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Celebrating The Whippet 
February 15, 2024

Did you know that the Whippet, a sweet, loving Sighthound, has a special celebration day in February? Whippets are less well known than their larger kin, the Greyhound, but they deserve lots of love and attention.

Here are some Whippet breed basics from your Bellevue, WA veterinarian:

Basic Information About The Whippet Dog Breed

A Whippet is a Sighthound, which means that it tracks its game visually. They have a similar physique to a Greyhound, but are a bit smaller. Males can grow up to about 22 inches and females can grow up to about 18-21 inches. Whippets usually weigh about 25 to 40 pounds, and live for about 12 to 15 years.

The Whippet’s most remarkable characteristic is likely his speed. The word Whippet comes from a word that means ‘to move rapidly’. Fido is often called a “poor man’s Greyhound.” He can reach speeds as high as 35 mph, which is the fastest among all of our canine pals when going from idle to running. It is even possible for them to outrun Greyhounds on occasion!

What Is The Story Of The Whippet Breed? 

English Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, and terriers are among Fido’s immediate ancestors. He is also related to other Sighthounds, such as the Pharaoh hound, Basenji, and Saluki. Although the Whippet has only been around a few hundred years, similar dogs have been our companions since ancient times, helping us hunt and track game. Dogs that look very much like Whippets and Greyhounds have been found in depictions of ancient Egyptian art. The Celts may also have used them.

Back to Fido’s breed history. The Whippet first became popular in 18th-century England as a racing dog. He was also a favorite among gamblers, and earned the nickname Snap Dog. This term refers to an old sport in which dogs tried to snatch up the most rabbits in a certain period of time. (Fortunately, that sport is now outlawed.)

What Is A Fun Fact About The Whippet Breed?

Fido had a short-lived career in the movie industry. He was cast in Alien 3, and was supposed to be a four-legged xenomorph. However, he proved to be too cute, and ended up looking more adorable than scary!

What Kind Of Coats Do Whippet Dogs Have?

The official Whippet breed standard allows Fido to wear about a dozen different coat colors and patterns, including fawn, red, orange, tan, cream, black, brindle, and blue. White and dun are also officially allowed, but are rare.

Whippet Care: How Hard Is It?

Believe it or not, Whippets are actually quite low maintenance. They are quite fast and energetic, but they’re more suited to short bursts of energy. Once Fido has had his daily workout, he becomes a bit of a couch potato.

There are things to consider, though. Like other Sighthounds, these dogs have a strong instinct to pursue cats and squirrels. You’ll need to have a very secure hold on your furry companion. This may require special collars, such as Martingale collars, since Whippets have small heads that can easily slip out of traditional collars. Harnesses are also fine.

How Hard Is It To Train Whippet Dogs?

There is good and bad here. Fido is quite smart, and often picks things up quickly. However, Whippets have a tendency to forget their training when they see a squirrel. Even the best petucation may not stop Fido from running into the road or chasing the neighbor’s cat. 

Does The Whippet Need A Lot Of Grooming?

Whippets have very soft and sleek fur. Fido doesn’t have to be bathed much, but should be brushed often. Be sure to use a soft brush, as hard bristles could irritate his delicate skin. You’ll need to use a very gentle shampoo, as these dogs don’t tolerate harsh chemicals very well. Ask your Bellevue, WA veterinarians for more information. 

Do Whippet Dogs Have Specific Care Needs?

Aside from Fido’s penchant for chasing squirrels, there are a few other things potential owners should know. Whippets are extremely sensitive to chemicals. You’ll need to be careful with this. Even strong lawn and garden chemicals can be dangerous for them.

Fido will need sweaters and jackets in winter, because he has such a thin coat and so little body fat. He also does not like cold, hard floors. Comfortable beds and blankets are a must. 

Do Whippets Make Good Pets? 

They are usually very good with children, and they also get along well with other dogs. They don’t bark much, which can also be a plus for some people.

You’ll also need to consider other pets. Some Whippets do fine with cats, especially if they’ve been raised together, but this isn’t always the case. If you have other small animals, like bunnies or pocket pets, a Whippet may not be the best fit, unless you are sure you can keep them separate.

Are Whippet Dogs Very Active?

Given their impressive speed, it may be easy to assume that Whippets are constantly on the go. A daily walk and access to a yard are important for Fido’s wellbeing. This sweet pooch also enjoys engaging in activities like playing with a flying disc or chasing a lure. But, Whippets don’t need as much activity as some people assume. They have two speeds: full speed ahead and full stop. Once your pup has had enough exercise for the day, he will likely want to cozy up in his bed for some peaceful rest and squirrel-chasing dreams.

Do Whippets Have Many Health Problems?

Whippets are usually pretty hardy. There are a few specific tests recommended by the breed standards, including BAER Testing, an ophthalmologist evaluation, and cardiac examination.

One thing to be careful of: obesity. This is an issue with many dogs, but is quite common with Whippets. The  issue is that many people mistakenly think they are underweight. Fido’s naturally lean form makes it easy to think he needs more food. He also won’t mind getting some extra treats. However, these dogs just aren’t well suited to carrying extra weight. 

As with many Sighthound breeds, Whippets have a unique physiology and are very sensitive to chemicals. You will need a veterinarian who is familiar with the breed’s unique characteristics. 

If you’re looking for a Bellevue, WA animal clinic that fits the bill, please reach out to us! We have a soft spot for Greyhounds and other Sighthound breeds.

How Can I Help Whippets?

Racing dogs have been among some of the most mistreated dogs in the world. Unfortunately, the racing industry often prioritized profits over their welfare. As a result, many of these sweet dogs were mistreated and then discarded. These practices ultimately resulted in an overwhelming number of rescue cases. Things are getting better here in the States, due in large part to the fact that dog racing is now illegal in many places. However, there are still many active Greyhound and Whippet rescues. Another Sighthound, the Galgos dog from Spain, is in dire need of help.  

If you want to help, consider supporting a rescue organization dedicated to helping the Whippet or his cousins.

Conclusion: Whippets are very sweet and affectionate dogs that make wonderful pets for the right family. However, before adopting one, potential owners should do thorough research before adopting one, as they have some specific requirements.

Do you have questions about caring for a Whippet or Greyhound? Contact us, your Bellevue, WA animal clinic today!