Whippet: Breed Profile

| Updated: August 19, 2023
Whippet dog sitting in grassy forrest

Origin History of the:

The Whippet is a fairly modern breed, believed to have originated in Northern England, specifically Lancashire, and Yorkshire, during the late 1700s. It was created by crossing Greyhounds with fast, long-legged terriers, and was used by poachers for hunting rabbits and other small game on local estates. The breed gained popularity among working-class men who would hold competitions to determine which Whippet could catch the most rabbits or rats, or who was the fastest. These competitions, known as rag races, involved chasing a rag or piece of cloth, and Whippets became renowned for their speed and agility.

The Whippet was officially recognized by England’s Kennel Club in 1891, and the first Whippet to be registered with the American Kennel Club was a dog named Jack Dempsey in 1888. It is said that the upper class further refined the breed by adding in some Italian Greyhounds for refinement.

Nicknamed the “poor man’s Greyhound”, the Whippet is often described as the perfect all-purpose dog. He is a gentle and affectionate breed, with a sleek and beautiful body, and is a keen competitor in agility, flyball, and lure coursing. The Whippet usually gets along with other dogs and people, although early socialization is essential due to their independent temperament. However, the Whippet’s strong prey drive means that they may not be suitable for homes with cats, and they should always be kept on a leash when outdoors to prevent them from giving chase to any moving object.


The Whippet is a sleek and slender sighthound with a sleek, streamlined body and a slightly curved back. The breed’s short, smooth coat lies close to the body and can be any color or color combination, including black, white, red, fawn, blue, cream, and brindle, often with a variety of spots, blazes, and patches. The Whippet’s long, thin legs and deep chest give him the look of a small Greyhound, and his long, thin tail is held low when he’s not in motion.

His head is long and slender, with a tapered muzzle, almond-shaped eyes, and long, floppy ears. The Whippet’s large, expressive eyes can be any color. His slim body gives him a graceful and agile appearance, and he usually reaches a height of 19 to 22 inches at the shoulder. Males tend to be slightly larger than females, with males averaging 34 pounds and females 29 pounds.

Side view of a Whippet dog running in grass
Credit: Nancy Miller / 500px/ Gettyimages

Diet and Nutrition:

Whippets are active, energetic dogs that need a nutritious diet to stay healthy. A balanced diet for a Whippet should include high-quality dry food, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and occasional treats. It is important to feed your Whippet the correct amount of food to maintain a healthy weight. Feeding too much can lead to obesity, which can cause serious health issues.

Whippets need a diet that is high in protein and moderate in fat, with minimal carbohydrates. Good sources of protein for a Whippet include chicken, fish, eggs, and lean meats. Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals and can be added to your Whippet’s diet in the form of purees or as treats.

Whippet sprinting through grass
Credit: Gary Padgett / 500px/ Gettyimages

It is important to feed your Whippet at regular intervals and avoid overfeeding. An ideal daily amount for a Whippet is 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food, divided into 2 feedings. As with all dogs, the Whippet’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. It is important to consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your Whippet and the correct portion sizes.

Common Health Issues Affecting:

Whippets are generally considered to be a healthy breed of dog, but like all dogs, they can suffer from certain health issues. The most common health problems that affect Whippets are eye diseases, allergies, and cardiac conditions.

Eye diseases, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), are a common health concern for Whippets. PRA is an inherited condition that can lead to blindness, and it is important to have your Whippet’s eyes checked regularly in order to detect it early. Allergies are also a common issue for Whippets, and they can manifest as itchy skin and respiratory problems. Allergies can be managed through regular vet visits and a good diet.

Cardiac conditions are also a concern for Whippets, and some of the most common include pulmonic stenosis and aortic stenosis. Both of these conditions can be serious and require immediate medical attention. It is important to bring your Whippet to the vet regularly and listen to its heart to make sure it is healthy.

By providing a good diet, regular vet visits, and plenty of exercise, you can help ensure that your Whippet stays healthy and happy for many years to come.

Whippet Dog seated looking at camera
Credit: Gandee Vasan/ Gettyimages

Interesting Facts About:

One of the most interesting facts about Whippets is that they are the fastest dog breed in the world. They can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, making them the perfect companion for an active lifestyle. Not only are they speedy, but they are also incredibly agile and can make sharp turns at full speed.

Another interesting fact about Whippets is that they are incredibly intelligent. They have been known to pick up commands quickly and can be easily trained with positive reinforcement. They have even been known to learn to open doors and turn off lights!

The Whippet is also a surprisingly durable breed. Despite their slender frame, they can tolerate cold temperatures better than many other breeds. They can also handle high-impact activities such as running and jumping with ease.

Finally, Whippets have a reputation for being incredibly loyal and affectionate. They are known to be incredibly devoted to their families and love to spend time cuddling and playing. Whippets also tend to get along well with other dogs and animals, making them a great choice for families with multiple pets.

Where to Adopt or Buy:

If you’re looking to add a Whippet to your family, there are a few options available. You can adopt a Whippet from a rescue, purchase a Whippet from a breeder, or look into adopting a Whippet from a shelter.

Adopting a Whippet from a rescue will give you the opportunity to provide a loving home to a dog in need. Through a rescue, you can often find older Whippets that are already house-trained and socialized, and ready for a new home. Plus, you can get to know the rescue staff and volunteers, who can provide invaluable information about the breed and the individual dog.

If you’d like to buy a Whippet from a breeder, it’s important to research the breeder’s reputation and make sure you’re getting a healthy puppy. Look for reviews from past customers, ask for references, and be sure that the breeder is providing all the necessary health clearances and tests.

Finally, if you’d like to adopt a Whippet from a shelter, you’ll need to be prepared to work with the shelter’s staff and volunteers, who can help you determine if the Whippet is the right fit for your home. This can be a great way to add a Whippet to your family and provide a much-needed home to a dog in need.

Whippet close up profile
Credit: Nicole Hammond / EyeEm/ Gettyimages


The Whippet is an impressive and beloved breed of dog that has been around for just over two hundred years. Originally developed as a hunting and racing dog, the Whippet has a strong prey drive and is not suitable for homes with small animals. However, with early socialization and training, the Whippet can be a friendly, devoted, and affectionate companion. They love to get outside and play, and they make great competitors in agility, flyball, and lure coursing.

With their sleek and beautiful coats and their gentle nature, the Whippet is a great choice for an all-purpose dog. They do not bark much, but they make great watchdogs, and with their thin coats, they are not suited for living outdoors. With their independent temperaments, obedience training can be challenging, but with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, the Whippet can learn to be a well-mannered dog. In summary, the Whippet is a great choice for an active family that is willing to invest the necessary time and energy into training and socializing their pup.


Q: What kind of personality do Whippets have?

A: Whippets are gentle, affectionate dogs with a playful, curious nature. They are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. Whippets tend to bond closely with their family and can be quite sensitive, so they respond best to positive reinforcement and gentle correction. They are also very gentle and patient with children, making them an excellent family pet.

Q: How much exercise does a Whippet need?

A: Whippets need at least 20-30 minutes of exercise daily, including a variety of activities such as walking, jogging, or playing fetch. While Whippets can tolerate cold weather, their thin coats mean that extended exposure to cold temperatures should be avoided and a sweater or coat should be worn for protection.

Q: Are Whippets good with other animals?

A: Whippets can get along well with other dogs, but they have a high prey drive and are not recommended to be kept in homes with cats. If they are brought up with cats from puppyhood, they can learn to live peacefully with them, but always supervise interactions between the two and separate them when you are not home.

Q: How much grooming does a Whippet require?

A: Whippets do not require much grooming and their short, smooth coat is easy to maintain. They should be brushed regularly and their nails should be trimmed every few weeks. Whippets also shed an average amount, so they should be brushed regularly to keep shedding under control.

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