If you’re considering adopting a Whippet or buying a Whippet puppy, you might want to know about how trainable they are. Is it easy to train Whippets? Will training make a Whippet obedient? Are Whippets smart enough to even learn commands?
In this post I’m discussing our experiences and I hope to be able to answer whether Whippets really are smart… or at least, how they compare to other dog breeds in terms of intelligence.
Table of Contents
- Our Experiences of Whippet Training
- Are Whippets Smart… And If So How Smart Are They Really?
Our Experiences of Whippet Training
When our Whippet Misty was younger we took her to puppy training classes. Although training definitely helped develop her obedience, we found she didn’t quite respond as well as some of the other dog breeds we attended classes with.
This left us wondering about several things:
- Had we properly adopted what we’d learned at puppy training and somehow not followed something we should have?
- Were the classes not right for Whippets?
- Are Whippets smart enough to learn things?
- Can Whippets be trained as well as other dog breeds?
In our search for answers we even approached a dog whisperer, believe it or not! I never even knew that a dog whisperer was a thing… but it there you go.
We paid £70 for a dog whisperer to “take a look” at Misty and for around an hour that’s what he did. He told us that Whippets were difficult to train because they have an aloof streak that’s hard to overcome.
We asked him if Whippets are smart enough to learn commands. He told us that all dogs can be taught obedience, but that some dogs find it easier than others. He also explained that on the canine intelligence continuum where 1 is not smart and 10 is very smart, Whippets might be around 1 – 2.
We were a little surprised about this, since we’d always felt that Whippets were smart but reluctant to learn through their predominantly independent attitude.
Are Whippets Smart… And If So How Smart Are They Really?
In his 1994 book “The Intelligence of Dogs”, canine psychologist Professor Stanely Coren ranks Whippets in position 51 in a survey of 130 dog breeds. Some of these positions are tied… indeed Whippets share position 51 with Chinese Shar Peis and Wire Fox Terriers!
Coren research suggested that Whippets are smart enough to understand new commands after 25 to 40 repetitions and that they’d respond to them 50% of the time.
Compare this to Poodles, who take fewer than 5 repetitions to understand new commands and obey them 95% of the time… or possibly even more!
So two things are apparent to me from this:
- Whippets perhaps are not the most intelligent dogs… but they’re not the least either.
- Whippets are smart enough to learn commands but they potentially ignore them 50% of the time!
In my experience, I’ve never considered Whippets to be uber-smart… unless they want to be! If there’s a treat on offer, my Whippet Misty will be as obedient and compliant as any other dog!
My feeling is that the Whippet temperament includes a level of independence that means they struggle with complying to commands. I know Whippets can be socialised and trained, but the extent to which most Whippets will bend to your will may be limited.
Sometimes I know my Whippet is smart, especially when there’s something in it for her!
I’d love to know your thoughts. Are Whippets smart? Have you struggled to train your Whippet. Drop me your thoughts / questions in the comments section below.