The Whippet Once known as the 'Poor Man's Greyhound'Home » Dog Breeds » Whippet
The Whippet is a medium purebred also called the Snap Dog or the English Whippet. They come from England and were bred from greyhounds which is why today they look a lot like smaller versions of that breed. They have talents in dog sports like lure coursing, flyball and agility and other areas like obedience, hunting and racing.
|Here is the Whippet at a Glance|
|Other Names||English Whippet|
|Average weight||20 to 40 pounds|
|Average height||18 to 22 inches|
|Life span||12 to 15 years|
|Coat type||Short, dense, smooth|
|Hypoallergenic||Somewhat, sheds less dander than some dogs so may be okay for those with mild allergies|
|Color||Fawn, blue, black, white, red, cream, brindle|
|Popularity||Somewhat popular – ranked 57th by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Fairly smart – average or a little above|
|Tolerance to heat||Very good – can handle hot climates but not extremes|
|Tolerance to cold||Low – not good in even slightly cold climates|
|Shedding||Moderate – some shedding year round plus heavier seasonal shedding|
|Drooling||Low – not known to slobber a lot|
|Obesity||Low – not prone to weight gain|
|Grooming/brushing||Moderate – brush twice a week|
|Barking||Rare – not prone to being very vocal|
|Exercise needs||Fairly active – will need daily walks|
|Trainability||Moderately easy – training will be gradual but not too hard|
|Friendliness||Excellent – social dog|
|Good first dog||Good but best with experienced owner|
|Good family pet||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with children||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Moderate to good with socialization – high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Very good with socialization|
|Good apartment dog||Very good due to size though does like to have a yard to play in!|
|Handles alone time well||Low – can suffer from separation anxiety|
|Health issues||Generally healthy but issues can include deafness, anesthesia sensitivity, eye problems and Von Willebrand's|
|Medical expenses||$460 a year for basic care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$145 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$225 a year for license, basic training, miscellaneous costs and toys|
|Average annual expense||$830 a year as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1150|
|Rescue organizations||None reported|
The Whippet's Beginnings
The Whippet has been described as the poor man's racehorse or the poor man's greyhound. It was bred sometime in the late 1700s in England. There are a couple of versions of how it was bred. Some say originally it was a small greyhound that was too small and seen as not suitable for hunting so was sent back the to breeders, the peasants. These dogs were maimed so that they could not be used for poaching and then bred together and were used to hunt small prey and vermin. Another version says they are not just miniature Greyhounds but were actually bred with other dogs like terriers and Italian Greyhounds.
Somehow it was found the breed would happily chase a waving rag and so Whippet racing or rag racing became a popular sport amongst the working class. The name comes from a word of that time and meant to move briskly. At the time they were also called Snap dogs because of how quickly they snapped up close prey. This also lead to another sport for the working class where in an enclosed area they competed over who's dog could snap up the most rabbits. This one though was not approved of by animal rights groups of the time.
New Lease on Life
By the 19th century Whippet racing had become a huge sport in England and in certain parts of the country was viewed quite highly. There were two types, the smooth coat which is where the modern Whippet descends from and the rough coat also called a Rabbit dog. Then in 1888 it was recognized in the US by the AKC and in 1891 the Kennel Club officially recognized the Whippet which meant it could now be entered into dog shows.
Today it is still a popular racing dog and can reach high speeds of 40mph. They are the fastest accelerating breed and do well in other sports too. It is also a great companion and is even used as a therapy dog. It is ranked 57th most popular registered breed by the AKC.
The Dog You See Today
The Whippet is a medium sized dog weighing 20 to 40 pounds and standing 18 to 22 inches tall though the Whippets bred in North America tend to be larger than those bred in the UK. It has a coat that lies close to its streamlined body, is short, smooth and dense. Common colors are white, cream, blue, red, black, brindle and fawn.
As well as having a long and lean body it also has long legs which is why it can reach such speeds in such a short time. It has a long and muscular neck, a long slender muzzle and long skull. The nose is black, dark brown or dark blue, its ears are small, folded and rose and its eyes are dark and oval shaped. The tail is held low with a little curve near the tip and is long and tapers. In countries where it still happens the dewclaws are removed sometimes.
The Inner Whippet
The Whippet is a very friendly, social and cheerful breed. It is a great watchdog who will bark to let you know if there is an intruder though it is unlikely to act much further than that. It rarely barks and is a dog that could be owned by new owners though more experienced ones would be better. It has a playful side and can get up to mischief but also likes to snuggle at the end of a busy and satisfying day.Advertisement
It is a gentle, dignified and quiet dog of average intelligence. While they do love being active and getting out and are superb racers they also love their couch and nap times! It does like to get on your lap or the furniture. Be warned that Whippets are touch sensitive which means they tend to overreact or jump if they are touched and were not ready for it.
A Whippet is suitable for homes with or without children but needs fairly active owners. It is a very faithful and loyal dog but is sensitive so will not like being left alone for long periods. It tends to be polite or wary with strangers at first but can be very good with them with socialization. It can also have a mild stubborn side sometimes.
Living with a Whippet
What will training look like?
The Whippet is a moderately easy dog to train, it is of average intelligence and can have a slight stubborn side so results come gradually. With the Whippet it is important to have short and engaging sessions and to vary it up. Games that will include some form of running are often effective, as are treats! Stay firm and consistent with it, it is important that you are clear about being the boss and that you stay the boss at all times. House breaking can vary with this breed with some learning quickly and some needing more time.
Socialization is a vital part of raising any dog. Start it early on to get the best results. Ensure it has exposure to different people, places, children, dogs and animals. It will grow into a more confident, well rounded and more trustworthy dog.
How active is the Whippet?
Being a fairly active dog it needs owners who are happy being active themselves. It is of a size where it can live in an apartment as long it gets out each day a couple of times at least, but it does do better with a yard to play in if its possible. Make sure when out walking it is on a leash as it does have a high prey drive and is likely to try and chase after anything that catches its eye.
The Whippet loves to run and as well as a couple of vigorous 20 to 30 minute walks a day, should be allowed to have time where it can run safely off leash. Dog parks are such a place and also give it a chance to socialize and play some doggy games with you. It is not a long distance runner though, it is a sprinter so will have spurts of energy. Keep in mind it does not like the cold so should be given something to wear in such weather.
Caring for the Whippet
While there are no actual fully hypoallergenic dogs the Whippet's skin type and short coat means there is less dander being shed then most regular dogs. This means it could be a dog suitable for those with allergies, if mild, though it is certainly still something to test with a dog visit before you buy. It is an easy dog to maintain, there is some shedding but there is little to no dog body odor and brushing can be done a couple times a week using a hound glove or rubber curry brush. To avoid over bathing which can dry out its natural oils you can give it wipe down with a chamois now and then.
It will also need its teeth brushed two to three times a week and its ears wiped clean and checked for infection once a week. Its nails should be clipped too when they get too long, either by yourself if you are familiar with dog nails and know to be careful, or by a professional groomer.Advertisement
It is likely to need somewhere between 1 and 2 1/2 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much exactly it is going to need will depend on its size, metabolism, age, health and level of activity.
Whippet with children and other animals
The Whippet gets on really well with other animals and children especially with early socialization and when raised with them. It loves to play with them and clown around and can also be loving and affectionate with them. But they do not like rough play and do not like being startled. Make sure you teach the children how to properly stroke it and to treat dogs in a kind way.
Since Whippets have a high prey drive they do like to chase strange small animals. Some Whippets when they have been raised with them are accepting of cats and the like but some will be less so. It is best to supervise when home and keep them separate when you are out. There have been times when Whippets have chased and killed family cats so it might be easier to just decide which you would prefer or go with a different dog.
On the other hand they are good with other dogs and it is even an idea to have another dog with a Whippet for company when you are out. Early socialization of course is important to help your Whippet get along better with others.
What Might Go Wrong?
The Whippet has an average life span of 12 to 15 years. It is a healthy breed but is prone to certain health issues such as anesthesia sensitivity, eye problems, hip dysplasia (rarely), heart problems, deafness and Von Willebrand's disease. It is also important to be careful of its skin, they tend to get scrapes and nicks and even tears that need stitches more often than other breeds due to its thin coat.
There are no reports of a Whippet attacking and causing bodily harm to a person when looking at dog reports over the last 34 years. This does not mean it is not capable of lashing out, given poor raising, a lack of socialization and training and certain situations, any dog can attack. Key to having a dog you can trust are giving it what it needs not just in the form of what was just mentioned but also in terms of attention, exercise and care.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Whippet puppy is going to cost an average cost of $1150. That would be for a pet quality companion from a good breeder. In fact prices can range from $800 to $1500. Above $1500 into the few thousand will get you a show quality dog from a top breeder. There is the option of checking out local ads or ones online but here is a risk that you are buying from bad and irresponsible breeders. You will not have any sureties about the health of the parents of your puppy or about what kind of breeder you are funding. You can also opt for a dog from a rescue or shelter. The great thing is you are giving a dog a chance at a second home, and the price will be only around $50 to $300. But it is probably going to be an adult not a puppy.Advertisement
Initial costs will occur when you have bought the puppy and bring it home. You should take it to a vet for a physical exam, blood tests, deworming, spaying or neutering, micro chipping and shots. It will also need a crate, carrier, bowls, leash and collar and other basic items. All of these costs will come to about $500.
Annual costs are a factor to consider. Food for a Whippet and treats are about $145 a year. Medical needs like pet insurance, flea and tick prevention, check ups and shots come to $460 a year. Other costs include toys, license, basic training and miscellaneous needs for $225 a year. This gives an annual total starting figure of $830.
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A Whippet is a great dog, athletic, friendly, playful, docile and affectionate. It is easy to care for but it does need socialization, training, regular off leash running, and a certain amount of attention. It is a sleek and graceful dog that can be in homes with children or without but is best not in homes with other small furry pets. A whippet not well socialized can be overly timid or stressed and can act out.