ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Whippet

Whippet dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Whippet (also known as English Whippet or Snap dog) is a dog breed that originated in England and belongs to the hound group. This dog is of medium size and has a very unique appearance. Whippets are known for being active participants in dog sports such as flyball and agility and they also do not have many health problems.

This breed was originally bred to hunt small animals such as rats and rabbits; however, they have become more popular in dog racing, being described as ‘man’s racehorses’. What is the most fascinating about Whippets is that they are the fastest accelerating dogs in the world, reaching 64 km per hour.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group: Hound Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 6 inches to 1 foot, 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: Generally 18 to 48 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 15 years

The Whippet is elegantly built but do not let that fool you – he is a powerful and strong dog that was bred primarily for hunting small animals, which means that he had to be fast. This dog breed can easily adapt to apartment living due to his medium size; however the daily walks are mandatory.

He is not really suitable for novice owners but if a person has patience and will to train their dog from an early age, then there would not be problems. Just like most dogs, the Whippet does not like being alone or away from his master and that can make him depressed, especially if he is neglected for a long time. The Whippet does not tolerate cold weather due to his very short coat, so you should keep in mind that before getting a puppy.

On the other hand, he can tolerate hot and humid weather well. The Whippet Even though the Whippets do not suffer from many health problems, they are still considered a sensitive breed because they do not really stand the noisy and chaotic household, as well as an inconsistent routine and insensitive owner.

When it comes to being friendly, the Whippet is definitely that. Besides adoring his owner, the Whippet is friendly with strangers, children and even other dogs. They are not known as aggressive and suspicious dogs, and if they are properly loved and cared for, they can become the epitome of friendliness. However, that also means that they are far from being watchdogs or guardians and they should not be kept outside the house.

When it comes to health and grooming, the Whippets do not need much grooming as they are very easy to maintain in that department. Their coat is very short and already very soft, so they only need it brushed in order for it to be clean and shiny. They also have a very low potential for drooling and weight gain and they do not shed too much. As already said, their size is medium and they can be kept in apartment, but it should be spacious enough. Since they love running, perhaps a house with a spacious garden would be a better choice for this breed.

The Whippets are very easy to train – they are intelligent, willing to learn and quick. It is even better if you use rewards and games in order to teach your Whippet to obey and obediently accept the training. If you want your pet to compete in dog sports, then you will need to use even more patience and control in order for him to understand the rules and learn faster.

The Whippets have almost 0 tendency to bark or howl; however, they do have a potential for mouthiness, prey drive and wanderlust. This means that you will need to teach your dog to obey you, because his stubbornness might get him into trouble. Try to avoid getting him off leash in dangerous or urban places, even though sometimes he might get distracted by natural noises in the wild as well.

Proper training from an early age will prevent this, and the same applies to mouthiness and prey drive. Your dog’s inborn desire to hunt smaller animals will force him not only to chase but maybe even to kill them. So if you do not want your or your neighbor’s smaller pets to get hurt, you need to socialize your dog on the time.

The Whippet do have exercise needs and they should be fulfilled almost every day. As he is one of the fastest dogs in the world, it is logical to assume that he adores running and walking. The intensity of these exercises and games should not be too much intense, but at least daily walks should be provided for your Whippet. He loves to play with his owner and you will also love spending your time with him.

Main Highlights
  • Whippets are not watchdogs or guardians because they almost never bark and they are too friendly with strangers.
  • Whippets can live in apartments; however that does not mean that they should not be walker or exercised regularly.
  • They need daily exercises and games otherwise they might become depressed and destructive.
  • You should never put your Whippet off leash during regular walks in urban and dangerous places.
  • Whippets do not shade too much but their skin is sensitive to scraps and nicks.
  • Whippets do not handle cold weather well because their coat is too short.
  • They have an unbelievably strong prey drive that can be prevented only with regular training, but sometimes not even then.
  • Whippets should never be kept outdoors in kennels because their body is vulnerable to low temperatures.
  • Whippets are very devoted to their owners and can become sick and depressed if neglected for a long period of time.
  • You should always make sure to purchase a healthy puppy from a respectable dog breeder and love it as much as you can.
Breed History

Whippets’ country of origin is England and they are considered a rather modern dog breed. The first time the word ‘whippet’ was used was in 1610 but the first dog ever that was called by this name was a dog of mixed heritage that did not resemble the modern Whippet at all.

People bred the English Greyhounds for the purpose of hunting down small animals such as rabbits and rats and they became very popular during the 17th and 18th century. In the 19th century, the dog sports became suddenly very popular and this breed’s role switched to racing. The Whippets got recognized by the Kennel Club in 1891 and is considered the 55th most popular dog breed in the world.

Size

A male Whippet can reach 19 to 22 inches at the shoulder while the females can reach 18 to 21 inches. The Whippets’ weight ranges from 18 to 48 pounds (7 to 23 kg), with females being smaller. The average weight of the males is 34 pounds, while the females are 29 pounds.

Personality and Character

The Whippets are known as friendly, quiet, devoted, gentle and amiable dogs. Even though we are aware of the factor that a dog’s temperament can be affected by a number of factors, if you train and socialize your dog from an early age, then it is very likely that he will grow into a friendly and nice adult dog.

The Whippets are too friendly with everyone – and that included strangers. They are not suspicious of other people or dogs, and they can even go well with other small pet animals (if trained properly); however, if not, then they will chase anything that catches their attention. The Whippets are very close to their owners and they love them from the bottom of their hearts as they deserve the same.

Health and Potential Problems

Speaking of health, the Whippets are generally healthy and strong dogs that are not prone to many diseases. However, there are some conditions that may affect Whippets and that are typical for this breed:

  • Anesthesia Sensitivity: applies to most Sighthounds, including Whippets. The reason for this is the fact that they have a very low percentage of body fat so they are quite intolerant of barbiturate anesthetics. Every vet should be aware of this, but you should also make sure that your vet known how to dose your dog properly. This is very important because a small dose of anesthesia that is given to other dog breeds can easily kill your Whippet.
  • Deafness and hip dysplasia: are rare in Whippets, but not uncommon. Deaf dogs have special needs and other ways of communication while the hip dysplasia affects 1.2% of the breed.
  • Eye Diseases: also happen to affect Whippets. It is not unusual for people to ask for eye clearance tests before buying a puppy in order to make sure that the parents have normal eyes.
  • von Willebrand’s Disease: is a blood disease that can affect humans as well. The clotting gets affected due to the reduction of von Willebrand factor in the blood. The usual signs of this illness are all related to the prolonged bleeding in general: bleeding from gums, nose, during heat cycles and after the surgery. This disease cannot be cured but it can be treated with transfusions and avoiding certain medications.
Care Features

If you live somewhere where cold weather is unavoidable, then you would need to prepare your Whippet for rain and winter. You would need to buy him not only a warm sweater but probably small and comfy boots as well. As we already stated, Whippets do not stand low temperatures due to their short coats so they would get sick easily.

Whippets would certainly prefer houses with yards than apartments, because they simply love to run and chase. Due to their wanderlust potential, your yard must be fenced so your dog would not run away and get lost. A perfect fence would be 5 to 6 feet tall, and you should avoid underground electronic fence because it will only hurt your Whippet. When they sense something interesting they cannot stop chasing it.

Their coat does not require much grooming and they are very easy to housetrain. Using a crate is usually enough. Even though this breed needs regular walks and exercises, you should never exercise a puppy too heavily because that might strain his joins and muscles, the same applies to most puppies. However, a daily walk and exercise does fall into the required care for a Whippet.

Whippets need to feel cared for and loved by their owners. Otherwise they become depressed and destructive to the point of becoming physically ill as well.

Feeding Schedule

Since the Whippet is of medium size, his recommended daily dose is 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food per one day, which is then divided into 2 meals (usually breakfast and lunch). It is important to note that dogs that spend more energy daily need more food than some dogs that are not as active as them.

If you take your Whippet not only on daily walks, but more intense exercises or even hikes, then he will need more meals as well! It is also important to feed him only high-quality food, because that makes him healthier and his coat will be shinier as well.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Whippets have very short coat that lies close to their bodies and they do not need much grooming since it is already smooth. The interesting fact is that they can come in any color imaginable: black, white, brown, grey, red, fawn, brindle… and all of the other combinations that might include all of these colors plus spots, patches and blazes. They are all accepted by the judges.

Even though he does not shade too much, he will still need regular brushing and inspection. The brushing is for keeping it clean and shiny while the inspection is for nicks and scrapes. The Whippets have sensitive skin that cannot be protected with such a thin coat so they are the regular victims to various scratches, scraps and especially nicks.

Dental and nail care is a must like in all the other breeds. You should brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week to prevent a nasty tartar buildup that might destroy your dog’s teeth and bad breath. The nails should be trimmed once or twice a month if you believe that they have become too long and might hurt not only your dog’s feet but you as well.

You should examine your Whippet daily – check if there is any kind of infection on his skin, sores, rashes, redness, nicks etc. This is especially important if your dog spends too much time on grass or in the nature where the danger of getting bit is constant. This also applies to ears, eyes, nose, feet and mouth. This will help you to notice any problem on time and treat it ASAP.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Whippets are good with children in general. They like to be around them and play with them. This can be due to the fact that they are in general very friendly and calm dogs that do not bark and do not find people suspicious. You should not only train your dog but also teach your children how to approach and treat them so there would be no sudden accidents.

This breed also likes to be in the company of other dogs, especially its own breed. If socialized properly, they might even get along with smaller animals, but only a highly trained and patient dog would be able to beat his own instinct and prey drive. It is much easier if a Whippet is brought up with another pet since he was a puppy, in that case he never treats it as prey.

All in all, to sum up, we have covered the most important characteristics of the Whippets, a unique and beautiful dog breed. We have covered the physical traits and personality as well as how to train, take care of, groom, feed and love your dog properly.

The Whippets are considered the fastest dogs in the world and they are also very devoted to their owners and friendly to everyone else. Also, they cannot stand being alone, kept outside or in high temperatures. As all the other dogs, they thrive on love, and should never be neglected.

If you are a person who likes long walks, hikes, playing outdoors and a devoted companion, then the Whippet might be the perfect dog for you. You should make sure to purchase a puppy from a respectable seller in order to not support the illegal trade and also to make sure to get a healthy dog. If you choose him, you will have to play and exercise with him daily, keep him close and enjoy his company. Your furry friend will be more than happy to keep you loved as well.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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