Whippet Dog Breed

White Brindle Whippet
  • Other names:
  • Snapdog
  • English Whippet

Pronunciation: /ˈwɪp.ɪt/

The Whippet has earned much acclaim in the hunting, coursing and racing arenas, even earning the nickname "The Poor man's Racehorse". Although slightly more active than the greyhound, they are still identified by the characteristic elegant and graceful outline of the sight hound breeds. They make for sensitive, affectionate companions that are so much "velcro dogs" that it is a necessity for them to live in doors and spend plenty of time with you (and on you) daily! If you live in a small apartment, are not physically active, and are not home frequently-- this is not the breed for you.

Whippet Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred12-15 yrs.18-22 in.20-40 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Whippets are classified as sight hounds and have made names for themselves in the lure coursing and racing arenas as well; note, lure coursing is a humane replacement of the hare coursing for which they were renowned. There are many other desirable aspects of Whippets besides speed and hunting abilities; they are loving, affectionate companions that will always want to be in your lap, next to you or, at least, near you. They are excellent indoor dogs for families or individuals that have a house with a nice yard; if you are gone more frequently than you're at home, this is NOT the dog for you. Their low percentage of body fat makes them averse to cold temperatures and hard surfaces so if you don't want to share your home, furniture and bed with one--this is also NOT the breed for you. Whippets are not dangerous unless you happen to be a small, furry creature resembling a rabbit (yes, this includes cats). Here are some quick Whippet facts (pros and problems) to see how you match up with this breed:


  • Makes an affectionate friend for gentle, well-behaved kids
  • Affectionate, loving, will want to be with you 24/7
  • Calm indoors, energetic outdoors
  • Eye-catching looks
  • Excels in sight hunting activities
  • Speedy racing and coursing hound
  • Great exercise buddy
  • Lives well with other dogs
  • Is not aggressive towards strangers
  • Low maintenance grooming
  • Fairly healthy and long-lived breed


  • Not a watchdog or guard dog
  • Not hypoallergenic, sheds regularly
  • Does better in a home than apartment
  • Cannot tolerate extremely cold temperatures
  • Prefers to lounge on the bed and furniture
  • Large yard highly recommended
  • Daily outdoor exercise required (of an hour or more)
  • Prone to separation anxiety, excessive greeting
  • Not for owners who don't spend much time at home
  • A Bully Whippet with two copies of the Myostatin mutated gene will be grotesquely muscles and unable to compete in club organized activities; this often causes no physical harm to them, though.

Whippet Breed Description

A Whippet is lightning fast with the elegant, graceful body of a sprinter. There is much more to this breed than the centuries of lure coursing and Whippet racing, running up to 35 miles per hour-- no, in him you will find a loving personality that cannot be beat. These dog are also eye catching with their muscular yet lithe silhouettes and deer-like faces. Below you'll find some basic Whippet information and breed info can also found in video form via Animal Planet's Dog's 101 Whippet episode.

1. Intelligence- Since this sight hound breed acts without direct commands from the hunter, they may seem independent or stubborn when it comes to training, however, with patience, praise, and treats you'll eventually get there. Impatience and anger will only hinder your Whippet's progress and hurt their sensitive feelings. Keep in mind, this breed retains a high prey drive and will need early socialization and training to not chase small critter (including cats) indoors and, especially, outdoors. The American Whippet Club also highly recommends training them to not excessively greet you or strangers and that this behavior can turn into an obsession and actual disorder!

2. Kids, Pets, Strangers- Whippets are velcro dogs that MUST be around the family and enjoy playing with kids outdoors. They are frequently caught in photos snuggling with children! Unfortunately, rambunctious and rough kids may cause them to hide. This breed certainly does not make for a good guard dog or watchdog since they don't bark and it is virtually unheard of to run across a stranger-aggressive Whippet. Finally, while this breed meshes pretty well with other dogs, they need immediate socialization to live peacefully with cats (if that's even enough).

3. Exercise- Hare coursing and Whippet racing in the UK quickly became popular "across the pond" here in the U.S. and, as such, the breed remains highly active outdoors; however, they are perfectly serene indoor dogs. Time to run outdoors, everyday, is mandatory so, unless you are an athletic runner, you will need a large yard (fenced). Taking them out on walks, hikes, trips to the dog park, etc. should be done in addition to the outdoor playtime. A bored, under-exercised Whippet can be destructive to themselves or your home.

Whippet Breed History

The Whippets origins are thought to be in the English Greyhound, although Rat Terrier and Italian Greyhound were also said to have made appearances in the bloodlines, and mentions of the Whippet date back to the 1600s. They were not, themselves, recognized as a breed by the English Kennel Club until 1891. Prior to this time these dogs were utilized for hare coursing and later, when bloodsports became outlawed, snap-dog competitions were popular activities; these are events for gambling purposes saw Whippets being put into enclosures with multiple rabbits and the one that could snap up the most was the winner. Later, Whippet history entered the modern era where we mostly see them as racing dogs-- the handlers would stand at one end of a track waiving a rabbit skin and the dogs would sprint at lightning speeds until one crossed the finish line first. In fact, the breed earned several nicknames during these times including the "Poor man's Greyhound" and "Poor man's racehorse". These events now involve coursing of mechanized lures.

The Whippet was brought to America in the 1800s by English Mill Workers; racing them quickly became popular and they were recognized by the AKC by 1888. Meanwhile, across the pond the Duchess of Newcastle was able to gain recognition for the Whippet Club which sparked a large upswing in respect and popularity in their home country. Whippets have proven themselves as spectacular show dogs and all around champions due to their excellent temperaments and incredible physical abilities.

Whippet Appearance

The overall outline of the Whippet is perfectly descriptive of a lightning fast sight hound. Individuals are lean muscled with elegant contour-- they are the epitome of graceful dogs. The back is long with a deep chest and defined tuck up. The Whippet's long, thin face is almost deer-like with her large round eyes set widely apart; she has an alert and inquisitive expression that is irresistibly adorable and somewhat goofy. Long, lean necks arch seamlessly into the bodies. The legs are straight and well-muscled lending to the appearance of a dog built for speed; Whippet paws are small with well defined toes and thick pads. Members of this breed have long/ tapered tails that they carry low, even when in action, and only slightly turns up.

Whippets have a short, fine coat that can be any color and may be multiple colors (usually a color plus white).

Whippet Coloring

The coloring of the Whippet's coat is not significant (as per the AKC's written standard) so there are a myriad of color possibilities. Coats can be solid or bi colored, with or without white markings and black or blue masks. The following list is the AKC's acceptable colors for the Whippet:

  • Blue
  • Blue Fawn
  • Blue Brindle
  • Black
  • Red
  • Red Brindle
  • Red Fawn
  • Fawn
  • Fawn Brindle
  • Cream
  • White

The majority of the above colors also exist in a bi-colored coat along with white. Blue Whippet puppies (sometimes referred to as grey Whippets) are one of, if not the most, sought after of the bred so be prepared to see higher prices for these pups.

Whippet Size

The Whippet is medium-sized but the exact height and weight specs will vary based upon whose standard you are adhering to; for instance, the AKC notes males at 19-22 inches, females 18-21 but the FCI uses a smaller Whippet size chart. For those wondering how much a Whippet weighs, the AKC specifies no weight the general range is anywhere from 20-40 pounds. The emphasis of elegance, grace and fitness on the sight hound appearance seem more important than a strict weight range.

Average Adult Height

18-22 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

20-40 lbs

Whippet Variations

Whippets don't have many variations. Most often, the coat is short and close, in fact, long haired Whippets are disqualified from being shown in several Kennel Club competitions. Additionally, this breed comes in one size range (medium) and although there are probably breeders offering "Miniature Whippets", it's likely these are just small Whippets crossed with other undersized ones-- which may produce puppies that will experience poorer health over their lifetime.

Whippet Temperament

The Whippet temperament is truly a pleasure to behold by anyone looking for a relatively active companion dog. As hillspet.com puts it-- they're small enough to cuddle but just large enough to be an exercise buddy. In fact, the calm, affectionate personality of the breed often causes them to be referred to as "velcro dogs" because they always want to be around you. Indoors (which is where he/she should live) they will be serene-- even couch potato like and you will often find them cuddled up next to (or on) their owners.

Barking is not at all a prominent Whippet characteristic-- they rarely do so unless it's to alert you to something necessary; this also means they are not good watchdogs or guard dogs. This breed can be aloof or friendly around strangers but is never aggressive. They enjoy children but, in the presence of a rough or rambunctious one, may prefer to hide.

Time alone is one thing the Whippet does not enjoy and it may cause anxiety in him/her. The Whippet's trait of dignity indoors will be replaced by enthusiastic athleticism when outdoors. A fenced yard is a necessity unless you plan to keep them leashed all of the time; they retain strong prey drives and can clear a block in the blink of an eye to chase a cat or small furry animal. Also, this breed can be a little mischievous and her propensity for jumping onto furniture and counters may result in you losing the snack you just prepared!

Whippet and Children

Whippets and children are a good match as these dogs are gentle enough for little ones and enjoy snuggling and affection. Outdoors is where these guys will be playful and energetic so they make good outdoor playmates for respectful children. That being said, rambunctious and rough kids may make these dogs uneasy and prone to hiding, however, they won't be snappy or aggressive. The Whippet Club of America recommends a male for an active family with young kids. A Whippet does make the perfect family dog for those that have enough time to spend with them.

Whippet and Other Pets

Ah, Whippets and other pets... this is a very tricky subject. These calm dogs are not aggressive and will get along fine with other canines--even of the same sex! Most owners want to know if Whippets are good with cats and the answer is maybe with supervision. In fact, whippet-rescue.org recommends not leaving them alone unsupervised while you're gone and especially not doing so outdoors. These dogs have intense prey drives and a desire to run after anything small and furry (they were/are heavily used to hunt and chase rabbits). While early socialization may, indeed, allow Whippets and cats to be friends, it is not guaranteed. Plus, even if yours gets along well with the family cat, in an outdoor setting he may still chase neighborhood cats and other critters.

Whippet Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Whippet.

White Saddled Whippet
Black Whippet
White Brindle Whippet
Blue Apricot Brindle Whippet
Fawn Whippet
Apricot Brindle Whippet Running

Living Requirements

Whippets as pets make excellent indoor dogs which may surprise those that are familiar with their racing and coursing backgrounds. These calm dogs are often referred to as "couch potatoes" and will be happy relaxing in your presence. It's important to keep them active, giving them daily outdoor exercise will keep their behavior pleasing and reduce the likelihood for injuries. Although yours may get along with the family cat, it's best to have a fenced yard as the breed's high prey drive may lead to the chasing and injuring of small critters.

This breed is sensitive and affectionate with the owner or family; they aren't happy being left alone all day, every day and may develop behavior problems if this is the case-- for this reason owning a whippet should be considered a decade plus commitment. Another endearing term for your Whippet is "velcro dog" because they love to be next to you--touching you--on you! These dogs do not bark often and are not good watchdogs.

For those with allergies, Whippets are not hypoallergenic and shed a regular amount. They have little padding on their bodies and prefer the bed, couch, etc. as over the hard floor. This breed is said to be fairly easy to house train because they naturally prefer to be clean.

Random Details

  1. At it's fastest, a Whippet can reach 35 miles per hour and still be capable of making hairpin turns.
  2. Whippets may be prone to excessive over-greeting; they will greet you with extreme enthusiasm whether you've been gone ten minutes or ten days!
  3. When people refer to a Laguna Whippet they are referring to a strain originating from the British kennel Laguna and it's originating stud dog Ch. Laguna Ligonier. This strain previously had great influence, even in America, and has produced countless Champion show dogs.
  4. Bully Whippets result from a Myostatin mutation (two copies of the mutated gene) that causes muscle to be created in excessive amounts; these dogs are disproportionate and not suitable for competition. There are also those that have one copy of the mutation that experience increased muscle that leads to better/faster athletic performance.

Whippet Health

The Whippet is a fairly healthy purebred and often lives 12-15 years. Feeding them as directed, exercising them frequently and attending all regular vet checkups will ensure the best possible health for them. There are still a few health concerns to keep in mind when considering this breed:

  • Sensitivity to anesthesia
  • Sensitivity to some vaccines like Leptospirosis
  • Heart problems such as murmurs, valve diseases, etc. that can progress to heart failure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Addison's Disease
  • Eye disease in the form of blindness, blurry vision or general aging problems
  • Congenital deafness or Unilateral Hearing
  • Von Willebrand's Disease involves blood clotting
  • Arthritis and Spinal Cord problems (in old age)
  • Cold intolerance (in old age)
  • Cancer (in old age)
  • Kidney Disease (in old age)

Keep in mind, this list contains common and rare issues; this is general information and it should not be assumed your pet will have all or even more than one of these concerns.

  • Addison's Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Deafness
  • Drug Sensitivity
  • Heart Murmurs
  • Heart Problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney Issues
  • Vaccination Sensitivity
  • Von Willebrand's Disease
  • View all 10...

Whippet Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Whippet as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Canine Registry
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 13...