The first thing that many people assume when they see a Whippet for the first time is that they are looking at a miniature Greyhound. In fact, they are looking at a unique breed of dog with the Greyhound as one of its ancestors. Large Greyhounds were crossed with the much smaller Italian Greyhound to create the Whippet. The Italian Greyhound can trace its roots back to ancient Egyptian times and so can the Greyhound, making the Whippet a modern breed modeled after an ancient dog.
The Whippet, as the name implies, is incredibly fast. They are long legged and very lean with a naturally arched back and neck that further suggests speed and agility. The head is very much like a Greyhound with a long, tapered muzzle, flat and long skull, small rose shaped ears and dark, oval eyes. Overall the dog is very exotic looking from the tip of the long, curved tail to the end of the nose.
The breed has a very short, fine and smooth coat that can be a wonderful variety of colors. There are solid colors such as black, fawn, red and blue as well as bicolors and brindles with or without white markings. Many will have a large amount of white on the body including down the chest, legs and along the underside. When they run the hindquarters will come up right under the chest and front legs, allowing a massive stride length that propels this dog at incredible speeds over short distances.
The Whippet is a very friendly and very affectionate dog towards people that are family and friends. Surprisingly the Whippet is very friendly with cats when raised together but can and will chase and kill strange cats and other non-canine types of household pets. They can be shy and reserved around strangers, particularly if not regularly socialized. They are very sensitive to changes in the owner’s emotional level and tone of voice and need to be trained using positive reinforcement methods only. Negative punishment or raised voices will only confuse the dog and lead to problems with behaviors.
Generally the Whippet, because of very careful breeding and great genetics, is a healthy dog that can live to be 15 years of age. At full maturity these dogs will weight between 20 and 40 pounds and measure up to 22 inches at the shoulder. They are susceptible to cold and should never be kenneled outdoors in cold climates or wet weather. They can also be prone to digestive upsets that can usually be managed with a consistent diet.
While highly energetic and active outdoors, the Whippet likes to find a comfortable place to relax when inside. As puppies they can be prone to suddenly dashing madly about the house, but this will subside as the dog matures. Since they do run so fast and are such active chasers it is important to keep these dogs on a leash or in a fenced area for their own safety until they are completely trained off-leash.