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.
Tia, my beautiful sweetest natured 12 1/12 yr old pup. Adores each of our 5 grandchildren and treats them as her own. They were each introduced as really young baby’s allowed to give them a once over lick and that is that, – forever her responsibility to love and cherish that child. A dog is a dog and I would never leave Tia, or any other dog for that matter, with a toddler on their own. I’ve supervised each and every eye pock, finger up nostril and ear tug, to which Tia has never flinched. A truly wonderful natured dog. She has kept me fit and mentally sane through various crisis’s that occur in family life. Even my husband adores her and he is definitely not a dog lover. We came by her by accident as she was owned by one of our sons who moved to an apartment that didn’t allow pets, so before his move he stayed with us complete with puppy who was then only 6 months old. It was love at first sight.
There is only one downside to her is that she gets sooo upset when my husband raises his voice, it may not be in anger but enthusiasm watching football, but this really stresses her out – and of course fireworks and thunder for which most dogs struggle with.
Another idiosyncrasy is her fussy eating. Nothing but the best for this pup! My friends are astonished by what she is given. She is not a greedy animal and to be honest has to be enticed to eat. She’s never stolen a single thing from a plate or a child, and never begs at mealtimes.
Night time ritual is that she shares our bedroom but as you may suspect, my husband was not willing to share his bed, that was a step too far. She is perfectly happy snuggling up in her own bed, swathed in her own bedclothes and duvet. She is adorable.
All the other wonderful attributes regarding this lovely breed is so utterly true to the breed (in my opinion) quiet, gentle, sweet, affectionate, a little wayward in recall and can be choosy about some dogs but on the whole she socialises well with most dogs. Hates bum sniffing! A real big no no! I’m with her on that🤣. (I know, I hear you say, “but that’s dogs”. No! some are more persistent than others😩)
Again, all dogs are different as are people. As a breed these animals are just wonderful.
PS. One of my daughter in laws is allergic to dogs but is not troubled by Tia, she and her family gladly look after her when we go away. A friends partner also struggles with most dogs but not Tia, and we have a granddaughter who it seems is hyper allergic to almost everything known to man, poor thing, but with Tia, whom she adores, she is fine with.
I luckily have been brought up with a Great Dane, a German Shepherd, a Lab and a Beagle, all of which have been gorgeous dogs, this is my first whippet. Am I a fan of the whippet. You bet❤️
Thank you for such a lovely, considered comment Nannyt! Tia sounds absolutely adorable and it’s been a pleasure to hear about her.
I agree with everything you say, especially that all dogs are individuals and even though they may share breed tendencies, they can still have their own unique traits.
P.S. My Whippet is with you and Tia on the bum sniffing… she hates it!
Ainsley Elizabeth Cole says
Our beautiful 6 year old fawn/brindle whippet, Decker, is absolutely wonderful, and suits us oldies. He loves his walks, doesnt bark, is timid, and all of the other things you have said. A question: Have any of your whippets had interdigital cysts caused by ingrown hairs?
I have a Whippet and he’s also very very needy but great with the kids. We have a cat that he’s scared of and just keeps out of her way haha.
Needy for sure… but the best friend you could ever hope to have Lauren!
Jennifer A Hubler says
Just got my whippet girl 2 weeks ago. Best decision ever! This little girl is basically house breaking herself. Shes had no accidents in the house. She refuses to sleep in her cage at night because she wants in my bed. Loves sleeping under the blankets. She is very needy, thinks shes gotta be in my lap all the time. She is quiet unless she is playing with another dog.
Aww that’s amazing… 2 weeks into your life together! Whippets really are wonderful dogs to share a house with… and as you already note, “sharing” means sharing everything, even your bed!
Thanks so much for leaving a comment here!
Have a 12 week pup. She chews in everything including my body and clothing She also barks when told no! Any suggestions? Give her lots of treats
12 weeks! I’ll bet she’s super-cute… apart from the chewing! My Whippet Misty barks too, even though many say that Whippets don’t bark.
She’s probably teething and needs things to chew on. The teething phase usually ends around 6 months, so try to restrict the things she chews on until teething is over.
Whenever you catch her chewing things you don’t want her to, perhaps try to distract her with toys that she can chew on. We always found distraction like this worked well when Misty was teething.
Holly Hill says
Having numerous breeds I have found my 3 Whippets to be the best breed to have as a pet and companions. They are simply the coolest breed. I have had Border Collies, Boxers, German Shepards, and Toy Poodles. Wonderful breeds, but my favorite breed will always be my Whippets.
Whippets are love on 4 legs!
I love that line… “Love on 4 legs”! They really are a very loving breed and just the best friends to have around!
I love most dog breeds but to me Whippets will always be numero uno!
Thanks for taking the time to leave your comment!
We have had five Whippets over the past 30 years. All of them have been gentle and playful with our cats. They even nap together on the bed. Each time we brought home a puppy, the cats made it clear they were here first and in charge.
Hi Barbara. I’ve heard of other Whippet owners with cats… some have worked out okay, others not so great. We fell in the not so great camp!
Peggi L Lindsey says
I have a 4 yr old Whippet I got as a rescue pup and trained it to be my autistic sons service dog rocketman. One of the smartest pups I know.
Hi Peggi. It sounds like you’ve been able to train your Whippet successfully. Congrats!
Peggy A Black says
Great article have raised Whippets in the past have lived with them most of my life. Our whippets were raised with toy dogs and were taught to respect them. We have never had an issue with them being around small animals. However we don’t trust them with cats.
Whippets such beautiful dogs and very gentle… but you’re right about cats. We had to rehome our cat because Misty kept chasing her. We were sure one day she would catch her.
Many thanks for your comment!