Some call it the Whippet, others the poor man’s race horse, still others call it the AT-AT Walker of the dog world. Created in England, this dog is built for speed. Taking the best aspects of the Greyhound and combining them with unknown dog breeds, the Whippet was born.
The perfect combination between high energy and cuddles, is this dog right for you?
Keep reading to find out more.
The aforementioned AT-AT Walker dog:
The origins of the Whippet begin in Victorian-England.
Unable to afford the housing and upkeep of larger breeds like the Greyhound, Coal miners worked to create a breed that was smaller yet still maintaining the same function. The people of this time and place loved to race, hunt, and gamble, making this new breed the perfect combination of dog.
Today, we still don’t know exactly what other dogs are part of the Whippet’s ancestry, only that the miners did an amazing job in creating this pooch.
Imported to the United States by immigrants in the early 20th century, the Whippet is a mainstay in American culture.
These dogs have a need for speed and found it on the race track. Sleek and stylish, the Whippet has the prototypical S-curve of the hound body structure.
1888 saw this breed officially recognized by the AKC. Now they are officially part of the Non-Sporting group.
Are Whippets Good Family Dogs?
Whippets are great family dogs, if well socialized.
As with any dog breed, there are a few things to consider when deciding if this one is right for your family.
Whippets love to run, they are the fastest breed for their size. Fast enough that you will not be able to catch him if he decides to run.
These dogs are born to love affection and can binge watch your favorite TV show with you. They do love being lap dogs and by their owners assuming they have had good exercise.
Loud noisy homes and those with sudden unexpected changes may not be right for Whippets. These dogs are a little skittish and sensitive to loud unexpected noises.
Make sure to properly socialize your dog as soon as you get him. This dog may not be good with young children.
But…with children who understand how to respect the dog, he can be wonderful.
(hint, hint: it’s your job to teach children how to respect dogs)
Whippets need daily exercise, love, and affirmation.
When cared for properly these dogs are very low maintenance.
Because Whippets are a medium-sized breed that maxes out at 31 lbs, they do not require a lot of food.
They do, however, need food that provides the essentials. This means investing in the right high-quality food for your dog based on their age.
Treats are nice and a great tool for training, but be careful not to give too many. Excessive amounts of treats can cause your dog to become overweight.
It is common in Whippet puppies to see their ribs as they grow fast and their bodies cannot keep enough meat on their bones.
In adults, you should be able to feel but not see their ribs.
Likewise, the hips should be noticeable in a similar manner as these dogs should be lean and muscular.
Just like people, the more daily exercise, the more food they will need.
Whippets are one of the easiest dog breeds to groom.
A simple once or twice over with a rubber pet mitt on a regular basis is all that he needs to keep his coat handsome af.
Whippets rarely need a bath – unless they get into something stinky…which is not beneath this speedy breed.
This means less time grooming and more time for play with your pooch!
Whippets need daily exercise!
These dogs have a moderate to high energy level and need off-leash exercise in a fenced in area at least once a day for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
Despite this need for daily exercise, Whippets really love snuggle time.
So as long as you can allow them some time to burn off their excess energy, they will be ready to binge your favorite shows with you.
Whippets are easy to train and are best trained with affirmation and praise (and food!).
These dogs are great to train for fun games like agility drills or chase games. These are burst type activities that require quick spurts of energy.
Whippets can be mischievous, they are fast, can climb, and good at jumping. For this reason they should not be alone even in a fenced in yard. They need your supervision when not secured.
As with any dog from day one, you should start the socialization process.
Whippets have a high prey drive.
They will give chase to any vermin in the vicinity. This is the primary reason for keeping the dog on a leash when not fenced in.
Whippets love their people and may struggle with separation anxiety if:
You are routinely separated for long periods of time.
Your schedule changes often.
Whippet Health Issues
Whippets are a mostly healthy dog breed with a life-span of 12-15 years.
It is important to keep an eye on a Whippet’s appearance, because an overweight dog is more prone to cardiac disease.
Whippets are most prone to:
Responsible breeders will test their pairs for these ailments prior to breeding.
Things to Know About Whippet Dogs
1. The Number One Thing to Know: They Were Bred as Hunters
Whippets are hunters, it is ingrained in their DNA.
As such, they have an extremely high prey drive. If they see an animal or object that they perceive as prey they will chase it.
What this means for you as an owner:
You HAVE TO socialize your pet early with animals they may encounter daily. This is especially important if you have smaller animals at home such as cats.
Do not expect to be able to bring home a new kitten and not have your Whippet chase it.
2. Whippets Love to RUN RUN RUN!
I repeat: Whippets love to run.
Not only do they love to run, but they are the fastest breed for their size.
Exactly how fast are they?
Whippets can run up to 35 miles per hour, or for my friends across the pond, 56 kilometers per hour.
Their running is best is small bursts.
Agility drills are fun for both you and the dog, and a quick course is not hard to set up in the yard.
3. Whippets Are Sensitive
Whippets do not like scolding or yelling.
If you have a yelling problem, a Whippet is not a good dog for you.
I come from a large, loud family, and this breed is not good when we have large gatherings.
Have you ever seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”??
We are like that, We are loud people.
Daisy gets really nervous with shouting, or kids slamming doors. As such, it would not be fair to the dog to expose her to our family gatherings.
Yet, it is even worse if you physically punish a Whippet.
Please don’t ever lay your hands on your Whippet unless it is to give them affection and praise.
4. Whippets Don’t Bark Much
Unlike some dogs that bark at their own shadow, Whippet are generally quiet.
It is rare that you will hear a Whippet bark, as they usually will not even bark at strangers approaching your house.
This makes them an ideal dog for apartment owners.
You will never need to worry about your neighbor complaining about your dog barking.
5. Whippets are Calm
Whippets like to keep it on the down-low.
Even though they have a high energy level that needs utilized daily, they are really mellow.
Are you a couch potato?
Do you have a child that has a mobility disability?
Then this dog may fit right into your family.
These dogs like to curl up on the couch and lay with their people for long periods of time.
6. They are Not Territorial
Whippets are great with other dogs and people.
They like to have others around and as a general rule are not food aggressive.
This pooch loves being a good pack member.
That could be with your family, or it could be with a bunch of other dogs.
7. Whippets are Lap Dogs
If you are looking for a cuddle bug lap dog, the Whippet is perfect! They are affectionate and love people cuddling them.
Although on your daily walk, your Whippet is surely to draw attention from admirers. If well socialized, they will tolerate all kinds of strangers petting them.
These guys really have two speeds:
In your lap
8. They are Motivated by You
Whippets want to make you happy.
They love you, and want you to be happy.
If you are not happy, your dog will not be happy. They can sense your emotions by your body language and will act accordingly.
These guys do best in a calm loving home that has a need for speed.
9. Whippets are Escape Artists
Even in an enclosed space, Whippets can still manage to disappear.
Despite their small size, they can jump really high. They can easily hop a 4-foot fence:
Make sure that your fence is tall enough to keep them in.
Some Whippets have scaled chain-link fences in pursuit of prey. Make sure your fence is stable and works for Whippet.
Some can even climb trees! Check out Fly, the tree-climbing Whippet:
Whippets are really small!
They will find and travel through the same holes as a rabbit. Make sure that your fence is secure with no holes.
10. They Need You to Lead Them With Patience
You are the alpha in the house. Act like it!
Be patient with your Whippet.
Remember these guys are pretty nervous, so they need a calm hand to guide them.
Cool headed leaders are the best owners for this dog.
All dogs will inevitably do something you don’t want them to, you just need to discipline your Whippet with care.
11. Don’t Forget the Leash
As smart as the Whippet can be, their street smarts are lacking.
Once they lock onto a prey item, the chase is on. At that point, it is very hard to get their mind off they prey.
Shock collars will snap them out of the prey pursuit, but it will come at a mental cost for the dog.
Keep your dog on a leash at all times while not in a fully contained area!
12. They are Not Good Guard Dogs
Whippets don’t bark a lot, like almost never. If someone is approaching your house, or knocking on your door, it is likely your Whippet will either be hiding or looking out the window to see who it is.
It is a rare case if a Whippet will alert you to strangers nearby.
However, they love their family and will protect your children from strangers and other animals that enter your yard.
If you do not have children or kids, the Whippet will likely love on strangers.
13. Whippets Love the Spotlight
Whippets love to be the stars of the show.
They want recognition and appreciation. Make sure you praise them as often as you can. The more often you praise them, the more likely they will do what you want them to in the future.
The Whippet breed is highly motivated by food or toys.
A Frisbee is a favorite pastime of many Whippets.
14. Small Animals = Food
Guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits, and cats are not suggested as additional house pets. In fact, any animal your Whippet sees as prey, not a good pet idea.
It really doesn’t matter how well you attempt to socialize your Whippet, he will still pursue small animals around the house.
If it is smaller than your Whippet, consider it prey.
Don’t put yourself or family into a situation where your Whippet is constantly stressing out another pet.
15. Not Made for the Cold
Whippets have very short fur. These dogs were not bred to be in the cold for extended periods of time.
They should not be outdoor dogs.
If you live where it gets cold, a doggie sweater or jacket is a must to keep your friend warm on those cold days.
16. Made for the Couch
If you can’t tolerate dogs on the couch, stay away from the Whippet!
These dogs love to live in the lap of luxury. As such, they want to be on your comfy couch as much or more than you do.
If you want a lap dog or couch potato, this may just be the perfect dog for you.
17. Announce Your Intentions
Whippets like affection, but you need to be intentional with your actions.
This means properly announcing yourself before you touch them. As we noted above, these dogs can be sensitive, nervous, and even skittish.
The trick to avoid this in your dog is to have a consistent routine.
Both coming and going on your daily schedule, but also when you interact with your dog. Any attempt to touch, your dog needs verbal communication so they know it is coming.
18. They Want to Have Playmates
Whippets hate being alone.
So if you are going to have a Whippet as a pet you have two choices:
You or someone stays at home regularly and does not leave the dog for too long.
Invest in a pair of Whippets or a second dog that can keep your Whippet company while you are away.
Whippet Fun Facts:
Davy the Whippet set the World Distance Doggy Disc Catch record in 2012 with a catch of 134 yards. This is the first time any dog has caught a flying disc more than 400 feet.
Davy the Whippet also holds the Maximum time aloft disc catch record with a time of 10.56 seconds. This record was set in 2014.
The director of Aliens 3 attempted to use Whippets as chestburster aliens. After realizing that they couldn’t cover the Whippet’s face with a mask and that their walk is just too cute to be horrifying, the idea was scrapped.
The Whippet has the same running style as a Cheetah called a Double Suspension Gallop.