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Whippet: Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

Written by: Sarah Psaradelis

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Whippet in the desert

Whippet: Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

Whippets are a British, medium-sized dog breed and a type of sighthound. They are highly intelligent dogs known for their lightning-fast speed and elegant appearance. Although Whippets were originally developed to be sporting dogs, they make loving companions who enjoy being part of the family.

Whippets can be perfect for different environments and lifestyles. They can thrive in both cozy apartments and the country with plenty of places to explore.

Breed Overview


18–22 inches


25–40 pounds


12–15 years


Black, blue, fawn, white, red, sable, brindle, and seal

Suitable for:

Active families, those looking for a quiet and low-maintenance breed


Loyal, energetic, intelligent, and gentle

Whippets are sometimes called the “poor man’s Greyhound” because of their resemblance to Greyhounds. This breed commonly stands between 18 to 22 inches tall and weighs up to 40 pounds.

Whippets have a slender body with long legs and small heads with pointed muzzles. Although slender, Whippets have muscular bodies that make them look powerful yet agile. They have deep chests and long back legs which help them run at incredible speeds.

Furthermore, Whippets are a relatively quiet breed that doesn’t bark much. They are also low maintenance and have undemanding grooming requirements.

Whippet Breed Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Whippet Puppies

Whippet lying on red cloth
Image Credit: Mabuya, Pixabay

Whippets are not necessarily a rare breed, although it is still difficult to find them up for adoption or rehoming. Also, certain Whippet coat colors and patterns are rare, so you are more likely to find them from a breeder. However, it’s a good idea to first check local shelters and rescue organizations to see if they have an adoptable Whippet puppy before going the breeder route. If you decide to get them from a breeder, ensure that it is a reputable breeder.

As puppies, Whippets are incredibly active and outgoing. They are eager to explore and never pass down the opportunity to play and interact with their family. Although they can be shy towards other dogs without proper socialization, Whippet puppies generally love to play with other dogs and puppies.

Whippet Origin & History

Whippets originate from England and were developed somewhere around the mid-19th century. They were likely developed from small English Greyhounds and Terriers, with Italian Greyhounds later on to perfect their appearance. Whippets were used to chase rabbits in an arena and by hunters to capture small game. As with other types of sighthounds, Whippets relied on their eyesight to catch their prey rather than scent.

When coal miners enjoyed dog racing but couldn’t afford the maintenance of larger athletes like Greyhounds, they bred a smaller version. This is where the Whippets got the name “poor man’s Greyhound” from.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Whippet

Whippets have desirable temperaments that make them excellent companions or sporting dogs. They are equally as intelligent, loyal, and gentle with a touch of playfulness. Whippets enjoy lounging around with their family just as much as they enjoy exercising and running around.

You will find that this breed is relatively easy to train with the right methods and consistency. Their high intelligence makes them eager to be trained and they generally get along well with people and other pets with proper socialization.

Whippets can be slightly skittish at times, especially if they weren’t socialized from a young age. This breed can be relaxed at home but energetic when they are competing in sports.

Grey Whippet dog on a leash
Image Credit: Li SUN SUN, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Whippets can be excellent dogs for families with older children. They also make good canine companions for individuals looking for a loyal sporting dog that takes training and competing seriously. Whippets do not mind socializing with people they are familiar with and can be reserved around strangers.

They can form close bonds with their family members and don’t like to be separated from them for too long.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Whippets can get along with other pets like dogs or cats with early socialization. They are not the most sociable breed and can take a while to get fully comfortable around unfamiliar pets. It can take more work to get them accustomed to living with cats than to other dogs.

Whippets love to chase smaller animals they view as prey. This is why they do not get along with small pets such as rodents, birds, and reptiles. It’s not recommended to let Whippets interact with these pets even if they are well-mannered.

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Things to Know When Owning a Whippet:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

A healthy AAFCO-approved diet with the right balance of nutrients is recommended for Whippets. Their diet should contain ingredients, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that can fuel their activities and be appropriate for their lifestyle. Whippets that are competing in sports generally have different dietary requirements than those that are simply kept as a companion and spend most of their time relaxing at home.

Their diet should support their lean body type without making them gain excess weight.

Exercise 🐕

Whippets are an energetic breed that thrives with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. Exercise helps to keep them fit and healthy while preventing boredom. Whippets should receive at least 1–2 hours of exercise per day. Their exercise sessions can be divided throughout the day, such as a morning walk and playtime in the park in the evening.

Whippets enjoy taking long walks and exploring alongside their owners. They don’t mind playing with other dogs in a spacious yard and engaging in a game of fetch.

Brown Whippet Dog with muscles running in a field
Image Credit: AlyssaDogPhotographer, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

It’s important to begin training and socializing this breed from a young age. Whippets are not a social breed, and they can be nervous around strange people and animals. You will need to socialize them as puppies to as many different environments, people, and animals to help them build confidence.

Training sessions should be short and consistent with this breed. The positive reinforcement training method works best for Whippets and makes them eager to be trained. Thankfully, their high intelligence allows them to learn new things fairly quickly and apply them during training with the right kind of motivation.

Grooming ✂️

Whippets have short, sleek coats with undemanding grooming requirements. Whippets do not need to be brushed regularly, so a weekly brush is usually fine. Their short coats do not tangle or mat, so brushing is used to help remove loose hair. Whippets should only be bathed when they become really dirty, and they do not need to get their hair trimmed.

Other than that, Whippets need their nails trimmed periodically to keep them at a comfortable length.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Whippets are generally a healthy breed with a long lifespan of up to 15 years. However, that doesn’t exempt them from developing certain health conditions.

Minor Conditions
  • Deafness
  • Allergies
  • Skin lacerations
  • Arthritis
  • Eye diseases
Serious Conditions
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Gastric dilatation and volvulus

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Male vs. Female

Both sexes make great sporting dogs that excel at competitions. However, there are some differences between them. Male Whippets tend to be taller and more muscular than their female counterparts.

Some say that male Whippets can be more competitive than females, whereas females are more strong-willed. Both sexes can be nervous around unfamiliar things, but females seem to be more nervous. Female Whippets have a more rounded appearance while the males seem to have a narrower build.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Whippet

1. Whippets can run incredibly fast

Whippets were developed for their speed and agility which made them excel at hunting and dog racing. They can run at up to 35 miles per hour, which is a similar speed to certain species of antelope.

2. They don’t bark much

Whippets are a quiet breed that does not bark much. They usually only bark when necessary, like if they have a specific need or to alert you to something. They are not a yappy breed and won’t irritate your neighbors with their barking too much.

3. They naturally appear skinnier than other breeds

Whippets have a lean, muscular build that can make them naturally skinnier than other breeds. Some might worry that their visible ribs are unhealthy, although this is the breed’s natural body type. Excess weight gain is not good for this breed and can put a strain on their joints.

Fawn and white Whippet dog standing in grass
Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Whippets are a type of sighthound from England that closely resemble Greyhounds. They were developed to chase small games and were used for entertainment and dog racing too. Whippets make great family pets with older children and other dogs or cats. They require plenty of early training and socialization to become well-mannered adults.

Whippets enjoy being exercised and love running around a spacious yard, although they are still great for apartments too. They are relatively low-maintenance pets and have undemanding grooming requirements.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock

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