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Breed Spotlight: Meet The Whippet 

February 15, 2024

There are several special doggy holidays in February, including Whippet Day. Originally used for poaching rabbits, the Whippet is a gentle pup that loves to cuddle. They may not be as well-known as their larger kin, the Greyhound, but these sweet dogs could definitely use some love. Below, a local San Antonio, TX veterinarian offers some information on these charming dogs.

What Is A Whippet Dog?

The Whippet is a Sighthound, which means that they are grouped with pups that track their game visually. They look very similar to their close kin, the Greyhound, but are a bit smaller. Males can grow up to about 22 inches, while females average about 18-21 inches. The pups weigh between 25 and 40 pounds, and can live up to 15 years.

Whippets are certainly aptly named. Fido’s moniker comes from a 17th-century term that referred to ‘moving swiftly’. Like the Greyhound, Whippets are known for their exceptional speed. They can run up to 35 mph, and were often dubbed the “poor man’s Greyhound.” In fact, they hold the distinct honor of having the quickest acceleration time among all of our canine companions. 

Are Any Whippets Famous?

There aren’t many famous Whippets. Fido was supposed to be in Alien 3, and was actually cast as a four-legged xenomorph. However, he was just too cute for the part, and ended up getting fired. 

How Healthy Is The Average Whippet?

Whippets are usually healthy. However, a few specific tests are recommended by the breed standards, including the Ophthalmologist Evaluation, BAER Testing, and Cardiac Exam.

Prospective owners should be aware of a few things. Obesity is a concern with these guys. While many of our canine patients are, well, a bit on the chunky side, Whippets are not built to bear excess weight. All pets can be negatively affected by obesity, but this breed is especially susceptible. Fido may develop orthopedic problems if allowed to become obese. It’s not hard to see why this is a problem. Due to the Whippet’s lean physique, people often mistakenly believe that their new dog is underweight, and end up overfeeding them. (Needless to say, Fido won’t mind.) Check in with your  San Antonio, TX veterinarian regularly regarding your pet’s dietary and exercise requirements.

It’s also important to know that Whippets have a slightly different physiology than other dogs. As is the case with many other Sighthounds, their bloodwork may look a bit unusual when compared to that of other pups. They’re also extremely sensitive to chemicals. This affects many aspects of Fido’s care, including sedation, parasite control options, medication, grooming products, and even lawn and garden products. Ask your  San Antonio, TX vet for specific advice.

How Much Exercise Does The Whippet Need?

Your canine pal may very like playing ball, chasing a flying disc, or chasing a lure. Many Whippets enjoy playing with other dogs. They may also enjoy going for a jog with their owners.

What Is The Whippet Temperament? 

In addition to being affectionate, Whippets are very sweet and devoted pets. Fido is very, very cuddly, and loves to snuggle with his owners. These lovable dogs often melt hearts with their soulful eyes. They do well with kids, and often are fine in apartments, as long as they get their daily exercise. 

Whippets tend to get along with other dogs. Cats? Not so much. it really just depends: if Fido has grown up with Fluffy, he may do just fine. However, we wouldn’t recommend bringing a Whippet into a home with a cat unless they’ve been proven to be kitty-friendly. 

What Is The Energy Level Of Whippets?

People often assume that Whippets are very high-energy dogs, but that’s not necessarily the case. Fido does need a good walk every day, and he’d definitely like a yard to play in. However, these guys run out of steam quickly, and typically become couch potatoes once they’ve burned off their zoomies. They will happily spend the day napping and dreaming of chasing squirrels once their workout is done.

Are Whippets Loud Dogs?

Those who prefer quiet dogs may want to take note: Whippets are not usually very loud.

What Is The History Of The Whippet Breed?

It is believed that the Whippet was bred from English Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, and terriers. However, Fido has quite a large extended family tree. Similar sighthounds include the basenji, the Pharaoh hound, and the Saluki. These dogs have been by our sides for thousands of years. Dogs that closely resemble these pooches have been depicted in ancient Egyptian art and were also kept by the Celts and Turks. 

In the 18th century, Whippets were commonly used as racing dogs in England. Fido was also sometimes referred to as a Snap Dog. This meant he could win contests by capturing the most rabbits in a specific amount of time. (Fortunately, this is no longer a sport.)

Whippet Coat And Grooming

As far as coat colors go, these guys come in 12 different colors and patterns, including black, brindle, fawn, red, orange, tan, cream, and blue. They can also be white or dun, though these colors are not very common. 

Whippets don’t need to be bathed very often, but they do need to be brushed regularly. You’ll need to use a soft brush: stiff bristles may be too rough for Fido’s delicate skin. When you bathe Fido, use a very gentle shampoo. 

Whippets don’t do well with cold, so your pup will need sweaters and jackets when the weather gets cold. Fido also absolutely hates hard floors, so a comfy bed is a must.

Are Whippets Easy To Train? 

Whippets are quite intelligent, and often pick things up quickly. However, they are also prone to becoming fixated on cats and squirrels, and can also bound off after them. Never rely on training alone, as Fido’s instincts as a Sighthound will often override his petucation.

It’s also worth mentioning that these guys can slip out of regular collars, due to the size and shape of their heads. You’ll need a good leash on Fido when walking him. Your pup will require either a harness or a special collar, called a Martingale.

How Do You Help Whippets In Need? 

As you may be aware, racing dogs have a pretty tragic history overall. The prioritization of profit over animal welfare in the dog racing industry sadly resulted in severe mistreatment and an abundance of rescue dogs. Although dog racing is now banned in many places here in the States, there are still several Greyhound rescues in operation. 

Overseas, the Galgos dog, also known as the Spanish Greyhound, is also facing immense challenges. This poor pooch is considered one of the most abused breeds in the world. If you want to help, consider donating to or aiding a rescue organization that assists one of these noble breeds. You can also help by spreading the word. Mark your calendar for July 4th, which is International Whippet Day!

Conclusion: Sweet, cuddly, and very, very fast, the Whippet can be a wonderful pet. Just do plenty of research before getting one, as they do have some unique care needs. 

Please contact us, your San Antonio, TX pet hospital, today if you have any questions about Whippet care. As your local veterinary clinic, we are dedicated to offering great veterinary care! 

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North Star Animal Hospital