whippet dog

Whippet Dog: Complete Breed Guide (History, Personality, Care, & Health)

They say there is a dog out there for everyone. If you’re someone who wants an affectionate furry friend that enjoys walks and doesn’t bark up a storm, then the Whippet dog may be the perfect companion for you.

There are numerous dog breeds and groups to choose from. All dogs are loyal and loving, but their unique personalities and character traits help us form a special bond with them as pets.

The Whippet dog meets all the requirements to be your new best friend. This in-depth guide will also be your best friend when it comes to learning more about the Whippet. There is so much to love about this dog, so read on to find out why!

Whippet Dog Characteristics (Physical)

The Whippet is easily recognizable for its sleek appearance and inverted-S-shaped body. Whippets resemble a smaller Greyhound and are often known as “the poor man’s Greyhound.”

From a side point of view, it has a long face and flappy pinkish ears that are never erect. Whippets are known as sighthounds, so they have big round, black, oval-shaped eyes.

The head is supported by a long and well-arched muscular neck that spreads and sits on top of its shoulders. It has long front legs that connect to a deep chest. Its back is also arched beautifully.

The Whippet has an overall muscular appearance with a short, smooth coat. It is normal for this breed’s ribcage to show, so do not take it as a sign that your dog is starving and accidentally overfeed it.

Whippets have long tails that they sometimes tuck in between their hind legs when they are resting. While running, their tails extend outward with a small curve pointing at the end.



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Powerful hind legs are a common trait in hound dogs, and Whippets are no exception. This dog breed has long hind legs that are strong, allowing them to jump, stride, and run gracefully.

In addition, the leg structure allows them to do a double suspension gallop and reach speeds of 35 mph.

It is for these traits that they live up to their nickname, the poor man’s racehorse.

whippet in a field

Whippet Dog Breed Size

Once they are fully mature, male Whippets can reach 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 18 to 48 pounds. Females are similar in size, only slightly smaller when compared to their male counterparts.

The Whippet’s weight and size allow for it to sit comfortably on your lap without cutting off blood flow to your legs. They are lightweight enough to cuddle with you or your family and built to make a great running partner.

Whippet Personality

Part of what makes dogs so amazing, aside from their appearance, is their personality. A dog’s temperament is something to consider before adopting or obtaining a puppy. You want to keep a dog that is not only loyal but kind and intelligent as well.

A dog’s overall personality may be influenced by its genetics, training, socialization, and upbringing. Each Whippet is unique to itself, but overall they share these personality traits.

Quiet

Dogs often communicate many things through barking, such as wanting to play or feeling scared. Some breeds bark more excessively than others, but Whippets are pretty quiet and well-behaved for the most part.

Whippets are not prone to barking all the time, and they bark a lot less than other breeds. Their calmness is a perfect fit for people worried about their dogs waking up a sleeping child or annoying their neighbors.

Affectionate & Gentle

Some dogs have a common misconception of being intimidating. The Whippet is the total opposite because it enjoys being kept inside with your family. It enjoys playful interactions and doesn’t mind sleeping all day.

Whippets may affectionately rub their heads on you. They can be friendly yet shy around strangers since they prefer being in the presence of their families. They are also gentle with children.

Keen Intelligence

Whippets are extremely smart dogs. Dog owners have observed Whippets use their intellects to quickly grab a treat when no one is looking. They have also seen them open doors and drawers.

Their intelligence is also on full display when they are competing through coursing rallies or on the hunt. You’ll have a pretty easy time training a Whippet because they can easily pick up commands and tricks.

Alert

Although they have sweet faces, the Whippet’s expression is one of attentiveness. They are known as very useful watchdogs because of their highly developed vision.

Since they are hound dogs, they can become prey-driven when they spot a small animal. They should be kept on leashes while walking, so they don’t go off chasing prey and outspeed you.

It is important to note that Whippets are not born this way. A puppy is a lot more mischievous and should be introduced to training to develop better behavior.

Whippet Dog Breed Exercise

The Whippet is an interesting breed because it likes to maintain a calm energy level when it is indoors. But when your Whippet is outside, they will love to run around and play. Since it belongs to the active hound group, it is essential to provide it with plenty of exercise to expend some of that energy.

Since Whippets have a natural instinct for chasing small prey or game, sprinting and running are coded into their DNA. You should take them on long walks or allow them to run around in an open area. You can help keep a Whippet active by playing fetch or going on runs with them.

If you have a Whippet in an apartment with no yard, then schedule walks throughout the day. You can also plan weekly trips to a dog park to interact and play with dogs, as long as it is kept on a leash. Whippet breeds require anywhere from 25 minutes to over an hour of activity, depending on their age and size.

Many Whippets also compete in obstacle or obedience events. This athletic breed often competes in rallies, agility runs, lure coursing, flyball chases, and obedience trials. These organized dog sports help keep Whippets in top shape.

Related: Expert Tips for Ensuring Your Dog Walks Are Trouble-Free

Training a Whippet Dog 

A Whippet puppy is naturally curious about the world around them. They tend to have high energy levels and enjoy digging and chewing stuff up. That kind of behavior may be cute as puppies, but it is a sign that it is not trained as grown dogs.

If you want to prevent your favorite pair of shoes from being chewed up, enroll your Whippet puppy in training classes as soon as possible. Dog training is a worthy investment so you can have peace of mind that your Whippet will not misbehave around the house or with guests visiting.

You can browse online resources dedicated to educating pet owners on good dog behavior. You can also sign up your dog with a reputable and accredited training program. Another positive outcome from training is better socialization among other people and pets.

When training your Whippet, it is important to be patient. Whippets can be sensitive, so raising your voice or yelling might discourage them from continuing the training.

Positive reinforcement and praise will go a long way in keeping your Whippet motivated to complete its training. Whenever it does a task correctly, treat it to a yummy snack. Whippets educated on good dog behavior at an early age tend to be happier.

Whippet Dog Breed History

The Whippet’s history is associated with the working class’s outlet for having fun and provide a spirit of competition. The Whippet breed originated in England and has only been around since the 18th century.

Their ancestors can be traced back to greyhounds, which is the base for many other breeds in the hound group.

Greyhounds were the standard dog for racing during the Victorian England era. They were bred with long-legged terriers and other fast breeds by dog owners who wanted a canine capable of chasing down rabbits and other small vermin.

Working-class men would use these early Whippets to participate in snap dog contests to see which canine could catch the most rabbits or mice in an enclosed circle. They would also use them for rag chase racing, which is an early form of the modern lure coursing. Whippet racing quickly became a favorite pastime for people in that era.

Since Whippets were used in these early dog sports, they were given nicknames, lightning rag dog, and poor man’s racehorse. These dog owners would then breed Whippets with the Italian Greyhound breed.

The Whippet was then brought over to America by English settlers. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Whippet breed in 1888. The dogs have remained favored by many people since then.

brown whippet in a forest

Common Health Problems Found in Whippet Dogs

As amazing as Whippets are, they are not indestructible. They have their fair share of possibly encountering certain health issues throughout their life span. It is best to understand what common problems are found in Whippet dogs to better handle them.

Whippets have a life span of 12 to 15 years. Throughout that time, it is important to schedule yearly checkups with an animal health professional to make sure your dog doesn’t encounter one of the following,

Eye Diseases

These dogs are known for their keen vision, so it is essential to make sure they do not develop any eye health conditions. Corneal Dystrophy is when cloudiness develops in a dog’s cornea that makes the eye look opaque. It is treatable when detected early on and usually does not cause blindness or pain to your dog unless neglected.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another possible eye health issue this breed can develop. This degenerative eye disease causes the cells in the retina to deteriorate over time, which often leads to blindness. Dogs with PRA should not breed since this condition is often inherited.

Hypothyroidism

A dog with hypothyroidism will experience different symptoms from having a thyroid that is overreactive. They may gain weight despite not being hungry all the time. They can also shed excessively, become lethargic, and develop high blood cholesterol.

If you notice any of the symptoms, schedule an appointment with a veterinary expert for further treatment. Although it is not curable, most dogs can continue living the rest of their life span with the aid of thyroid medication.

Congenital Deafness

Congenital deafness can occur due to a mutation or genetic defect in the womb. Deafness or loss of hearing occurs at birth but can also gradually develop a few weeks later. Luckily, deaf dogs can still love and bond with their owners as long as they receive dedicated specialized training.

Anesthetic Sensitivity

Whippet dogs have low body fat, which does not allow them to process anesthesia as well as other dogs. Most canines in the hound group share this anesthesia sensitivity. If your Whippet is about to go through any medical procedure that requires anesthesia, speak with the veterinarian to confirm that your dog will be fine.

Other Health Conditions

Obesity is an unfortunate concern that is far too common with all dogs. Dog owners sometimes make the mistake of overfeeding their Whippet, causing them to lose their healthy weight and become fat. Obesity in dogs is also the most preventable health issue they can have.

It is also not uncommon for dogs to accidentally ingest something out of curiosity. Always keep toxic items away from your pet’s reach. If you suspect your Whippet might have eaten something hazardous, contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center.

How to Care for a Whippet Dog

One of the exciting things about adopting a Whippet rescue dog or puppy is buying all the essentials to have a comfortable home. However, caring for a canine companion is more than just providing it with a feeding bowl and sleeping bed – it’s about building an unbreakable bond with them.

Before you bring your Whippet home, make sure you have your back or front yard secured with a five to six feet tall fence, so it doesn’t escape. If you are wondering how to get started on becoming the best Whippet owner ever, this section will list out the basic needs this breed requires.

Personal Space

Although it is medium-sized, the Whippet enjoys sleeping indoors, preferably inside the house where it is safe from cold weather. Its short coat does not offer much protection from the cold, so make sure it has a warm and cozy sleeping bed to rest on while inside.

Dogs tend to retreat to the place in the home they feel safe from loud noises like fireworks. Investing in a dog crate or kennel can go a long way in making sure your pet feels secure.

Toys

It is normal to want to spoil our dogs. Toys like tennis balls and frisbees are an excellent way to get your Whippet some exercise and keep their energy level in check.

Be sure to clean and sanitize the toys every so often to prevent bacteria from forming and possibly infecting your Whippet. Chewing toys are also a great way for dogs to release stress.

Regular Checkups

Do not limit veterinarian visits to vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and unexpected emergencies. You can potentially avoid serious health issues if you meet with an animal health professional at least once a year. You can take the opportunity to ask a vet questions or concerns you have about your Whippet.

Nutrition and Feeding for a Whippet Dog 

Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of Whippet care. Take the time to check out and explore what dog food brand is best for your Whippet. Whatever brand you select, make sure it is made with all-natural ingredients, free of preservatives.

You should feed your Whippet at least twice a day 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality, dry dog food. Remember to also provide fresh water throughout the day, especially during the summer.

Although it can be tempting to feed your Whippet some of your favorite snacks, here are just a few foods that dogs should never eat.

  • Chocolate: This sweet delicacy is toxic to all canines because of its two ingredients, theobromine and caffeine. People can process these chemicals, but any dog breed cannot. Chocolate toxicity can lead to certain stomach health conditions like vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Onions, Chives, and Garlic: These three common household ingredients toxic to dogs, especially if consumed in large amounts. If your Whippet eats one of the members of the Allium family, it may experience gastronomical issues. Keep these ingredients are outreach from your dog’s paws.
  • Dairy products: Dogs lack sufficient amounts of the lactase enzyme, which breaks down the lactose in milk. Feeding them milk or other dairy products can lead to digestive problems and diarrhea.
  • Nuts: Nuts are high in oils and fats, potentially leading to diarrhea and other digestion issues.

Great Foods For Dogs!

Not all human foods are toxic to dogs, and in fact, some foods provide them with a boost in nutrition. If you’re giving your Whippet a homemade diet, consult a vet to determine the healthiest foods to give a dog. The meal plan might include some of these foods:

  • Cooked Fish and Eggs: Canines can consume cooked eggs and fish; just go easy on the salt. Cooked salmon can provide your pet with plenty of healthy protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs provide your dog with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
  • Fruits: Fruits are a great alternative for dog treats. However, not all fruits are safe, so make sure you look up online whether or not a specific fruit is toxic. Blueberries and apple slices are excellent snacks for your Whippet because they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Limited Vegetables: Just like fruits, veggies are a healthy alternative for dog treats. Bite-size carrots and celery are good examples of veggies that contain plenty of healthy vitamins. If you are unsure about feeding a certain veggie to your dog, you can check online or consult with a vet.

Coat Color And Grooming

The Whippet is not limited to just a few coat colors like other dog breeds. Their short coat may be a combination of white, black, fawn, red, blue, and cream with unique spots and stripes.

Believe it or not, dog grooming is very simple and a great way for you and your dog to connect. You should dedicate at least one hour out of the week to groom your dog. If you are dealing with time constraints, dog grooming services are available as well.

Thanks to its short coat, brushing this dog is easy. Your local pet store may carry pet-specific brushes or grooming gloves. You may also purchase a dog vest to help it keep warm during cold weather.

During your weekly grooming session, you should check your Whippet’s ears and eyes for any debris. You can also purchase dog teeth cleaning tool to maintain good oral hygiene.

Another grooming habit of getting into is dog nail trimming. Untrimmed nails can affect a dog do everyday activities like walking, running, and jumping. Nail trimming can also be introduced to your pet during its training.

Children And Other Pets

Whippets are known for their calm temperament, which makes them gentle with children, and they also enjoy playtime with them. The Whippet’s size allows them to peacefully play with kids without pushing them over or being easily picked up by children.

Children in the home must be taught about the proper ways of handling a dog. Teach them not to pull on their tails or disturb them while eating to ensure peaceful coexistence and friendship.

The Whippet has a natural small game drive like other canines in the hound group. It is within their nature to chase around smaller pets like rodents, rabbits, and cats. Even with socialization training, it may be best to keep all smaller pets away from your Whippet.

white racing whippet

Whippet Dog Rescue Groups

Some people do not realize how much of a big responsibility it is to own and care for a Whippet and end up leaving their breed at a rescue or adoption center. If you seek a Whippet to call your own, consider adopting from one of the following rescue groups.

  • Whippet Rescue and Placement (WRAP): A dedicated group of volunteers from around the United States dedicating their time to finding homes for their rescue Whippets. This organization is non-profit and also provides plenty of resources online about Whippets.
  • National Whippet Club of Canada: This organization has a rescue program for people in Canada looking to adopt or re-home their Whippet.

Whippet Dog Breed Organizations

If you are fully confident that you have the time, patience, and resources to care for a puppy, then consider adopting a Whippet from a reputable breeding organization.

Officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the American Whippet Club (AWC) is the largest breed organization in the United States. This group also has a dedicated rescue outreach.

The AWC has great resources for you to learn more about the breed and great care tips. They also host regional events to bring together all Whippet lovers and enthusiasts together. You’ll also find a fantastic breeder directory to locate reputable breeders if you’re looking to own a Whippet today!

More About The Whippet Dog

Did you know the popular dog sport of frisbee catching was started by a Whippet? It started when a Whippet and their owner snuck into the field during a game at Dodger Stadium and provided the crowd and viewers at home a demonstration of athleticism through frisbee catching.

Today the Whippet enjoys being part of many families around the world. We hope this guide left you better prepared to handle a Whippet if you are planning to adopt. Your future best friend is waiting for you out there!



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