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The Wonderful Whippet
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The Wonderful Whippet

Ellie, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Oct 22, 2020

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The whippet came from humble beginnings, not royal courts or majestic estates. Fans of dog racing in Victorian England sought a smaller athletic dog that didn’t require as much room to exercise and was less costly to feed than the greyhound. Thus, the modern whippet dog was born. Not only is the whippet the fastest of its size group, but its steady, gentle temperament, good manners, and quiet nature make it a wonderful companion and family dog.

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1

The whippet is a sighthound

sighthound keen eyesight whippet funstickers / Getty Images

Behind the sweet-faced, easygoing whippet demeanor is a dog with an aerodynamic body and keen eyesight. Instead of relying on their sense of smell, sighthounds use visual perception and speed to chase after prey. Along with other members of the sighthound family, whippets have a unique metabolism. They need to stay slim to keep their joints and soft tissues healthy. To determine whether they are at a healthy weight, you should be able to feel at least two vertebrae at the top of the whippet’s spine.

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2

You couldn’t ask for a better housemate

calm disposition housemate whippet Capuski / Getty Images

Although the whippet is athletic, it isn’t hyperactive or rambunctious inside the home. Their excellent manners and calm disposition make them a delightful housemate for apartment dwellers, plus they adapt well to both city or rural life. They’re naturally clean dogs and easy to house-train, but females can be harder to housebreak than males. As adults, whippets are around 20 inches tall and weigh between 25 and 40 pounds. Whippets are also excellent family dogs, showing kindness and consideration to all ages of children.

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3

This cuddler needs lots of exercise

vigorous exercise muscle tone canine Rixipix / Getty Images

Expect your whippet to curl up contentedly next to you on the sofa at the end of the day. Even though they love a good, long snooze, these dogs shouldn’t be couch potatoes. They need vigorous exercise several times each week to stay sleek and healthy. Off-lead activities like ball and frisbee chasing, along with daily walks or runs on a leash, are excellent ways to keep them fit. Good muscle tone is essential to their health.

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4

Don't underestimate their speed

top fastest breeds whippet Liliya Kulianionak / Getty Images

The whippet can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, which earns it a spot on the list of the top 10 fastest dog breeds. These athletic dogs are sprinters. They excel at unique events such as flyball, an exciting, high-speed, competitive hurdle race designed for four-member canine teams. Events like lure coursing simulate rabbit or hare hunting allow whippets to show off their speed, intelligence, and sighthound instincts.

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5

Grooming is simple

grooming occasional bath brushing dog Natasha Main / Getty Images

The whippet doesn’t need extensive grooming because they don’t shed a lot. An occasional bath, a weekly brushing, nail clipping, and regular ear checks are all they require. Some owners use a rubber hound mitt or glove instead of a brush. Not only does the mitt effectively remove loose hairs, but it also provides a soothing massage that whippets enjoy.

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6

Don’t confuse whippets with the Italian greyhound

Whippet dog walking on the field

Although they both look like miniature greyhounds, the whippet and the Italian greyhound are distinctly different breeds. The Italian greyhound is much smaller and fine-boned than the whippet, averaging between seven and 14 pounds as an adult. Temperament wise, both are gentle and loving pets.

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7

They have a strong prey drive

prey drive chase unleashed whippet Laitho / Getty Images

As many owners have discovered, an unleashed whippet can see potential prey long before human eyes do. With their incredible speed and a tenacity for chasing anything that runs or moves, these dogs will take off and quickly disappear in pursuit. They’ll ignore any obstacles or dangers that are in their path, including cars. Leashing is incredibly important when whippets are not in a confined area like a fenced yard. They’ll become great friends with the family cat, but visiting cats aren’t safe in their domain.

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8

Protect them from the elements

protection weather extremes sunscreen coats passion4nature / Getty Images

Because this breed has little body fat and thin skin, they need protection from weather extremes. Studies show that the whippet’s skin is super-sensitive to light, especially in the head area. They can experience sunburns just like humans do. Apply canine-safe sunscreen. They also need protection from the cold. This breed doesn’t generate and retain heat like other breeds. Wearing protective clothing like a sweater or an insulated coat helps.

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9

Whippets have a long lifespan

Whippet running on the beach

Most experts rate the whippet among the healthier breeds of purebred dogs. They’re not prone to ear infections, allergies, hip or elbow dysplasia, or digestive problems. On average, they live between 12 and 15 years. The most common health issue for whippets are injuries like skin lacerations that occur while they’re running or exploring outdoor settings. Older whippets may develop cancer, kidney disease, or cardiac issues, so regular veterinary exams are important.

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10

They like to burrow into their bedding (or yours)

burrow bed cozy whippet Julia August / Getty Images

Your whippet will be forever grateful if you provide them with a comfy place to sleep. If a whippet disappears inside your home, always check the beds first. Chances are, they’ve found a nice, cozy spot for a nap. These dogs love to burrow. Instagram is full of photos of adorable whippets buried beneath a pile of laundry or hidden under a mass of sheets, blankets, and comforters.

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