With their long legs and slim bodies, Whippets are often confused with Greyhounds. It’s a mistake that the untrained eye can make very easily, and one that can be attributed to the two breeds’ intertwined history.
Back in 19th Century England, Whippets were actually Greyhounds that were considered unfit for hunting because they were too small. The nobility would return these dogs to their peasant breeders, but not before maiming them to prevent the dogs from hunting, as it was illegal for peasants to own hunting dogs.
The peasants kept these maimed Greyhounds and started breeding them, producing a smaller Greyhound which they used to catch rats, rabbits and hares. During this time these dogs were simply known as Snap Dogs, but by the 1890s they were officially recognised as Whippets.
As mentioned, Whippets share a lot of physical characteristics with their larger Greyhound cousins. They are a medium-sized dog with a long, lean face and muzzle, folded-back ears, slim legs and body, and a long, thin tail that’s curved at the end.
Males and females are about the same size – between 44cm-56cm. The sexes also don’t differ too much in weight; with males weighing between 11kg-21kg and females coming in just slightly under.
In terms of colouration, Whippets are more varied than Greyhounds and can come in colours ranging from all black and all white, to variations of cream, fawn, blue, red and brindle.
Despite being one of the fastest dogs in the world with an average speed of 64km/h, Whippets can be quite relaxed and content with spending the day on the couch or in their owner’s lap. They are also affectionate, intelligent, quiet and tend not to bark too much, unless provoked.
It should be noted that while these dogs are not prone to fighting, they are known to chase and kill smaller animals due to their sighthound nature. This, however, does not include other dogs.
Whippets are also quite sensitive and might jump or overreact when touched unexpectedly.
Whippets are very clean dogs and are virtually odor free. They do not deal well with cold temperatures and might need to wear a coat in winter.
Because of their docile nature indoors, Whippets will do well with apartment living should they be regularly exercised. They do, however, love running around, which makes a home with a yard more ideal.
These dogs are very energetic when outdoors and will need regular access to open ground for them to run around in. They will also need a brisk, daily walk to ensure they are well-adjusted.
Whippets are a very healthy breed and have few health issues. Some of the problems that might occur, include cardiac issues and digestion troubles. They also have an intolerance for barbiturate anesthetics.
These dogs have an average lifespan and will be part of your family for about 12-15 years.