Whippet Guide

Hound Dog Breeds

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A greyhound in miniature, the whippet is among the sleekest of dogs, with a curvaceous, streamlined silhouette, long legs and a lean physique. It is the ultimate sprinter, unsurpassed by any other breed in its ability to accelerate to top speed and to twist and turn with unequaled agility. The whippet is a lightweight version of the greyhound, with an especially supple top-line and powerful hindquarters enabling it to execute the double-suspension gallop at its most extreme. It is square or slightly longer than tall. The gait is low and free-moving. The expression is keen and alert.

Perhaps the most demonstrative and obedient of the true sighthounds, the whippet makes an ideal pet for people who want a quiet house dog and absolutely devoted companion. The whippet is extremely gentle with children and can make an excellent companion for them. It is calm indoors but loves to run and play outdoors. It is extremely sensitive (both physically and mentally) and cannot take rough treatment or harsh corrections.


FAMILY sighthound, Southern (sighthound)



ORIGINAL FUNCTION racing, rabbit coursing

TODAY'S FUNCTION racing, lure coursing

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 19-22 Weight: 20-40

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 18-21 Weight: 20-40


Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance Low tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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The whippet can make a good apartment dog if it is taken for a long walk or run daily. Grooming is minimal. The whippet must have a warm, soft bed. It dislikes cold weather intensely and cannot be expected to live outside. The whippet can play and run in snow and cold weather but should spend inactive times in warmer temperatures. The hair is extremely short and fine, and the whippet is virtually free of "doggy odor."
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: none
• Occasionally seen: deafness, some eye defects
• Suggested tests: none
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
• Note: sensitive to anesthesia; prone to lacerations
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A medium-sized sighthound, the whippet stems from greyhound roots. The whippet's progenitors may have come from crosses between small greyhounds and even smaller dogs that were used by peasants for poaching rabbits and other small game in the 18th century. The peasants also found entertainment in "snap dog" contests, in which bets were made on which dog could "snap up" as many rabbits as possible before they escaped from a circle. Crosses with ratting terriers were probably made to increase quickness and gameness. It was the advent of the Industrial Revolution, however, that spurred the development of the true whippet breed. Masses of rural workers moved to industrialized areas, bringing with them their snap dogs and a need for entertainment. Without a supply of rabbits, they found their dogs would just as readily race toward a waving rag. Rag racing became the sport of coal miners; in fact, the whippet was dubbed the "poor man's race horse." A family's whippet was not only an immense source of pride but sometimes also a source of extra income and procurer of food for the pot. As a valued family member, it shared the family rations and often, the children's beds, and came to be valued as a companion as well. Whippet racing is still popular today, but it has never gained the commercial appeal of greyhound racing and so remains strictly an amateur sport. After the whippet was officially recognized as a breed in 1888, it began to be appreciated for its aesthetic appeal, and crosses with the Italian greyhound further refined its appearance. The whippet gained popularity slowly, but its unequaled combination of lithe elegance and gracious companionship gradually created a devoted following. Today the whippet is the most popular of the sighthounds and is highly valued as a show dog, lure courser, racer and family companion.
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