Whippet Dog Breed Temperament & Personality



Quick Overview

Meet the Whippet: the dog breed famous for its speed and playfulness. Seen as a close twin to the Greyhounds, Whippets excel in agility courses and flyball. Smart as they are, they are also loving companions who are a quiet and friendly addition to your household. Doesn't "whippet" make you want to run all you can? The term comes from an early 17th-century word that means "to move briskly." Their moniker lives up to the name; these dogs are fast! 



About the Whippet

The Whippet, known as the "Poor Man's Racehorse," is an intelligent agile-footed breed. Standing at 18-22 inches at the shoulder, these dogs have similar looks to a small Greyhound, but keep in mind their differences. Whippets have warmhearted, dignified, and charming spirits that will surely capture your heart. 


They spend long hours relaxing and lounging around, definitely not trouble to anyone inside the household. However, so much rest could equate to more energy stored in their bodies. With their high energy, Whippets are very playful. This makes them good with family, especially with young children and other dogs. 


Because of their short coat and low amount of shedding, Whippets are low maintenance. Additionally, they'll rarely bother you with a bark. This makes them not the best candidate for a watchdog, but still a good breed for anyone who likes to keep a quiet environment. 


The height range for male Whippets is 19-22 inches. Female Whippets stand at 18-21 inches. The average Whippet weighs 24-40 pounds and lives for 12-15 years. 



three whippets racing



Whippet Care


Whippet Nutrition 

Like with any furry friend, Whippet dog breeds need high-quality dog food. You can find foods of the highest qualities that is either commercially manufactured (this means the food that you find at pet stores) or created at home under the supervision and agreement of your veterinarian. 


For these homemade meals, make sure to research what human food is safe for dogs to eat. Human foods that are safe for dogs include carrots, apples, white rice, fish, chicken, pork, bananas, cucumbers, and watermelon, among many others. Some foods that are NOT SAFE for dogs to eat are avocado, cherries, chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, and nuts. 


  • Human food shouldn't permanently substitute your dog food. Dog food contains vitamins that'll help your dog grow strong and healthy. 
  • If your dog accidentally ingests harmful food, consult your veterinarian immediately. 
  • Along with dog food, treats may help with training. Give your dog treats in small amounts, so they can stay motivated and avoid obesity. 





Whippet Grooming

Whippets have short, smooth coats that characterize them as low-maintenance dogs. Because of their coat, they have little to no shedding, so you wouldn't have to worry about sweeping up fur from time to time. 


Getting a Whippet dog breed groomed weekly. You should also give your dog the occasional bath using lukewarm water and dry them with soft towels. Whippets, like some other breeds, are prone to ear infections. Check your dog's ears regularly, and make sure they are free from earwax. Once or twice a month, get your dog's nails trimmed to avoid scratching and causing wounds. 


Eating dog food causes tartar buildup. For your dog to have healthy teeth, brush their teeth two to three times a week with the proper toothpaste. A Whippet's thin skin is vulnerable to nicks, tears, and scrapes. Secure anything inside your household that might hurt your dogs, such as sharp corners or protruding objects. Regularly inspect your dog's skin for any wounds. 


Whippet Exercise

Whippets are born sprinters. They cannot go for days without running around and playing in a large, open space. Let them have plenty of exercise by letting them run free in a big and safely-fenced area. Engage yourself with them by letting them retrieve a ball or a flying disc.


If you want your Whippet to have increased endurance and strengthened bones and joints, have them go on agility courses as exercise. Regular walks are required for Whippets. Remember to always keep them on a strong leash. Or find them a friend — everyone needs one sometimes. It's recommended that your Whippet needs play sessions with another dog in a safely-fenced area away from distractions.  


Whippet Training

Though they might be calm indoors, Whippets are taking that time to reserve their energy for charged outbursts when they get outside! They love to run around in large, fenced areas with nothing holding them back. 


Older Whippets may be more trained and obedient when playing, but younger Whippets are elegant and mischievous, and they can jump and climb, so keeping them safely contained when not supervised is essential. Some dog experts recommend puppy training classes for young dogs to boost their confidence, develop their obedience, and improve agility. They may be helpful, but never forget to spend time with your pet. 


Train your Whippet to meet with other dogs regularly to boost their socialization skills. Hey, they can also meet new friends! 


Whippet Health 

Whippet dog breeds are one of the healthiest purebreds around, with minimal health issues that necessitate regular care or lifelong medication. Most Whippets may live for 12 to 15 years with good nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care.


For owners accustomed to heavier and larger dogs, a healthy Whippet will appear to be "skinny." Since Whippets' bodies are not built to hold a large weight, they will have a narrower stature than some other dogs. To ensure your Whippet is healthy, take note of his food intake and record his weight regularly. Consult with your veterinarian about any problems regarding weight. 



Whippet History 

Whippets were developed in Northern England in the late 18th-century. During this time, poachers implemented Greyhounds to hunt, but Greyhounds were too large for hunting. By crossing smaller terriers with Greyhounds, these poachers created the perfect small breed to hunt rabbits and other small game. This led to the Whippet we know and love today. 


The term whippet was originally used to designate any small, fast-moving dog, and it wasn't until the late 1800s that the Whippet became a distinct breed. Naturally fast, Whippet racing exploded in popularity amongst the working-class men of the 19th century. These men competed to see whose Whippets could kill the most rabbits or rats or who could run the fastest in their spare time. Later, the upper class refined the Whippet's appearance by incorporating some Italian Greyhounds for elegance. The first Whippet registered with the American Kennel Club was named Jack Dempsey in 1888. 



Whippet General Appearance

Whippets appear to have short, dense coats that can come in a wide variety of different colors and color combinations. Their base colors can be blue, black, cream, tan, orange, red, or fawn. Markings include brindle with blueish stripes, brindle with black stripes, blue mask, black mask, watermarking, and varying degrees of whiteness, ranging from completely white to just the toes and tail tips.


They have long and slender legs perfect for running. More so, other defining features are their deep chests and rose-shaped ears with a muscular build. Compared with other breeds, a Whippet's body is relatively narrow.





Common Whippet Health Problems


Eye problems

Whippets may develop or inherit various eye problems, some of which can lead to blindness if not treated promptly.


  • Cataracts - In senior Whippets, cataracts are a common cause of blindness. When a Whippet has a cataract, the eye's lens will appear more opaque or cloudy instead of clear and glossy. Fortunately, cataracts are removable by surgery. Use a surgical treatment under general anesthesia to remove cataracts. First remove your lens and replace it by a plastic or acrylic lens with the help of a veterinarian. It's possible that the veterinary ophthalmologist will only need to operate on one eye.
  • Corneal dystrophy - Corneal dystrophy is a genetic disorder resulting in tiny white crystal deposits in one of the cornea's layers. The condition normally progresses slowly, causing no pain and slight vision restriction, but it can lead to partial or full blindness. Though there aren't any medical treatments available today to remove the deposits, surgery may be necessary in severe cases. Sadly, even with surgery, there is a chance of the crystals returning. 


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited condition in which the eyes are genetically designed to go blind. The cells in this condition degrade over time, eventually causing blindness in the dog. Research shows Whippet dog breeds are more likely to have this condition than other dogs. 


In Whippets, early signs, such as night blindness or dilated pupils, usually appear between 3 and 5. The rate of development comes by the breed and the type of sickness. In most situations, dogs will lose their vision completely over 1-2 years.


Unfortunately, PRA is still incurable today. Antioxidant supplements or vitamins shouldn't have substantial effects on their condition. However, they are safe for your pet and may lessen stress on the lens cells and postpone cataract formation.


Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) 

The most frequent type of valvular illness in dogs is Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), an adult-onset anomaly of the mitral valve. MVD is a condition that describes the deterioration of the valve leaflets and the string-like components that hold the valve in place deteriorating over time. 


A heart murmur is typically the first indicator of a leaking mitral valve. Turbulence occurs when blood flows backward via a leaking mitral valve into the left atrium, causing turbulence. A leaking mitral valve may cause a murmur in dogs as young as 4 to 6 years old. The condition may proceed to congestive heart failure that may result in fluid retention in the lungs and other clinical signs. 


To avoid MVD, an echocardiography conduct tests with the help of a veterinarian or veterinary cardiologist familiar with the peculiar echocardiographic appearance of whippet hearts (particularly in sporty Whippets).


Immune-mediated Problems

The immune-mediated disease is a broad phrase that refers to various disorders in which the immune system destroys the body's cells. Autoimmune disorders tend to be inherited, or at least the propensity to develop them is. In other breeds, the model of heredity may differ, and its exact nature is currently under research. While this is challenging enough, it appears that the genetically susceptible dog requires a trigger of some sort to display symptoms and manifest the condition. 


Infections, stress, medicines, hormones, immunizations, and just about everything else that challenges the immune system and demands it respond are examples of triggers. However, dogs like these are predisposed to illness and acquire such a disease before any trigger element results in illness.


If you feel your Whippet has an immune-mediated disease, finding veterinarian help as soon as possible is critical. These diseases quickly become life-threatening, and any delay in seeking aid could be fatal.


Immune illnesses are difficult to identify, and it may be necessary to rule out other possibilities such as infection. Your veterinarian will advise you on the tests required for diagnosis, and a referral to a specialized veterinarian may be necessary.



Whippets Socialization

To keep your Whippet from being scared of unfamiliar settings, expose them to various people, sights, sounds, and situations from a young age. This is easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood to get to know the environment that he will live in. It is also important for your Whippet to get to know anyone who enters your household to avoid unwanted attacks. 


Whippets may get shy and stressed by changes in their environment if they're not properly socialized, so make sure they interact with different things from time to time. Though Whippets are generally kind and harmless, they tend not to be very good around cats. If you own a cat or live in an area where cats are around, be extra careful with your Whippet. 


These dogs have high prey drives, which makes them unsuitable for walking off-leash. Bring a leash whenever you take your Whippet outside of the home. Before leaving, make it a habit to double-check your Whippet's leash if it is still intact and in good condition. 



gray dog sniffing a flower



Keeping Your Whippet Healthy


Whippet Food and Diet 

Split into two feedings, 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food is the recommended daily amount of food for your Whippet. Size, age, build metabolism, and level of activity all influence how much food a Whippet consumes.



The Cost Of Owning A Whippet 

According to PetBudget, a Whippet dog breed puppy is likely to cost between $850 and $1,500, with the average price being $1,200. For your Whippet's first year, you can expect to spend around $3,840. After the first year, the expenses are $1,300/ year or $108/month. For the entirety of your Whippet's lifetime, the average cost would be $20,740. 



More About Whippet

In 1899, the world's first Whippet dog breed club formed in Britain. Known as the Whippet Club, they administer the Whippet Club Racing Association (WCRA), which has a governing role of setting, reviewing, and guaranteeing that all aspects of Whippet racing.


The associated racing clubs disperse throughout the country. These clubs are East Anglia Pedigree Whippet Racing Club (PWRC), Harvel PWRC, Ryemeadows PWRC, and West Somerset PWRC. WCRA Championships are at the Ryemeadows PWRC on their straight and bend tracks near Birtsmorton, Worcs, since 2018. 


In the west, The American Whippet Club is the American Kennel Club's national breed club for Whippets, and as such, it is the custodian of the AKC Whippet Breed Standard. It promotes and fosters the Whippet breed's flexibility, showing responsible breeding, obedience training, and competition, lures coursing, racing, and versatility. It has over 500 members across the world. 



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