Depicted in art from as early as Ancient Egyptian times, the Whippet falls within the Kennel Club's 'hound' breed group, primarily bred to course game at high speeds. The Whippet is the result of crossing between the Greyhound and Italian Greyhound, with or without contributing Terrier blood. The Whippet was developed at the end of the 19th century when dog coursing was a popular form of entertainment amongst the English lower classes. Whippet racing is particularly popular in Massachusetts, America, where the first Whippets were brought along with English mill workers, residing there ever since. The Whippet was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1888.
Medium-sized and lean in build, the Whippet possesses a distinctive appearance, closely resembling its forebears in all but size. Boasting short legs, a deep chest for enhanced lung capacity, a long and pointed muzzle, a tapering tail, and a short, close coat. Typically, the coat is observed in colours of slate grey, fawn, red, brindle, tiger white, black or blue. Agile and curious, the Whippet is capable of climbing to a considerable height so observation is necessary when off the leash. An average shedder, the Whippet coat requires minimal management to maintain its appearance and does not have a typical 'doggy' odour.
Contrary to popular belief, the Whippet is an amiable, relaxed and gentle breed, with a quiet temperament that enjoys regular human contact. The Whippet is neither aggressive nor highly strung, but docile and dependable towards its owners. Compatible with children and other house pets when introduced to them gradually, the breed is low maintenance and makes a great addition to any home setting. Whilst there are discrepancies across gender, the average Whippet will weigh between 10-20 kg, with a life expectancy of approximately 12-15 years when shown the appropriate love and care.
Generally very healthy and long-lived, the Whippet is prone to few breed-specific or genetic diseases. Those that are documented in the breed include cardiac-related illness, congenital deafness and optical disorders, although these appear with no great prevalence.