Since antiquity, man has been breeding small hunting hounds capable of catching small animals for the pot. Whippets have been in Britain since before Roman times, probably bred from small versions of Greyhounds brought by the Celts circa 500BC.


Whippets were popular with aristocratic ladies as lap dogs and with working people for their prowess as hunters, providing rabbits for food. During the Industrial Revolution, they were used in England by the Durham and Newcastle miners to indulge their passion for gambling on racing and the rat-pit. Other dog breeds, such as Manchester Terriers, Bedlington Terriers and Italian Greyhounds, were introduced to improve performance. The Whippet, once successful for coursing rabbits and hares (now illegal), is kept now largely as a pet and show dog.

Whippets like nothing better than to be free to run across wide open spaces. Their aerodynamic shaped bodies are designed for fast movement and racing.


This small hunting hound is in its own class: it is one of the fastest dogs in pursuit - up to 65kmph (40 mph) - and can turn in its own length. As a pet dog, however, it is gentle, quiet and sensitive, very affectionate to its human family, especially children.

must know

There are hereditary defects but they are unusual and breeders are working to eliminate them. These include some eye problems and a few skin disorders. Undescended testicles are present in a few lines.


The Whippet resembles a Greyhound except it is smaller, more delicate and elegant. The short coat is very fine and comes in many colours and mixtures. Dogs are 47-51cm (18.5—20in) high, whereas bitches are smaller: 44-47cm (17.5-18.5in).

Strangers 3/5

Will warn but not aggressively

Temperament 4/5

Laid back, affectionate

Exercise 5/5

As much as possible; free running essential

Grooming 1/5

Minimal: once a week

Other dogs 3/5

Accepts all breeds


Obedient, affectionate family dog, fond of children

General care

Grooming is minimal for the Whippet; all these dogs need is a weekly polish with a hound glove. Plenty of exercise is of paramount importance, however, as Whippets need at least two formal walks a day plus free running and play in a garden to keep their brain and body active. They particularly enjoy being active, especially pursuits such as lure coursing, Flyball and Agility. Due to their thin skin and fine coat, they suffer from the cold and wet, so it is a kindness to let them wear a coat in bad weather. As with all running dogs, care should be taken to keep them slim. They are not kennel dogs and like to be in the home watching all the activities.

Want to know more?

  • For further details of each hound's appearance and

temperament, see Breed Standards, which is published in the UK by The Kennel Club

  • All the hound breeds have their own breed societies and you can Google them on the Internet. Email their secretaries for details of imminent litters

Gallery of Whippet