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What is a Whippet Dog?    Origins, Personality and Traits

Are you curious about what is a whippet dog like? In this page you’ll find everything you always wanted to know about whippets but you were too shy to ask.

Whippets are elegant, medium sized, short coated sighthounds.  They are at the same time lovable family pets and great racers and hunters.

Despite their racing background the whippet is a very adaptable family dog and an incurable coddler but he is still able to offer entertainment for a day out at a coursing meeting or as a dog agility partner. 

The whippet belongs to the sighthound family of dogs. These fast and elegant canines have been employed for centuries around the world to chase and take down prays of various size and strength.

Other breeds in this category are the Saluki, the Afghan Hound, the Greyhound, the Borzoi, the Scottish Deerhound, the Irish Wolfhound, the Sloughi, the Ibizan hound, the Galgo.

The closest relatives to the whippet are the Italian and the English Greyhounds. Both these breeds share with the whippet the same svelte figure and the fine, silky coat.

The English greyhound is bigger than the whippet and the Italian greyhound is smaller.

The size influences the relative proportions of the dogs but doesn’t change the general look and abilities of this kind of hounds.

Here you can compare the size of these breeds to have an idea of what size is a whippet dog.

Whippet Size

Whippets are medium sized dogs.

They are easy to handle for children and senior owners for their moderate size and sweet temperament.

According to the Kennel Club, a male should be 47-51 cm. (18 1/2-20 ins) a female 44-47 (17 1/2-18 1/ins) at the withers.

The American Kennel Club allows a bigger size: 19-22 ins for dogs and 18-21 for bitches.


To suit everyone's taste whippets come in every color and combination. Every dog is truly unique!


This breed sheds little, is clean in the house and blessed with an odorless coat that is fine and silky to the touch.

The short whippets' coat is easy to groom and makes these hounds low maintenance dogs for the happiness of housekeepers.

A weekly grooming with a hound glove will keep the coat in top condition. 

Whippets are definitely low maintenance dogs.

What is a Whippet Dog Energy Level?

The whippet is high energy outdoors, low energy at home.

Despite his athletic abilities, the whippet is more than happy to curl on a sofa and sleep for hours especially if the weather outside is rainy and uninspiring.

Whippets are superb sprinters reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour in short races but they have limited stamina and are a very relaxed companion at home especially when they have a chance to nap on your favorite couch.

What is a Whippet dog Required Exercise?

At least half an hour a day of brisk walking on leash with some free running will keep you and your whippet happy and in good health.


Whippets are easy to train and obey more than most other sighthounds.  

They are easygoing and loving, attuned to their owner’s mood.

Cat lovers appreciate this neat and quiet dog breed that although affectionate isn’t fawning.


These hounds' pleasant personality makes them good alarm dogs but gives them little protection abilities. 

The whippet has a limited use as watchdog because of his fundamental faith in the goodness of human nature but thanks to an acute sense of hearing can act as an efficient alarm.

Whippets are not yappy and tend to bark only for a good reason. Their bark is deeper than what what you would expect for their size.

Common Health Problems

None. The whippet skin is rather fragile and unprotected and can tear easily.

What is a Whippet Dog Life Expectancy?

Despite their delicate appearance these little hounds are healthy dogs. They can easily live up to 13-15 years.

Like other sighthounds, they are sensitive to anesthesia.

Living Conditions

Whippets adapt easily to living in an apartment if enough exercise is provided, although a small fenced yard is greatly appreciated.

A dog door can solve the problem of having to leave your whippet alone.

They require a coat in harsh winter and a soft bedding preferably located in the most comfortable spot of the house. 

They need to be on leash in unconfined and traffic areas because a cat, a squirrel of even a flying paper can trigger their chasing instinct.

Whippets are too fast to be stopped by invisible fences.

Whippets and Other Pets

Non aggressive with other dogs but cats, rabbits and small furry creatures can look like natural prey and trigger the whippet's natural chasing instinct.

The coexistence with cats is controversial, some whippets accept them and others can never be reliable in the presence of a feline.

These little hounds happily accept the presence of other dogs but generally prefer companions of the same breed. 


Whippets excel in many activities as lure coursing, racing, agility, shows, flyaball, dog frisbee, hunting.

Breed Standard

Find out about the whippet breed standards, the documents that officially define the characteristics of the breed.

Early Whippet History

Regardless of the size, this general type of dog, an elegant and swift hound of short coat, has been around humans for thousands of years, helping them in the hunt, sharing their shelter and warming their beds and hearts.

This is testified by the innumerable depiction of hounds on vases, paintings and statues, sometimes as old as the beginning of human civilization.

At the start the eighteenth century the whippet begins to appear in many famous paintings.

There are many theories about the origin of this dog breed but everybody agrees that at the end of the nineteenth century the whippet or snap dog became popular among the working class of Northern England.

The whippets earned their keep (and sometimes more then their owner's wages) running in short races.

They were used for coursing rabbits in enclosures and later in rag races where the dogs were slipped at the end of a field to reach at fantastic speed their masters waiving a rag at the other end.

The whippet earned this way the title of “the poor man’s greyhound”.

It is said that in the genetic pool of the whippet was added terrier blood for gameness, Italian greyhound to reduce the size and English greyhound for speed and endurance.

The object of the breeding was to obtain maximum speed with the least possible size.

I think that the modest whippet’s origin is what makes such an adaptable dog, well suited to modern living conditions.

These hounds don’t require enormous amounts of food or exercise. Whippets take very little space in the house, are not obsessive barkers or diggers and are very easy to keep clean and tidy.

Their biggest requirement is the company of their owners. It is easy to imagine that right from the beginning they were prized pets, allowed to live in the house to shelter them from the severe cold and the possibility of theft.

A selective breeding not based on color or looks but on function, preserved the breed from most genetic problems that plague many pure breed dogs.

How to discover what is a whippet dog

The whippet history as an official dog breed doesn’t start long ago, it was recognized by the Kennel Club only in 1891.

Only then whippets began to be bred also for their elegant look.

Nevertheless what is a whippet dog and its original calling of a hound able to catch his dinner, was never forgotten by breeders.

The integrity of the breed will be evident the first time you bring your show whippet to a coursing meeting.

You’ll be amazed at the enthusiasm of your dog for racing and you'll discover what a whippet dog is when your pet is allowed to play his favorite game.

Check out Whippets Facts and Curio

Enjoy this lovely whippet video

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