Often when I’m out walking often my Whippet Misty, people ask me if she’s a greyhound. I understand this because both breeds look very similar. In fact, were you to look at a facial close up photo of a Whippet and Greyhound next to each other, it would be hard to tell which was which. So in this article I’m going to compare Whippets vs Greyhounds to explain the differences.
Table of Contents
- A Little Background on Greyhounds
- Whippets vs Greyhounds – Physical Aspects
- Temperament and Home Suitability
- Dietary Requirements and Exercise
- Whippets vs Greyhounds Health
A Little Background on Greyhounds
Greyhounds are known for being large, aerodynamic speed demons. However, few people know, of their rich history dating back thousands of years. Thanks to cave depictions and ancient Egyptian art, we know the breed dates back roughly 8000 years!
While leaving their mark in Egypt, Greece, and Rome, Greyhounds really gained traction when they reached Europe some time around the fifth or sixth century AD. They quickly became popular for their racing and hunting skills.
In the few hundred years following, a new breed called Whippets emerged from breeding small Greyhounds with long-legged english terriers.
Today, Greyhounds and Whippets are nearly identical in appearance. Aside from the size distinction, there are more differences than those that meet the eye though.
Want to know more about Whippets? Check out my Whippet dog breed information page to find out everything about this lovely creature!
Whippets vs Greyhounds – Physical Aspects
Let’s start with the most obvious difference… size.
Greyhounds can have varying physical characteristics based on what they were bred for.
Those bred for performance in a show ring are typically a little taller and heavier than their racing counterparts who weigh less despite better muscle mass.
Show dogs also tend to have exaggerated features like the Greyhound’s slender head.
Typically, a male Greyhound will stand between 28-30 inches tall and weigh 29 – 32kg (65 – 70lbs). Females are slightly smaller, measuring 27-28 inches tall, and weighing 27 – 29kg (60 – 65lbs).
Whippets typically stand between 19-22 inches tall for males, and 18-21 inches tall for females. Male and female Whippets weigh between 6.8 – 19.1kg (15 – 42lbs). As intended, they look just like a Greyhound, only smaller.
Temperament and Home Suitability
Perhaps contributing to their long history and success as a breed, Greyhounds are
typically sweet-natured, gentle and affectionate towards their family as well as other dogs.
Whippets have a similar disposition as amiable, quiet dogs. Both breeds require a lot of socialization as without it they tend to become timid when faced with new people, places and
Due to their gentle and calm natures, both breeds make great pets for families with
children and and other dogs. Unfortunately, for the same reasons, they are typically poor guard dogs and rarely bark!
Because of their racing careers, most people imagine that Greyhounds and Whippets are
high energy dogs. In reality, they are sprinters by nature. As a result they are driven by short bursts of energy rather than hours and miles of distance exercise.
Provided they have an opportunity each day to run around and burn off energy, both breeds will be happy spending the rest of their time relaxing on the couch!
Whippets come in a wide variety of gorgeous cross breeds. Find out more about Whippet mixes in my super detailed guide!
Where Greyhounds enjoy more mental stimulation and independence, Whippets are generally more playful and prefer company.
Thanks to their easy-going dispositions, and reasonable energy levels, Greyhounds and
Whippets usually make great pets. One downfall is their strong prey drive which encourages
them to chase and injure small animals like cats, rabbits, and squirrels… they’re unbelievably good at catching them too!
This unfortunately means they are not off-leash dogs and should be walked cautiously. Both breeds can pull hard enough to knock you down or even drag you. This is especially true for greyhounds as they’re bigger and more powerful than Whippets.
Since Greyhounds can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour and Whippets 35 miles per hour, you won’t have much hope of catching them if they get away from you!
Find out more about Whippet temperament in my detailed guide.
Dietary Requirements and Exercise
The diet for a Greyhound and a Whippet are quite similar, although due to their larger
size the Greyhound will certainly eat more. Both breeds will require a high-quality food which
is high in calories and protein to help keep up with their activity levels.
Where a Greyhound may eat 2 – 3 cups of food in a sitting, a Whippet will only eat 1 – 1.5 cups. Be mindful not to overfeed either breed; their small frames and joints are negatively affected by obesity.
Although both Greyhounds and Whippets need a decent amount of exercise, it may not be as much as you think. Because both breeds are sprinters, their energy comes in short bursts throughout the day. Any conserved energy will need to be burned off when the opportunity presents itself.
As a rule, 45 minutes to an hour of unleashed running and playing is normally adequate for both breeds. Of course a Greyhound will typically need a larger space.
Whippets and Greyhounds may also benefit from some mental stimulation, which is said to burn off as much energy as moderate physical activity.
Find out more detailed information about how much exercise a Whippet needs.
Whippets vs Greyhounds Health
Since Greyhounds are professional athletes in the dog world, there is much awareness of the potential health issues they may have.
Greyhounds, unfortunately, suffer the highest rate of osteosarcoma of any dog breed. Like many deep-chested dogs, they can be susceptible to gastric torsion. This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach suddenly becomes enlarged and twisted.
Additionally, breeding Greyhounds undergo genetic testing for the NDRG1 gene mutation, which causes polyneuropathy. This is a condition affecting muscle function, which can be fatal.
Despite these daunting health concerns, Greyhounds can live a full and happy life of up to 10-12 years.
Strangely enough, although Greyhounds and Whippets are so closely related, Whippets
suffer from some very different health concerns.
A primary concern in Whippets is a dangerous blood clotting disorder called Canine von Willebrand’s Disease. They also have a history of deafness, for which they can undergo a BAER test that examines the individual components of the ears.
Lastly, Whippets can suffer from allergies; pollen, mold, dust or even food allergies can affect them, causing itchy skin, ear infections and diarrhoea or vomiting.
There are some foods that all dogs shouldn’t eat. Find out more about them in this guide to foods Whippets should avoid.
Greyhounds and Whippets are predisposed to eye conditions, heart conditions, poor dental health, hypothyroidism and sensitivities to anaesthesia. Ophthalmologist evaluation as well as cardiac examinations are common methods of certifying eye and heart health.
Although their narrow heads help Greyhounds and Whippets run faster, it also means their narrow jaws have tightly packed teeth which are more difficult to keep clean and healthy.
In addition, any scenario where both breeds may receive an anaesthetic should be discussed thoroughly with your veterinarian.
As a surprising upside, both Greyhounds and Whippets are rarely affected by hip dysplasia. This is a common problem for large dogs and dogs that are very active.
Find out about more about Whippet health problems.
Although Greyhounds and Whippets are so closely related, they have a number of differences.
- One of the most notable and obvious differences is that of size, in which Greyhounds are significantly larger.
- Their temperaments and home suitability are similar as are their exercise requirements.
- Their diets should also be similar save for the fact that Greyhounds eat twice as much as Whippets do!
- Lastly, and surprisingly, are the variety of health concerns relevant to each particular breed. Although these differences are not major, they do help to set the two breeds apart.
- They’re both extremely fast runners, but the winner in a Whippet vs Greyhound race will always be the Greyhound!
Are you a Whippet or Greyhound lover? Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts about either breed.
Susan York says
Hi, I love both greyhounds and whippets alike but I have to say that my love goes with lurchers. I adopted my first lurcher collie x from Battersea dogs and cats home on 7th december 2011 at the age of 11 weeks. She was the most loving and loyal dog ever, we loved each other completely from the moment we first met.
Unfortunately I lost her earlier this year not much before her 11th birthday, it broke my heart to lose her and I miss her so much every day and always will. My life was nothing without my Keysha and I know she would never want me to be alone so I was so lucky to find another beautiful lurcher. This time he was with a family who had both his parents who I met. His mum was a black with white chest patterdale terrier and his dad was a very tall whippet x beagle, beautiful quiet loving lurcher, Django.
I brought my lurcher home with me aged 12 weeks, he will be 6 months old on 28th december 2022. Although both Keysha and my new lurcher puppy are lurchers and both black with white chests, there are definite differences in them, apart from the fact that Keysha was a girl and my puppy is a boy. I named him Lokey, normally spelt “Loki” god of mischief. I spelt his name “Lokey” using the “Key” from the spelling of my “Keysha”.
Lokey is going to be quite a bit taller and have a longer body and the body of a whippet whereas my Keysha had the small head and neck of a whippet but her legs were not much longer than a border collie and her body size was more like the size of a border collie than a whippet. Both beautiful lurcher crosses, I would never choose to have any other breed than a lurcher, but would never say no to another sight hound at the same time.
Thank you for sharing your stories of Keysha and Lokey Susan. I love the fact you’ve changed the spelling of “Loki” in remembrance of Keysha… such a loving and lovely homage.
Elizabeth Ilott says
Hi. I have a five year x racer greyhound, she is our rescue lady, very affectionate, sleeps avidly after her walks. She likes her food but she has a sensitive digestion system, so is on special diet for sensitive stomachs which she benefits from. Regarding her coat, when we got her, it was very dull, almost ashen, although she is black now after a year. I have salvaged her beautiful coat, now she has a very shiny healthy coat with no dandruff to be seen. Her dislikes are typically cats, squirrels, other dogs (apart from her mate, also a rescue Saluki X). As for her exercise routine, they both like their two walks per day but I never let them off because of the natural running skills.
Hi Elizabeth. A Greyhound X and a Saluki X? What a wonderful pair! Thanks so much for telling us about them.
Christine Dempster says
We have recently adopted an 8 year old retired racer, Star. She is large for a bitch, 70 lbs, many people think she is a dog. She is gentle and elegant, extremely playful with the grandchildren and loves runs on our nearby beach. We didn’t let her off the lead for a month, but she comes back fine now, although if we spot another dog we put her back on the lead. Previously we had collies and had to relearn a lot, but she is so worth it.
Hi Christine. That’s so great you’ve adopted… they’re such beautiful dogs.
We have a bull launcher she is 3 years old a falls completely in the greyhound catagory. She sleeps 8 hours at night and after play in the mornings with our other dog she sleep again.
She’s a wonderful dog and she and her sister were dropped off at our front gate. Her sister died of a twisted stomach. Thanks for listening.
She sounds very typical! So sorry to hear about her sister.
C Worster says
They are both loving and family dogs, my greyhound is also getting used to cats, but she still tries for pigeons in the back garden
Both beautiful, loving and supremely elegant breeds… but my Whippet Misty cannot resist trying to chase cats!