it was said to travel so fast that it reminded people of a cross between a greyhound and a terrier.

Englands Kennel Club recognised the whippet breed in 1891 and in 1894, the American Kennel Club followed.

The breed was popular with hunters as the whippet dog needed less care than a greyhound and they were easier to keep in kennels or homes.

Today, the whippet is characterised by its sleek body and affectionate nature, which makes it an ideal

The breed then traveled to America with English immigrants, where they became very well known for their speed.

The whippet breed was developed in Northern England, specifically in Yorkshire and Lancashire where they were crossed with terriers to help catch small rodents such as rabbits and rats.

The main difference between the American and English whippets is their coats.

The American whippet is shown in dog competitions with its short coat, while the English whippet is shown for its smooth, sleek black coat.

Mixed breeds of whippets are also becoming very popular with families who like to keep up the breed’s tradition of having an athletic body.

Whippet Dog Characteristics

The whippet’s characteristics are very admirable, they are incredibly athletic and are able to jump over 6-feet!

They can be quite greedy dogs at times and may linger around for some scraps of your human food!

However, don’t give in to temptation as this will only encourage this greedy behaviour.

Whippets can have a strong prey drive, which means they have a deep-rooted instinct to chase prey like animals.

This means they’ll need to be leash trained and generally trained to a high standard.

Most whippets will chase rabbits, cats, rats, and other prey-like animals if given the chance, so it’s important to be aware of this before becoming a whippet owner.

The whippet’s personality is loving, gentle, elegant, and graceful.

This breed is known to suffer from separation anxiety, so they won’t enjoy being left alone for long periods.

If they are left for too long, they may whine and become destructive, but once they get comfortable they are able to be left alone for longer periods.

As whippets have short, thin fur, they don’t tolerate the cold weather very well. This means it’s important to ensure you have a warm, cosy coat for your whippet for the winter months.

Whippet Dog Temperament

The whippet is an even-tempered breed that has the patience of a saint. They rarely become frustrated and are very easy-going dogs.

This breed is intelligent and smart, making them easier to train than other breeds and allowing you to train them to a high standard.

They are people pleasers that love nothing more than to see their owners happy.

Known for their gentle nature, they will take a treat out of your hand without so much as a lick of evidence.

This breed is super loyal, but they can become anxious and sensitive in some situations.

Whippets pick up on subtle emotions and will notice if their owner is sad, and this will also rub off on them.

Socialising your whippet early is a great way to ensure you have a dog that is comfortable with other people as well as other dogs.

Exercising A Whippet

It’s a common misconception that the whippet breed needs a ton of physical exercise each day to stay fit and healthy.

When in actual fact, this is not the truth. An adult whippet needs around 45 – 60 minutes of physical exercise each day.

This allows them to blow off some steam and exercise their large leg muscles, not only that but exercise helps their mental and keeps them settled when at home.

The whippet breed needs mental exercise as well as physical, so it’s wise to invest in some dog toys and play some games with your whippet to keep them satisfied.

Caring For A Whippet

Like all dogs, the whippet breed needs love, care, exercise and to be fed.

On average, an adult whippet will eat 2 – 3 cups of food a day and it is important to feed them something that suits their dietary needs (whippets need meat).

Note – this is largely going to depend on the amount of physical exercise your whippet is getting. Racing or working whippets will burn a lot more calories than whippets that don’t get much exercise. Which means they will also require more food to keep them sustained.

They need a diet that is rich in protein and nutrients to help keep their muscles big and strong, especially racing whippets.

To protect the skin and coat, make sure you use high-quality shampoo throughout their lives.

Shampooing your dog should be done roughly once every 2 months to ensure their skin is not dry and their coats do not get too dirty.

Whippets will also need a few teeth cleanings throughout their lives, just to ensure that tartar and plaque don’t build up and they can suffer from gum disease.

You will need to check your whippet’s ears once every week for any signs of inflammation, wax build-up, or debris.

A regular grooming routine is important if you want your whippet to stay clean and fresh.

Grooming should be done roughly once a month depending on the activity levels of your pet.

Generally caring for a whippet is easy, they are low-maintenance dogs that don’t require a lot of upkeep.

As mentioned above, whippets are very athletic dogs that are able to jump very high.

It’s advisable that if you’re going to be allowing your whippet out in the yard that you invest in a large fence to keep them contained.

This is because if an untrained whippet spots a wild rabbit or pet cat, they may decide to jump the fence and this can put them at risk of injury, whether that be cars, other dogs, etc.

Ensure you have pet insurance, a comfortable dog bed, a crate, and other essentials for your whippet and you’re good to go!

Health

When it comes to the whippet dog breeds’ health, they are generally a healthy breed.

Ensuring you buy your whippet from a reputable breeder will help give you the peace of mind you need that your pup is going to be healthy.

Reputable breeders will vaccinate and deworm their whippet puppies before handing them over to their new owners.

A good breeder will only breed dogs that are mature (over 2 years old) and will have tested the dogs before allowing them to breed. This ensures that the risk of any genetic disease is low and that the pups should be healthy.

When you buy your whippet puppy, it’s a good idea to ensure that both parents have health clearances. This is because this shows that the parent dogs of the puppy are both healthy and have been cleared for any health issues.

This is important as many health problems in dogs don’t appear until they are over the age of 2, which is why it’s recommended dogs do not breed before this age.

However, as will all dogs, whippets are not exempt from health complications, and they are known to have some issues.

Below are some whippet health issues you should be aware of;

  • Von Willebrand’s Disease – This is a blood disorder that means the whippet has a lower amount of von Willebrand factor, which is a protein in their blood. This can cause them to have issues when injured or during surgery as they could be more at risk from excessive bleeding. A dog that has Von Willebrand’s disease will show signs such as nose bleeds, bleeding gums, or prolonged bleeding from cuts. This disorder is usually diagnosed within dogs between the age of 3 and 5 and sadly cannot be cured. Thankfully it can be managed with treatments, but the whippet will have to have treatment throughout their life.
  • Epilepsy – Whippets are more likely than other dogs to get epilepsy, which is a brain disorder that can cause seizures. Not all whippets with epilepsy show signs of the disease either, making diagnosis very hard. A new study has found some interesting results that show that some whippets with epilepsy do not get the usual type of seizures but instead will get bizarre movement disorders such as body rocking and compulsive pacing.
  • Deafness – As whippets age, deafness does occasionally occur in whippets. Although it’s not very common, whippets are more likely than other breeds to be both deaf and blind.
  • Cataracts – Whippets are prone to cataracts, but it is not that common for them to have surgery, fortunately.
  • Eye Disease – Whippets may develop various eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). The breeder you purchase your whippet from should have health clearances from both parents that show the eyes of both parents are healthy.
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity – As with all sighthounds, they are sensitive to anesthetic drugs. A normal dose of any other dog of similar size to a greyhound would actually kill a greyhound, likely because of the dog’s low percentage of body fat. It’s important to choose a veterinarian that is aware of the sighthound’s sensitivity to anesthesia. Before you leave your whippet at the vets, always make them aware of your whippet’s sensitivity of anesthesia before you leave them, just to be on the safe side.

Children & Other Pets

If you’re a family and are considering bringing a dog into your home, then a whippet may be a great choice for you.

This breed is small, agile, and loves to play and run around with children. They are not big dogs meaning they likely won’t knock your children over, but they are tough enough to not be harmed by children knocking into them.

That being said, if you have an infant, it’s worth keeping a close eye on your whippet when you let him off the leash.

As these dogs can run at incredibly fast speeds, you wouldn’t want your whippet accidentally running full speed into your child, as this could be very harmful to both.

whippet dog breed
Image: bbartlomiej

This is why leash training is important and to ensure that when you’re whippet is off the leash he’s under your watchful eye.

It’s important to teach your children how to coexist with whippets, this means teaching them to not pull their tail, poke their eyes or harm your whippet in any way.

As whippets are quite small, they are more fragile than other dogs, so both children and whippets need to learn to treat each other properly.

Whippets are very social dogs, they love to play with other dogs of all breeds, sizes, and energy.

Whippets are generally very calm dogs, so they’ll happily spend the day sleeping on the couch or playing with your children.

As mentioned earlier, whippets generally have a very strong prey drive, which makes them not the ideal candidate to share a home with animals such as cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters.

However, it is possible for them to live together in harmony providing they have been introduced to one another from a young age.

If you rescue a whippet from a shelter that has been used as a working dog or racing dog, it’s not recommended that you try to introduce them to a cat or rabbit, as their prey drive will likely be too strong to live with these pets.

Whippet Coat Colours & Grooming

Whippets come in a variety of colours, some rarer than others but all just as stunning as each other.

Some of our favourite whippet colour combinations are below;

There are even more colour variations of whippets that are available and many have unique patterns and markings.

Whippets have a thin, short coat that is much more susceptible to the cold than other dogs.

This means that they’ll need a warm, comfortable dog coat to help keep them warm, especially if you live in a cold climate.

Not only that, but because of their short coat, they are much more likely to suffer from cuts, nicks and scrapes when out on walks.

You should always give your whippet a visual check over when you come back from dog walks as they may have received a cut or scrape that you don’t know about.

If so, it’s important to treat this as soon as possible to stop it from getting infected.

Personally, I like to check over my whippet Bonnie after every dog walk and do a more thorough check weekly.

This allows me to check over her skin for any cuts, rashes, bumps, or anything that looks like it may be painful or dangerous.

Getting into this routine as a whippet owner is a great way to catch any unwanted illnesses in your whippet and then seek the help of a veterinarian swiftly.

The grooming requirements of the whippet dog breed are easy to maintain. They don’t require a ridiculous amount of grooming like some other breeds that attract dirt and filth because of their long coats.

Whippets need nail trimming, ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and occasional bathing.

This helps them stay clean and fresh, after all, who wants a smelly whippet running around their house anyway.

It’s best to get your whippet used to being groomed when they are a puppy, as if you try to implement a thorough grooming routine when they are older, it may become challenging.

Getting your whippet puppy introduced to water and grooming early is a great way to ensure that throughout their lifetime you can groom them quickly and easily without any unnecessary barking or yelping.

Whippet Rescue

Sadly, there are lots of whippets that get abandoned as they grow older, so you’ll see lots of whippets and greyhounds in rescue shelters.

This is largely because these dogs are used for racing and working dogs, so once they reach a certain age and are past their peak, some selfish owners decide to abandon them.

As mentioned above, whippets are incredibly loving and loyal dogs, so it’s heartbreaking to think of the number of dogs that are left heartbroken in shelters due to owners leaving them.

However, this gives us as loving, responsible owners and the opportunity to save a whippet’s life.

The amount of loving, amazing whippets that are in shelters across the globe, especially in the US and UK is astonishing.

If you do decide that a whippet may be the perfect dog for you, I urge you to check out your local dog shelters first.

There may be a whippet in there that is desperate for a new home and that you bond with at first sight.

Often rare whippets such as the blue whippet, white whippet, and merle whippet can be found in rescue shelters, so it’s absolutely worth checking them out before you go to a breeder.

Not only that, but rescuing a whippet will give you an amazing feeling as you will have saved a whippet’s life, and they’ll always remember that and be thankful for it.

Rescuing a whippet is also a much cheaper option than buying a whippet puppy or even an adult whippet from a breeder.

Not only that but they are generally trained to a higher standard which makes them perfect for first-time dog owners.

There are endless benefits from rescuing a whippet, and I truly believe that the satisfaction and bond between you and a rescue whippet can be much stronger than if you simply buy one from a breeder.

Think about it, before you go immediately to a breeder.

Whippet Breed Highlights

  • Whippets don’t need a crazy amount of exercise, 45 – 60 minutes per day is more than enough and gives them the opportunity to blow of steam.
  • They are sensitive to anesthetic, so be sure to inform your veterinarian of this when you take them there.
  • Whippets are suitable for apartment living, or living in small spaces. They are known for being couch potatos that love nothing more than to curl up with their owner and watch netflix (and steal snacks!)
  • They don’t make good guard dogs. If you’re looking for a guard dog to protect your family home, then avoid a whippet. These dogs would much more likely lick an intruder than attack. They are very low aggression dogs and are not great as guard or watch dogs. They rarely bark, so don’t count on your whippet to alert you of an intruder.
  • Whippets have a strong prey drive. If you’ve got other pets such as rabbits, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters or other prey like animals. I advise you to be EXTRA cautious with bringing a whippet into your home, especially an adult whippet. These pets can coexist together but it works much better if the whippet is a puppy and he grows up with these animals.
  • Whippets are not outdoors dogs. The whippet dog breed has a very thin coat that doesn’t provide much protection when it comes to the cold. These dogs are not outdoors dogs and shouldn’t be kept in a kennel. They need to be indoors with their owners in the warmth.
  • Whippets are not hypoallergenic. This is a big one, if you or someone in your family home suffers from allergies, then you’ll need to consider a whippet a litte more. These dogs are not hypoallergenic, which means you may suffer from allergies with having a whippet around. If you or a family member is known to suffer from allergies from dogs then a whippet may not be right fot you.
  • Whippets get along great with kids, which makes them the perfect dog for family living. They will tire each other out which makes them the perfect dog for helping tire out your children getting them ready for bed. They are small enough to not hurt each other, providing your children know how to treat dogs. And they will grow up together and build an unbreakable bond.
  • Whippets can suffer from separation anxiety. These dogs are incredibly social, and they can suffer from separation anixety from their owners. If your whippet has separation anxiety, they may become destructive and whine a lot, especially if they are left for long periods.
  • Whippets don’t require much grooming, and they don’t shed excessively either. These dogs don’t require a lot of maintenance and a grooming routine that takes place once a month is a great way to keep your pooch smelling and feeling fresh.
  • They are susceptible to scrapes, cuts and grazes due to their thin skin.
  • Whippets can be shy dogs if not socialised properly. This is an important part of the training process to expose your whippet puppy to new enviroments to help build their confidence.
  • Buy from a reputable breeder if you want your whippet to live a happy and healthy life.
  • Consider rescuing a whippet, especially if you’re a first time pet owner. There are a ton of benefits of whippet rescue that you should consider before going to a breeder.

Conclusion

As a whole, the whippet dog breed is an intelligent, athletic, and hardworking breed.

They are great with children if socialised properly. However, they require 40 – 60 minutes of exercise so if you’re unable to take your whippet out for walks throughout the day then consider another breed.

If you want a dog that is an all-rounder whippets are a perfect choice!

Where can you find a whippet?

Whippets are still popular dog breeds and as a result, there’s no difficulty in locating a breeder.

However, if you’re looking for a companion animal, we recommend that you rescue one from your local shelter instead of buying from a breeder. There are tons of benefits to adopting!

Whippets are amazing dogs that are loyal, affectionate, and make the perfect fit for family life. If you’re an active family that loves to hike and go on adventures, the whippet breed is for you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve learned more about the whippet dog breed.

If this post has been valuable to you I would appreciate it if you could share it with another whippet owner or someone that is considering a whippet for their next dog.

If you wish to learn more about this breed, stick around, we have a ton of informative articles that will teach you everything you need to know about the whippet breed.

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