Whippet Breed Information

Key facts and characteristics

Energy levels
 
Grooming
 
Easy to train
 
Exercise needed
 
Barking/likely to be vocal
 
Size Medium
Average height 44-51 cm
Average weight 11-18 kg
Average lifespan Over 12 years
Minimum exercise (per day) 1 hour
Coat length Short
Minimum cost (per month) £65

Whippets are seen as smaller versions of Greyhounds. They are gentle dogs who still love to chase, so a secure garden is a must. They’re quick and agile and love being around their owners.

Like Greyhounds, Whippets need to be able to have a good run around but will then happily curl up on the sofa for the rest of the day. Their medium size makes them popular with first-time owners although training a Whippet can take some time!

 

Common health problems in Whippets

Whippets are gentle and affectionate dogs who love human companionship. They’re beautiful but quite delicate. Whippets can be prone to cutting their skin on thorns, twigs or any other sharp objects. They can also damage their bones if running on uneven ground so you may want to check your Whippet's walks and spaces for off lead exercise are free of potential hazards. Sadly, like many other purebred dogs, they can be prone to certain other conditions.

If you are thinking of buying a Whippet puppy, make sure the parents of your puppy have had the relevant health screening to reduce the chances of your puppy being affected by certain conditions. We’d recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder as they meet extra requirements which will benefit your puppy’s health.

Some of the conditions Whippets may develop include:

  • Eye problems
  • Progressive Retinal atrophy – gradual loss of sight over several months or years. Parents should be screened for this.
  • Mitral valve disease – a heart condition where the valve is weakened allowing blood to flow back into the heart.
  • Immune mediated problems – where the body reacts against its own cells.

If you want to minimise the risk of your dog getting problems, you can read our advice on choosing a pedigree dog.

 

Caring for your Whippet

Whippets are active dogs who enjoy spending time with their owners. As long as they get plenty of exercise, you’ll find your Whippet is happy to curl up on the sofa with you at the end of the day and just chill out.

They enjoy being part of everything going on at home, so definitely suit households where they can be included in everything. They have a lot of character although can be a little shy when meeting new people so early socialisation is a must.

Whippets and barking

Your Whippet is likely to make some noise and this will be down to the individual and their training. Having said that, they are not a breed known for barking a lot. In fact, they are known to be silent hunters (originally bred to be used in hunting). Your Whippet is only really likely to bark if they are unhappy or bored. If you’re having a problem with excessive noise we recommend seeking the advice of an accredited behaviourist.

Training and socialisation

Whippets have a reputation to be a little slow learning new things, even though they are thought to be fairly clever dogs. It’s important to start positive, reward-based training early to help your Whippet learn even basic commands. You’ll certainly need to be patient when training your Whippet! This said, they are a good choice for first-time owners if you are patient and consistent with their training. If you need some extra guidance when training, we’d recommend taking them to accredited training classes.

You’ll need to socialise your Whippet from a young age to help them gain confidence with lots of different experiences, people and dogs. They can be a bit nervous without this socialisation which is why it’s so important.

Like most dogs, Whippets dislike being left alone and can suffer with separation anxiety. They form strong bonds with their owners and can get very stressed when left alone for any length of time. We’d only recommend getting a Whippet if someone will be around with them all day. Otherwise, you may find they start to destroy things around the home.

Exercise

Two Whippets running across beach

While calm and gentle dogs who enjoy quiet time, Whippets definitely need a good amount of exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Your Whippet will need a minimum of an hour exercise every day. This should be split into a couple of walks, usually a shorter one in the morning with a longer one with chance to sniff and explore later on. There should also be plenty of chance for your Whippet to run and play off-lead in a secure area. They need to be able to have a really good run as it’s in their nature. Remember to keep a tight grip on their lead when you’re not in secure areas as they have such a high prey drive and love to chase!

On top of regular walks, your Whippet will also need lots of chances to play with you, training sessions and space to explore on their own in a secure garden.

Grooming

Whippets have short fur, so a weekly brush is usually more than enough to keep it in good condition. They do have quite sensitive skin, though, so it’s better to look for a soft brush for them. Your Whippet will shed, but this is fairly minimal compared to other breeds. You might find they shed more in spring and autumn. Check out our blog for advice on staying on top of shedding around the home.

Whippets and children

Whippets are a popular choice for families as they are so calm and gentle around children. As they are a little sensitive, we’d recommend a home with slightly older children who understand when to give your dog space.

Remember to make sure you can recognise your dog’s body language so you can put a stop to any potentially stressful situations before they escalate. Always supervise your dog with children and vulnerable adults.

Whippets and other pets

As long as you socialise your Whippet with other dogs from a young age they should be fine meeting them out and about. Whippets do have quite thin skin though, so make sure playtime with other dog friends doesn’t get too boisterous as it could result in bruises or cuts.

Whippets have a really high prey drive, so we wouldn’t recommend keeping them with smaller pets. Your Whippet may get along with a cat they have grown up with, but you should always supervise them together.

Food

Your Whippet’s diet will vary depending on their age. You’ll need to feed them a complete, balanced dog food to keep them slim and healthy.

Your vet will be able to tell you how much your Whippet should be eating. You should feed them a good quality, commercially available, complete dog food. We usually recommend splitting their daily allowance into two meals. If you give your dog the occasional treat or use treats for training, remember to take this into account and reduce their daily allowance. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their daily calorie intake as this can unbalance their diet.

Try to feed your dog at similar times every day as they like routine. Remember to leave a gap between eating and exercising.

 

The cost of owning a Whippet

Whippet sleeping in blanket

You can expect your Whippet to cost you a minimum of £65 per month after purchase and set-up costs and over £11,000 across their lifetime.

Costs you’ll need to think about include:

Purchase costs

Adopting an adult Whippet from a rescue centre may be a more cost-effective option, with the added advantage of giving a home to a pet without one – check if the rehoming centre you’re looking at asks for a donation for rehoming.

If instead you’re buying a Whippet puppy from a breeder, you’ll need to factor in this cost. Beware unusually cheap puppies as they could come from a puppy farm. If you’d like to buy a pedigree puppy, we recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured breeder. These breeders must do extra health tests and meet higher standards.

Set-up costs

  • Puppy vaccines – if you rescue a dog, reputable centres will often vaccinate them for you. Remember that ongoing booster vaccinations will be needed to continue their immunity.
  • Neutering – you should usually arrange for your dog to be neutered at around six months old, though your vet will be able to advise you exactly when is best. Check prices at your local practice as these will depend on your vet and where you live. Some rescue centres will neuter any dogs they rehome, saving you this cost.
  • Equipment – including a collar and tags, lead, harness, dog beds, dog bowls, pet-safe toothpaste and toothbrushes, grooming brushes and toys. Keep in mind that all these will need to be replaced with wear or damage or if your dog outgrows or damages them!

Ongoing costs

  • Food.
  • Preventive healthcare – budget for routine vet visits to help stop your dog getting ill and catch any problems early. They need annual check-ups, vaccinations and regular flea and worming treatments. Check if your vet offers a health care plan as this can help spread the cost throughout the year.
  • Vet bills* or pet insurance – if you don’t have pet insurance and your dog needs veterinary treatment for an injury or illness, costs can rapidly mount up. Check what’s covered and what isn’t when comparing policies.
  • Accessories – including lots of poo bags, replacing worn toys and grooming accessories, buying doggy toothpaste and any other extras they might need.

Other costs

  • Training – basic training is very important and dogs can benefit from formal classes. Some dogs may have, or develop, behavioural problems which might need professional management.
  • Boarding – you may also need to budget for boarding or dog sitting costs if you are planning to go away from home on holiday.
  • Dog walkers/day-care – you might consider a professional dog walker to keep your dog happy and healthy if you’re unable to get out with your dog enough yourself, or to look after them during the day if you need to be out for more than four hours.

* It’s always better to plan ahead and budget or get pet insurance in case your pet gets injured or unwell. If you are having difficulty with veterinary costs, you can check if you are eligible for treatment at PDSA here.

If you’re considering pet insurance, our PDSA Pet Insurance could be a great option for you and it’s quick and easy to get a quote online.

Fun facts

  • At one stage in history, Whippets were thought of as a ‘poor man’s Greyhound’ as only the rich had Greyhounds and the poorer classes had Whippets.
  • Because they’re so lean and only have very little body fat, your Whippet might need a coat over the winter months to keep warm out and about.
  • They’re a fast breed – some Whippets have been known to reach speeds of 35 mph!
  • Whippets have prominent bones, such as their elbows, shoulders and hips so prefer thick, soft snug bedding to avoid sores.

 

Getting a Whippet

Do plenty of research before getting a Whippet. These quiet and sensitive dogs need plenty of exercise before lazing in bed for the rest of the day. They can make really good family pets in the right home. You’ll need to have a lot of patience with your Whippet when training, but once they’ve mastered the basics they can be great dogs.

Rehoming centres

There are plenty of rescue centres across the country where you may find a Whippet. Breed-specific rescues that specialise in Whippets are also out there. You’ll need to ask any rescue centre about the dog’s history to make sure they will be comfortable in your home. Good rescue centres should let you know of any health and behaviour problems.

Breeders

If you buy from a breeder, make sure your puppy will be well socialised and have all necessary screening tests, health checks and vaccinations. It’s really important that Whippet puppies from a breeder get the right early socialisation so always ask the breeder about how they go about this. We recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured breeder as they meet higher standards. We’ve put together some advice to help you find a good breeder.

Not sure if a Whippet is the right pet for you?