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Whippet Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

This article is not about Whip it, that Devo song (if you’re too young to remember it, Google NOW!) but Whippet the dog breed. Okay, that was a bad play on words…but the Whippet dog breed is one you might want to consider bringing into your family.

And if you’re not…

Totally sold on getting one of these little guys, then you should keep on reading because in this article, we’re going to attempt to describe what it might be like to own a Whippet which “hopefully” will give you a better idea if owning one of these guys will be a good idea for you and your family.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Whippet Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin: England

Original Purpose: Racing and rabbit coursing

Height: 15 to 22 inches at shoulder

Weight: 22 to 35 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Hound group

Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Breed Category: Hound

Origin of the Whippet Dog Breed

To anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Whippet or had the good fortune of being able to be around one for any meaningful amount of time, it really shouldn’t surprise you to learn that this dog shares some DNA with the Greyhound, and basically looks like a smaller version.

The reason for this is because…

Sometime during the early 18th century, Englishmen decided to cross breed either a petite Greyhound (possibly an Italian Greyound) with the Manchester Terrier dog breed in an effort to create a smaller compact “Greyhound” that would be an effective hunter of both rats and rabbits alike.


It’s quite possible that there may have been a few other breeds “lumped” in, but since it’s not 100% clear which ones those might have been, most experts simply credit the breed to be a mix to these two.

Fortunately for all…

Of us who consider themselves a “fan” of this breed, as the need to hunt down rats and rabbits diminished, folks began appreciating these fine animals for their looks and pleasant personalities which is why many began keeping Whippets solely for companionship.

Their early popularity is…

Probably also why, despite the fact that the Whippet does resemble many other similar “types” of petite Greyhound dog breeds, the American Kennel Club (AKC) was quick to act in “officially” recognizing this breed way back in 1888 further guaranteeing that this awesome breed would be around for many generations to follow.

Physical Characteristics of a Whippet

As a part Greyhound, the Whippet has the build of a race dog. Whippet racing wasn’t an elite sport (in fact, it was referred to as the “Poor man’s dog racing”) and these dogs aren’t quite as fast as a Greyhound, but they’re still fun to watch.

We should also note that…

They have narrow waists like other sight hounds. They also have a deep chest and slender legs. They are quite muscular; this hound has a very low body fat percentage (like most athletes!). Another notable feature is their short hair. The Whippet comes in a variety of colors including white, grey, tri-colored and more.

Personality of a Whippet

They have a great prey drive (instinct to hunt) and will get overly excited if they see rabbits or other small animals running around in your yard. It’s a good idea to have a fenced yard. Make sure it’s high enough that he doesn’t jump right over it.


They’re race dogs so very used to coursing. This also means they can get wound up quite easily, particularly if they don’t have adequate opportunity to burn off all their energy.

This is why it’s important…

To understand that Whippet puppies need to undergo obedience training early on otherwise there are a lot of problems that can arise. Some other dogs can go without training (though we don’t recommend skipping training for any breed or mutt) and life will be manageable. This is not the case with a Whippet.

So be warned…

If you don’t enroll a Whippet puppy in training, and you let them become a teenager or adult without strict guidance, they can become a major handful. This is something you really need to consider. If you can’t make the time to take your pup to training…it’s probably a good idea to either wait to adopt or get another breed.

If properly trained however…

This dog is pretty middle of the road. Not overly friendly with strangers, but not totally aloof; not overly playful, but definitely needs to play; not the brightest crayon in the box, but not the dullest either. Their biggest plus point in our mind is that they are pretty adaptable. Also, if you want to keep them in an apartment, they’re okay with it so long as you do give them regular exercise.

Health Problems of Whippets

The best way to find the healthiest Whippet is to buy your dog from a reputable breeder. When you use any of the breeders recommended by the American Kennel Club or another organization, chances are, the dog will be healthier. That’s because the breeders breed the dogs in such a way to try to eliminate genetic health issues. That said, there are some instances where the dog will still be born with a genetic problem.


If you are a kindhearted soul who chooses to get a Whippet rescue, then you’re almost guaranteed to get a pooch with medical problems. Here are some of the most common health problems Whippet breed dogs will face:

  • Eye Problems: a Whippet may have cataracts or other eye problems. Usually, this is later on in life. Much of this can be avoided by having the right information from the breeder.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: this blood clotting disorder results in symptoms similar to Hemophilia but is not technically the same disorder. Your dog could have nose bleeds, or be asymptomatic (not shows signs of symptoms) until getting injured or having surgery. Your dog may need special medication or suturing if he starts to bleed.
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity: If your dog needs a surgery of any kind, it may be impossible to give him anesthesia. Many sight hounds are sensitive and they do not react well. Luckily, your vet should know what to do, but it’s always good to be aware of this and ask.

These are some of the health conditions your Whippet could face. Of course, any dog can have any number of medical problems – they aren’t all genetic. If he gets in an accident or contracts a disease, he will also need medical treatment.

And while…

Many of these conditions may not be life threatening, they can certainly become quite expensive to deal with particularly if they become recurring issues.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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