Are Whippets Smart? A Comprehensive Guide to Their Intelligence

Whippets are a breed of sighthounds initially bred in England for racing and hunting. They are known for their speed, agility, and graceful appearance.

While some people believe that whippets are not particularly intelligent, others argue that they are highly trainable and capable of performing various tasks.

In this article, we will explore the intelligence of whippets in-depth, examining their breed characteristics, working ability, trainability, problem-solving skills, and learning and memory.


Before we can begin to assess the intelligence of whippets, it is crucial to define what we mean by intelligence.

Intelligence can be defined as the ability to learn, reason, and solve problems. It encompasses many cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, perception, and language.

How Smart Are Whippets?

According to Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an expert on canine intelligence, whippets rank as the 51st smartest breed out of 138 breeds evaluated.

This ranking is based on obedience and working intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and instinctive intelligence.

black whippet
You talking to me?

The Intelligence of Whippets

What Makes Them Smart?

Whippets are considered smart dogs due to their working ability, trainability, problem-solving skills, excellent memory and learning abilities, and communication capabilities.

They are also highly communicative and emotionally intelligent, making them great companions.

Working Ability

Whippets are known for their working ability, particularly in racing and lure coursing. They can reach up to 35 miles per hour and easily navigate obstacles.

While racing and lure coursing do not necessarily indicate intelligence, they require problem-solving and decision-making abilities.


Whippets are highly trainable and respond well to positive reinforcement. They are eager to please their owners and are quick learners.

While they may not be as trainable as some breeds specifically bred for obedience and working tasks, such as border collies or German shepherds, they can learn and perform various tasks.


Whippets have a certain problem-solving ability, particularly regarding tasks related to their breed characteristics. For example, they may be able to problem-solve and navigate a course during a lure coursing competition.

However, they may not be as adept at problem-solving tasks unrelated to their natural abilities.

brown whippet yawning
It’s been a ruff day!

Learning and Memory

Whippets have average learning and memory abilities compared to other dog breeds. They can learn various commands and tricks and quickly pick up new behaviors.

However, their memory may not be as long-lasting as some other breeds, and they may require more frequent reinforcement of learned behaviors.


Whippets are highly communicative and can use a variety of vocalizations and body language to convey their feelings and needs.

They are also very sensitive to their owner’s emotions and can pick up on subtle cues like tone of voice and body language.

Emotional Intelligence

Whippets are highly emotionally intelligent and are known for their ability to form deep bonds with their owners.

They are also very intuitive and can sense when their owners are upset or distressed.

Factors Affecting Intelligence

While breed characteristics can provide some insight into the intelligence of whippets, it is essential to consider other factors that may impact their cognitive abilities.

white brindle whippet
Paws-ing to take it all in


Genetics play a role in determining a dog’s intelligence, including whippets. Some research suggests that specific genes may be associated with better cognitive abilities in dogs, while others may be associated with a lower IQ.

However, it is important to note that genetics is not the only factor determining a dog’s intelligence.


The environment in which a dog is raised can also impact their cognitive abilities. Dogs with plenty of socialization, mental stimulation, and positive reinforcement are more likely to develop problem-solving and decision-making skills.

On the other hand, dogs raised in a stressful or hostile environment may be less likely to develop these skills.


Training is another important factor that can impact a dog’s intelligence. Dogs trained using positive reinforcement methods are more likely to develop problem-solving skills and retain what they have learned.

On the other hand, dogs trained using punishment or harmful reinforcement methods may be less likely to develop these skills and may even develop behavior problems.

whippet biting on rope
Wait, this isn’t chimken!

Common Misconceptions

There are several common misconceptions about whippets and their intelligence.

One of the most pervasive is that they are not very intelligent. However, as we have covered, this is not necessarily true.

While they may not be as trainable as other breeds, they can learn and perform various tasks.

Another misconception is that whippets are lazy or low-energy dogs. While they may enjoy lounging around the house, they are also highly athletic and require plenty of exercises and mental stimulation.

Providing them with these things can help to develop their cognitive abilities and prevent behavior problems.


In conclusion, whippets are a breed of sighthounds often underestimated in their intelligence. While they may not be as trainable as other breeds, they can learn and perform various tasks.

Genetics, environment, and training can impact a dog’s cognitive abilities, including those of whippets. By providing them with plenty of socialization, mental stimulation, and positive reinforcement, owners can help their whippets develop problem-solving and decision-making skills.


Are whippets good with children?

Yes, whippets are generally good with children. They are gentle and affectionate dogs that often make great family pets.

However, it is essential to supervise interactions between children and dogs to prevent any accidents or injuries.

Do whippets require a lot of exercise?

Yes, whippets are highly athletic and require plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy. They enjoy running and playing and should be given opportunities to do so on a daily basis.

How can I train my whippet to perform new tasks?

Whippets respond very well to positive reinforcement training methods, which involve rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, and attention.

Consistency and patience are key when training any dog, and it is vital to set realistic goals and work at a comfortable pace for you and your dog.

Are whippets prone to any health problems?

Like all breeds, whippets may be prone to specific health problems. These can include hip dysplasia, eye problems, and heart disease.

Working with a reputable breeder and providing your dog with regular veterinary care is vital to help prevent and manage potential health issues.

What is the lifespan of a whippet?

Whippets typically have a 12-15 years lifespan, although some may live longer with proper care and management of any health issues.

Stock images from Pexels

Victoria Richards

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