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Whippet vs. Greyhound: Breed Differences & Similarities

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Last Updated: November 17, 2023 | 8 min read | 3 Comments

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The Greyhound and the Whippet are sweet souls who are affectionate and loving towards their families. They also make for a wonderful family pet, as long as no cats or small animals are involved. While mixing these two breeds has become popular, they are also commonly mistaken for one another. There are a few differences to note when considering the Greyhound vs. Whippet breeds.

The most significant difference is that the Greyhound is much larger and slightly more expensive than the Whippet. They are so similar in temperament and looks that they could easily pass as brother and sister.

However, small differences between them might be a deal-breaker for you or your lifestyle, so it is essential to compare them in detail. It’s also important to note that these two have other breeds as direct descendants, so they aren’t the only pups in this family that look alike. Let’s get into the specifics of the Whippet vs. Greyhound.

Breed Comparison

Whippet

  • Height 18-22 Inches
  • Weight 25-40 Pounds
  • Temperament Calm, Affectionate, Playful
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 12-15 Years
  • Price $800-$1,55

Greyhound

  • Height 27-30 Inches
  • Weight 60-70 Pounds
  • Temperament Independent, Noble, Gentle
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-13 Years
  • Price $1,500 and Up

Key Differences

  1. Greyhounds are much larger than Whippets.
  2. Whippets are a newer breed.
  3. Greyhounds are faster.
  4. Whippets are more popular as family pets.
  5. Greyhounds are much more expensive.
  6. Whippets have a longer life expectancy.
  7. Greyhounds need more exercise and mental interaction.

Breed History

The Greyhound is one of the oldest known breeds, whereas the Whippet is considered a comparatively new breed. However, they share a similar history and the same DNA.

Whippet

Smaller Racing Dogs Lounging in Grass
Whippets are smaller versions of their Greyhound ancestors.

The Whippet is a medium-sized dog who is a direct descendant of the Greyhound, so they are not just similar. They are family. The Whippet is a relatively new breed, only known to have existed for the last few centuries.

His journey is documented to have begun in Victorian England, where he was known as the “poor man’s Greyhound.” Without the space to house a Greyhound nor the resources to feed him, local miners bred a cheaper, smaller version, but one that was still fast enough to hunt small animals.

It is unknown what other dog breed they used to breed with the Greyhound, but it is believed to be long-legged Terriers. English immigrants took the breed to North America in the early 20th Century.

The Whippet can reach speeds of up to 35 mph and is said to be the world’s fastest-accelerating dog. According to the AKC, he is also the 54th most popular breed in America as of 2022.

Greyhound

Dogs Running a Race
Greyhounds have an ancient history where they started as hunters and have developed into racing dogs today.

The Greyhound is an ancient breed first mentioned in the Tomb of Amten in Egypt, which dates to 2900 B.C. Greyhounds are said to be the descendants of these very first sighthounds.

The Greyhound is the fastest dog in the world and can reach up to 45 mph speeds. They were brought to Europe in the Dark Ages and, after some time, taken to America by British Colonists. They were initially used as hunting dogs to catch coyotes, stags, and wild boars. The hare, however, is his main quarry.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized them in 1885. One year later, the first-ever official hare coursing race took place, and ever since then, the sport has been extremely popular across the globe but also very controversial. Today, the Greyhound is the 129th most popular breed out of 199 breeds the AKC ranks. (The smaller Italian Greyhound ranks 69th.)

Appearance

Dogs Standing Outdoors
These two dogs look almost exactly alike, except the Greyhound is the larger of the two.

Greyhounds and Whippets are very similar in their appearance. The Greyhound vs. Whippet size is the biggest difference between the two breeds. Some would say the Whippet is just a “mini-me” version of the Greyhound. They both have a long, narrow muzzle and small rose-shaped ears that fold back, but when alert or excited, they stand upright.

Both breeds have slender bodies that are skinny in appearance, and often, you can see their ribs and spine because of their short coat. Their chests are broad and deep with an arched back, and their tail often falls between their legs.

The Greyhound is a large dog and much taller, measuring between 28 and 30 inches. The Whippet measures much shorter, between 19 and 22 inches. The Greyhound is much more muscular, meaning he weighs between 65 and 70 pounds. The Whippet weighs between 25 and 40 pounds. The much smaller Italian Greyhound looks almost identical to the Greyhound but weighs just 7 to 14 pounds.

Temperament

Both breeds are independent, affectionate, and gentle.

The Greyhound and the Whippet are also similar in temperament and are quiet, calm dogs. They are both known to be quite timid with those they do not know, and not only do they get nervous jitters, but they are also known to be jumpy. However, they are both very kind and affectionate with their immediate family and friends. They are also great with children, so both breeds make lovely family pets.

Not only are they affectionate with their people, but they are also both great with other dogs. However, if you have small pets in your household, including tiny dogs they have not been raised alongside, they are likely to chase and injure them. This is particularly true if you were to adopt an ex-racing dog. If you want a smaller pup, consider the Italian Greyhound. While otherwise calm dogs, both breeds love the chase and will always feel the urge to run after smaller animals.

They both rarely bark and are overall quiet dogs, so they would not make for a great guard dog. However, this is perfect if you live in an apartment or similar housing subject to noise regulations.

They also both get super cold, and their chattery teeth will warn you of this. Their chattery teeth are also a sign that they are very happy.

Exercise

Happy Dogs Running Outside
Both breeds have average exercise requirements of about 45-60 minutes daily.

As they are the fastest and nearly the fastest dogs in the world, many people think that they are high-energy, but this really is not the case. They are sprinters and not distance runners with short bursts of energy. A brisk, long walk or two a day will suit these medium-energy guys.

The Greyhound would also appreciate more mental stimulation throughout the day in the form of interactive games. Being the bigger of the two, it will take a few more miles a week to wear him out compared to the Whippet. Aside from this, they both enjoy being couch potatoes and are known to be quite the snuggle bugs.

If you have a large contained yard, they will also enjoy a good sprint, but be warned if they catch the scent of an animal, they will take off after it. With that in mind, never letting your Greyhound or Whippet off-leash in an unconfined area is advisable.

Training

Brindle Dogs Running Courses
Though both breeds can be challenging to train, it is possible, especially for racing, which they are natural at.

Both the Greyhound and the Whippet are considered “independent,” which is just a polite way of saying that they are both stubborn creatures and are often difficult to train. Therefore, they are not recommended for a first-time dog owner. If you adopt a former racing Greyhound, pick the correct harness to train them. They are natural pullers when their prey drive kicks in.

Because they are independent, early obedience training is critical to ensure they are more likely to listen to you when they’re older. Additionally, because of their timidness, it is essential for them to be socialized as early as possible so that they grow up being comfortable in new situations.

Because both breeds can be timid, it is particularly important for their training to be positive and not negative. Otherwise, you risk them becoming scared of you. Positive reinforcement training is the best type of training for any dog, but it is particularly important with nervous dogs such as these guys. They are going to be slower to learn tricks than other breeds.

Health

Light Brown Dogs in Fields on an Autumn Day
Both breeds are typically healthy and can live long lives if properly cared for.

The Greyhound and the Whippet are generally healthy dogs without serious health complaints. The average life expectancy of a Greyhound is 10 to 13 years, whereas the Whippet typically outlives the Greyhound by two years.

Both breeds are known to suffer from various eye complaints. As such, their parents are required to undertake an ophthalmologist evaluation to ensure that their eyes have been certified as healthy. Their parents must also undertake a cardiac examination to ensure that their hearts are in good order.

The Greyhound is required to undergo a Polyneuropathy NDRG1 DNA test. This health issue is characterized by muscle weakness and exercise intolerance, which can be fatal. The Greyhound is also susceptible to Osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer.

The Whippet is required to undergo a BAER test, which is an electrodiagnostic test that examines the components of his ears to identify if he is deaf. Von Willebrand’s disease is also found in Whippets, which is caused by a deficiency in the number of particular platelets in the blood.

Both breeds are sensitive to anesthesia, and what may be used as a dose for another dog may be fatal for them. Former racing dogs may also have weaker tendons as they age, so be prepared for a hefty vet bill if your pup tears their ACL. Both breeds are a good consideration for pet insurance, which can help cover the cost of emergency care.

Nutrition

Dogs Licking Their Lips
Feed your Greyhound or Whippet high-quality dog food appropriate for their age, size, and activity level. 

The Greyhound will eat 3 to 4 cups of food daily, whereas the Whippet will eat slightly less, between 2 and 3 cups daily. Of course, this depends on the size of your pup. Because they are so frail with little frames, obesity is particularly harmful to their joints, so monitor their food and treat intake between meals.

Grooming

Dogs Wearing Sweaters
These breeds are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to grooming.

Both the Greyhound and the Whippet have short and smooth coats that are very low maintenance. Regular brushing once or twice a week will be adequate. They only need bathing once every two months or so. Thankfully, both are calm dogs, so bathing them is not as tricky as some other breeds.

Both the Whippet and the Greyhound suffer from dental problems due to their narrow and shallow jaw, and as such, their teeth need brushing a few times a week in order to keep bad breath and other periodontal diseases at bay.

As their skin is so thin, they are prone to getting cuts and scrapes on their underbelly, especially if they are allowed to run through areas with grass and twigs. Check them frequently to ensure that they haven’t become infected.

Puppy Price

Cute Puppies Outside on a Summer Day
Greyhounds generally cost more than Whippets.

The price is another difference between the breeds. The Greyhound can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $2,000. Whereas the Whippet costs between $800 and $1,500. If you seek an award-winning racing Greyhound from a famous lineage, you can expect to pay up to $15,000. After all, Greyhound racing is still a big sport with big bucks to be made. Italian Greyhounds, which are much smaller, still have a hefty price tag of $1,500 to over $2,400.

With so many Greyhounds and Whippets being dumped after they cannot race, an extremely high number of these breeds are up for adoption if they are lucky enough to escape immediate euthanasia. With the average cost of adoption being between $50 and $350, you will save a lot of money, but you will also be a lifesaver. The National Greyhound Association of America provides a list of rescue centers in each state solely dedicated to rehoming ex-racing Greyhounds.

Final Thoughts

The Greyhound and the Whippet are sweet souls who are a pleasure to be around for the whole family unless you are a cat. It’s tough to say which would win in a paw race when putting the Whippet vs. the Greyhound, but both dogs are fast and sweet.

The truth is that there aren’t many differences other than the size and the price between these two. So, whichever pup gets your heart racing, you will undoubtedly be a winner.

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