Whippet originated in England. Greyhounds were crossed with the Italian Greyhound and a long-legged terrier, as well as a few other now-unknown breeds. The Whippet was the working man’s Greyhound, smaller and easier to feed, yet able to hunt and provide food for the table. When the working day was over, Whippets also provided entertainment and sport, as the dogs’ owners would race them. The Whippet may be smaller than the Greyhound but is a true sighthound, able to run thirty-five miles an hour.
Whippets stand 18 to 22 inches tall and weigh 20 to 30 pounds. The head is long and lean, eyes are large and dark, and ears small, fine, and roseshaped. The body is equally long or just slightly longer than the dog is tall. The chest is deep, the back is strong, and the tail is long. The coat is short and close, and any coat color is acceptable, including solid colors, patches of color, and brindle. The coat needs only weekly brushing. In the house, adult Whippets are quiet and calm, but once outside—look out! Whippets love to run and are capable of great speed. They should get a chance to run safely in a fenced-in area at least once a day.
Young Whippets who do not get enough exercise can be amazingly destructive. Whippets enjoy several canine sports, including lure coursing, flyball, and therapy dog work. Whippets need gentle training, as the breed can be sensitive. Socialization is also a good idea, as undersocialized Whippets can be shy or fearful. When Whippets love their people, they do so with all their hearts, so they need an owner who wishes to be worshipped. These are not backyard dogs because they need to be with their owners and may also suffer when left outside in cold weather.
Whippets are good with children, but may inadvertently knock over toddlers. They are also good with other dogs. Whippets may, however, chase running cats (with drastic consequences), so care should be taken with smaller pets. The primary health concern is eye defects.