Whippet vs. Greyhound: How to Tell These Breeds Apart

Greyhounds and whippets share quite a few traits. They're both high-energy and affectionate breeds with a strong prey drive, a lot of love for family members, and a penchant for cuddling. Greyhounds and whippets are usually fairly easy to tell apart, but the differences can be harder to spot when dealing with the smaller Italian greyhound, which is similar in size and shape to the whippet. This similarity often causes dog owners to mix up the two breeds.

These two social dogs share so many similarities that they might as well be siblings, but there are a few distinct differences between the two. Can you tell the difference between a whippet vs. greyhound?

Origins of the Breeds

whippet vs greyhound

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Greyhounds can trace their origins back to the ancient Egyptians. As time went on, they soon became popular in Europe. With their fast, aerodynamic form, long legs, and fast speeds, these pups soon became known as racing and hunting dogs. Whippets are actually direct descendants of the greyhound, which explains their similar features and body shapes.

According to the American Kennel Club, whippets are considered medium-sized dogs. They typically stand at 18 to 22 inches and weigh in at 24 to 40 pounds. A standard greyhound can be up to 30 inches tall and weigh up to 70 pounds, putting them into the large dog category. In the grand scheme of dog health, both pups have an average health and energy rating. Buying a purebred whippet from a breeder could cost anywhere between $800 and $1,500 on average, while purchasing a greyhound usually runs quite a bit more, generally starting at $1,500.

Whippet vs. Greyhound: Personality and Lifespan

whippet vs greyhound

RELATED: Things to Know Before Adopting a Retired Greyhound

The whippet has been nicknamed  "the poor man's racehorse." These pooches are sweet, with a playful but calm demeanor. While they like to run, they are prone to short bursts of energy, making them the perfect pup to have in a yard where they can play or in an apartment with adequate walks and mental stimulation. The smooth coat dogs are fairly low maintenance, with barely any shedding. They only need to be groomed once a month. While whippets make a good family pet, a whippet puppy needs socialization to feel more comfortable around outsiders. The breed is not overly reserved, but they do prefer their families. Their average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.

The greyhound dog is primarily known for being a racing dog (that, and for being on the side of buses!) In fact, they are the fastest dogs in the world, with speeds topping out at 45 mph. These sprinters are fiercely independent but very gentle. Therefore, adopting a greyhound puppy may not be the best move for the first-time dog owner. Retired racing greyhounds can be adopted through rescues but are better for experienced owners who know how to train more independent breeds properly. The average life expectancy for a greyhound is between 10 and 13 years.

Neither of these breeds would be very good guard dogs as they do not bark very often, making them welcome companions for most apartment dwellers. And once they both get all their energy out, they like to be couch potatoes!

Whippet and Greyhound Health and Nutrition

whippet vs greyhound

While both breeds are generally healthy dogs, all pups are prone to health problems. Whippets are made to be long and lean, and they do not do well with added weight. A fit, healthy whippet will live a longer life overall. Breeders should screen pups for deafness, eye disorders, and cardiac issues. The BAER test is an electrodiagnostic test used to check for deafness.

Greyhounds can be susceptible to various health issues such as von Willebrand disease, hip dysplasia, osteosarcoma, and hypothyroidism. Since they have a deeper chest, they can also be prone to bloat and gastric torsion, which can be deadly. Therefore, most responsible breeders will run health tests such as the Polyneuropathy NDRG1 DNA test to check for genetic disorders like muscle weakness and intolerance to exercise in their dogs before breeding.

Whippets and greyhounds do not do well with anesthesia. They can only handle small doses, and if the vet uses the recommended dose for their weight, which would be fine in other dogs, it could be fatal.

Both breeds should eat high-quality dog food filled with essential nutrients for long healthy lives. A greyhound eats between three to four cups of food a day, and a whippet eats between two to three cups a day. Becoming overweight can be detrimental to both dog breed's joints, so owners need to watch their food & treat intake carefully.

Overall, there are very few differences between the two breeds. The biggest is their size difference. They are sweet, loving pups who love to run, chase smaller animals, and curl up on the couch with their families.

Do you think the whippet and the greyhound look alike? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

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