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Whippet vs. Italian Greyhound: The Key Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on July 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

Whippet vs Italian Greyhound

Whippet vs. Italian Greyhound: The Key Differences (With Pictures)

The Whippet and Italian Greyhound are wonderful dogs that resemble traditional Greyhounds but are smaller. While the two share many similarities, there are also a few differences. If you are thinking about getting one of these dogs but aren’t sure which is better for your home, keep reading as we discuss these breeds’ history, appearance, and overall health.

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Visual Differences

Whippet vs Greyhound side by side
Image Credit: (L) nik174, Shutterstock | (R) Alexandra Morisson Photo, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Whippet
  • Average height (adult): 19–22 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 20–40 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Low maintenance
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent but independent
Italian Greyhound
  • Average height (adult): 13–15 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 7–14 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–15 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Low maintenance
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent but can be independent

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Whippet Overview

Whippet dog in a meadow
Image by: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Origin

Experts believe that Whippets descended from small Greyhounds and other small hunting dogs in England. Working-class people used these dogs for hunting small game, such as rabbits and hares, in the 17th and 18th centuries. The name Whippet likely comes from “whappet,” which means “small dog” or “yelping dog” in northern English. They were popular racing dogs, and the American Kennel Club in the United States accepted them as a unique breed in 1888.

Appearance

Whippets are a medium-sized breed with a slender and athletic build, a deep chest, a narrow waist, and a long neck. They have a short and smooth coat that lies close to their body and comes in various colors, including fawn, blue, red, or white. Whippets have a small, fine, and slightly arched head with expressive, almond-shaped eyes in various shades of brown. Their ears are small and folded and often sit back against the head when at rest. Their long and slender tail tapers to a point.

Man with whippet dog in nature
Image by: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Health Conditions

Whippets are generally a healthy breed but can be prone to certain heart conditions, including dilated cardiomyopathy and mitral valve disease. They may also experience thyroid issues, leading to weight gain, skin problems, and lethargy. Like many deep-chested breeds, Whippets are susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus, commonly known as bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach twists and fills with gas. Due to their athleticism and love for running, Whippets can also be prone to leg injuries, including sprains and fractures.

Suitable For:

Whippets can be suitable for various living situations and lifestyles, including apartments. They are an active breed and well-suited to families who enjoy the outdoors. Children can also help them stay busy and get the exercise that they need, and with proper socialization, they get along well with other dogs but might chase after cats and smaller animals. They can also be independent, strong-willed, and difficult to train for an inexperienced owner.

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Italian Greyhound Overview

Italian Greyhound
Image by: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

Origin

The Italian Greyhound originated in Italy more than 2,000 years ago. It is a small breed of sighthound with a delicate appearance favored by nobility and aristocracy in ancient Greece and Rome. These dogs frequently appear in ancient art, including pottery and statues. Breeders created them for hunting small game like rabbits, and they were successful due to their speed and agility. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Italian Greyhound as a breed in 1886.

Appearance

The Italian Greyhound is a small breed with a slender and elongated body, a deep chest, a narrow waist, and a tucked-up abdomen. Their coat is short, fine, and smooth, lying close to the body. They can have a variety of coat colors and patterns, including solid colors like fawn, blue, red, black, and brindle and various combinations of these. They have a sweet and alert expression, bright, almond-shaped eyes, and a long, thin tail that tapers to a point.

Italian Greyhound dog eating from bowl at home
Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock

Health Conditions

Italian Greyhounds can be prone to certain health conditions, including dental disease, which affects many dogs in the United States. Hip dysplasia, a disease that affects the hip joint, is also common, as is a luxating patella, which is a condition that causes the kneecap to slip out of place. Other conditions that these dogs might deal with include bloat, heart disease, and cataracts.

Suitable For:

Due to their small size and low exercise needs, Italian Greyhounds adapt well to apartment living. However, they still require daily exercise and playtime. They are good with older, considerate children who understand how to interact gently with dogs, singles and couples who can provide the attention and exercise that they need, and people looking for a low-maintenance pet.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Choosing between an Italian Greyhound or a Whippet mainly depends on your preferences. Both are fast, playful, and energetic. Their small size makes them well-suited to apartment living, and both breeds are affectionate and intelligent. The Whippet is a bit larger and could be less friendly toward smaller animals, while the Italian Greyhound will be less tolerant of rough handling by children.

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Featured Image Credit: (T) tommaso lizzul, Shutterstock | (B) Lenkadan, Shutterstock

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