There are dog breeds that look very similar to one another. For example, there’s the Greyhound and the Whippet. Not only are these breeds known for their agility and speed, there is also the possibility that they share the same ancestry. Despite these similarities, however, there are many characteristics that make them two unique dog breeds. Here are the main differences between a Greyhound and a Whippet:
The Greyhound remains the only canine breed ever to be mentioned in different versions of the Bible. This leads us to believe that the dog – or its ancestors – must have existed for at least 4,000 years.
Ancient royalties revered the dog because of its stately physique and remarkable grace. People today can see depictions of the dog in ancient Egyptian walls and artifacts. The Roman Goddess of hunting was always depicted in the company of Greyhound-looking hunting dogs.
As the Roman Empire began to expand westwards, its Army brought with them some of their trusted dogs. One type of such dog was the sighthound. To be more specific, the Roman Army brought with them the Vertragus. This is the first sighthound ever recorded in Europe. Fanciers of the Greyhound also consider the Vertragus to be the ancestor of the modern Greyhound.
When the Roman Army crossed the English Channel into British soil, they brought Vertragus dogs with them. Many of these dogs mated with native dogs of the British Isles. Nobody is certain as to what types of dogs were responsible for the creation of the modern-day Greyhound.
It was only in the 18th century when Greyhound owners began recording and registering their dogs in privately-owned studbooks. A century later, people began registering and recording Greyhounds in public studbooks. It was in 1885 when the American Kennel Club recognized the Greyhound as a breed. The dog’s main role was that of a hunter, using its keen eyesight and lightning-quick pursuit speed.
Whippets, on the other hand, have their origins from small Greyhound dogs. Sometime in the early 17th century, some Greyhounds began giving birth to smaller puppies. These smaller versions of Greyhounds formed the foundation breed of the modern-day Whippet.
In the early 19th century, breeders in Northumberland and Durham crossbred the small Greyhounds to Bedlington Terriers. This resulted in the creation of a rough-coated Whippet. This type of Whippet is known for its remarkable skill in hunting rabbits.
Somewhere in the Midlands, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, Greyhound breeders began to solidify the characteristics of the modern, smooth-coated Whippet. People valued these dogs for their ratting abilities. The American Kennel Club recognized the Whippet as a breed in 1888, three years after recognizing the Greyhound.
The main difference here is that the Greyhound is a much older breed than the Whippet. One can also consider the Whippet as a sub-type of the Greyhound. When it comes to the game they hunt, Whippets go for rabbits while Greyhounds hunt hares.
When it comes to sheer speed, the Greyhound runs faster than the Whippet. Greyhounds are known to top the speed charts at 45 miles per hour. To give you an idea of how fast a Greyhound is, the fastest that a racehorse can go is about 43 miles per hour. The Greyhound uses its long, slender, and powerful legs to propel its sleek and streamlined body to such speeds. It also displays remarkable acceleration. The Greyhound can reach 30 MPH in only three strides.
On the other hand, the Whippet can blitz at 35 miles per hour. Its acceleration is quicker than that of the Greyhound, however. If we are to compare them to a human trackster, the Whippet is your 100-meter sprinter while the Greyhound is the 400-meter runner. This is not surprising. The Whippet is lighter than the Greyhound. This allows it to propel itself a lot faster than any other dog breed. The Greyhound, meanwhile, has longer legs. This allows the dog to cover a greater distance with fewer strides than the Whippet.
Based on the history of these dog breeds, the Greyhound is bigger than the Whippet. Their speed difference also reflects this variance in size. So, how big are the Greyhound and the Whippet?
Male Greyhounds can reach a maximum height of 30 inches while female Greyhounds can grow as tall as 28 inches. Males also tend to weigh more than females. The maximum weight of male Greyhounds is about 88 lbs while females can top the weighing scale at 75 lbs.
Whippets can grow as tall as 22.5 inches although they should never be shorter than 18.5 inches. The Federation Cynologique Internationale puts the standard height of Whippets at 18.5 to 20 inches. This is also the standard the Kennel Club of UK observes. This rabbit courser can also weigh 15 to 42 lbs.
Take a look at our article on Pet Scales.
The color of the Whippet’s coat is not that important as a breed standard. As such, Whippets can come in different colors. Many of them come in either solid white or solid black color. There are also Whippets that feature other colors like fawn, red, cream, blue, and brindle. They can have different markings, too. These markings come in different colors as well.
Greyhounds share the same color characteristics of the Whippet. However, there are about 30 different color forms that kennel clubs around the world recognize. Like the Whippet, coat color is immaterial. What is important is the dog’s temperament and other physical characteristics. Most Greyhounds come in fawn, gray, brindle, white, red, and black. They can have different shades of these colors, too.
Both the Greyhound and the Whippet possess very short fur. This is a must, if ever the dog is to compete in Greyhound or Whippet races. The short length of the fur keeps it very close to the dog’s body. This facilitates a more streamlined, more aerodynamic exterior that is ideal for blitzing.
Greyhounds have a very pleasant personality. They are never aggressive and they can display friendliness to almost anyone. The Greyhound can be aloof to strangers like most dogs. However, one only needs to give the dog a treat and it will already consider you as its best friend forever.
This dog has many cat-like qualities, including its sense of independence. They have a certain sensitivity that very few other canine breeds can match. They can sense if there is hostility or tension in their homes and can react in ways most pet parents never thought possible. If mistreated, they can grow timid or shy.
Calm, docile, and lazy are some of the words that people use to describe a Greyhound. When on the racetrack, people think it is aggressive because it wears a muzzle. These contraptions are necessary so they do not nip one another during and after the race. When not working, Greyhounds are as lazy as the Afghan Hound. They would rather spend the rest of the day on the couch or on the carpet with their beloved family members.
Whippets also have the same temperament as the Greyhound. This comes as no surprise since the Whippet came from the same genetic line as the Greyhound. It is affectionate and loyal to its family and can be aloof to people it doesn’t recognize.
Because there is a terrier in the genes of the Whippet, expect it to be an excellent watchdog. Unlike purebred terriers, however, this dog seldom barks. It is its alert nature that makes it a great watchdog.
Like the Greyhound, Whippets also do not mind lazing around the whole day. It doesn’t mean you can skip the daily exercise, however. This dog can still benefit from several minutes of brisk walking every day. The same is true with the Greyhound. It loves to be a four-legged couch potato as much as it loves to run.
There is one thing that people should understand whenever walking either of these dogs. Leash walking is crucial. Keep in mind that the Greyhound is a hare courser, while the Whippet is a rabbit courser. These traits are already permanent in the genes of these dogs. If you are outdoors, do not make the mistake that you can control them off leash. Their prey drive is so intense that they will chase any small animal that resembles either a hare or a rabbit. For more options, check out our detailed review of the best dog leashes.
Greyhounds can live up to 14 years while Whippets can outlive them by about a year or two. Both are healthy breeds. While they both came from the same genetic tree, they show a difference in the type of diseases that they can have.
Whippets are healthier than Greyhounds. Genetic eye defects, skin allergies, ear infections, digestive problems, and hip dysplasia are rare in this breed. On the other hand, Greyhounds tend to be more prone to esophageal achalasia, osteosarcoma, and gastric dilatation volvulus. They are also sensitive to barbiturate types of anesthetics and insecticides. Greyhounds also have lower platelet levels, yet with a higher concentration of red blood cells than any other dog breed.
The main differences between a Greyhound and a Whippet include their speed, size, history, and health. Their coat characteristics and temperament are almost the same.