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Is a Whippet the Dog for You?

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generic whippetYou can check the AKC site for the specific information about the breed standard and general characteristics of the breed. There you will find descriptions such as:

"A medium size sighthound giving the appearance of elegance and fitness, denoting great speed, power and balance without coarseness. A true sporting hound that covers a maximum of distance with a minimum of lost motion."


"Whippets are the fastest domestic animals of their size. They can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour. But they are also quiet and well-behaved in the house. They are smart, loving, hardly little dogs who can live in the city. "

What they don't tell you...

While all of these general characteristics are true, there are also some other typical whippet characteristics that are worth noting...and that you might not find in a simple breed description.

If all, or most of the following points strike you as strange, keep in mind that these are the typical things that cause a normal whippet to be diagnosed with "separation anxiety," medicated, then finally turned over to whippet rescue.

  • Whippets need company
    Very few are able to spend an entire working day alone in crate, home, or apartment. The best situation for a whippet is in a home where someone is at home all or most of the day. Whippets can also do well with another dog - preferably another whippet. If you work outside the home all day and plan on leaving your dog alone- a whippet is not a good dog for you.

  • Whippets and their "special person"
    Whippets usually form a close bond with one person in the home. This doesn't mean that they don't love everyone - they do - they just form a special attachment to one person. They will follow this special person everywhere - the bathroom, the shower, the kitchen, etc. - and look lovelingly at them all the while. Some find this behavior charming, others find it clingy and "needy." If you don't want a shadow and/or a bony 20 to 30 pound lap dog, a whippet is not a good choice for you.

  • Whippets and window coverings
    Whippets are sight hounds. If you leave them alone in the house, they will try to find you - usually by trying to look out of a window. They will claw away drapes, blinds (both horizontal and vertical) and do an amazing amount of damage just to look out of a window. One of our whippets even escaped from its cage at the Vet's office and trashed their windows during the night. I have only left a whippet alone in the house once - and the damage he did in 40 minutes was nothing short of astonishing. If you do not have a safe yard or special place (such as a crate) to leave your dog when you must be away from the home, a whippet is definitely not the dog for you.

  • Whippets and a "safe" yard
    Whippets are very athletic dogs - even though they can closely resemble couch potatoes for most of the day. A whippet can easily jump 5 to 6 feet...from a standing position. Although they are not generally "diggers," a well-motivated whippet can slip under a fence, hop over a 5-foot fence, and even climb a lattice fence. All it takes is a cat or a plastic bag blowing in the wind - and your whippet will be highly motivated to chase it. If you don't have a secure yard - do not even think about leaving your whippet alone outside.

  • Whippets and exercise
    Whippets need exercise every day. It doesn't have to be a one hour marathon session - a nice 20-minute walk will do. If you have a large yard, they will usually amuse themselves. If you have a small yard, they may well destroy the yard as they charge at high speed through your carefully landscaped patio...unless you walk them and/or can take them to a place to free run.

    Most whippets are mannerly on the leash. They clearly take a delight in walking and exploring. You don't have to run - a normal walk is sufficient. Do not try lashing them to a bicycle or vehicle - whippets are sprinters, not marathon runners - you can easily over-tax or injure your dog before realizing it.

    If you are fortunate enough to have access to a large open or fenced area letting your whippet "free run" is a real treat. Whippets love to run, spin, chase one another...and anything else they happen to stir up. Before you let your whippet off of its lead, be sure that it will come to you - by calling and with hand signals since they can quickly run out of ear-shot. Also make sure that there are absolutely no roads anywhere near. Tragically, many whippets are killed by cars as they single mindedly chase after a squirrel - or plastic bag.

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