By

Macy Gen
Last updated: 18th October 2022

Whippet (Dog)

By

Macy Gen
Last updated: 18th October 2022

The Whippets are a medium-sized British breed, one of the significant members of the sighthound family known for their magnificent speed. Their physical appearance is as unique as their disposition, epitomizing gentleness, elegance, and sophistication. The Whippets possess the typical inverted S-line body of the greyhounds, accounting for their lean stature. Other significant bodily traits include round or oval-shaped eyes, small rose ears, and a long, powerful muzzle. They even have a long, tapering tail carried low when the Whippet is in motion.

Whippet (Dog) Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesSnap dog
CoatShort, smooth, and firm
ColorBlack, blue fawn, blue, blue brindle, cream, fawn, fawn brindle, red, red brindle, sable, white, white &black, white & fawn, white & red, white &sable, seal, black brindle, white& blue, white &blue brindle, white & blue fawn, white & red brindle, white & fawn brindle
Breed  TypePurebred
GroupHounds, Sighthounds
Life expectancy  12-15 years
SizeMedium
HeightMale: 19-22 inches ; Female: 18-21 inches
Weight25-40 pounds
Litter Size5-6 puppies
Behavioral characteristicsQuite, lively, gentle, affectionate
Good with ChildrenYes
Barking TendencyMinimal
Climate CompatibilityCannot withstand extreme cold and heat
Apartment CompatibilityGood
Do they shedMinimal
Are they HypoallergenicNo
TrainabilityModerate
How much do they cost$800-$1500 (for puppies)
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationAKC, UKC, FCI, Kennel Club
CountryEngland

History and Origin

The Whippet, a sighthound developed in England, derives its roots from the Greyhounds, emerging as wonderful sprinters like its ancestors. Their origin dates back to the Victorian Era in England, when coal miners took the pleasure of rabbit hunting and dog racing during their leisure time.

However, athletic dogs like Greyhounds were too expensive for the miners who lacked the space to accommodate these large breeds and couldn’t afford the enormous kibble to feed them. 

They decided to develop a similar breed, just a miniature version of the Greyhound, which could cater to all their requirements to resolve this problem. The outcome was an agile, athletic breed extremely fast on its feet at approximately 35 miles per hour.

Besides the Greyhound, there were several other breeds instrumental in developing the Whippet that had two distinct variations then. The smooth-coated ones more popular in the Midlands, Lancashire, and Yorkshire region became the present-day Whippet. The rough-coated ones more popular in Northumberland, and Durham, also had the Bedlington terrier’s genes.

It had an array of nicknames like the poor man’s racehorse and rabbit dog. People even referred to them as snap dogs due to their tendency to snap up prey they spotted around their vicinity. However, the name whippet comes from the word ‘whappet,’ translating to a small dog that yaps.

The Kennel Club (UK) officially recognized the Whippet in 1891, making it eligible for dog shows and competitions. They reached the United States when mill operators for Britain migrated there. The first Whippet populations were observed in Massachusetts. The American Kennel Club granted its recognition in 1888. As per the 2021 records, it ranks 57th in the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dogs. The American Whippet Club developed in 1930, working to better the breed since then.  

The British Whippet Racing Association formed in 1967 developed to form consistency in race rules of these sprinters.

Temperament

Whippets are known for their gentleness, amiable nature, and dignified demeanor, excelling as great family dogs. They may be reserved and quiet, often loving to stretch and relax for long hours in the confines of their home. . However, they have their streaks of playfulness and sense of duty, too, not waiting a minute when it comes to performing any job given to them to the tee. The Whippet would display friendliness towards all of the members of his family. However, he would choose that ‘one person,’ mostly his master, with whom he would bond a degree higher than other members and bond intimately with him. However, such increased attachment could trigger separation anxiety if the Whippet is detached from its owner or left alone for long.

When it comes to their interaction with strangers, it is needed to say that Whippets aren’t always reserved or wary, not fitting the bill of an efficient watchdog. They don’t bark regularly, other than when the need for communication arises. Hence, don’t expect your Whippet to display alertness and guard your territory with utmost devotion.

They are fabulous with kids and other dogs of the family too. However, the Whippets are high on prey drive. Due to their hunting lineage, they remain unsuited in homes with cats and smaller pets.

Care

Exercise

The racers they are, it is evident that the Whippets need a lot of exercises, pretty much actually, to remain energized, both physically and mentally. Keep at least 2 hrs a day reserved for their activity, which should comprise at least one hour walk, that you can divide into two 30-minute strolls. Besides this, arrange for retrieving games with a flying disc or ball, and even make way for play sessions within a fenced yard. Making them participate in dog sports like agility and lure coursing would be an excellent way to channel their high bouts of energy quite well.

Grooming

The Whippets have a short, smooth coat that doesn’t require much maintenance, sufficing with a weekly brushing. Using a brush having soft or medium bristles would help remove dead hairs and give the coat a polished texture. Bathe these dogs only when the need arises, as frequent exposure to moisture may deprive its coat of its natural oils, making it appear drier.

The Whippets have a thin skin, easily susceptible to scrapes and tears that might even need stitches. So you would have to pay a lot of attention and check for any injury in their skin from time to time.

You would have to make them wear sweaters and booties during the cold weather. On the other hand, when it is too hot outside, it is better to keep them indoors lest they get sunburn. Whippets have a chance of developing ear infections, so it is essential to clean their ears at least once a week. Also, remember to trim their nails at least once a month as extremely long nails may lead to discomfort in them.

Health Problems

They have been bred as a working breed primarily to course, and race, so it is pretty evident that Whippets are a healthy breed with minimum issues. A Whippet with adequate nutrition, exercise, and vet care may live up to 12-15 years. Hip dysplasia, a problem common in most dogs, hasn’t been able to affect this breed much. As per the 161 evaluations conducted by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, only 1.2% of the Whippets had this problem.

However, these dogs could suffer from heart problems, known to be the second common cause of mortality in Whippets as per the Kennel Club’s survey. Whippets are sensitive to anesthesia, possibly due to their genetic built and metabolic structures like their other sighthound cousins. Hence, it is always essential to go to a veterinarian who has enough experience in dealing with the anesthetic sensitivities of the sighthounds. Though rare, some Whippets might develop deafness or suffer from eye conditions too.

They have a lean frame and cannot carry excessive weight. The Whippets mostly pose a gangly body stature during their growing phase. Their body stature changes a little as they grow; however, an adult Whippet would have that skinny look against the stocky, muscular built of the Labrador or Pug. So the onus lies on the owners to maintain the Whippet’s accurate weight throughout to increase their lifespan and even minimize chances of orthopedic problems. 

Training

True that Whippets are one of the gentlest breeds when in the bounds of their home. However, training them wouldn’t be too easy since this breed has an independent attitude mainly because of their hunting background. Whippets have an average intelligence level and may take longer to learn new commands. They get bored quickly; it is essential to make the training process enjoyable through positive reinforcement techniques.

Socialization: Early socialization would help polish the all the more pleasing personality of the Whippets.  

Obedience: The puppies are highly mischievous, often jumping and running around. So training them on obedience right from the start would help develop the correct behavior in them. Teaching them basic commands like ‘Start,’ ‘Stay,’ and ‘Stop’ would help instill discipline in the Whippets by the time they grow. This would even help control their undesirable behavior like chasing something moving they spot.

Feeding

The Whippet needs a good quality food in proper proportions, homemade or store-bought, to stay healthy and in good shape. Their diet should be high in fat and protein and contain a sufficient amount of a meat variety like chicken or lamb. Keep treats to the minimum as maintaining a proper weight is the key to their excellent health. When opting for a readymade diet, you may prefer brands like Blue Buffalo , and Royal Canin .

Interesting Facts

  • A Whippet named Jim played a significant role in Terry Darlington’s travel trilogies. Because of its narrow stature, its name was used in several book titles, such as Narrow Dog to Carcassonne.
  • They have achieved feats in different dog shows, like a female Whippet GCh. Starline’s Chanel, by the Westminster Club as the Show Dog of the Year.

FAQs

Q. What is a long-haired Whippet?

The long-haired Whippet isn’t a long-haired variation of the Whippet but a different breed altogether. In Europe it is referred to as Windsprite or Silken Windsprite, developed by Walter A, Wheeler Jr. In fact, Wheeler had discovered the longhaired trait as a recessive gene in the Whippets, leading to the newer breeds. 

Q. How does a Whippet, Greyhound, and Italian Greyhound differ from each other?

Whippet is the miniature version of the Greyhound; the size is the most noticeable difference between them. While a Greyhound weighs around 60-70 pounds, the Whippet is between 25 and 40 pounds on average. However, both have similar physical features like oval or round eyes, long, narrow heads, and long muzzles.

On the other hand, the primary difference between the Whippet and Italian Greyhound is size, with the latter being much smaller than the former, weighing merely 7-14 pounds.

Q. Do Miniature Whippets exist?

A miniature Whippet is a downsized version of the standard Whippet created mainly by crossing the latter with a smaller breed like the Chihuahua. Sometimes runts from the litter are also bred with a full-sized Whippet to develop the miniature varieties.

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