I’ve had a Whippet in my family for almost 8 years at this point. I always loved the athletic and elegant appearance of Whippets, but having spent practically every day sharing my life with Misty, I’ve come to adore the Whippet temperament and personality.
In this article, I’m going to explain the temperament of Whippets from my experience, along with the experiences of other Whippet owners I’ve met. My hope is that you’ll be able to understand why in my view Whippets make ideal pets and why they might be a good fit for you and your family.
I’ll touch on the following:
Table of Contents
- A Short Overview of Whippets
- Whippet Temperament & Personality
- Whippet Temperament: The Positives
- Whippet Temperament: The Negatives
- Male & Female Personality Differences
A Short Overview of Whippets
Whippets belong to the sighthound family. Sighthounds are known for their ability to run at high speeds with incredible acceleration.
Sighthounds are usually quite independent and often know what they want! This can often conflict with what you want as an owner! As a result of their independent spirit, sighthounds require consistent training and encouragement so they understand who the boss is!
Perhaps the most well known of all sighthounds is the Greyhound… in fact Whippets and Greyhounds look incredibly similar.
Historically, Whippets were extremely popular among the working classes in England during the 18th century, since they offered:
- Excellent hunting skills for catching small animals that would help to feed a family.
- Speed for weekend races… and a bit of gambling the side!
- A natural way to warm up a cold bed at night: Whippets are famous bed squatters!
The first time I heard of Whippets was when I was a child. My grandfather was raised in a coal mining town in the south west of England and often spoke of the Whippet races that took place in the mining community when he was a child. He loved Whippets, pretty much for the same reason I do: their elegance, athleticism and personality.
Of course, Whippets have a history that extends way before 18th century England though. Wikipedia provides a brief history of Whippets here. It’s interesting to know this, since it helps to give context to how the Whippet temperament and personality have been shaped by breeding.
Find out 14 interesting facts about Whippets.
Whippet Temperament & Personality
I’ve mentioned already the general sighthound independent streak. Most of the Whippets I know generally follow this behavioural characteristic, though I understand Whippets tend to be one of the most obedient sighthound breeds.
Training from an early age is helpful!
I took Misty to training classes once a week for several months and although it’s definitely helped curb her desire to be independent, I wouldn’t say she’s the most obedient dog I’ve ever met!
In my experience, Whippets are a quiet, sensitive breed, not necessarily shy but a little antisocial with other dogs. Early socialisation is extremely important to encourage a young Whippet to feel confident when “running with the pack”.
I’d say that Whippets are extremely loving, especially with those they live with. They can be a little wary of new people, but once they know someone, they never forget them and will extend their affection to them too.
Despite being seen as “skinny” dogs, Whippets are actually very cuddly and always seek opportunities to snuggle up with you. Indeed, the bond between Whippets and their families becomes extremely strong.
In my view this is one of the things that make Whippets ideal for families. However, at the same time it does mean that given their sensitive nature, Whippets are not great at being left alone for long periods of time.
I’m sure that a Whippet would happily spend each and every minute of every day hanging out of your pocket, were it possible!
Whippets have an even temperament, as long as they are given appropriate exercise, mental stimulation and lots of love. A well exercised Whippet will happily lounge around for most of they day. In fact, Whippets are often thought of as couch potatoes!
Even though they’re even tempered, Whippets are sighthounds and they have a strong drive to chase things. This is difficult to train out of even the most obedient of Whippets: it’s not their fault because it’s in their nature.
They’re not aggressive dogs, but chasing things is just too irresistible to them.
As a result, it’s difficult for Whippets to live with other small pets. In my experience, it’s hard to keep Whippets and cats under the same roof. The temptation to chase is simply too strong for most Whippets to ignore and they are very fast runners: way faster than cats.
Whippets love comfort, warmth and human contact. As a result, you may find that your Whippet will want to spend time with you at night. Most Whippet owners I’ve met have asked me if Misty sleeps in our bed.
Most Whippet owners I know have the same arrangement. I understand this is not most people’s cup of tea. It wasn’t mine either to begin with, but Misty beat us on this one… she just couldn’t bear to be parted from us at night.
After several weeks of constant and very loud crying, we relented and allowed Misty into our bedroom. I know some Whippet owners that have overcome this but most don’t.
Find out more about the Whippet dog breed.
Male & Female Personality Differences
Both male and female Whippets make excellent pets and share a the same loving and even temperament. Neither sex has an aggressive personality… they only ever seem to attack you with cuddles and face licks!
Male and female Whippets do have are slight differences in personality though.
Male Whippets tend to have more playful personalities. It’s said that they are slightly easier to train than females, since female Whippets can be more strong-willed. Both males and females will be devoted to their families though.
Our Whippet Misty is female and I can say hand on heart that although she is a little headstrong, she is a dream to live with.
She may not win an obedience contest. But the training she’s had, combined with treats, helps her to understand when we’d like her to do something… or to stop doing something she shouldn’t!
The Highlights of Whippet Temperament
The Negatives of Whippet Temperament
- Not good at being alone for long periods.
- Tendency to chase things (always keep on a leash or Whippet harness if not in enclosed areas).
- Not good with cats or other small pets at home.
Whippets make ideal pets for almost any home, be that with families living in a house or couples in an apartment… yes, Whippets can be good apartment dogs!
Whippets don’t need an awful lot of space since they’re medium-sized dogs, but they do need exercise of up to an hour a day. This should include opportunities to sprint… that’s what they’re bred for after all.
My experience of owning Misty is that the Whippet temperament is loving, playful and gentle… they don’t have a bad bone in their bodies.
If you’re considering buying a Whippet puppy you won’t be disappointed, as long as you can commit to the responsibility of properly caring for it.
Whippets are simply the best!
Any questions about Whippet temperament? Or perhaps you’re a Whippet owner who can add to this discussion? Please leave a comment or question below.