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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 about Whippet the Dog breed. Okay, that was a foul play on words…but the Whippet dog breed is one you might want to consider bringing into your family.

And if you’re not…

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 the 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 looks like a smaller version.  The reason for this is that sometime during the early 18th century, Englishmen decided to cross-breed either a petite Greyhound (possibly an Italian Greyhound) with the Manchester Terrier dog breed to create a smaller compact “Greyhound” that would be an effective hunter of both rats and rabbits alike.


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 credit the species as a mix of these two.  Fortunately for all of us who consider ourselves “fans” 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, so many started keeping Whippets solely for companionship.

Their early popularity is…

Probably also why, even though 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 excellent breed would be around for many generations to follow.

Physical Characteristics

As a part Greyhound, the Whippet has the build of a race dog. Whippet racing wasn’t an elite sport (it was referred to as “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 sighthounds. They also have a deep chest and slender legs. They are pretty muscular; this hound has a deficient body fat percentage (like most athletes!). Another notable feature is their short hair. The Whippet comes in various colors, including white, grey, tri-colored, and more.

Personality and Temperament

They have an incredible prey drive (the 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. Ensure it’s high enough that he doesn’t jump over it.  Remember, they’re race dogs and are used to coursing. This also means they can get wound up quite quickly, particularly if they don’t have adequate opportunity to burn off all their energy.

This is why it’s essential…

To understand that Whippet puppies need to undergo obedience training early on; otherwise, many problems can arise. Some other dogs can go without movement (though we don’t recommend skipping workouts 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 primary handful. This is something you 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 adequately trained, however…

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

Potential Health Problems

The best way to find the healthiest Whippet is to buy your dog from a reputable breeder. When you use any breeders recommended by the American Kennel Club or another organization, the dog will be healthier. That’s because the breeders breed the dogs in such a way as 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, you’re almost guaranteed to get a puppy 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 correct 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 showing signs of symptoms) until getting injured or having surgery. Your dog may need particular medication or suturing if he starts to bleed.
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity: If your dog needs any surgery, it may be impossible to give him anesthesia. Many sighthounds 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, dogs can have any medical problems – they aren’t all genetic. He will also need medical treatment if he gets in an accident or contracts a disease.

And while…

Many of these conditions may not be life-threatening, but they can become quite expensive, 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 suitable 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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