What Are Whippets?

All About Whippets and Whippet Puppies

what are whippets

A Whippet is a dog breed that is part of the sighthound family, although they often are mistaken for greyhounds. They are slender and have a light gait. These dogs are playful and friendly, and they have grown in popularity over the last several years. Whippets can range from about 25 to 40 pounds and have a wide variety of colors and patterns. Unlike dogs such as German Shepherds, their markings are not significant to the breed, so their looks will vary. Generally they will be friendly to visitors, but are not very fond of cats that come onto their territory unless the cat is already a member of the family.

Whippets are gentle dogs with a good nature. They are friendly with children and most visitors, and often pose little problems. They are easily adaptable as both indoor and outdoor dogs. In the past, these dogs have been bred for racing, and some people still race them today. They are very athletic dogs and enjoy catching and retrieving balls, and have a high energy level. Overall, these make excellent family dogs and are a good choice for active families.

whippet puppies

The origin of this breed is not known, but there have been paintings showing similar dogs as far back as Ancient Rome. The English originally bred them to hunt small game, and soon their popularity took off as a racing dog. Many believe the dogs come from the nation of France. In 1888, the dogs were recognized in America by the American Kennel Club, and they have become a much more well-known breed in the 20th century. Today, these dogs are a beloved breed that are owned by animal lovers all over the world.

Most Whippets live anywhere from 12 to 15 years old. Some dogs may experience eye problems later in life, but overall the breed is not prone to other problems such as digestive or bone issues. Ensuring that the Whippet gets enough room to play and run is important, since exercise is in its nature. A lean diet is also essential, with little to no excess fat. Some dogs may experience irregular heartbeats, so a regular check up with the veterinarian is suggested. Whippets are much like any other breed in terms of basic care such as food, water, and shelter needs.

Because the Whippet has been known as a racing dog, many people have opted to adopt dogs that were once used for the sport. Some people feel like dog racing is immoral, so they opt to adopt an older dog that has been retired from racing. While people can find the dogs from official AKC registered breeders, they can also be found at local shelters, and from private sellers.

Here are 12 Fun Facts About Whippets

  1. They descend from greyhound. As their appearance might give away, the whippet descends from a greyhound. With a sprightly and energetic persona, they became popular in dog racing, often reaching up to 35 miles per hour at top speed.
  1. By definition. According to early definitions of ‘whippet’ in the Oxford Dictionary, the term refers to “a lively woman; a light wench” which later came to be known as a “nimble diminutive or puny person,” not quite coming in to popular conscience as a dog until many years later.
  1. Healthy appetite. Beware the whippet; this is a dog that will eat every leftover in sight! They can often be seen siding up to their owners while eating, such is their love of food. Because of this, whippet owners shouldn't leave food out, or have bins that can be easily accessed.
  1. Number 61. More popular than Dalmatians and Chow-Chows, but less so than Mastiffs and Great Danes, the whippet ranks as the 61st most popular dog, by the American Kennel Club.
  1. Celebrity Fan Club. Since this is a British dog, it tends to have a keen British following too, which includes  Alex James from Blur, whose whippet is called Sox, and actress Jennifer Saunders, whose dog Olive appeared on a front cover shoot with her recently.
  1. ‘Aint nothing but a hound dog! Whippets are part of the hound group, who were originally bred to hunt. They are known for their impressive stamina and some breeds even make their own distinctive sound of baying! From Afghans to Beagles, this is a wide ranging, active bunch.
  1. Popular for urban living. Despite their outdoorsy nature, whippets make good city dogs. They are not prone to barking and are generally very low-maintenance to keep. While they are happy in apartments, and benefit from a small yard, they can adapt to any environment as long as they are exercised properly.
  1. The poor man’s greyhound. The wonderful whippet is often referred to as “the poor man’s greyhound.” This is owing to them being more affordable in 18th century Britain, than their greyhound counterparts. The saying has somewhat stuck!
  1. American love affair. Whippets have long been loved by Americans, dating back to this country, as far back as the 1880s. They were introduced to the Massachusetts by English millers. Additionally, the first noted specialty show for the breed was held in America, on Long Island on October 12, 1923. It attracted 59 whippets in total.
  1. Gentle Dogs. As one of the gentlest dog breeds, these instantly make a very family-friendly pet. Like most dogs, they become very attached to their owners and are fiercely loyal. An all-rounder, they tend to socialize well with other animals too, with their friendly easy-to-get-along nature.
  1. Excessive Greeting Disorder. Loyal to a fault, this is one breed of dog that can be prone to ‘excessive greeting disorder’! This genuine disorder is characterized by wild outbursts of excitement when their owners return to them. This might be from just a few minutes of absence, to extended periods of time. Their love, it seems, can be too much for some, knocking down anything in their wake!
  1. Chilly. This lovable breed is known to get a little chilly, due to their low fat-mass. On the upside, this means that you do get to dress your whippet up in fun clothes, and they don’t seem to mind either!