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Personality Traits of a Whippet

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Whippet personality

Two things make whippets happy — running full speed ahead and sleeping curled up on your best chair as they squeeze you out of it. They are quiet inside the house, occasionally barking if there's something worth barking at. Like all sighthounds, they love to chase anything that moves, and that includes the neighborhood cats. They do get along well with family cats and dogs and are gentle with children.

Sight hounds are not known for their obedience, but the whippet is probably the most obedient of them. They are also among the most demonstrative, enjoying cuddling and playing with their family. This affection is only reserved for family members, however, and they are not social butterflies. A sensitive dog, whippets are attached to their family and do not like to be separated from them.  

What to expect

Whippets can live in an apartment if you take them out for a good sprint a couple of times a day. They spend a great deal of their time relaxing and, as long as they get adequate exercise, they are quite pleasant and quiet inside. They do need the chance to run fast, however, to feel at peace with the world.

They do not like being cold and hate hard surfaces. If you cannot stand the thought of a dog on your furniture or in your bed, do not even think about getting a whippet.

Whippets like to be with you and even want to be touching you when they sleep. They are gentle and non-aggressive. The biggest danger to people is their wagging tail that can leave welts on you once it gets going and smacks your leg. They are hopeless as protection dogs.

History of the Whippet

The whippet hails from humble origins in 18th century Great Britain. The breed's ancestors helped poach rabbits and provided gambling entertainment in snap dog contests, in which the winner was the dog that could snap up the most rabbits within an enclosure in the shortest time. With the Industrial Revolution came the urban incarnation of snap dog contests — racing down a straightaway to grab a rag waved by the guardians. The whippet is still known by the nickname it earned in those days: the poor man's racehorse.

Besides its obvious Greyhound association, the whippet probably has an early dash of ratting terrier (for quickness) and a later cross with Italian greyhounds (for elegance and refinement).

The whippet is the unrivaled sprinter of the dog world, able to make hairpin turns at high speed. This ability has not only made it the most popular breed competing in the sport of lure-coursing, but it also launched one whippet to fame and eventually started a new canine sport. That whippet was Ashley whippet, the founding dog of competitive canine Frisbee catching.

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