Whippet General Breed Profile

WhippetMany equate the whippet with being a smaller version of the greyhound. The narrow face and sleek body style were created for agility and speed. When in motion, the dog is a picture of elegant balance, grace and beauty. The animals are friendly, socialize well with people and animals. They also make great household pets.

Whippet Body Size

Males stand 19 to 22 inches in height while females are slightly shorter at 18 to 21 inches tall. The medium-sized dogs weigh 25-40 pounds. The body resembles an inverted “s” having a deep chest and slender waist along with a long neck, slender legs and tail.

Coat Colors

The dogs have a wide selection of singular or combination coat colors, which is known as Parti-color. Whippet coats may be black, blue, brindle, fawn, white or dun. Dun-colored dogs are rare and occur once in every 1,500 to 2,000 births. What some may consider dun is actually fawn. Dun coats vary from light blue fawn to dark chocolate fawn. Identifying the coat color is easy when looking at the color of the nose. Dun-colored dogs have pink or brown noses. A dun parent often produces black pups when paired with a fawn of the opposite sex.

Pure white is another rare coat color. Most are white and have patches of another color. They might also have brindle markings, which remind many of tiger stripes. Brindle coats may be black, blue, dun, fawn, red, dark or light. The athletic dog is one of the breeds where the coat color is not a determination in judging the breed at dog shows.

Eye Color

Eye color often coordinates with coat color. Dark brown or black are preferred in show dogs. The eyes might also be light brown or amber. Blue eyes or eyes not having the same color generally disqualify a dog from being shown.

Overall Temperament

The dogs are friendly and gentle. However, they are also independent and may display a stubborn streak. From a young age, the dogs need consistent and stern but loving training. They respond well to encouragement and praise. The animals also tend to be sensitive to stress and may become timid if not socialized to accept different people, animals and situations.

Pups are full of energy and curiosity. As such, a place to run and play is preferred. When adults, the dogs are comfortable to lie and relax. However, they need more strenuous exercise than a mere daily walk. Being hounds, they will give chase to moving animals. To keep them safe, owners should have a large, fenced yard or take them out on a leash.


Compared to other breeds, the hounds are some of the healthiest purebred dogs. With proper food, fresh water, exercise and routine veterinarian visits, the pets are known to live for 12 to 15 years.

Puppies are often sensitive to the Leptospirosis component of combination vaccinations. As such, young dogs should not have this type of inoculation unless the disease is prominent in the area.

Their exuberant nature makes them susceptible to orthopedic injuries. The toes may succumb to injury. The lack of a thick coat makes the toes prone to injury if running over rough terrain.

The short coat also requires that older dogs be kept warm during winter months with doggie sweaters, coats or pajamas. Some older pets may develop an injury known as Fibrocartilaginous Embolism or FCE from running or jumping. The condition involves a piece of cartilage obstructing the blood supply somewhere along the spine. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the blockage and include functional loss of one or more legs. However, in many cases, rest enables the problem to resolve naturally.

In recent years, heart disease has become a growing concern. The American Whippet Club recommends that breeding pairs undergo periodic echocardiograms.

Additional Whippet Facts

The breed emerged during the Victorian era in Great Britain. The working class enjoyed dog racing and rabbit hunting but did not have the space or the finances to have Greyhounds or other large athletic dogs. The solution involved breeding small versions of the Greyhound. However, what specific breeds used remains unknown. The first whippets were registered with the AKC in 1888. During the early days, the breed was known as the “poor man’s racehorse” or the “lightning rag dog,” as they were trained to chase rags along a straight course.

By the 20th centuries, workers migrated to the United States and brought their beloved pets with them. Racing the dogs became a popular sport. Today, the athletic species enjoy participating in a wide variety of activities that include:

  • Agility courses
  • Conformation dog shows
  • Disc sports
  • Dock diving
  • Flyball
  • Lure courses
  • Olfactory tracking
  • Racing