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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Whippet


Origin: Great Britain

AKC Group: Hound

Height: Males: 19 - 22 inches; Females: 18 - 21 inches (Male)

Weight: 23 - 37 pounds (Male)

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Whippets are gentle dogs that love to curl up under blankets. They have a tendency toward nervousness and are timid around strangers. Whippets need long walks and runs. They usually gets along well with dogs and cats, but should be watched around rabbits and rodents. They're sometimes hard to housebreak.

Whippets are hounds dogs. Because they're great at sniffing and exploring, hounds were originally used to trail rabbits, foxes and other small mammals. In general, most hounds are good-natured dogs that make loving companions if trained properly. Hounds are sometimes stubborn, though, so training may take a while.

Most hounds need rigorous physical exercise, so daily walks and runs are a must. Never let a hound off a leash unless it's in an enclosed area, because it will take off if it picks up a scent. Hounds are barkers and howlers.

Great Britain
Male height: 
Males: 19 - 22 inches; Females: 18 - 21 inches
Male weight: 
23 - 37 pounds
Hard and short.
White, tan, black, patched, brindle and others. Dark eyes; black nose.
Special considerations: 
Whippets are sensitive to medication, and they need protection from the cold.

The Whippet was developed in the 1800s. He is an English Greyhound in miniature and is the fastest domesticated animal for his size - capable of speeds up to 35 miles (56.5 km) per hour! Although he has earned a noble reputation, his development occurred far from the fields where gentry and royalty coursed their large sighthounds. Instead, he was fashioned from "snapdogs" - terrier-Greyhound mixes who were used as sport by gamblers to see how many rabbits they could chase and kill in an enclosed area over a set amount of time. Eventually, the "sport" was banned, and bettors turned to placing wages on speed animals. The fleet breed that emerged from the snapdog pits and was further refined to run over greater distances was what would become the "poor man's racehorse" - the Whippet.

Whippets were introduced to the United States in the early 1900s. It wasn't long before they were being noticed not just for their speed but for their elegance and manners. They found favor with all kinds of people and are now a very popular small sighthound.

The Whippet is an easygoing, amiable, adaptable breed. His elegant, sleek appearance may signal "high strung" to some, but in reality he is extremely calm and gentle in the home, saving his great intensity and single-mindedness to sporting pursuits. His sweet temperament and devotion to his owner make him a great family pet and unbeatable companion.
At home: 
The Whippet easily adjusts to any lifestyle, from apartment to farm. Like many other shorthaired breeds, he can't tolerate extreme cold. He should be kept on a leash unless he's in a securely fenced area, for if something should catch his eye and he decides to give chase, he may be long gone or dash into traffic or other dangerous situations. The Whippet is a great travel companion.
Although the Whippet is capable of great bursts of speed, he doesn't need to sprint every day to keep him in shape or happy. He may be inclined to dash off if he sees something worth chasing, but otherwise he is happy to walk peacefully at his owner's side, observing the world around him with dignity.
It can be challenging to satisfy a Whippet with food that's best for him. He can be finicky and may turn away from his food dish and come and quietly nudge you as if to ask for something different. Feed small amounts of a high-quality, age-appropriate food.
The Whippet is intelligent and independent-minded. Because he is also easygoing, not all owners feel that training is necessary, but everyone in the family is better served if their Whippet is trained. He is sensitive, so methods should be reward oriented and never harsh. He will need to have things repeated, and he shouldn't be expected to work or perform like a retriever, for example. Spending time socializing and engaging in fun training sessions with him from puppyhood will help you get a lot out of him.
The Whippet has a natural affinity for children, but older children might be best for this breed - very young children may not understand that his slight build cannot tolerate rough handling. He gets along well with other dogs, but his prey drive means that he may not be completely reliable around other pets.
The average life span of the Whippet is 13 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include eye problems; digestive upset; heart problems; and skin problems.
Fun fact: 

Lure coursing involves open-field coursing of an artificial electric lure that sighthounds are trained to chase. This sport enables the Whippet to perform his original purpose of chasing game.

Grooming blurb: 
Clean and tidy dogs, Whippets are naturally neat and only need to be helped by an occasional brushing or going-over with a hound glove.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.