Is Whippet a Good Family Dog?

By Abigail Bodeley on Jan 22, 2024 Reviewed by Mick Ford

Whippets have a gentle nature but the sighthound high prey drive might that can cause them to chase down cats and small pets. Are they good family dogs?

Is whippet a good family dog

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Is Whippet a good family dog?

Yes, Whippets are generally considered to be good family dogs.

They are known for their gentle and friendly nature. Whippets are medium-sized dogs that are part of the sighthound family, originally bred for racing and hunting, but they have adapted well to being companions.

Here are some characteristics that make Whippets suitable as family dogs:

#1 — Gentle Nature

Whippets have a gentle and mild temperament.

They are not known for aggression, which makes them well-suited for families, especially those with children. This characteristic ensures that interactions with family members, including kids, are generally positive and safe.

#2 — Affectionate

Whippets are known to form strong bonds with their human family members.

They often seek out affection and enjoy being close to their family members, making them excellent companions who thrive on the love and attention provided in a family setting.

#3 — Good with Children

Their gentle and tolerant nature makes Whippets good with children.

While it’s always essential to supervise interactions between dogs and young children, Whippets are generally patient and can handle the energy and playfulness of kids without becoming easily agitated.

#4 — Medium Size

Whippets fall into the category of medium-sized dogs.

This makes them a practical choice for families, as they are large enough to be robust and playful but not so large that they become unwieldy, especially in smaller living spaces.

#5 — Playful

Whippets have a playful side that makes them enjoyable for families.

They often engage in interactive play, whether it’s games of fetch, running in the yard, or playing with toys. This playful behavior contributes to the overall fun and dynamic atmosphere in a family home.

#6 — Adaptable

Whippets are adaptable dogs that can fit well into various living environments.

Whether it’s a house with a yard or an apartment with limited space, Whippets can adjust, provided they receive adequate exercise and mental stimulation.

#7 — Low Grooming Needs

With their short, smooth coat, Whippets have minimal grooming requirements.

This is advantageous for families who may not have the time or inclination for extensive grooming sessions. Regular brushing to control shedding and occasional baths are usually sufficient to keep them clean.

#8 — Laid-Back Indoor Behavior

Despite their racing background, Whippets often exhibit a calm and laid-back demeanor indoors.

They are content to relax and spend time with their family members, making them suitable for families who appreciate a dog that can switch between active outdoor play and quiet indoor time.

#9 — Minimal Shedding

Whippets have a short coat that sheds minimally.

This can be a relief for families concerned about excessive dog hair around the house. Regular grooming helps manage shedding, and overall, Whippets are relatively low-maintenance in the grooming department.

#10 — Social Animals

Whippets are social dogs that usually get along well with other pets in the household. Their sociable nature makes them more adaptable to multi-pet families, fostering a harmonious environment.

#11 — Trainability

Whippets are known to be trainable, responding well to positive reinforcement methods.

Their intelligence and willingness to please make them relatively easy to teach, which is an asset for families looking for a dog that can be well-behaved and responsive to commands.

#12 — Moderate Exercise Needs

While Whippets have bursts of energy, they do not have the extremely high exercise requirements of some other breeds.

Regular walks, playtime in a fenced yard, and the occasional opportunity to sprint can usually meet their exercise needs, making them manageable for families with varying activity levels.

#13 — Good Watchdogs

Whippets, despite their gentle demeanor, have a keen sense of sight and are alert.

They can serve as good watchdogs by alerting the family to any unusual activity or visitors. This can contribute to a sense of security in the home.

#14 — Versatile Athletes

Whippets, originally bred for racing, are versatile athletes.

While they can reach impressive speeds when running, they are also capable of enjoying less intense activities, such as casual walks or even lounging around the house. This versatility allows them to adapt to the family’s lifestyle.

#15 — Moderate Energy Levels

Whippets have a balanced energy level.

While they have bursts of activity, they are **not hyperactive*8. This balance can be beneficial for families, as it means they can engage in play and exercise when needed but also settle down and relax indoors.

#16 — Resilient

Whippets are generally healthy dogs with a level of resilience.

Their robust health contributes to their longevity and suitability as family companions. Of course, regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and attention to their well-being are important to maintain their overall health.

#17 — Minimal Drooling

Whippets are not known for excessive drooling.

Families who prefer a cleaner living space will appreciate this characteristic, as it reduces the need for constant clean-up. While individual dogs may vary, the breed’s tendency to be less drooly can make them more comfortable and enjoyable for families.

The combination of these characteristics makes Whippets well-suited for families seeking a loving, adaptable, and relatively low-maintenance canine companion. As with any breed, individual temperament can vary, so it’s important to spend time with specific dogs to ensure compatibility with your family’s needs and lifestyle.

If you are considering adding a Whippet to your family, it’s advisable to meet individual dogs, talk to reputable breeders or rescue organizations, and ensure that the breed’s characteristics align with your family’s lifestyle and needs.

Some reasons why a Whippet might not be the ideal family dog

While Whippets are generally known for their positive traits, no dog breed is universally perfect for every family. It’s important to consider the specific needs and dynamics of your household.

Here are some reasons why a Whippet might not be the ideal family dog for everyone:

  • High prey drive: Whippets are sighthounds, and they may have a strong prey drive. This means they might be inclined to chase small animals, such as squirrels or even smaller pets like hamsters. Families with small animals may need to exercise caution and closely supervise interactions.
  • Sensitivity: Whippets can be sensitive dogs, both physically and emotionally. Rough play or handling may not be well-tolerated, especially by younger children who may not understand a dog’s boundaries. Gentle and respectful treatment is crucial.
  • Fragility: Despite their athleticism, Whippets have a lean build and may be more fragile compared to sturdier breeds. Families with very young children who may inadvertently handle the dog too roughly should be cautious to avoid accidental injuries.
  • Limited guarding instinct: While Whippets can be good at alerting their owners to strangers, they typically lack strong guarding instincts. If a family is seeking a dog specifically for guarding purposes, a breed with stronger protective instincts may be more suitable.
  • Exercise needs: While Whippets have moderate exercise needs, they still require regular physical activity. Families with extremely busy schedules or those unable to provide sufficient exercise may find a more low-energy breed to be a better fit.
  • Not Ideal for extreme climates: Whippets have a short coat and lack a thick undercoat, making them less suited for extremely cold climates. Families living in such conditions may need to take extra precautions to keep their Whippet warm during colder seasons.
  • Potential separation anxiety: Whippets can form strong bonds with their owners and may experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Families with demanding schedules may need to consider the time and effort required to address this potential issue.
  • Not ideal for rough play: Whippets are not built for rough play, and their thin skin can be more prone to cuts and bruises. Families with active children who engage in roughhousing might need to choose a sturdier breed better suited for such activities.
  • Independent nature: Whippets can have an independent streak. While they form strong bonds with their families, they may not be as overtly affectionate or dependent as some other breeds. Families seeking a highly affectionate dog may want to consider this aspect.
  • Potential for timidity: Some Whippets can be timid or shy, especially if not properly socialized during their early development. Families with a more hectic or noisy environment may need to ensure early and consistent socialization to prevent timidity.
  • Not ideal for protection: Whippets, being generally friendly and non-aggressive, are not typically suitable as guard or protection dogs. Families seeking a dog for security reasons may need to look at breeds with more protective instincts.

Are Whippets good with cats?

In general, Whippets can coexist well with cats, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • The high prey drive means some individuals may be inclined to chase cats.
  • Individual variation: Each dog is an individual, and their temperament can vary. Some Whippets may be more tolerant of cats and get along well, while others may be more inclined to chase or view them as prey. It’s essential to introduce them gradually and observe their behavior.
  • Socialization: Early and positive socialization is key. If a Whippet is exposed to cats from a young age in a controlled and positive manner, they are more likely to develop positive associations and be comfortable around feline companions.
  • Supervision: Always supervise interactions between Whippets and cats, especially during the initial stages of their relationship. This helps ensure the safety of both pets and allows you to intervene if needed.
  • Training: Basic obedience training is crucial for any dog, and it can be particularly beneficial when introducing a Whippet to a household with cats. Commands such as “leave it” and “stay” can be helpful in managing interactions.
  • Establish safe spaces: Provide both the cat and the Whippet with separate safe spaces where they can retreat if needed. Cats often appreciate vertical spaces, like cat trees or shelves, where they can observe the dog from a safe distance.
  • Positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward the Whippet for calm and appropriate behavior around the cat. This helps reinforce positive associations and encourages good behavior.
  • Gradual introduction: Introduce the cat and the Whippet gradually, allowing them to become familiar with each other’s scent before face-to-face interactions. Use controlled environments and leashes if necessary.

It’s important to note that successful cat-dog relationships depend on the individual personalities of both animals. Some Whippets are known to live harmoniously with cats, while others may need more careful management and training.

Additionally, adopting a Whippet from a reputable breeder or rescue organization that can provide information about the dog’s temperament and history may be beneficial when integrating them into a home with cats.