Very few dogs in this world are confused for another dog breed. The whippet is one such dog that is confused for another. Because of its build, form, and magnificent speed, the whippet dog is often confused for a greyhound or Italian greyhound. However, there are substantial differences.
If you are curious to learn more about this unusual-looking dog and its apparent doppelganger appearance to greyhounds, you would not be alone. The confusion often sparks several conversations between whippet owners and dog lovers. The conversation on this topic usually falls in line with the following regarding the whippet breed.
The Physical Appearance of the Whippet
The whippet dog is a medium-sized dog. They stand between eighteen and twenty-two inches at the shoulders, which is a good six to eight inches shorter than a small greyhound. If you stood one of each of these dogs side by side, you might think that the whippet dog was actually an adolescent or puppy version of the greyhound!
Beyond the difference in doppelganger, both dogs are very close in appearance. They both have extended forelegs, barreled chests, long legs, refined heads on long arching necks, hound snouts, large eyes, and high, small hips well-suited to running. Coloration can be similar to the larger doppleganger dog, too, with literally every possible coat color and bi-color coat combination with white being one of the two colors. Perhaps most striking is the brindle coat or brindle and white coat of today’s whippets, where the brindle makes the whippet puppy look like a tri-colored knit sweater.
Even more interestingly, this smaller breed is actually a descendant breed of the larger one. This sighthound breed was bred to be a racing and hunting dog by poorer Englishmen who could not feed and house the larger greyhounds. Ergo, it is not surprising that these two dogs look so much alike and are often confused because the smaller whippets have the greyhound’s bloodlines and similar temperament.
The No-Barking Family Pet
A lot of families who would avoid having a dog because they don’t want to deal with the barking and noise most dogs make find that this purebred whippet is most agreeable. This breed can bark but rarely does. In fact, they will not even bark if strangers enter the house! They prefer to observe, then interact, then bark if they find something they do not like about the strangers. Your entire house could be robbed before these dogs would bark, which is why they do not make a good guard dog.
However, the modern whippet is a really incredibly affectionate and loving animal. They love everyone in the family and will seek out pets and affection from everyone in the house that lives there. Frequent visitors also receive a warm “whippet-welcome” when these dogs realize that the visitors are friends or family. While I wouldn’t condone keeping such a dog in an apartment that forbids pets, you could easily pet-sit one or more of these dogs and never have them betray their presence while they stay with you in verboten lodgings.
Speed Demons in Need of Frequent Exercise
If you ever needed the motivation to start jogging, these are the dogs that will do it. They are well-known whippet racing dogs, like their cousins the greyhounds. They have been clocked at top speeds of thirty-five miles an hour, as fast as most cars travel within city limits, a feat most humans cannot claim.
As such, these dogs need frequent exercise. They are complacent enough to stay inside all day and just hang out, but they much prefer a nice large backyard in which to run around. They do not have the anxiety issues or destructive habits some dogs have when bored, but you should still put a doggy door in the back door and enclose the yard so that they can run and play during the day.
To make these dogs super happy, you need to take at least a thirty-minute run/jog with them daily. An hour is even better as it will resolve their need to move while you are gone to work or running errands all day. It is a very good reason (and opportunity) to get in shape and stay in shape, as this hound breed can live to be fifteen years old or older.
Health and Longevity of These Dogs
The modern whippet, when well-cared for, can live up to fifteen years or more. There is one record of this breed of dog living even longer, with this particular dog living twenty-one years! Either way, that is a long time to have such a very active medium sized dog. If you are not willing or unable to commit to that level of physical activity or fitness for that many years, you should consider a different pet than a sight hound.
As for the overall health and physical maintenance of the breed, they are pretty hardy. Proper breeding and screening of breeding dogs remove the likelihood of eye problems, heart deformities, heart problems, and deafness. These dogs can and do gain weight rapidly if not effectively exercised daily, and that is a very big problem for their health. These dogs were bred for dog racing and rabbit hunting, so exercising is very important.
Of course, if you feed these dogs properly, and provide a raw food diet that is tailored to their base calorie needs, they won’t gain too much weight. Typical kibble dog food is not the preferred quality diet. Small portions of food are all these dogs need, especially if you can’t run with them every day. Obesity will cause problems with their hips and back, and you want to avoid that with the right food and the right amounts of food.
These dogs need a lot of water. They burn a lot of energy when exercising and playing and need fresh water to keep from becoming dehydrated. Keep a large bowl of water filled near their food dish, and make sure the water is devoid of added chemicals or treated for or with toxic substances. Purified or spring water is a great choice. Proper bowel movements in these dogs cannot occur without adequate toxin-free water.
By far one of the easiest dogs in the world to groom, there is very little you have to do in regard to a whippet puppy. It is not necessary to brush the very short coat on these dogs, but you can if you want to. They do shed, but the short hair everywhere easily vacuums up. Bathing only needs to happen when the dog is dirty or smells, whichever comes first.
It is very important to keep nails trimmed. Dogs that can run this fast would catch nails on everything if the nails are too long. They could also seriously injure themselves if attempting to run with long nails. Thankfully, you may only have to clip nails once every six to eight weeks.
Whippet puppies are strange-looking, to be sure. They are tipsy, gangly and frequently fall over when they walk and when they are learning to run. It is normal for such long-legged puppies to grow into their bodies, so to speak. However, if your puppy is still having these mobility issues as a adolescent or young adult dog, see a vet.
Whippet puppies are an excellent addition to your family if you have overactive kids in the house. If the kids are old enough to walk the puppy, the puppy can help wear out your kids and vice versa. Since the puppies are even more playful than the adult dogs, the puppies can keep your children occupied for hours in the house or outside in the yard.
Training for These Racing Dogs
You could raise and train this dog to race. Most people don’t have that intent when they buy a dog of this breed. If you want to raise a racing dog, you still need to start with obedience training.
These dogs are wicked smart. They have a natural ability to learn quickly as a result of their original breeding for the purposes of chasing rabbits during hunting and getting the rabbits out of holes. They can and will learn to obey regardless of whether you start with a puppy or an older dog.
They do not suffer any stubbornness or refusal to learn something. Treats can be used to train, but then you have to avoid giving them too many treats for anything else. Professional dog trainers stick to clickers, pets, and praise because these dogs respond so well to just these cues in training.
From Obedience Training to Other Types of Training
This breed can do a lot of other things the more common dog breeds can’t or won’t. For example, after you have completed obedience training you can train your whippet-dog to race or to run dog obstacle courses for competitive purposes. A lot of owners enjoy doing the latter because it accomplishes the goal to exercise the dog fully while possibly earning prize money for their efforts. Owners of racing dogs of this breed can also take home some of the prize purses if their dogs win.
Other Breeds for Which This Dog Is Confused
Being part of the hound club, this dog is frequently confused for other breeds besides greyhounds. The following are just a few of those dogs and why “whips” are confused with them.
- Italian greyhounds, which are also smaller and have many of the same features as this dog breed.
- Egyptian Pharaoh Hounds, which have the same body type and style but have upright pointed ears that do not fall and flap.
- African Azawahk, which has similar hips, long legs, and small heads with floppy ears. However, they are taller with larger bellies and chests than their English-bred cousins.
There are obvious and slight differences in and between each of these breeds, although they are all part of the AKC’s (kennel club) grouping known as the “Sight Hound breed.”
Adopting One of These Dogs From a Shelter
Sadly, high-energy dogs often end up at shelters because people don’t realize how much energy and effort it takes to exercise them. You may find a “whip” at your local pound or animal shelter and they are usually a mixed dog breed. However, you may also find a purebred whippet there as well.
The good news is that these dogs are so well-mannered and well-behaved that you don’t have to worry about behavioral issues with them. These dogs are not in shelters because they urinate on everything or because they chew everything to pieces when you leave them home alone. (If they do, there is something physically or emotionally amiss and it should be treated with holistic medicine for the best possible outcome.) They can be trained at any age, which means that even adopting an elderly “whip” will still result in an affectionate and obedient family dog.
Do whippets make good family pets? Yes, they make great family dogs and are good with children and other pets. They are good-natured and even-keeled.
Healthiest dog food for your dog – wet food, dry food, or raw food? A raw food diet is the closest thing to a specie specific diet. The benefit is that they are eating for their biology and that ensures the most healthy and supported immune system.
What is a whippet’s personality like? Today’s Whippets love human companionship. They are non-aggressive and gentle. Because their coats are thin they need a warmer environment. They have an easy-going nature and wouldn’t necessarily be considered a guard dog.
How do you keep your whippet entertained? The best way to keep a whippet entertained is to exercise them regularly. These dogs were bred for hunting and racing. This is a very fast breed and the best thing to do for them is exercise at least one hour a day at a minimum.
Can whippets live with cats and other pets? The best outcome is to introduce a whippet puppy to your cats. Because whippets can have a strong prey drive its best to introduce them to cats when they are young. But its certainly not to stay that the right whippet can be trained correctly by the right person.