Whippet Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Affectionate, playful, agile, calm and mischievous.
19-22 inches
25-40 pounds
Life Span:
12-15 years
Coat Colors:
Full range of colors
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Family homes/Access to a fenced exercise area/Where someone is home most of the day.
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Whippets
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Whippets

Whippet Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Whippet

  • Great family dog

  • Very trainable

  • Retains the instinct to chase

Known as the ‘poor man’s Greyhound,’ it’s thought that the elegant Whippet was developed in the late 18th century for use by poachers and for racing. This is an all-round breed who makes a great family pet while also being very trainable for the canine performance sports. They’re friendly with both people, and other dogs, while being playful with children.

Whippets are generally quiet and gentle, and they’re often content to spend much of the day asleep on the couch. They’re rarely aggressive and are more likely to back away from a situation than become involved. When this is combined with their very trusting nature, you can see that they’re really not guard dog material!

Their hunting heritage is always lurking in the background. This means that once on the chase, they can be hard to call off. Owners need to be very careful as to where they exercise their Whippet to keep them and small furries safe.

Whippets will love the opportunity snuggle up to you on the sofa at the end of the day and under the duvet at night if allowed!

Whippet Breed History

  • Originated in the northern counties of England

  • Bred as a racing dog for the working man

  • Recognized by the AKC in 1888


The Whippets history goes back to Victorian England. Coal miners in the north of the country enjoyed both rabbit hunting and dog racing on their days off. But, the cost of feeding and kenneling a large dog such as a Greyhound, was out of reach. So, the solution was to breed a smaller version.

There are no records of what breeds they crossed with the Greyhound to achieve the size difference, though there is rumor of various terriers being used. This is, however, hotly disputed with many breed historians stating that the shape of the Whippet could not have come about with terrier breeding! But whatever the breeds were, it came together in perfection. The Whippet is the fastest breed of its size and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

By the late 1800s, textile workers from the UK began emigrating to New England along with their whippets. The breed was an instant success in the US, and Whippet racing quickly caught on. The American Kennel Club registered its first Whippet in 1888.

Whippet Size & Weight

  • Medium-sized dog

  • Males up to 22 inches and 34 pounds

  • Females up to 21 inches and 29 pounds


The breed standard for the Whippet talks about a medium-size sighthound who is elegant while having great speed and power.

The ideal height for male Whippets is 19 to 22 inches and for females, 18 to 21 inches, both when measured at the highest point of the withers. On weight, well, males average 34 pounds and females 29 pounds.

Whippet Personality & Temperament

  • Friendly and loving

  • Gets on well with other dogs

  • Suitable for apartment living (with daily exercise)


The nature of the Whippet has been strongly guided by their history. They lived in the home with their family and were never expected to be a guard dog. The Whippet had two roles, firstly to catch rabbits for the pot and then take part in racing to earn its place in the home.

Because of this background, Whippets have become amazing family pets and house dogs, while still retaining that need to chase. They really do make exceptional pets who are friendly to everyone, friend or stranger, young or old. In fact, the American Whippet Club mention the very exuberant greeting which everyone receives when arriving at the home of this sighthound.

Perhaps it’s because of this love of people, that there does seem to be a high number of Whippets who develop separation anxiety. This is seen when the dog becomes very nervous and anxious, and sometimes destructive when left alone. Once established, it can then become challenging for working families and singles to address. It makes sense then for all Whippets to become used to being left alone for short periods right from being a puppy. This will then help them to be able to settle in their own company.

Whippets also get on well with other dogs and can learn to live with cats, though they will still chase unknown felines who dare to enter the garden.

The Whippet can adapt to apartment living as once they have the chance to stretch their legs, they tend to be calm within the home. These are not a breed that likes cold and wet conditions; instead, they much prefer a warmer climate.

Whippet Health & Grooming

  • Generally, a healthy breed

  • Breeding dogs should be screened for genetic conditions

  • Quick and easy to groom


The Whippet is generally a healthy type, though, as with many breeds, there are some genetic conditions for which dogs used for breeding should be screened for. These include –

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation. An annual examination to check the eyes for any signs of several different conditions that may affect the dog’s sight.
  • Deafness While deafness is rare in the Whippet, it is recommended that all breeding dogs undergo a BAER test to check for normal hearing in both ears
  • Cardiac Exam. Heart disease is an area of growing concern within the breed. So, it is recommended that dogs have an echocardiogram. This is a scan that can look at the heart and nearby blood vessels and identify any potential problems.

The Whippet is super quick to groom, requiring just a quick brush once a week to keep their coat in good condition.

Whippet Training

  • Smart and quick to learn

  • Able to compete at the top level in performance sports

  • High prey drive


Many people associate the Whippet with their physical abilities, but this is also a pretty smart dog. They are successfully competing in all kinds of performance dog sports where their speed and intelligence make for a winning combination.

A well-run puppy class is an excellent way of combining learning with socialization. It will help your Whippet to learn the basic behaviors needed to be a well-mannered dog, and they’ll get the opportunity to learn how to be focused and attentive around other people and dogs.

The Whippet still maintains a high prey drive, so care needs to be taken on where they can safely be exercised off-leash.

Whippet Exercise Requirements

  • Smart and quick to learn

  • Able to compete at the top level in performance sports

  • High prey drive


This canine athlete needs short periods of high-intensity exercise, this is a sprinter rather than a marathon runner. So, a walk on a leash followed by the chance of ten minutes free running, in a securely fenced area, may be enough for many dogs.

Of course, they will love the opportunity for long walks when you’re able to, and some Whippets are jogging partners with their owners, but they don’t need to run for miles every day to then be calm within the home.

The Whippet is super playful, they love to play games with their family, and this is an excellent opportunity to tire both brain and body. Scent games, hiding toys, treats, or even hide and seek with the children are all great options.

Whippet Diet & Feeding

  • For personalized advice speak to your vet or pet nutritionist

  • Select a food suitable for a dog's age, size and exercise intensity

  • Be careful not to let your Whippet become overweight


We recommend speaking to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist for professional advice on your dog’s feeding needs.

Generally, young dogs start off on a specially formulated puppy food which ensures they receive all the nutrients they need for their growing bodies. Once they then move to an adult diet, the food needs to be selected based on their age, size, and exercise intensity.

With the Whippet’s light frame, they must not become overweight. Well-meaning friends may consider your Whippet to be underweight compared to their heavier breed, but if you need reassurance about your dogs’ wellbeing, do speak to your vet or breeder for advice.

You may also be interested in:

Whippet Rescue Groups

There will be times when a Whippet finds themselves in need of a new home. If you’re interested in helping a Whippet in need, we suggest getting in touch with Whippet Rescue and Placement – https://whippet-rescue.org/ who have volunteers across the US and who will be able to provide help and advice.

For further information on the Whipper breed, take a look at the website of The American Whippet Club https://www.americanwhippetclub.net/.