The Whippet Dog


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The Whippet Dog

The Whippet is a medium-sized dog breed indigenous to England. Also known as the English Whippet and Snap Dog, it is a sighthound (dogs that depend on their sight and speed for hunting).

Descendants of Greyhounds, the whippet breed strongly resemble their ancestors. This highly agile dog breed is popular for its hunting skills, making it a part of a larger family of the Hound group.

The Whippet breed is a rather healthy dog breed, safe from most health risks other than arrhythmia- a cardiac condition characterized by irregular heartbeats. 

Famous for participating in a variety of dog sports including dock diving, fly ball, and lure coursing, their excellent athletic abilities are no secret. The name 'Whippet' itself loosely means ''to move briskly''.

This fancy looking dog breed is often called "poor man's racehorse", a comment on the high agility and athletic abilities of this breed.

Another famous nickname for the Whippet breed used back in the day was "Lightning Rag Dog" as they used to chase a rag dragged linearly across the course.

The Whippet dogs arguably have the fastest running speeds for their size.

Characterized by their classic 'inverted S' body shape, these sighthounds love taking long relaxing sessions. When not running, they are found offering playful companionship to their owners.

Courtesy of excellent adaptation skills, this is a relatively low maintenance dog breed, despite their royal appearance. All they need is either a yard big enough to run or regular exercise


The well-mannered Whippet is a successful member of a larger family of dogs, the Greyhound. Greyhounds have historically produced several well-mannered, agile, and elegant looking breeds.

The Whippet breed is another prime example of this successful strain.

As mentioned above, this breed is Indigenous to England. With historical shreds of evidence tracing this breed to Victorian England, the whippet breed was used in 19th-century racing events.

They were highly adored in northern England and Wales. 

Interestingly, the credit for the evolution of this breed goes to the coal miners in England. Coal miners in northern parts of the country enjoyed dog racing and hunting on off days.

The problem was that large athletic dogs like Greyhounds attracted high maintenance cost, which they could not afford. These dogs also required large spaces for exercising, which was again a big issue.

The miners found a solution and bred Greyhounds with a smaller breed.

The end of the 20th century saw a migration of textile workers from Lancashire to New England. Along with their culture and craft, these migrants also introduced the Whippet breed to the world. 

An instant hit in America, the Whippet dog breed was first recognized by The American Kennel Club (a registry of purebred dogs in America) in 1888.

Massachusetts was the first province with an established population of the Whippet in America. People in America loved this breed, using it frequently in dog racing competitions.

Slim and muscular, Whippets are excellent sprinters.

Physical Appearance

The Whippet is a medium-sized hunting breed characterized by large oval-shaped eyes. Small or almond-shaped eyes are considered to be faulted. These dogs generally have a very elegant and muscular body.

With a long slender body, slightly longer than their height, the Whippet dogs come with a wide variety of fur color and pattern. These dogs have smooth and fine fur.

The color and pattern on their fur are absolutely irrelevant for judging the quality of a dog of this breed. The elongated body is complimented with a long narrow head, black nose, and little rose ears.

They also have a long tapered tail and a long neck. The body is supported by long and powerful legs, giving them speeds as high as 35 miles per hour (56.33 kilometers per hour). 

The Whippets usually have a keen, alert expression on their face- another of their characteristic traits.


It is a friendly and quiet breed that requires regular exercise. They are very gentle and get along well with other dog breeds and animals. 

Since they have evolved living around humans, this breed is characterized by excellent companionship skills. If not exercising, the Whippet dogs spend most of their time napping.


Not prone to barking, another property attributed to their hunting skills, this breed forms a companion for kids.

The inherent hunting skills might lead to excessive chasing, but it is not a serious issue and can be easily managed by positive training and regular exercise. 

Whippet is a very smart breed with high levels of intelligence. They love learning new skills and react amazingly to positive reinforcement.

 Whippet dogs are very attentive and do seek attention at times, loving all the affection from humans around. All these traits make it an excellent breed for homes. 


The evolution of the Whippet breed involved racing and other physically intensive activities. This made sure that these dogs are free from any major health risks.

They have a strong and sound structure preventing any physical exaggerations. An important thing to keep in mind is that their body frame does not allow them to carry heavy weights.

Carrying weights for longer duration can cause certain difficulties. Like most sighthounds, Whippets are intolerant to barbiturate anesthetics. 

A Whippet dog, if given proper nutrition and care, can live up to anywhere between 12 and 15 years.

Adopting a Whippet dog

The Whippet is a fairly popular dog breed. People love adopting these dogs due to their loving and quiet nature.

If you are looking to bring home a Whippet puppy, make sure that you have all the arrangements to cater to the needs of this breed. 

Attributing to their hunting instincts, these dogs love running and jumping over fences. Make sure you have enough time to get the dog exercise and drain its energy.

Having a young Whippet at home can be a challenge. You need to ensure that all the doors are locked and the backyard properly fenced. These dogs can sometime get out and run away. 

Along with being a playful friend, the Whippet dog will also be your soulful companion. If you feel you are up for the challenge and the love a Whippet puppy will bring in your life,  surely consider adopting one.

Adopt, don't shop!

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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