I love whippet dogs and enjoy sharing my experience with potential owners of this breed.
Whippet Dogs: Small Game Hunters
Is this the face of a killer? This mild-mannered, sweet-looking, demure, and placid creature? Well, yes. This gorgeous creature is a prolific killer of rats, mice, lizards, possums, bush turkeys, galahs, and pigeons. Anything silly enough to enter the backyard is fair game—literally. When walking through the forest near home, if he gets off the leash, he will even chase deer, not to mention rabbits, foxes and kangaroos, and wallabies. Luckily, he has never caught anything other than a rabbit, although he got pretty close to a deer one time but he got frightened and backed away when he saw how big it was.
A thing to watch with whippets is that their heads are so slim and elegant and their necks so elongated that they are able to slip through a normal collar. A special 'whippet collar' is required to make sure they never get away. While it is good to let them off the leash and give them a chance to run, ideally this is better done at the dog park where there are fences. It's fun to watch the other dogs at the dog park chasing my whippets—they never catch them.
Whippet Dogs as Pets
There are several extremely informative articles about the qualities of whippets as pets, their characteristics, health, longevity, care and general nature. I will not go into specific breed details here, suffice to say that having had whippets now I will never go back to any other type of dog (other than something similar). One thing to note about whippets is that they really need to have company. They are not suitable as an 'only-dog'. When our male got to the age of about 12 months he developed a 'doggy depression'. He stopped playing with his stuffed toys, and constantly moped around. This was cured when we acquired another whippet as a companion for him. Now he is extremely happy and follows her everywhere. They curl up to sleep together often and, being a bit older than him, she enjoys 'mothering' him. She likes to groom him and doesn't hesitate to correct his boisterous behaviour when she thinks its necessary. The small game silly enough to enter the back yard is now in double danger. Like all dogs, the whippets have banded together to become a 'pack' and hunt together. Anything that might have stood a chance before with only one whippet, now has no chance.
How to Stop the Whippet Dogs Killing Small Animals
I am not concerned about the whippets killing rats or mice, but I don't want to see possums, birds or even rabbits die. Much of the local wildlife is nocturnal, so I lock my whippets inside at night. I only let them off the lead in places where they will do no harm. I have special collars for walks which they cannot slip out of. I feed them well, they are never hungry. I no longer put food in the wild bird feeders. This is a bit sad as the parrots that used to visit were beautiful, but far better for them not to come anymore. The local cats have all figured out that they should stay away, so they are safe. However, there is not much I can do to stop lizards, pigeons and galahs and bush turkeys from visiting.
I have had lots of dogs of all different types and I loved them all, but now the only breeds other than a whippet I would ever consider getting are other sighthounds. Sighthounds are a class of dog breeds which are deep-chested, extremely fast and agile and have excellent vision. They see their prey and race after it. This is why it is important to keep your sighthound on a leash in most places, once they see something worth chasing, there is absolutely no getting them back and they ignore every other thing in the pursuit of their prey.
Other sight-hounds include:
- Irish Wolfhounds
- Pharaoh Hounds
- Ibizan Hounds
- Scottish Deerhounds
- Italian Greyhounds
There are more sighthound breeds than these, but these are the more common ones.
Are Whippet Dogs Hypoallergenic?
I don't know the scientific answer to that, only that mine certainly seem to be. There are plenty of websites and other sources that list the dog breeds that do not affect people with allergies. Whippets are not often listed on these sites. I have relatives that come to stay on a regular basis who are allergic to all animals. Dogs, horses, cats etc. The little girl actually gets asthma from dogs, but not from my dogs. The only time she reacts to my whippets is when she pats them and then rubs her eyes with her hands. And even then it is just some redness and not the asthma attack she gets from other dogs. No Ventolin required, just some anti-histamines. My other relative does not react at all to the whippets and he generally reacts to all other dogs. I think whippets are hypoallergenic, but this is only based on my anecdotal experience.
I have never had such well-mannered, charming, sweet-natured dogs. They travel well, are good in company, seem to be hypoallergenic and are very affectionate. The only draw back is their incredible propensity to hunt small animals. Their efficiency at killing and dismembering the smaller creatures silly enough to enter our yard is frightening. No dog I have ever had in the past even comes close to their skill. The only advantage to this is that we no longer get cats coming into the yard to do their business and we certainly have no rats or mice. Otherwise it is very sad to see other creatures suffer in this way.
Perhaps whippets are such great hunters because of their incredible speed. Plenty of other dogs I have had have chased creatures, but never really managed to catch much. The whippets certainly seem to have the killer instinct, but luckily most of the time they just hang out on the couch.
For Whippet Lovers
E price on June 20, 2020:
We had just one whippet my husband wanted another so went back to the same breeder and bought a brother for our whippet
Wrong move my original does not like his brother not a good mix
rls8994 from Mississippi on October 22, 2014:
These are adorable dogs that I really knew nothing about until I came across this hub. They look so sweet and lovable! :) I have never seen one of these dogs in person but I would love to :) Great information on this breed of dog! Voted up :)
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on June 24, 2013:
Thanks OneLittleStar, I have been thinking of you and wishing I could be of more assistance. I hope you really enjoy your parrot - maybe I will get to see some pictures of him later down the track? Best wishes, Mel
OneLittleStar on June 23, 2013:
I appreciate your comments. I'm sure it helped that you had Artie first, and we will just have to work a bit harder to help our dogs and cats accept a parrot as part of the family. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on June 22, 2013:
Hi OneLittleStar, Artie the lorikeet was already on the scene when we got the whippets. The male whippet was a puppy when we got him and he grew up with Artie being very much the boss - in fact he used to try to seek Artie's approval! The next whippet came along a couple of years later as an adult, she was 5 when we got her as a rescue dog. She was so depleted and run down from her time as a breeder, (stuck in a small concrete kennel outside just producing puppies for sale) and scared of us (and Artie) that she just avoided him. If Artie approached her she ran away. I am not sure about introducing a parrot with already established whippets/sighthounds. I think it would very much depend on the type of parrot and the nature of the dogs. In my experience Lorikeets are a whole different game to smaller parrots as they are so dominant and rough, but smaller birds can be more timid at first. As for really large parrots I am not sure. Maybe if the dogs can see that the parrot is accepted in the family and the pecking order it might work out, especially if the parrot is a baby and grows up with the dogs? But I am not sure. It would be really good to make sure that the parrot has his own space though, dogs are great at understanding space limits. Your silken windhound sounds interesting and I am glad that you too have a beautiful whippet! Thanks for visiting and good luck, Mel
OneLittleStar on June 22, 2013:
Hi Mel Jay - I was recently doing an online search and happened upon your Hub. I noticed that you have both whippets and parrots, and your male whippet seems incredibly tolerant of the lorikeet! My husband and I would love to add a parrot to our home, but we have a whippet (with a remarkable resemblance to your brindled female!) and a silken windhound (whippet/borzoi mix) and are concerned about everyone getting along and not harming one another. May I ask what you did to help your dogs adjust to Artie and become so gentle around him? We have trained our dogs to mostly leave our two cats alone, but given the strong prey drive of sighthounds, I worry that a little parrot could be a more compelling target and might have more trouble getting away. Any suggestions you can offer from your experience would be greatly appreciated!
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on May 28, 2013:
Thanks Peg, I have added a few more pictures, including a shot of my 9-year-old whippet in her pink bathrobe. Winter is coming here now and whippets are not so good at staying warm. As she gets older she really feels the cold, not that it ever really gets below zero here. They would have to have little fur coats if it did!
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on May 28, 2013:
I stopped back in today to check out these lovely dog pictures as they are soulful and gorgeous. Enjoyed the entertaining description of your beautiful dogs once again.
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on January 03, 2013:
Hi Kate, that sounds like your whippet thinks she is higher in the social hierarchy than she actually is. Perhaps implement some training and other measures that will reinforce her place at a lower rung on the ladder than your child? Dogs are pack animals who need to know exactly where they stand in the group. My male whippet has a similar issue from time to time and I usually 'withdraw privileges' by not giving him so many treats and letting him see me treating other pets and family members with affection prior to giving him attention, not letting him go through doors before me or the other dog and making sure he stays to heel. Sometimes I also take him to the dog park where he interacts with bigger dogs and getting a less puffed up idea of himself! Good luck :)
kate on December 13, 2012:
Need some help, my female whippet but my 5Yr old on the leg the other day, not long after a dominance fight (which she always loses at) with our other dog, she has tried to dominate my child a couple of times before, what do I do ??
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 11, 2012:
Killer whippets? I need to keep this quiet since I nominated them as one of the five best breeds for slackers. They can´t be out killing little animals if they are laying on the couch listening to music.
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on May 18, 2011:
Hi Peg, thanks for your comment. I know what you mean about killers in concert! There is a new cat in our neighbourhood. This cat was lounging around in the sun in the back yard the other week, pretending not to be watching my lorikeet, Artie. My dogs worked together to chase it to a corner area but luckily the cat went up a tree and then jumped to the fence and escaped. They seem to instinctively know how to do team work, wish more people were like that! Cheers, Mel
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on May 18, 2011:
Absolutely loved this hub and the pictures are incredible. How can anyone resist those eyes? Yes, I've had dogs who bring me dead things (or somewhat dead) like birds, rats, and lizards as trophies. Pretty gross, but true to their nature as hunters. The amazing part was watching them work as a team, one flushing out the creature and the other making the . . um, well, you know.
Mel Jay (author) from Australia on April 20, 2011:
Thanks Miss Lil' Atlanta, you are right - it's funny how dogs, even chihuahuas, often have no idea of their own size! My male whippet will face up to much larger dogs at the dog park, convinced he is as big and strong as them, luckily he is so fast nothing can catch him except another sighthound. Your dog sounds great - I bet she is really sweet natured. Thanks for the comment - Cheers Mel
Miss Lil' Atlanta from Atlanta, GA on April 19, 2011:
I was just about to start writing a new blog on Whippets tonight, and while I was searching Hubpages making sure there weren't too many Whippet blogs similar to what I'm about to write, I can across this Hub.
Lol I've got to hand it to you, the title of this hub really caught my attention, so I just had to check it out, and you totally did a great job with this blog.
One of my dogs is a Whippet Labrador Retriever Mix, and when we used to keep her outside in the back yard during the day, she'd end up killing all sorts of small wild animals. She didn't seem as though she really wanted to kill the animals, but I just think she was trying to play and befriend them. Apparently, my dog must not be aware of her size. lol