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Whippet standing in three-quarter view

Known for their speed, Whippets, have been called the “Poor Man’s Racehorse” and “Lightning Rag Dog.” Although sometimes mistaken for Greyhounds, they are a breed of their own with a distinctly deep chest and trim waist.

The breed is speedy, but they also enjoy the role of man’s best friend and are loving and cuddly family pets. Owners of this beloved breed will relate to these 10 facts about Whippets

1. Whippets are extremely affectionate and playful.

Whippet running forward with a ball in its mouth in a field

According to the American Whippet Club, the Whippet’s “natural attachment to people makes them happiest when kept as house pets.” Whippets are the type of breed that will lick strangers in the park because of their love for affection.

2. Whippets aren’t “barking” dogs but watchdogs.

That’s why Whippets make great city dwellers and great neighbors. The breed’s name developed from the word “whappet,” an older word describing “a small dog that yaps”. Their watchdog instinct stems from their hunting instinct, so you can say it’s in their blood.

3. Whippets can reach speeds of up to 35 mph.

Whippets compete in Lure Coursing by chasing a plastic lure around a field while being timed.

Whippets were originally used for hunting, especially before they arrived in America. They are one of several Sighthound breeds that excel in speed-based AKC sports such as AKC Lure Coursing.

4. Whippets are known for their well-mannered temperament, as long as they have a backyard to play in.

While Whippets are great apartment dogs, they do extremely well in a fenced-in backyard. Whippets need to be exercised regularly — you don’t want to deal with a torn couch!

5. Many owners get Whippets as a second dog to exercise their first dog — or their family!

Whippet puppy sitting in the woods.

Whippets are natural family pets and are good with both small children and other dogs. They make a great breed to keep the kids tired and older dogs energized.

6. Whippets are a very intelligent breed.

Whippets originated in Victorian England.

In Victorian England coal-miners participated in dog racing and rabbit hunting on their days off. At this time the laborers struggled to afford kennel space or a place to exercise their larger Greyhound-like breed. The solution was to breed a smaller version, but it’s not known which breed created the Whippet. The breed followed coal miners, came to America and arrived in New England. They come with a bloodline of intelligence and obedience.

7. Whippets are extremely low-maintenance in terms of health.

Whippets can compete in many AKC dog sports, including Agility. 

Like any companion, a Whippet’s ears should still be checked frequently for signs of infection and nails should remain trimmed, not worn down. Long nails can cause the pet discomfort. You don’t want long nails if you are running at speeds up to 35 mph.

8. Whippets have a short, smooth coat that needs an occasional bath.

The illustrated breed standard of a Whippet

With their short coat, the Whippet is a somewhat frequent shedder that could definitely use a regular weekly brushing. Be careful of wearing dress slacks or suit jackets while petting these friendly companions — you’ll need a lint brush!

9. A Whippet’s frame is not suited for extra weight.

On Dec. 16 in Orlando, “Whiskey” became the first Whippet to win Best in Show at the AKC National Championship.

In fact, two to four vertebrae should be visible. Young Whippets may appear long and may have difficulty covering up their ribs. Adult Whippets, at a healthy weight, will appear skinny in comparison to other breeds. Whippets at a proper weight will avoid health issues.

10. Whippets get commonly recognized as a Greyhound, Italian Greyhound, and Great Dane because of their build and short hair.

Whippet running on the beach.

Part of the same group as the Greyhound, Whippets are a breed of their own. Well-mannered and quick, they are the fastest breed of their size.

Once a Whippet owner, many find themselves an lover of this cuddly and affectionate companion for life. Plus, how could you say no to the huge eyes and soft smile, especially if they are curling up on your lap.

Acquiring and Registering Your Whippet

Think the affectionate and athletic Whippet is the breed for you? Check out Whippet puppies on the AKC Marketplace. After becoming the owner of a Whippet, it is important to register your dog. Why? The AKC is the only purebred dog registry in the United States that conducts thousands of inspections each year to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of dogs and the environments in which they live.

You can register your dog here, and you will receive your official AKC certificate in the mail. There are many other benefits, including a complimentary first vet visit, 30 days of pet insurance, and eligibility to compete in AKC events and sports.

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