Whippet: The Ultimate Guide


While the band wasn’t noted for their lyrical depth, when Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh sang “Whip it, whip it real good”, he inadvertently captured the quintessential essence of the beloved scenthound, the Whippet in a single, throwaway line. Whippets are real good. In fact, they’re not just really good, they’re practically perfect in every way. 

Streamlined and built for speed and agility, the Whippet may have started life as a hunting dog, but they’re just as happy when they’re stretched out on a couch next to their human companions as they are charging through the forest in pursuit of a rabbit.

Whippet

Gentle, quiet, and friendly dogs, Whippets quirky, laid back, and relaxed personalities have ensured that they’ve become cherished and beloved family members all over the world, and even though they were born to run, they’d much rather relax with their favorite people than spend endless hours strolling through the park. 

If you’re a fan of the pointy, four-legged speed machine and wanted to find out a little bit more about the breed before inviting one to join your family, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Like you, we’re die-hard Whippet devotees, which is why we’ve put together this indispensable, one-stop guide to the dog who won a thousand races and stole a million hearts. Are you ready to find out everything you ever wanted, and need to know about the breed? Then let’s jump straight in. On your marks, get set, go… It’s Whippet time

Whippet Key Facts

Every prospective pup parent and dog owner needs to know as much about the dog that they’re about to welcome into their home as possible, and the best way to do that is by finding out as much about the breed as you can, so you’ll at least have some idea about what the immediate canine-centric future holds in store for you. 

How long will you get to spend with your new best friend? How much exercise will he need, and how much time will you have to set aside to make sure that he covers enough ground and gets enough miles in to keep him happy and healthy?

And what kind of financial impact will raising a Whippet have on your monthly bank balance? They’re all important factors that you’ll need to consider before shopping or adopting for your pup, so without further ado, let’s get straight to the point and answer them. 

Average Lifespan

Whippets are a fairly hardy breed, and with the right care and attention, they usually live between twelve and fifteen years. 

Minimum Exercise (per day)

Don’t be fooled by their calm, gentle personalities, Whippets were made for the chase, and to ensure that you expend all of their natural energy, they’ll need at least an hour of exercise a day, seven days a week. 

Coat Length

Whippets are a short-haired breed and their silky smooth single coat should always look shiny and feel soft. 

Minimum Cost Per Month

They’re not overly demanding, or greedy dogs, and when you add the food bills and take pet insurance into account, a Whippet should cost you no more than one hundred and ten to one hundred and thirty dollars a month. 

Appearance

A medium-sized dog with a long pointy face, deep chest, a small abdomen, and thin, muscular legs, the Whippet has a long slender tail, ears that live somewhere in the middle ground between floppy and standing straight up, and big, friendly eyes.

They’re one of the most distinct, and individual-looking dogs in the canine world and once you’ve seen them you’ll never forget them. 

Size

Whippets are classified as medium dogs by both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA). 

Average Height

This is where things get a little tricky, as the breed tends to be slightly larger in America and Canada than it is in Europe.

In Europe, male Whippets stand anywhere between eighteen and a half and twenty inches tall at the withers (the space between the shoulder blades), while females are usually between seventeen and a half and eighteen and a half inches tall. 

In North America and Canada, male Whippets can be anywhere between eighteen and a half and twenty-two and a half inches tall, and females usually seventeen and a half inches to twenty-one and half inches high at the withers. 

Average Weight

Surprisingly, the height difference doesn’t have any effect on the average weight of the breed, which tends to hover between fifteen and forty pounds, a median that’s accepted as being standard by kennel clubs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Temperament

Whippets are docile, gentle, quiet dogs who enjoy home comforts and like to spend most of their day curled up on a couch. They are affectionate and enjoy the company of their families and favorite people. 

Apartment Living

As long as there’s enough space to exercise your Whippet in close proximity to your building, they’re ideally suited to life in an apartment.

They’re not very vocal and don’t bark or howl a lot so they won’t disturb your neighbors, and as they like to lie around and snooze most of the day, providing they’ve got their own bed or a comfortable couch to sleep on, they won’t be in any trouble. 

Good For Novice Owners

If you’re willing to put the time, energy, and effort into training a Whippet, then they’re perfect for first-time owners. Because they were bred to chase after small, scurrying animals and have a high prey drive, it’ll take a little extra time to train a Whippet properly, but as long as you put the time your dog will need in, he’ll be your easy-going, best friend for life. 

Sensitivity Level

Whippets are an incredibly sensitive breed, and respond best to positive reinforcement and reward-based training and shouldn’t be verbally chastised for an extended period of time or physically punished in any way. If you want your Whippet to follow your lead, you’ll need to be firm, but kind with him. 

Tolerates Being Alone

The breed is, unfortunately, prone to separation anxiety and Whippets don’t do well if they’re left alone for too long. They are also notoriously clingy, will follow their owners from room to room, and most of the time will only settle down when their owners finally relax and do the same. 

Tolerates Cold Weather

Due to their thin coat and low percentage of body fat, Whippets aren’t suited for life in cold climates. When the winter months appear, when they’re going out, they’ll need to wear a coat as Whippets really do feel the cold when the temperatures start to drop. 

Tolerates Hot Weather

Whippets love warmer climates, as their thin coats and low body fat means that they won’t overheat the way that some breeds do, and their long muzzles and noses are perfect for panting and drawing in a little extra air to help them cool down. And as they only need an hour of exercise a day, they don’t need to be out in the sun for too long.  

Affectionate With Family

They’re calm, quiet, and gentle dogs who adore human company and like to cuddle with their families. Whippets are perfect family dogs. 

Kid-Friendly

Again, their general disposition means that they’re usually good with children, providing the children know how to interact with dogs and won’t accidentally distress or hurt them. Our general rule of thumb is that as long as your kids are five or six years of age, then they’ll be fine around, and with a Whippet. 

Dog Friendly

Providing that they’re properly socialized from puppyhood onward, Whippets are fine around, and in the company of other dogs as they’re not an aggressive or demanding breed. 

Friendly Toward Strangers

They love everyone that they meet, and cherish the company of people, whether it’s their families or strangers. Coupled with the fact that they don’t really bark, their fondness for people means that Whippets make terrible guard dogs.  

Health & Grooming

As they’ve been bred for the same purpose for generations, Whippets are a hardy strong breed that have few health issues that pose any real threat to their wellbeing.

But like all breeds, there are a few inherent conditions that you need to be aware of as a prospective Whippet parent. Before we dive into them though, we’ll spend a little time talking about a few of the other dog-centric things that might be preying on your mind. 

Shedding

Because they’re a single-coated breed, Whippets don’t shed as much as a lot of other dogs do and they won’t leave a trail of excess fur in every room of your home. 

Drooling

Whippets don’t really drool, mainly because their long muzzles are adept at ensuring that their saliva and spit stays where it should, inside their mouths.  That doesn’t mean that they won’t drool in anticipation of being given a cookie or a tasty treat,  but the breed as a whole doesn’t drool. 

Grooming

As they don’t really shed, as long as you brush your Whippet thoroughly for fifteen minutes or so once a week, that should be enough to keep your floor and furniture free from unwanted fur. 

General Health

As we’ve already mentioned, they’re a fairly hardy breed, and as long as they’re up to date with their shots, have semi-regular check-ups, and are fed an appropriate diet, Whippets shouldn’t suffer from any general health problems. 

Common Health Problems

  • There are a few notable health issues that Whippets are prone to including cardiac arrhythmia, deafness, and eye defects. There is however one serious problem that all scenthound, Greyhounds, and Whippets like, suffer from and that’s an intolerance to barbiturate anesthesia, but as long as your dog never has to be anesthetized and your veterinarian is aware of the intolerance, it isn’t something that you’ll ever have to think, let alone worry about. 

Potential For Weight Gain

Whippets aren’t prone to obesity, and generally don’t develop the same attachment to food as other dogs do, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be overweight.

They can, so it’s important to monitor your boy’s weight in order to make sure that it doesn’t become a problem that could lead to, and cause other long-term, detrimental health issues. 

Trainability

Whippet

Like every other dog in the world, if you want your Whippet to be happy and healthy and form a strong bond with him, it’s important to ensure that you enroll him in socialization and obedience classes from an early age and that he’s properly trained and supervised. 

Easy To Train

Because they’re hounds and they were bred to be sight hunters and chase after prey as soon as it crosses their path, Whippets can be difficult to train.

The first hurdle that you’ll need to overcome is their biological programming and prey drive, and even though it’ll take a while and your boy may not make the sort of constant progress that you want him to, with patience and a continuous reward-based training program, he will get there in the end. 

Intelligence

Whippets are bright, smart, intelligent dogs who can easily adapt to new situations, but because they were bred to be sight hunters, they can also be single-minded, which means that they might not respond to your commands as quickly as other intelligent dogs do.

The key to unlocking that behavior and undoing their prey drive is through positive, reward-based training and obedience classes. 

Potential To Bite

They’re not snappy and generally grow out of the mouthing behavior that a lot of puppies exhibit, and as they also have a gentle, calm disposition and love almost everyone that they meet, Whippets are incredibly unlikely to bite and will usually only do so if they feel threatened and as a last resort. 

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

Whippets are unusually quiet dogs and don’t bark a lot, and rarely if ever howl. So you won’t really ever have to worry about your boy doing either unless you’re facing a potential end of the world scenario or you forgot to restock his treat cupboard.  

History

Whippets were bred to be sighthounds, which means that they track and chase their prey at incredible speeds by sight rather than scent. 

Even though there are records of smaller greyhound-like dogs being bred in ancient Egypt, the first reference to a Whippet didn’t appear until 1610 in their country in which the breed was thought to have originated, England. 

They were also commonly known as “snap-hounds” due to their tendency to snap at their prey while they were chasing it, a name that had all but disappeared by the beginning of the nineteenth century. 

Commonly referred to as a “poor man’s racehorse” in the North of England due to the popularity of Whippet racing which began in earnest at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Whippets were always seen as being a working-class version of the more lauded Greyhound.

That changed in 1891 in England when the Kennel Club finally recognized the breed a mere three years after the American Kennel Club first recognized the Whippet as an official breed in 1888. 

The traits that are prized by Whippet breeders haven’t altered since the breed was officially recognized, which has helped to ensure that Whippets are a hardy, healthy dog that continues to thrive and flourish on couches and in dog parks in all fifty states. 

Costs

There’s no way of avoiding the pocketbook-busting fact that purebred Whippet puppies are expensive. Depending on their bloodline and the breeder that you purchase a puppy from, they can cost anywhere between one thousand and two and half thousand dollars.

Which is a lot of money to pay when there is another, much more dog-friendly option on the table. And that’s adoption. 

Whippets, just like every other dog, do end up in shelters and there are even specialist rescues that have been set up to help rehome unwanted dogs. So before you buy a puppy, call your local shelter and rescue(s), because your new best friend could be waiting for you there.

And, as we always say, it won’t just be your dog that’ll thank you if you rescue them, your bank balance will too, as adoption is a far more affordable option than shopping. 

Whippet Fun Facts 

  • Remember what we said about Whippets being speed machines who could run like greased lightning? It’s true, and they can reach speeds of up to thirty-five miles per hour.  
  • They’re not just lean, they’re also clean. Whippets don’t tend to smell anywhere near as much as other dogs do, as their short fur doesn’t tend to get imbued with oils and dirt.  You don’t even need to bathe and shower your Whippet if you don’t want to, but you’ll probably need to as they do like to run through the mud and long grass. 
  • Even though they have an incredibly high prey drive, Whippets can live with cats. They just need to be raised with them and if they are, they won’t see a feline as something to chase, they’ll see her as another member of their family. 

 

Kerry White

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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