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Home > Dogs > 14 Surprising Whippet Dog Facts You’ll Love to Know

14 Surprising Whippet Dog Facts You’ll Love to Know

Whippet dog in a meadow

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If you aren’t familiar with the Whippet, it’s a dog often mistaken for the Greyhound, is one of the most athletic canines in the world, and makes for a sweet, gentle pet. There’s so much more to these pups than just their athleticism and delightful temperaments, though! That’s why we’re here to share 14 surprising Whippet facts with you.

We’ll tell you more about this dog breed’s mad speed skills, unique facts about how they’re built, and why they can’t live with cats. Keep reading to learn more about these fascinating pups!


The 14 Facts About Whippets

1. There used to be two types of Whippets.

When the breed originated, there were two types of Whippets, one having a smooth coat and the other a rough one. During the breed’s early years, the Whippets with smooth coats were favored and especially popular in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Whippets with rough coats were preferred as working and sporting dogs. The smooth-coated Whippet is the one that evolved into the modern Whippet that is known today, though.

cute whippet puppy lying on a wooden floor looking at camera
Image Credit: Kevin Mallon, Shutterstock

2. Whippets can run as fast as 35mph!

The average top speed for a Whippet is 35 miles per hour! But some of these canines can reach 40 miles per hour while running full stride. These speeds mean the Whippet is one of the fastest dog breeds in the world.

One of the reasons the Whippet can run so quickly is that it has a double suspension gait. What does that mean? It means when these dogs run, they have an asymmetrical gait wherein the Whippet’s back legs overtake their front. And this means that Whippets can go airborne twice in a gait cycle, which helps them run at top speed.

3. A Whippet has been the fastest dog in America for the past 3 years.

Greyhounds are considered the fastest dog breed in the world, but the quickest dog in America is a Whippet (and has been for the past 3 years). In 2021, a Whippet named Reas finished the 100-yard dash for the Fastest Dogs U.S.A. competition in 5.769 seconds!1 He beat the previous year’s champion (a mixed breed with a time of 6.485 seconds) and, just for reference, beat out Usain Bolt’s best time in the 100-meter dash (9.58 seconds). That’s one fast dog!

Reas also won the competition the following year but lost the fastest dog title in 2023 to Winston, another Whippet.

Brown Whippet Dog with muscles running in a field
Image Credit: AlyssaDogPhotographer, Shutterstock

4. Whippets are so fast because of their body shape.

The Whippet’s body shape is another reason they can run so quickly; it isn’t just the double suspension gait. You’ve probably noticed the Whippet has an arch in its back; that’s not just for show. This arch means more flexibility for them to pull their hindquarters right under their chest when running. This allows for huge stride length propelling them forwards. Without this arch, the Whippet couldn’t run nearly as fast as it does.

5. One incredibly athletic Whippet has earned the nickname “Michael Jordan of Dogs”.

Running isn’t all these athletic dogs can do. Spitfire is a Whippet who has earned the nickname “Michael Jordan of Dogs” from ESPN for his extreme athleticism. Spitfire can jump 31 feet, is the world record holder for “speed retrieving” (where a canine jumps off a dock into the water, swims to the far side to get an object, and brings it back), and can jump 8 feet vertically! Spitfire is also a 21-time holder of world records. Seems like that nickname is well-earned!

whippet dog in a park on nature against a trees background in a summer sunny day
Image Credit: Timchenko Natalia, Shutterstock

6. The fastest balloon popper in the world is a Whippet.

Alright, “canine balloon-popping” sounds like a made-up sport, but we promise it’s real, and a Whippet named Toby holds the Guinness World Record for it. In 2017, this Whippet popped 100 balloons in only 28.22 seconds. That’s a lot of balloon-popping! Toby beat out the previous world record holder, Twinkie, the Jack Russell Terrier, by just under 10 seconds.

7. A Whippet is also the best frisbee catcher in the world.

Honestly, are you even surprised at this point? Davy the Whippet set a Guinness World Record in 2012 for “longest flying disc catch” by catching a Frisbee thrown 402 feet! Even more incredible than that, Davy reached a speed of 40 miles per hour, enabling him to catch the Frisbee in only about 10.5 seconds. This Whippet became a bit of a star in the dog community after that and even published a children’s book called “The Davy Rule”.

whippet dog carrying frisbee at dog park
Image Credit: Horse Crazy, Shutterstock

8. Whippets were known as “the poor man’s Greyhound” in 1800s England.

Dog racing was a big thing in Europe in the 1800s, primarily using Greyhounds as the racing dogs. The sport was taken very seriously and was both an occasion to be sociable and make money. But only the wealthy could afford to participate in Greyhound racing, so the working class decided to make their own version of dog racing using Whippets (because they were cheaper to breed than Greyhounds were). This is how the Whippet got its nickname “the poor man’s Greyhound”.

9. Whippets are what are known as “sighthounds”.

What is a sighthound? These canines use speed and sight for hunting rather than endurance and scent. Sighthounds have sharp eyesight for movement, making hunting by sight a breeze. And because the Whippet has that arched back that allows them to be so flexible and the double suspension gait that makes them so fast, they’ve got the speed-hunting thing down pat. This breed is known for their skill in snapping up prey they’ve caught sight of, so they used to be referred to as “snap dogs”.

whippet dog standing in the woods
Image Credit: Nadja Huebner, Shutterstock

10. Whippets and cats are often not a good mix.

If you’re currently a cat parent considering getting a Whippet, we should warn you that it’s not usually a good idea. Because Whippets are sighthounds, their natural instinct is to chase when it comes to running animals. While some Whippets can live harmoniously with resident felines, especially if they are introduced as puppies, others can’t resist the urge to chase them.

11. Whippets have large hearts.

Whippets, along with other sighthounds like Greyhounds, have a large heart in relation to their body size. It is not clear in studies whether this is due to genetic influences or training, or both! They also generally have slower heart rates.

whippet dog hold by owner
Image Credit: Natallia Miranchuk, Shutterstock

12. This breed can be extremely sensitive to barbiturate anesthetics.

Another important thing to know about the Whippet if you plan on owning one is that these dogs can be more sensitive to anesthetic drugs. This is due to their lack of body fat and most anesthetic drugs are ‘lipophilic’, meaning they distribute in body fat. Therefore more of these drugs remain in the bloodstream in lean Whippets, meaning more of a clinical effect compared with dogs with more fatty tissue.

13. These dogs are prone to the shivers.

Some think Whippets are extremely fretful or fearful because they shiver a lot. But this usually isn’t why they’re shivering (although they can shiver when afraid). The main reason Whippets tend to be shivery is because they don’t have that much body fat, only have a single coat, and are thin-skinned. So, if your Whippet is shivering, most likely, they’re cold! This will be worse in the winter, of course, especially when outdoors, so you’ll need to wrap your pup up in a coat or sweater.

Man with whippet dog in nature
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

14. Whippets require a special collar.

The Whippet’s body is very slim and graceful, as well as very thin and muscular. They also have deep chests and long necks; those long necks mean they need a different collar than the ones many other dog breeds wear. Instead of a thin dog collar, Whippets need a wide collar. Narrow collars can injure a Whippet’s neck and throat and put too much pressure on those areas. A wider collar helps reduce that pressure and the risk of injury.



Whippets are unique and lovable dogs who are incredibly athletic. That athleticism has made them some of the world’s fastest dogs and world record holders. Whether it’s jumping, balloon-popping, or catching Frisbees, the Whippet is impressive, and now that you know so many new surprising facts about the breed, you can decide if one is right for you and your family!

Featured Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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