One of the Fastest of all Dogs, the Whippet is a Sweet Family Pet

The Whippet is the fastest of dog breeds of its size and the fastest to accelerate among all dogs! While originally bred to be a sight hound but considered unsuitable for hunting because of its small size, the Whippet has indeed proven itself to be both an excellent hunter and superb racer. It is, in fact, a descendent of the Greyhound.


The Whippet is an English Greyhound of miniature size. In its size class, it's the fastest of any domestic animal, capable of speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. Not officially recognized by the English Kennel Club until 1891, it achieved notoriety when dog fighting, bearbaiting, and bull baiting lost popular appeal.

Although “snap dog coursing” was considered less barbaric than bullbaiting, dog fighting, or bearbaiting, the Whippet was once known as a "snap dog," or a dog that "snapped up" rabbits. This is an event where dogs chased rabbits in an enclosed course from which the rabbits had absolutely no chance to escape.

After that somewhat contentious period, the Whippet was subsequently used to compete with other fast dogs including Greyhounds, in racing events which measured speed only, and was thus christened the "poor man's racehorse" as a result.

The Whippet was first brought to America thanks to English mill operators who established Whippet racing in the United States, primarily held for many years in Massachusetts. Later, the sport was moved to Maryland, where Baltimore predominated as its prime racing location.

Today, the Whippet is still used for racing, but has gained international renown on the show circuit, particularly in agility and lure-coursing events. Elegant and powerful, this relatively small dog classified as part of the Hound Group also qualifies as an excellent, gentle, and very devoted family pet.


Of medium size, the Whippet is a sight hound very similar in appearance to its close cousin, the Greyhound. It is in fact a smaller version of the English Greyhound. Long, lean, and fine-boned, the Whippet has an athletic, muscular appearance. Its short, sleek fur coat does not offer adequate protection in cold weather, so you should make sure to provide your pet with an extra "doggie coat" when temperatures drop. Coat colors can be anything, including black, brindle, fawn, red, blue, white, or of mixed colors. In adulthood, Whippets stand 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder according to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and The Kennel Club and up almost to 23 inches at the shoulder as stated by the Canadian Kennel Club and American Kennel Club. Adult weight is between 15 and 30 pounds.


Affectionate, sweet, and very calm, the Whippet is a perfect family pet. Even though very active and athletic, it easily tolerates an apartment with no difficulty as long as it gets a daily walk. A brisk daily run is even better. Excluding dogs, the Whippet should not reside with other pets because of its strong “snap dog” instinct. The Whippet gets along well with most other dogs, but despite its very obedient and gentle nature, can kill other pets, including cats. Enthusiasts say that if you raise a Whippet from puppyhood with a cat or kitten, it will not bother the family cat. However, caution is still advised. Like the Greyhound, this dog enjoys its rest and will gravitate toward the family sofa to luxuriate in total comfort. Possibly due to its hyperactive metabolism, a Whippet can be easily startled, quite sensitive to unexpected touch, and may spring out of a restful state as a result.

Proper Environment

Allowing your dog off leash anywhere may land it in trouble. Your pet will always be inclined to chase something it finds interesting, and will likely not listen to you even if obedient at other times. You should also have a true fence around your yard to keep your pet properly protected. Regardless of the shock provided by an electric fence, Whippets tend to react more strongly to the desire to capture prey. Just about any moving object will set a Whippet in pursuit.

When properly socialized, your dog will be gentle, undemanding, and affectionate. Improperly socialized or not socialized at all, the Whippet can be timid to the point of neurosis or extreme stress, possibly developing “small dog syndrome,” in which it becomes obstinate, testy and disobedient. Letting your dog know in the kindest way who is in charge at all times can prevent such behavior. Gentle, firm, consistent boundaries are the key to success with this dog.


The Whippet is generally a healthy breed. Since some health issues don't appear until a dog is fully mature, a puppy's parents will not be given a health clearance until they’ve reached two years of age. That means dogs should not be bred until they are at least two years old. This is one of the things you will want to confirm with your breeder prior to adopting a puppy.

Like many sight hounds, Whippets are sensitive to anesthesia because they have such a low percentage of body fat. They can also develop von Willebrand disease (like hemophilia) and can appear to have heart arrhythmias, although they will have regular heartbeats during exercise. Not vulnerable to most medical conditions, however, the Whippet can have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.


Smooth, fine, and shorthaired, the Whippet's coat is very easy to groom. Rub all over with a damp cloth and brush with a firm bristle brush regularly. Bathing should only rarely be necessary. Shedding is average.


AKC Meet the Breeds®:

Get to know the Whippet.

Retrieved July 6, 2014.


Retrieved July 6, 2014.


Retrieved July 6, 2014.

Whippet (Snapdog).

Retrieved July 6, 2014.

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