Although it’s easy to confuse this interesting breed with its close cousin the Greyhound, the Whippet is actually a strong, friendly breed in its own right. With a variety of great advantages to both outdoors men who love a good companion pet and families who want to raise an athletic dog, the Whippet is a great alternative to the Greyhound and can really make a great lifelong friend.
Known as sweet and friendly, the Whippet is also recognized for having an expression that actually closely resembles a smile, which is more than a variety of dogs can say (even dogs that have a reputation for being friendly domestic companions). The Whippet also has a variety of well-bred athletic abilities, including an extremely fast speed of up to around 35 miles per hour, the fastest for a dog of its weight. If you’re interested in a Whippet for athletic training or simply to find a good family friend, it will be hard to go wrong here. Let’s learn more about the history and context of this interesting and cheerful animal.
Known as sweet and friendly, the Whippet is also recognized for having an expression that actually closely resembles a smile.
The Whippet, while lesser known than the Greyhound, is a member of the sighthound family and actually has a long and rich history that dates back to the 17th century. One Whippet makes an appearance in a centuries-old painting. Misse was a dog presented to Louis XV of France, although old French records list these dog types as the “levrette” (translates to female Greyhounds). Even so, this closely tied pedigree means that the Whippet’s genetic ancestry goes back a few hundred years in Europe and even includes some connections to royalty, which is always an interesting fact for dog lovers.
The English Kennel Club officially recognized the Whippet in 1890, making it a breed that’s gained recognition before some of the most popular and well-known breeds in existence today. This rich origin story, along with an 1888 American Kennel Club recognition, makes the modern Whippet just that – a modern take on a centuries-old breed that’s distinguished itself from its more famous cousin, the Greyhound.
As already mentioned, the most prominent relative of the Whippet is the Greyhound. As the Whippet is a member of the sighthound group, its pedigree is easily seen in its physical features, which include a medium-sized built with a light, athletic stature. Today’s Whippets can run a little larger in the United States than in some other countries, but it’s clear that the overall pedigree remains the same.
Whippets were used early on for racing, similar to the Greyhound, as its lightning-fast speed made for an incredible show. Racing Whippets is not quite as popular nowadays, with the emphasis on Greyhounds, but Whippets are still renowned for its athletic abilities. Breeding over the years has also made for a friendly dog with relatively lower amounts of territorial and/or aggressive instincts.
Food / Diet
The Whippet has a large frame but its overall build is still light, so feeding your Whippet too much can become a habit to avoid. Resist the temptation to overfeed and make sure your Whippet works up a good appetite with a daily workout regimen. A Whippet should remain light and maintain its speed over the majority of its lifetime in order to remain healthy.
The Whippet is generally friendly to humans and other dogs, which makes the it a good addition to the family.
Whippets are actually known as sensitive breeds, which mean they should not be over trained. Special care should be taken to avoid negative reinforcement. Instead, positive reinforcement will help develop a natural and healthy self-esteem, as it is easy to “cross over the line” with Whippets and confuse them as to why you’re angry or impatient. A good trainer will be able to handle a Whippet with relative ease.
Weighing just around 15-25 pounds in most cases, the Whippet is relatively light considering its impressive stature and frame. This lightness combined with a long stride helps makes for a very quick dog. If you ever notice your Whippet losing its quickness and open-field running abilities, it may be time to put it on an exercise regimen or a diet – or both!
Temperament / Behavior
The Whippet is not a highly aggressive dog, but it does have the genes of a hunting dog which means it will seek out and attack smaller animals. It is generally friendly to humans and other dogs, which makes this dog a good addition to the family.
Common Health Problems
Whippets can be considered a relatively healthy breed, often avoiding many of the skin problems of other breeds as well as digestive issues. Eye problems can develop in rare cases, but for the most part you can consider the Whippet a low-maintenance dog, health-wise.
Most Whippets should live around 12-15 years.
Open fields and daily walking should be considered requirements for this eager-to-run animal, and you’ll want to be careful about taking it in parks without a leash as it will be prone to attacking small critters. A large backyard is ideal for this animal, and one could even consider the Whippet a good “country” dog.
A very versatile breed, they can appear in a wide variety of colors and markings.
The American Kennel Club’s review of the Whippet: “A very versatile breed, they can appear in a wide variety of colors and markings. Although keen when racing or coursing, they are quiet and dignified in their owner’s living room.”
A short coat with a variety of colors, the Whippet requires relatively little maintenance in the area of grooming and will not be prone to coat or skin problems. This is an easy dog to groom and is considered to be an average shedder. You’ll probably also find that the short coat makes for a minimal “dog” smell in your house, which is always a plus if you live in tight quarters.
Whippets should not be overly trained as puppies but should be given the normal opportunities to socialize and grow.
Photo credit: Jagodka/Shutterstock
Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).
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