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The Whippet: A Haddon Township, NJVeterinarian Celebrates A Lightning-Fast Dog

February 15 2024

We’re celebrating a few popular pups this month, such as the Golden Retriever. The Whippet also has a special day, which is celebrated on the 19th. The Whippet may not be as well known as their slightly-larger cousins, the Greyhound, so they definitely need the attention. We’re happy to put them in the spotlight. A local Haddon Township, NJ vet offers some insight into the breed below.

What Is A Whippet Dog? 

The Whippet is a Sighthound, which means that they are hunting dogs that track their game visually. Whippets look very much like Greyhounds. Males can grow up to about 22 inches, with females being just a bit shorter, averaging 18-21. They usually weigh between 25 and 40 pounds, and can live about 12 to 15 years.

Fido’s name derives from a 17th-century word which meant to move briskly. That description is certainly fitting! Like the Greyhound, these sleek dogs are very fast. In fact, the Whippet was often described as the “poor man’s Greyhound.” They have the fastest idle-to-running acceleration speed of all dogs, and can run 35 mph.  And while the Greyhound officially holds the record of being the fastest dog on earth, Whippets can sometimes beat them.

What Are Whippet Dogs’ Temperaments Like?

Whippets are very affectionate. They tend to be very sweet pets, and can quickly melt hearts with their soulful eyes. They’re usually good with kids, and tend to get along well with other dogs.

As far as cats go, it ultimately depends on the individual dog. If Fido is raised with Fluffy, he may be just fine. However, we wouldn’t advise bringing a Whippet that hasn’t been around cats into a home with a kitty.

Are Whippet Dogs High Energy?

Because of their lightning speed, one may assume that Whippets are very high-energy dogs. That isn’t necessarily the case, though. Fido does need a good walk every day, and  he will probably appreciate having a yard to zoom around in. However, once they have burned off their zoomies, Whippets usually turn into couch potatoes. They can even be good pets for people in apartments, as long as they get suitable exercise. Those who prefer quiet dogs may want to take note: these guys rarely bark. 

What Is The History Of The Whippet Dog Breed? 

Fido was bred from English Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, and terriers. However, Fido’s family tree also includes several similar Sighthounds, such as the basenji, Pharaoh hound or saluki. Sighthounds have been at our sides for some time. Dogs that closely resemble these pooches have been depicted in art from Ancient Egypt, and may also have been owned by ancient Celts and Turks.

Originally used for  hunting rabbits, Whippets were popular racing dogs in 18th-century England. They were also attractive to gamblers. Fido was also sometimes called a Snap Dog, which meant he could win contests by ‘snapping up’ the most rabbits in a certain period of time. (Thankfully, that sport is now outlawed.)

Do Whippets Need A Lot Of Grooming?

As far as coats go, Whippets can wear 12 different colors and patterns, including fawn, red, orange, tan, cream, black, brindle, and blue. They can also be white or dun, though these colors are very rare. They don’t need to be bathed too often, but should be brushed regularly. You’ll need to use a soft brush: hard bristles are too rough for Fido’s delicate skin. 

When you bathe your canine friend, you’ll need to use a very gentle shampoo. Like Greyhounds, these guys are very sensitive to chemicals.

Because of their thin coats and lack of body fat, Whippets do not do well in the cold. Fido will need sweaters and jackets when it’s chilly out. These dogs also absolutely hate hard floors: a comfy bed is a must.

Are Whippets Healthy Dogs?

potential owners need to be aware of a few things. First and foremost, Whippets are not built to carry extra weight. Obesity is of course bad for all pups. However, it’s particularly detrimental for Sighthounds. Because of their slender, delicate frames, they struggle with extra weight, and can quickly develop orthopedic issues if allowed to become obese. This is actually a very common pitfall. People often assume that Fido is too skinny and needs more meat on his bones, then overcorrect by overfeeding him. Consult your Haddon Township, NJ veterinarian regularly on your pet’s diet and exercise needs.

It’s also important to note that Whippets’ physiology is a bit different from that of other dogs. Like many other Sighthounds, their blood work may not match the normal ranges of other pups. They’re also extremely sensitive to chemicals. That will come into play with things like sedation, parasite control, and even choosing lawn and garden products. It’s crucial to find a veterinarian that is familiar with Sighthounds.

Aside from that, there are a few potential health concerns to be aware of. The breed standards do recommend a few specific tests, such as the Ophthalmologist Evaluation, BAER Testing, and Cardiac Exam.

What Are The Whippet’s Exercise Needs?

Daily walks are the standard here. Your pooch may also enjoy going for a run, so these guys are great matches for runners. Fido may also enjoy playing ball or chasing a flying disc or lure.  Many Whippets also have fun playing with other dogs.

Sighthounds can easily become fixated on things like cats and squirrels, and are somewhat prone to bounding off after them. You’ll need to keep a good leash on your canine companion during your walks. Whippets can slip out of regular collars, due to the size and shape of their heads. Your pooch will need a special collar, which is known as a Martingale. 

Are Whippets Hard To Train?

Whippets are very intelligent. However, they are  easily distracted: as mentioned above, they will run off after anything and everything that catches their attention.

While Fido may pick up basic commands quickly, don’t be fooled into thinking that he’ll actually obey. Your pet’s instincts will often override his petucation. Keep your pup leashed or in fenced areas at all times.

Are There Any Celebrity Whippets?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many famous Whippets. One was supposed to be in Alien 3, but was actually too cute for the role and was fired from the set. However, Fido’s cousin, the Greyhound, has appeared in many films and TV shows. In fact, the Simpsons’ dog, Santa’s Little Helper, was also a Greyhound.

What Is A Fun Fact About Whippets? 

Fido inspired the creation of a new doggy sport: competitive canine Frisbee catching. 

Celebrating Whippet Day

How does one celebrate this pawesome occasion? Well, the obvious options would be to play Fido the Devo song, Whip It, or perhaps watch the 2009 roller-derby movie Whip It. Your pooch may also appreciate a Pup Cup, which is whipped cream. Just don’t go too crazy with sweet treats. You may also want to contribute to or share information about a charity that works with Whippets or other Sighthounds.

In Conclusion: The Whippet is a sweet and lovable dog that can make a wonderful pet for the right family. They are quite cuddly and lots of fun, but do have a few special care needs potential owners should be aware of. 

Do you have questions about caring for a Whippet? Contact us, your Haddon Township, NJ animal hospital, today! We are here to help!

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