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whippet dog breed

The whippet dog breed - the world's fastest couch potato

You have probably seen or heard of the Whippet dog breed. They are like half-sized Greyhounds, but not as edgy, more relaxed, and ready to head somewhere comfy to curl up into a small ball and doze the afternoon away!

A Whippet dog standing in an autumn field, looking to the leftThe Whippet

Whippets belong to the Sight Hound group of dog breeds. This means that they hunt using their vision to track prey, rather than smell (Scent hounds) or hearing.

Whippet Dog Breed - Temperament

The Whippet is calm and affectionate, with an amiable disposition. They are not edgy nor nervous by nature, but if they see something to chase, they're off! Whippets are very fast, and can cover a lot of ground very quickly at speeds approaching 35mph.

While this breed is extremely fast on the one hand, on the other hand they just love curling up under a blanket on in the corner of a sofa, and sleeping for hours. They have a very relaxed and laid-back attitude to life. They seem to expect a comfy spot to doze, and keeping them off the sofa, couch or bed may be a problem.

A Whippet relaxing on a white bed, looking up at the cameraMisty the Whippet from Somerset, UK relaxing on the bed!

And between these 2 extremes we have a dog that is playful, and loves running games. Tearing around the back garden or yard chasing a ball is a favorite. And they need this exercise to make up for their love of sleeping! This degree of energy requires a well-fenced yard for these bursts of activity.

It's important to realize that this breed needs a large space to let off steam and run at full pelt. Just taking them out for a walk twice a day is not enough - they need to be able to run at full speed, but only for short periods.

A Whippet dog standing in a grassy field full of flowersMisty out in the Somerset fields!

Whippets are generally calm and polite when out in public, providing they have been socialized as a puppy. They generally get on well with other dogs, and tend to stay a little aloof until becoming familiar. When it comes to the family, this breed does very well with children, providing they are not mistreated. They don't like being surprised or touched unexpectedly.

A Whippet puppy lying down, against a black backgroundWhippet puppy

These are quiet dogs, and rarely bark. This makes them ideal for apartment dwellers, as they will not disturb the neighbors. In addition, they take up a small space, and don't need much room to be happy - BUT in this situation you must take the dog out several times a day.

The whippet dog breed has a strong prey drive, and will chase and catch any small animals - they should not be trusted with small pets such as rabbits, hamsters or gerbils, for example.

- Breed History

A Whippet puppy being held in one handMisty as a puppy

The Whippet dog breed has its roots in the North of England, during the reign of Queen Victoria. The coal miners of the area enjoyed dog racing and rabbit hunting with Greyhounds, but the size of an adult Greyhound was a problem.

Greyhounds simply took up too much room, ate too much food, and needed too much exercise. The solution was to breed a half-size Greyhound. The miners managed to produce the Whippet, which met their needs exactly. It excelled at pursuing small game. However, it's unclear which other breeds were used with the Greyhound to develop the Whippet.

By the start of the 20th century, workers from the North of England started to migrate to the USA, taking their dogs with them. They proved very popular, and also the sport of Whippet racing. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888.

Vital Statistics

Height;  19 to 22 inches at the withers (Male) and 18 to 21 inches (Female)

Weight;  25 to 40 lbs


The color is variable, from black through to blue, brindle, fawn, and then white combined with any of the first colors.

A grey and white Whippet dog standing in a grass field, looking to the rightWhippet

Ease of Training

Cautious by nature, the whippet dog breed needs early socialization to become used to the sights and sounds in the street and countryside, including meeting new people and other animals. If this is done in a calm and consistent manner, Whippets become very relaxed and amiable as they grow into adulthood.

A Whippet Head in close up, showing its black noseMisty - relaxed and amiable

When it comes to training, Whippets behave like most Sight Hounds; they seem to have a mind of their own, and can appear stubborn. This requires a patient and consistent approach, with training sessions kept to 10-15 minutes, several times a day.

While it is not hard to house-train a Whippet, nor to teach them basic commands such as to sit, stay and lie down, it is much more difficult to teach them to return at a distance reliably. If the dog sees something moving, it will give chase, and may not return, at least not for a while!


This not a particularly good breed as either a watch dog nor a guard dog. They spend most of their time sleeping, and are not really alert. Also, they are quiet dogs, and rarely bark. Even if an intruder should approach, the Whippet is most likely to remain aloof and just watch.

When it comes to deterring an unwanted guest, this breed is just not imposing enough, nor has the attitude to take much action. If protection is important to you, look for a bigger breed.


Grooming requirements are minimal. The Whippet has a very short, fine coat which only needs a brief rub-down with a fine brush. They do not shed much hair at all. They do not have a "doggy" smell.

Because of their very short, fine coat, Whippets do not tolerate the cold well at all. When outdoor temperatures go below 50 degrees F, you should consider getting some sort of coat when taking your dog outside.

A Whippet dog standing sideways to the camera, on a grass lawn with bushes in the backgroundWhippet

Health Considerations

The Whippet dog breed has an expected lifespan of 12 to 15 years. This is a generally healthy breed, as long they are not over-fed and become too heavy. The problems that may crop up include;

  •  Eye disorders
  •  Deafness
  •  Cardiac issues.

Interview with a Whippet Owner

We are very fortunate to have an interview with a Whippet owner - Paul Franklin from Somerset, UK, who owns the beautiful Whippet, Misty, featured in some photos on this page.

You can read the interview with Paul here, and gain an insight into life with this breed.

Paul also has a Blog 'My Dear Whippet' with further specific information on the Whippet breed - you can contact Paul direct via his Blog.

Famous Whippets

I couldn't find any famous Whippets - please tell me if you know one, using the Contact Me link. Thank you!

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