Whippet Dog Breed Facts & Information

Do you live in the city, but want a dog active enough to enjoy the outdoors with you? Or do you love playing fetch and dream of a pup that will speed after a ball again and again? Then you may want to consider the Whippet. These sleek, medium-sized dogs are mild-mannered in the house but balls of energy when you get them outside on a run. Bred for their high speeds and hunting skills, Whippets are also very loyal little snuggle bugs when they are inside the house. They're also relatively quiet, so they can make great apartment dogs. If you're interested in these streamlined little cuties, then read on for everything you need to know about Whippets.

The basics

two Whippets on a Podium
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The Whippet is a lean, majestic medium-sized dog bred for hunting and speed. When you first look at them, they probably remind you a lot of Greyhounds in shape, and, in fact, they are related to the racing breed. Whippets are tall and lean, weighing only about 20-40 pounds. However, they can be about 18-22 inches tall. They are naturally built for speed, so these little racers can hit speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

Whippets were bred to be racing and hunting dogs, so they maintain some of those powerful instincts and tend to enjoy chasing rodents, rabbits, and other small animals. However, in the home, Whippets can be absolute snuggle buddies that just want to hang out with their pack. Because of their lean build and low body fat, Whippets are indoor dogs and love softer surfaces to cuddle up on. Although they need a good amount of exercise and space to run around, Whippets can make good house or apartment dogs because of their smaller size and the fact that they usually don't bark. However, if your Whippet doesn't have a yard to run around in, they'll need several walks each day to make sure they're gotten enough exercise.

Because Whippets are naturally so slight, they don't well with excessive weight. We caution against obesity for all dogs, but Whippets have such a delicate structure that their main health threat is obesity that could cause stress on their joints. A healthy Whippet might actually look skinny to someone not trained, so you'll want to stay in close consult with your vet to ensure your pup is at an ideal weight to maintain its health.

The history

whippet quickly runs
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Whippets originated in Victorian England, during a time when racing and hunting with dogs was very much in fashion. Wealthier people raced Greyhounds, however, coal miners in Northern England couldn't afford to house and care for expensive Greyhounds, but they still wanted to enjoy racing and hunting. They bred smaller Greyhounds with likely some kind of terrier, although experts don't know for sure. The result was a smaller, mild-mannered dog that loved hunting rabbits and running. The name Whippet likely evolved from a common term, "whappet" in Victorian England, which meant a small dog that made a "wapp" sound, or what we now might call a "yap."

When some of those same people from Northern England migrated to America, they brought their Whippets with them, which helped expand the popularity of the breed. The American Kennel Club recorded the breed in 1888.

The personality

Grey whippet lying on sofa, portrait
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Whippets tend to be mild-mannered, quiet small dogs that make excellent cuddle buddies. However, most of those traits don't settle in until their adulthood – about three years old. Until then, Whippet puppies' high energy can lead them to be very loud, mischievous, and destructive if they're not trained and exercised properly. Try to socialize your Whippet puppy as early as possible – 10-12 weeks old is ideal – get them plenty of exercise, and consider a puppy training class.

Whippets are highly intelligent dogs, which means they learn tricks and training techniques well. However, their smarts also make them curious and eager problem-solvers, which can lead them to get into trouble. Whippets have been known to open doors and drawers on their own. They also have an independent streak, which means they may choose not to listen when their humans give them commands.

Whippets also tend to be a bit selective about their humans. They may favor one of their humans and merely tolerate all the others. However, even if they don't like some people, they aren't aggressive. They don't usually bark or snap, but instead hide away. They can be good dogs for families with kids because they tend to be gentle, or if kids are too loud or rambunctious, they may just slink away. Whippets are also bred to chase small animals, so sometimes cats, other small dogs, or other small animals seem like prey to them, rather than friends.

The appearance

Portrait of Whippet Dog
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Whippets are very lean, majestic dogs. They have the deep chest and tiny waist that you might see in Greyhounds. Their heads are small and pointed with round, slightly bulging eyes and small, floppy, expressive ears. Whippets come in a variety of colors and patterns, including black, gray, red, fawn, and white. And they often have a brindle, or stripe pattern, or patches and/or masks. They have very short, glossy coats that are extremely easy to care for, because they rarely require baths or excessive grooming.

Whippet essential facts

Close-Up Portrait Of Whippet At Home
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  • Personality: Mild-mannered, Affectionate, Loves Play Time
  • *Energy Level: *Active, needs regular exercise
  • Barking Level: Low
  • Shedding: Seasonal
  • Grooming: Rarely, occasional bath and brushing
  • Good with Children: Yes
  • Trainability: Good, intelligent but independent
  • Height: 18 – 22 inches
  • Weight: 25 – 35 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 15 years