All About Whippets

brindle whippet with a blue collar and gold tag walking on a leaf-covered sidewalk

Whippets are charming dogs that can make for a wonderful addition to many families. That being said, this unique breed isn’t the perfect fit for all. It’s first important to read up on what you can expect when you live with the sighthound breed of Whippets.

About the Breed

Whippets are loving dogs that prefer to spend their time with their family. During the day, these laid-back pups will gladly curl up on the couch with you, and at night, expect them to be cuddled next to you in bed. If you are the type of pet parent that prefers to keep dogs off the furniture, then a Whippet isn’t the right choice for you.

These dogs are similar to cats in the sense that they can’t be trained not to jump on the furniture. When it comes to chairs, couches, and beds, what’s yours is theirs. Plus, expect Whippets to be even more cuddly the cooler the temperature gets.

While alert, this breed is not known to be a great watch or guard dog. They do not bark much, and they typically view strangers as new friends. Whippets can learn to get along well with children, but it’s essential that children are taught how to interact with dogs properly to avoid any accidents. Particularly with children of a younger age, it is still important that all interactions between your Whippet and a child are monitored.

Whippets don’t typically mind the company of other dogs in the house, especially if they will be left alone for long hours each day—having company can help reduce boredom. Keep in mind, Whippets have an incredibly high prey drive, so it is recommended that they do not live in the same house as cats, rabbits, or other small pets.

Whippets are not typically fans of rain or cool weather. If you adopt a Whippet and live somewhere that becomes cold in the fall or winter, think about investing in some sweaters for your pup.

Breed History

Whippets, compared to many other dog breeds, are relatively new. They began making an appearance in the 18th century in England when people crossed Greyhounds with smaller terriers. This new, small and swift dog became incredibly popular among poachers, who used the dogs to retrieve rabbits and other small game.

Whippets quickly became a common possession for the miners and working-class men at the time. Whenever they weren’t working, the men enjoyed seeing whose dog was fastest or whose could kill the most rabbits and rats the fastest. Most men took pride in their dogs, so they were typically treated as another family member, receiving rations of food and being allowed to sleep in the beds with the kids.

Over time, Whippets gained more attention from the upper class, who began to breed them with specific physical standards. At the same time, people of the working classes began entering their Whippets in official dog races—earning them the nickname “poor man’s Greyhound.” By the late 1800s, the prevalence of Whippets began reaching new regions, including the United States.

Today, Whippets are much more common worldwide, though they are still not among the top, most popular dog breed choices.

whippet with a yellow collar and silver tag leaping to catch a tennis ball at a fenced in park

Attributes

Whippets are often referred to as miniature Greyhounds, though they are two separate breeds. However, there’s no denying the resemblance between Greyhounds, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds. With just a quick look, the easiest way to tell these dogs apart is by their size: Greyhounds are largest, Italian Greyhounds are the smallest, and Whippets are usually right in the middle.

Before adopting a Whippet and welcoming them into your house, it’s best first to understand what makes this breed unique and what can be expected by living with a Whippet. Common questions dog parents have include:

How Long Do Whippets Live?

The expected Whippet lifespan is 12-15 years. Though this is the average, a dog’s life expectancy can be determined by many factors, including their living environment, diet, exercise regimen, and overall health.

How Fast Can a Whippet Run?

Whippets are considered the fastest dogs of their weight and are capable of reaching speeds of 35mph.

Are Whippets Hypoallergenic?

Though they have short hair and a fairly thin coat, Whippets are still not technically hypoallergenic. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the amount of hair a dog has that determines whether they are hypoallergenic. Instead, a dog’s dander is what causes allergic reactions.

How Big Do Whippets Get?

Whippets are considered to be medium-sized dogs. They can weigh anywhere from 20-40 pounds and usually stand around 17-22 inches in height.

By learning what sets Whippet dogs apart from other breeds, you can judge if this is the right dog for you.

Whippets can often be found participating in dog shows, obedience trials, and dog sports such as dock diving, flyball, agility, and lure coursing.

Training

Properly training your dog is an essential part of being a responsible dog parent. Thankfully, Whippets are intelligent and able to pick up on new tricks and commands quickly. That said, these pups are also known to have an independent or stubborn streak. Although they may recognize precisely what you want them to do, they may choose to do something completely different.

It’s helpful to begin training your Whippet from day one. You may be surprised how much puppies are able to learn at such a young age.

When it comes to training your pup, it’s also critical that you remain patient. Whippets can be sensitive and do not react well to raised voices. Instead, they do best with positive reinforcement. Some dog parents have even found that they can keep their pup’s attention better by keeping training sessions short.

Going hand-in-hand with training your dog is socialization. The process of socialization is exactly what it sounds like: socializing and introducing your dog to new people, places, sounds, and sights. This process is implemental in raising a sociable, friendly dog with a well-rounded personality and temperament. Without proper socialization, Whippets are more prone to becoming timid around strangers and stressed in new environments.

whippet puppy with a red collar leash and silver tag holding a tennis ball while on a walk

Grooming and Care

One of the benefits of being a Whippet parent is that they don’t have an extensive list of grooming requirements. When it comes to Whippets, shedding isn’t something you’ll have to worry much about. Just a quick brush once or twice a week is typically enough to catch loose hair and keep their coat clean. Additionally, these dogs don’t require frequent baths unless they find a mud puddle or something stinky to roll in.

It is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week. This can help keep their dental hygiene in tip-top shape, and it can usually help eliminate bad breath. Every few weeks to about once a month, your pal’s nails will need to be trimmed. This can easily be done at your house with a pair of canine nail cutters, or you can inquire with your groomer or veterinarian to have this service done for you.

Don’t forget to check your Whippet’s ears on a regular basis. Whenever they appear dirty, clean them out using a dog-safe ear cleaning solution and cotton ball—never use cotton swabs as they could cause injury. You will also want to keep an eye out for any unusual redness or a bad odor, as this could be a sign of an ear infection. If you notice either of these symptoms, be sure to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Besides a good grooming routine, all Whippets also require a healthy diet. Just like people, dogs need a nutritious diet that is also appropriate for their age. And while every dog loves receiving some extra treats on the side, they should always be given in moderation since they are equivalent to doggy dessert. As a dog parent, if you are ever unsure about which dog food is the best fit for your pup, talk with your veterinarian about recommendations.

Daily exercise is equally as important to raising a happy and healthy Whippet. Inside the house, Whippets are usually content with just lounging around and napping for most of the day, but many have a newfound reserve of energy once outside.

To help get rid of these zoomies, walk your Whippet at least once a day, but twice is even better. Long walks also aren’t necessary. Just 20-30 minutes can usually do the trick.

For Whippets, having time to run off the leash (at least a couple of times a week) is also very important. That said, it is crucial that you never let your Whippet off their leash outdoors until they are in a securely fenced-in area. These dogs have a strong prey drive, can run incredibly fast, and have selective hearing, a combo that spells trouble for dog parents if their pup were to get loose.

Though these sighthounds are not incredibly large, it is still recommended that you have a five or six-foot fence in order to keep them contained. Plus, a physical fence is a must, no electric or invisible fences. When a Whippet fixes their attention on small prey and decides to go after it, getting a little buzz from their collar will have zero effect, and they will run straight through anyways.

Though you may take all necessary precautions to ensure that your dog doesn’t run off, accidents can still happen. Because of this possible risk, Whippet parents should consider microchipping their pups.

Common Whippet Health Issues

Whippets are considered a relatively healthy dog breed, but they are still susceptible to developing some health issues. According to our claims data,** the most common conditions that affect this breed include:

Although these are common health problems among this breed, there is no guarantee that your dog will develop any or all of these issues.

By being a Whippet parent, there are a few health-related items that are unique to this breed, and it’s important to keep these in mind. First, because of their thin coat and more exposed skin, it is not unusual for Whippets to get more scrapes and scratches than other dogs. While there isn’t always a whole lot to do to prevent these types of minor, surface injuries, it can be helpful to make sure other dogs don’t play rough with your pal.

Whippets to get more scrapes and scratches than other dogs. While there isn’t always a whole lot to do to prevent these types of minor, surface injuries, it can be helpful to make sure other dogs don’t play rough with your pal.

Another item to keep in mind is that Whippets (similar to other sighthounds) have a sensitivity to anesthesia. This is mainly because they have such a low body fat content. If your four-legged friend will require surgery and anesthesia, it is crucial that you find a veterinarian who is familiar with this breed. If you cannot get a veterinarian who has experience with sighthounds, be sure to discuss your pet’s unique needs beforehand with whoever will be performing their surgery.

A big part of being a responsible dog parent is to be an advocate for your best bud’s health. One of the best ways to keep their health a priority is to schedule yearly check-ups with their veterinarian.

Even if your Whippet appears to be completely healthy by the time of their appointment, it is essential that they still go for a visit. These annual meetings are a prime time for your dog to be updated on any necessary shots and for you to bring up any questions or concerns you may have.

Not to mention, if an issue were to arise, by regularly taking your pet for a check-up, there would be a greater chance of catching the health problem earlier on. When it comes to medical conditions, they are generally easier (and sometimes cheaper) to treat the earlier they are diagnosed. If your pet already has a preexisting health condition, annual appointments additionally provide your veterinarian with an opportunity to keep an eye on your pet’s overall health status.

**Internal Claims Data, 2015-20
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

RELATED ARTICLES

brindle whippet with a blue collar and gold tag walking on a leaf-covered sidewalk

All About Whippets

Learn all about the Whippet breed before adopting one of your own, including their personality, grooming needs, health conditions, and temperament.

READ MORE >
shih tzu dog licking his nose

Shih Tzu Facts

These pint-sized pals make for a great addition to nearly any family. What’s not to love about these adorable and friendly dogs?

READ MORE >

Find Articles