Dog Breed Spotlight: The Whippet

Did you know that the AKC has 190 different dog breeds now? It’s always interesting to read about our canine buddies. We’re putting a very fast and sweet dog in the spotlight for this blog. Whippets are not as well-known as their larger kin, the Greyhound, but they could use some love. Below is some insight into the breed from a local Holly Springs, MS veterinarian.

Basic Information

Whippets are sighthounds, which means they track game visually. They look very much like their close kin, the Greyhound, except that they are a bit smaller. Males grow to about 22 inches, while females grow to an average height of 18-21 inches. Fido usually weighs between 25 and 40 pounds and can live between 12 and 15 years.

The word “Whippet” originated from a 17th-century term which meant ‘To move swiftly.’ This is definitely an apt description. Often referred to as the “poor man’s Greyhound,” Whippets are known for their remarkable speed and acceleration. They have the fastest idle-to-running speed of all dogs, and can reach up to 35 mph. They have been known to outpace Greyhounds at times.

History Of The Whippet Breed

Whippets were bred from English Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, and terriers. However, Fido has a very large extended family tree, which includes similar Sighthounds like the Basenji, Pharaoh hound, and Saluki. These dogs have been with us for quite some time. In fact, ancient Egyptian art depicts dogs that closely resemble these pooches. Similar pups were owned by ancient Celts and Turks.

To delve into Fido’s more recent history, we have to look to the UK. Originally used to poach rabbits, Whippets became widely used as racing dogs in England during the 18th century. Fido was also often called a Snap Dog, which meant he could win contests by catching the most rabbits in a certain amount of time. (We’re happy to report that this sport is now banned.)

Celebrating The Whippet

Whippets have a few special days: one in February and another in July. If you have a Whippet, mark these dates on your calendar. To celebrate this pawesome occasion, you might want to play Fido the Devo song Whip It or watch the 2009 roller derby film of the same name. You might also want to give your puppy a Pup Cup, which is whipped cream, though you don’t want to overdo it.

Helping Whippets

As you may be aware, racing dogs have had a very sad history, and have faced many challenges over the centuries. The dog racing industry’s tendency to prioritize profit over animal welfare led to the cruel mistreatment of many race dogs. Fortunately, there have been improvements for Greyhounds in the U.S., with the outlawing of dog racing in many areas. However, there are still several Greyhound rescues operating. In other parts of the world, such as Spain, the Galgos dog (also known as the Spanish Greyhound), another Sighthound breed, is facing extreme neglect and abuse. If you want to help, consider supporting a rescue organization that aids either of these breeds.

Whippet Health Concern

While Fido is usually pretty hardy, prospective owners should be aware of a few things. Above all, it is important to know that these dogs are not built to handle excess weight. While obesity is harmful for all dogs, it can be especially damaging for them, as it can lead to orthopedic problems. Due to the Whippet’s lean build, some may assume that their dog needs more food and end up overfeeding them. (Fido, of course, doesn’t mind.) Consult your veterinarian regularly for guidance on your pet’s diet and exercise requirements.

The breed standards recommend a few specific tests, such as the Ophthalmologist Evaluation, the BAER Testing, and the Cardiac Examination.

Similarly to many other Sighthounds, Whippets have a slightly different physiology from other dogs. It’s very important to find a vet who is familiar with the breed. Their blood work results will look a bit unusual in comparison to other dogs. Additionally, their sensitivity to chemicals plays a key role when it comes to sedation, parasite control, and even lawn and garden products. Ask your Holly Springs, MS vet for more information.

Whippet Coats And Grooming Needs

Whippets can sport several different colors and patterns, including  black, brindle, fawn, red, orange, tan, cream, and blue. White and dun are also possible, but are quite rare. They don’t need to be bathed much, but should be brushed regularly. You’ll need to use a soft brush on Fido: hard bristles may be too rough for his delicate skin. 

It’s also important to avoid harsh shampoos when bathing a Whippet. They are very sensitive to chemicals, just like Greyhounds.

Another word about grooming: Whippets have thin coats and no body fat, so they don’t do well in the cold. Fido will need sweaters and jackets when it’s chilly outside. These sweet pups also don’t like cold, hard floors, so a good comfy doggy bed is a necessity.


Whippets are very affectionate pets. They’re known for being very cuddly, and love snuggling with their owners. They tend to be very sweet, and can quickly melt hearts with their soulful eyes. They’re typically very good with kids, and get along well with other dogs. Cats are a different story, though. It really just varies. If Fido is raised with Fluffy, he may be fine. However, we wouldn’t recommend that cat owners adopt a Whippet that hasn’t been around kitties before.

Whippet Energy Levels

Because of their speed, one may assume that the Whippet is a very high-energy dog. That isn’t necessarily the case. Fido does need a good walk every day, and will appreciate having a yard to play in. However, these guys usually turn into couch potatoes once they have burned off their zoomies, spending the majority of their time napping.

Training A Whippet

Training is important, as it is with any dog. However, this alone should not be relied upon, as your pet’s instincts as a Sighthound can often override his petucation. Although whippets are quite intelligent, they are easily distracted and will run off after anything that catches their attention. It doesn’t matter how well-trained Fido is: he may never shake off the urge to chase after cats and squirrels. Therefore, it is very important to keep Fido on a leash during walks. Because of their size and shape, these guys can slip out of regular collars. They need either harnesses or special collars called Martingales. Ask your Holly Springs, MS vet for more information. 

Celebrity Whippets

Sadly, there aren’t many famous Whippets. One was supposed to appear in Alien 3, but was too adorable for the part. However, Fido’s cousin, the Greyhound, has been featured in many films and TV shows. In fact, Santa’s Little Helper, the Simpsons’ dog, was also a Greyhound. That animated pup was a rescued race dog, which is certainly true to life.


Conclusion: the Whippet is a sweet, fast, and lovable pet that loves to cuddle and can make a great pet for the right family. Just make sure you do plenty of research before getting one.

Do you have questions about Whippet care? Contact us today! As your Holly Springs, MS pet hospital, we strive to provide both excellent care and top-notch service to your pet.

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