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Is a Whippet Right for You?


Whippets, which were originally bred from Greyhounds that were deemed too small to hunt large game, are known for their lightning fast speeds.  First used for hunting small game and later for racing, Whippets have a colorful history.  Is a Whippet right for you?

Whippets are quiet and gentle dogs that are not prone to barking.  Despite their athletic nature they are perfectly content as couch potatoes and lap dogs.  The American Kennel Club describes the Whippet as a dignified breed, and for these reasons it makes an excellent apartment dog.  Whippets can be touch-sensitive, meaning they may startle if touched unexpectedly.

Size, Coloring, and Upkeep
As a medium-sized dog the Whippet stands 17.5 – 22.5 inches tall at the shoulder and should weigh 20 – 42 lbs, depending on height and sex.  The Whippet’s color is deemed “immaterial,” meaning it is unimportant for breed recognition.  Indeed, there are 18 registered colors and 6 markings, with all solid, brindle, and mixed colorings acceptable.  This breed’s short coat is low maintenance and easy to care for, requiring little more than regular brushing to keep stray hairs under control.

Other Pets?
Due to the Whippet’s prey drive and sight-hound nature, smaller pets are not recommended as companions for this breed.  They are prone to chasing cats, rabbits, and small dogs.

According to the American Kennel Club, 100% of Whippet owners agree that this breed is suitable for children.  However, care should be taken to supervise children around Whippets, due to their chase instinct as well as their touch sensitivity.

Whippets are extremely intelligent and also eager to please, making them easy to train.  As a naturally quiet and well-mannered dog, little training is typically required beyond basic obedience.

When feeding your Whippet it is important to remember that this breed is naturally lean.  Avoid overfeeding, as obesity could put too much stress on this dog’s naturally small frame.  On the other hand, some Whippets can be picky eaters and lose too much weight.  You should work with your veterinarian to determine the proper feeding routine for your pet in order to maintain the best body condition possible.

Although Whippets are mostly couch potatoes they do enjoy time spent exercising.  Like all dogs, Whippets require regular activity in order to keep destructive boredom behaviors at bay.  This breed requires room to run, and will exert extra energy by running laps around the yard or dog park.  However, unlike some breeds, the Whippet is typically content after these short bursts of energy.


Because the Whippet has been bred primarily for work or racing it is generally a healthy, structurally sound breed.  Owners of Whippets should beware that these dogs cannot tolerate barbiturate anesthetics, so surgery can be risky if the veterinarian is not familiar with the breed.  Otherwise, the most common health complaint is heart arrhythmia, and indeed cardiac problems are a leading cause of death.  Overall, when properly cared for a Whippet can live 12 – 15 years.

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Anna Weber

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