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Whippet - Breed Profile

The Whippet is sweet-natured and docile, yet playful and athletic. Whippets love running games and require short bursts of vigorous exercise each day. 


As is the case with almost all the other breeds of dog, there is much speculation on the origins and the science of the breeding of the Whippet. One theory supports a breed of dog that dates to ancient Rome and Egypt. There is evidence found in paintings, statues, pottery, tapestries and artifacts that support the existence of a small type of Greyhound, with the Whippet's particularly rose shaped ear. 

The British Museum possesses paintings that date from 1350 that show a dog that remarkably resembles a Whippet. So for those people who believe that the Whippet is an ancient breed of dog, there is quite a lot of evidence to support that theory.

The second theory is that the Whippet evolved during the 18th and 19th centuries in Northern England. During this time and in that region, to make a living, the average citizen was either a coal miner, a tenant farmer, or worked in the mills. 

Charles Compton,
Earl of Northampton (Batoni, 1758)

The wealthy owned vast estates which possessed kennels and among the dogs kept in those kennels were Greyhounds. 

Being large dogs and expensive to keep and maintain, Greyhounds were simply not an option for the average person. It is thought that the Whippet resulted from some English coal miners crossing small Greyhounds with terriers. The result from these crosses was a tough, rugged, agile little sight hound. 

The breed's distinct advantages in its swiftness, quietness and earlier small size did not go unnoticed by poachers who would hide the Whippet under their coats away from the warden's suspicious eye and then sneak them onto the private grounds to hunt. 


The Whippet looks like a miniature Greyhound, sleek, lithe and built for speed. 
The Whippet is an amazing athlete and its acceleration ability gives it jack-rabbit starts, covering 183m in 12 seconds and being clocked at more than 59.5 kmh! 

They reach 44-47cm and their bodies are relatively small, with females weighing approx. 8 to 12 kilos and males 11 to 15 kilos.

Whippets come in all colours – either solid (black, white, blue, red, fawn) or broken with white (parti-coloured) and with or without brindle. The colour range and markings means that there is a huge variety, but you can rest assured that the character of each and every whippet is the same. 

For the Whippet Breed Standard, visit Dogs Australia


Whippets have outstanding temperaments, being friendly, affectionate and easy-going. They are said to be dogs which are very sensitive to the mood of their owners, and will behave accordingly. They do, however, love a chase and small fluffy animals may be at risk if a Whippet is off the leash! 
This means that basic obedience is a must for your puppy. It is possible to train a puppy from a very young age NOT to chase, or to call him off a chase and to come back immediately on command. 

Whippets are sweet-natured with people, easy to house train and enjoy sharing life in the house with the family. They are smooth, short coated and require little maintenance aside from love, food and being almost completely lounge lizards. They are, however, still sighthounds, and as such, will instinctively chase rapid moving objects.

Health & Lifespan

The Whippet is one of the soundest dogs seen by vets, and doesn’t appear to suffer from any major hereditary diseases.

The major consideration in owning a Whippet is because they are thin skinned and lean without much body fat, they feel the cold. Whippets need a coat in the cooler months but when buying, ensure you ask for a coat suited to a Whippet so that the back is curved to fit the dog. 

Whippets are a very healthy, hardy breed which enjoy a long life (14-17 years). They love running however and collisions can cause injuries. Because of their speed a piece of broken glass or metal hidden in long grass can cause a serious injury.

It is also extremely advisable NOT to let your whippet puppy run “out of control” until he reaches the age of 1 year old. By this stage his bone development will be “set” (rather than still “soft”) and a skeletal injury is less likely to happen.

Space & Exercise

Whilst they will mostly be content to live indoors and share your life, they are able to take virtually any amount of exercise you can give them. 

They are athletic enough to jump, and skinny enough to squeeze through, so your fencing needs to be in good order and high enough to keep them in. 

Don't be alarmed - a 4' fence will keep most Whippets in, and generally, they don't want to leave home, however, there have been the occasional Whippet who will jump 1.8m if there is something tempting enough on the other side!

Most Whippet experts will agree that the only reason why a Whippet would leave home is because they are either bored, lonely or unhappy and are simply looking for a better place to live. All of the above can be remedied by obtaining another Whippet or a small quiet dog from a shelter to be their buddy. Whippets do not enjoy being a lone dog. They will love you to pieces but if you are missing for 8 hours the next best thing is a buddy to keep them company during the day. 

Also Whippets do not readily adjust to being an outside dog so it is advisable to organise a dog flap so they have access to a laundry or better still, the couch when you are not at home to let them in. The Whippet is not a breed that requires lots of exercise or a huge backyard to run in. 

They will fit in with whatever exercise you are able to offer, however they dearly love any opportunity to stretch out and have a good gallop. After all, they were bred to run and chase and they certainly do that at a very fast speed. 

Sighthounds can easily be distracted by any moving object, so if you let your Whippet off lead, ensure it’s in a safe fenced area.

It is recommended that you use a soft collar that is broad in the middle and narrows to the side – either with a check action or martingale style. 
Whippets have long, narrow heads, and they can easily reverse and slip out of a normal collar.

Bran the Whippet enjoyed destroying 
his pawrents' irrigation system...

Whippets love toys and will spend hours amusing themselves with their toys. They aren’t destructive and often keep their puppy toys into their adult life. 

However, bored and left to their own devices this is what can happen to your irrigation system...

Activities & Dog Sports

Whippets love to chase, so mechanical lure coursing can be great fun for them. They chase a plastic bag over varying distances, with some twists and turns.

Whippets have become great obedience champions, but if the hard work and dedication of Obedience is not for you, then you might like to try Agility which is another strong suit of Whippets. You will train your dog to negotiate obstacles like jumps, ramps, tunnels, see-saws and even jumping through hoops. 

Another sport to consider for Whippets is Flyball which is a very fast sport and attracts many spectators. Dogs are in teams and race up, hit the board, catch the ball and run back to their owner.

Grooming & Maintenance

One of the delightful aspects of the Whippet is that it requires the barest minimum of grooming. With such a short, sleek coat, the Whippet is not a breed that has a ‘doggy’ smell. 

They love to be clean themselves and are rather cat-like in this aspect. Regular clipping of toe nails, teeth cleaning and the occasional bath or wipe down is all that is needed. They are a clean dog by nature which makes them an ideal house pet.

Yes, they have a fine, short coat, but all dogs will shed coat at some point in the year – generally change of season. When this happens, a brush through will remove most of the loose hair and you should have it over and done with quickly.

Your Whippet’s teeth are essentially no different to your own and they need the same care and maintenance. Please discuss this aspect of your dog’s health with your vet.

It’s a good idea to get into a routine for clipping toenails. Start early, when you first have your puppy, and set aside a time each week or fortnight to clip the tips off the toenails. If you do this regularly, and reward your dog, it will be an easy and pleasurable experience. 
Nail clipping is a fact of life if you own a Whippet because even if exercised on concrete or bitumen, their body weight is not heavy enough to wear nails down

If you are at all squeamish about cutting nails, please visit your local groomer at least monthly to keep nails well trimmed as overly long nails can actually cripple the feet if left for any length of time. 

Recommended for

Whippets are suitable for everyone: families with young or older children, couples, singles, older people; houses with yards, townhouses and even apartments. Whippets fit in anywhere – on your lap and in your bed!

These are ideally-suited to most situations; retirees, families with children, or couples. They are said to be particularly tolerant of children
Whippets are companion dogs and although they don’t need constant attention, they can become bored if left too much to their own devices. Breed experts often say that as Whippets are a quiet, gentle, even-natured breed they are ideally suited to a similar type of family.

They are small, sleek and quiet and make it an ideal house dog. Whippets can be excellent watch dogs and will announce the arrival of visitors and strangers, however, they are extremely unlikely to bite anybody.

Male or Female: which one to choose?

Most Whippet experts will agree that males can be more outgoing and loving. Females are inclined to be a little more aloof and tend to do things on their terms. But when viewing a litter, go with an open mind because in most cases the puppy will pick you!
  • Temperament: Affectionate, inclined to be aloof
  • Lifespan: 14-17 years
  • Maintenance: low
  • Recommended for: all

For more information on this breed, please contact


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