Breed At A Glance


Sensitive, docile, and devoted, yet independently-minded

Life Expectancy
12-15 years

Average Height
19-22 inches

Average Weight
25-45 lbs

Coat Color
Brindle, black, red, fawn, tigered white or slate blue; can be solid-colored or mixed

Coat Length/Texture
Short, fine and dense

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year round

Also known as Snapdog

General Temperament

Whippets are intelligent, docile and easy-care dogs who are devoted to their families and love to be couch potatoes. They are quiet and calm in the home and love to run when outdoors. The Whippet is a gentle breed and rarely snappish, and therefore is good with children. They are, however, somewhat delicate, so children should be taught not to roughhouse with them. Whippets are happiest when curled up with family members on the couch.

Whippets rarely bark and can be great apartment dogs, as long as they are given enough walks and occasional chances to run flat-out. They have a strong hunting instinct and can kill small animals that wander into their territory, including cats (although they can get along with cats they are raised with). Additionally, it can be difficult to teach them street sense, so it is vitally important to keep them on a leash when not in a fenced area.

They are easy to train, although they are also independent thinkers, so don’t expect to ever have a perfectly obedient Whippet. This breed requires gentle training as they are sensitive, mentally as well as physically. It helps to incorporate games and running when training a Whippet. Many will even enjoy flyball and agility competitions. Whippet puppies are highly energetic and love to chew, so be sure to provide plenty of chew toys.

Breed History

Although there has been minor historical evidence of Whippet-like dogs for several hundred years, verifiable records of this sight hound can only be found as far back as the late 19th century. Around this time the barbaric sports of bull baiting and dog fighting fell out of favor, and a “milder” dog-related wagering sport known as “snap-dog coursing” was developed to fill the void. In this sport, rabbits were released in a defined enclosure and the dogs were set loose to course them, the winner being the one to “snap up” the most rabbits in a given timeframe. Whippets evolved to excel in this sport, and were initially termed “snap dogs.” The breed most likely developed as a cross between the Greyhound, the Italian Greyhound and a terrier. When snap-dog coursing lost it’s popularity, Whippets were transferred to the sport of straight-racing and became commonly known as “the poor-man’s racehorse.”

Body Structure and Composition

Resembling a small version of the Greyhound, the Whippet is a graceful and streamlined dog capable of running at speeds of around 35 mph. The muzzle and head are long and slender, and the ears are small and rose-shaped. The neck is long and arched and carried with elegance. The chest is deep to allow for increased lung capacity during sprints. A Whippet’s thighs are well-muscled and strong. The tail is long and thin and carried low when the dog is in motion.

Medical Information

When Whippets are housed inside and are properly cared for, they are an extremely healthy breed with little to no common hereditary diseases. Due to their lack of body fat, they do not tolerate cold temperatures well and may appreciate a sweater during winter weather. Additionally, they are extremely sensitive to anesthetics and chemicals, so be sure to find a veterinarian who is familiar with this aspect of sight hounds. Undescended testicles are common in this breed.

Whippets sometimes have been known to have an unusual heart function wherein they appear to have a very slow or arrhythmic heart beat when at rest, although the heartbeat is normal during exercise. This can be upsetting to owners or veterinarians who are not familiar with the breed, but generally is not a cause for concern.

Whippets have virtually no odor and their short fur is easy to care for, although they do shed lightly year round. They are an emotionally sensitive breed and are prone to separation anxiety, or timidity/nervousness if not properly socialized.

Anecdotal Information

Ashley Whippet, a male Whippet, was the first winner of the Canine Frisbee Disc World Championships in 1975, and went on to win the competition for the next two years. Ashley was owned by Alex Stein, who helped to organize the competition. Ashley went on to have a Connecticut ice cream shop called “Ashley’s Ice Cream” named after him. Ashley’s skills were showcased in a 1977 short film called Floating Free, which was nominated for an Academy Award. He went on to perform across the country, including performances at the White House and at the Superbowl XI pre-game show. Ashley passed away in 1985.

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