The whippet and the Italian greyhound are both purebred descendants of the greyhound, but there are differences between them – the most obvious one being size.
Other differences include price, breed, potential health issues, country of origin, nutrition, and grooming.
Other factors to consider are their suitability for different owners or families and their response to people, dogs, and each other.
A Little Bit About Whippets
Whippets are hounds traditionally bred for hunting. They’re a purebred, medium-sized dog originating from England. They are beautiful, obedient, and athletic.
This makes them perfect show dogs and very competent in competitions such as lure coursing and flyball. They’re also an ideal choice for families or therapy dogs, making them a good all-rounder.
They are short-haired, easy to groom, and rarely bark at strangers or other dogs.
A Little Bit About Italian Greyhounds
The Italian greyhound, originally from Italy, is classed as a companion dog with a high chase instinct, especially for smaller animals such as rabbits and hares. They are determined, with impressive endurance and speed.
Their agility and athletic nature ensure they excel in rally competitions, and their obedience makes them a good family pet with a history of success in show rings.
They’re lap dogs, easy to groom, affectionate, and love attention.
What Are the Differences Between Whippets And Italian Greyhounds?
Size & Weight
The Italian greyhound is the smallest of the sighthound dog type. (Sighthounds are those who have the instinct to chase their prey on sight). They weigh just 6 to 10lbs with a shoulder height of 12 to 15 inches.
In comparison, the whippet is a medium-sized dog, weighing between 25 to 45lbs and their shoulder height ranges between 17 to 22 inches. Female Whippets are around 2 inches shorter than males.
Color & Appearance
They come in all different colors and can have cross colors with white and grey or white and brown, and there’s no limit to the diverse, exciting patterns you might find on whippets.
Both dogs have short, shiny hair, but the whippet’s coat is a little coarser. They have the same narrow-shaped head and muscular hind legs.
Slender, elegant, and with a slight build. Other than their size, they are remarkably similar in appearance.
Italian greyhounds come in black, grey, brown, red, and white. They are generally one full color, and brindle coloring isn’t an option.
Temperament & Behavior
Both dogs are affectionate, calm, gentle, intelligent, and agile. They are both prone to separation anxiety and won’t like spending much time away from you.
The whippet can be more mischievous than the Italian greyhound, especially when it comes to being let off their leash. They are notoriously difficult to housetrain, even for the most patient and experienced dog owner.
Both dogs respond well to an instant reward system when training. Using treats as a positive reinforcement tool for following direct instructions is a sure-fire way to get them to behave as you’d like.
They’re both well-mannered and friendly, but although they share the same positive demeanor, the Italian greyhound is easier to train.
The whippet is less likely to bark or howl, although neither dog is prone to being noisy, making them perfect pets to have in an apartment as they’re unlikely to disturb the neighbors.
Whippets and Italian greyhounds are listed as the top two breeds that bark the least of all dogs.
Although the Italian greyhound is more likely to alert you of an intruder, they would be unable to back it up with much bite because of their small size.
The only reason a whippet might bark is if they’re unhappy or in pain, they’re more inclined to whining instead.
Much like their greyhound cousins, neither dog would be any good as a guard dog.
Despite their obedient nature, both breeds of dog will chase smaller animals if they happen to see them out and about.
However, whippets are slightly more prone to pursue and so shouldn’t be let off their leash unless you can guarantee they won’t be distracted and run off.
Italian greyhounds will chase, but their smaller size means they aren’t as likely to catch up with any prey they see, and they will get tired more quickly, making them easier to handle in this situation.
Energy Levels & Exercise
Whippets have a higher energy level than Italian greyhounds. They’re more curious and playful and require lots of mental and physical stimulation.
However, potential dog owners are usually surprised to learn that both whippets and Italian greyhounds aren’t high-energy dogs.
They’re quite lazy. They only require short bursts of exercise to keep their hyperactivity at bay. If you don’t have a yard or garden, it’s an excellent idea to let them exercise in a safe, controlled environment.
Whippets are the fastest dogs in their size category, reaching speeds of up to 35mph, while Italian greyhounds can reach speeds of around 25mph.
Whippets should have two 20-minute exercise sessions per day, but because the Italian greyhound is a much smaller dog, they need less exercise. One 20-minute session per day should be enough.
The best way to ensure your Italian greyhound is calm at home is to double this to 40 minutes and, if possible, divide this time between two separate walks per day.
Whippets are calm, affectionate, and playful. They’re curious about their surroundings and get into everything.
However, they do like to cuddle up on the couch with you too. They tend to be slightly more confident than Italian greyhounds.
Whippets are easy-going inside the home and will entertain themselves when left to their own devices, providing they’re not left entirely alone for prolonged periods.
This is especially important because of their potential issues with toilet training, as they cannot wait long to be let out when they need to go.
The Italian greyhound is full of life, loveable and charming. This mix of calmness and excitement makes them perfect for a family home.
However, they can be quite sensitive, so their surroundings need to be warm, dry, and not too chaotic.
They can also be needy if they feel they’re not getting enough attention, they will follow you all around your home, never leaving your side and demanding lots of love and affection.
They’re definitely the happiest when snuggled up to their owners and respond well to human touch (if they’re expecting it).
They would even be happy to sleep in your bed with you, although this isn’t recommended due to sleep disturbance issues.
Both Of Them
Despite these minor differences, a LOT of their personality traits overlap!
They are placid, calm, and docile, affectionate, and friendly towards strangers, children, and other dogs, providing they are exposed to them from an early age.
However, both breeds are prone to nervousness and anxiety if not properly socialized, becoming shy, timid, or overwhelmed when their surroundings are busy.
They are generally independent, which can lead to stubbornness, but they are also intelligent and trainable, making them obedient with the correct upbringing.
Whippets can give birth to between 4 and 8 puppies at a time.
Italian greyhounds only tend to have litter sizes of between 2 and 4 puppies.
Both dogs can give birth once a year. Any more than this would be considered cruel. It’s not recommended to buy either dog from a breeder who forces their dogs to give birth more than this.
Whippet Price vs Italian Greyhound Price
Whippets are often labeled as the ‘poor man’s greyhound,’ but they’re still more expensive than the Italian greyhound because of their size.
The price for a whippet puppy is between $800 – $1500, while Italian greyhounds are around $500 to $800.
Grooming Whippets vs Grooming Italian Greyhounds
Both whippets and Italian greyhounds are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming because of their short hair, which requires brushing around once a week. They also only require bathing once every other month.
Both dogs have thin skin, which can be sensitive to scratching, which can cause infection, so it’s essential to keep an eye out for any oozing wounds and treat them appropriately.
Both dogs have narrow skulls, and therefore dental hygiene can become an issue. Their teeth will need to be brushed a few times a week with special toothpaste meant for dogs.
This will keep their breath fresh and help to prevent gum disease. The narrowness of their heads also means they can wiggle their way out of their collar.
For this reason, there are unique collars available to buy specifically for their breed.
Potential Health Problems
Because of their selective breeding, both breeds are prone to some health issues you’ll need to consider before deciding on welcoming one to your family.
Both Dogs Are Prone To:
Greyhound neuropathy – Can cause weakness and neurological issues. There’s a way to test for this in breeding pairs, and it’s something you should check with your breeder before purchasing your dog.
Autoimmune diseases – Both breeds should also be screened for various disorders involving their hips, eyes, thyroid, and patella, as they’re prone to autoimmune diseases.
Hypothermia and frostbite – Their skinny build makes them especially sensitive to the cold. You should invest in a coat for them during the winter months.
Sensitivity to anesthesia – Your vet should already know this, but it’d be a good idea to remind them if they need to have an operation or procedure of any kind.
Other than the above problems, the Italian greyhound is pretty hardy, and they don’t tend to suffer greatly with their health. Because of this, their life expectancy is slightly longer at 13-15 years.
However, whippets suffer from some additional health problems.
Whippet Health Problems
The whippet has a shorter life expectancy at 10-13 years and is prone to a few other health problems:
- Megaoesophagus – Can lead to the regurgitation of food – it’s a condition to do with the esophagus, which increases the risk of the dog inhaling food into their lungs.
- Canine hypothyroidism – An underproduction of the necessary thyroid hormones.
- Canine cutaneous histiocytoma – A type of cancer.
- Cushing’s disease – A condition caused by excessive production of cortisol.
- Cervical disc disease – An incredibly painful condition caused by ruptured discs.
- PFK or phosphofructokinase deficiency – Causes decreased red blood cells and muscle wastage and is caused by a problem metabolizing glucose.
It’s not just the physical health that you need to watch out for in whippets; they’re prone to separation anxiety (Italian greyhounds are a bit tougher in this sense and can withstand more time alone).
If your whippet becomes anxious or depressed, they may display similar symptoms to humans with anxiety. These include:
- Changes in appetite.
- Changes in sleeping pattern.
- Lethargy and tiredness.
- Lack of interest in going for walks, playing with their toys, and other activities they usually enjoy.
- Avoidance (hiding from other people and dogs).
- Licking their paws excessively.
- Being more clingy than usual.
Nervousness, aggression, being quieter than normal can all be signs that your whippet is struggling emotionally.
You know your dog best, and if you sense that something is wrong, it’s always best to have them checked out by a professional.
Is A Whippet a Good Fit for You?
Because of their easy-going disposition, whippets are suitable for families with small children. But because of their separation anxiety, they aren’t ideal for people who spend long periods of time out of the house.
They’re best suited to someone who will take the time to give them at least one good exercise opportunity a day, taking full advantage of any parks or open spaces nearby when walking them.
A quick walk around the block won’t be enough, as they need an outlet for their energy. Allowing them to sprint around for twenty minutes at high speed will ensure they remain calm indoors.
If you’re looking for a guard dog, then the whippet isn’t for you. They’re more likely to lick them than bark or bite and won’t notify you or try to deter them from entering your property.
It’s also worth noting that whippets enjoy the company of other dogs, so they would be perfect for someone willing to get them a friend to play with.
Ideally, another whippet would be perfect for this, or at least a dog of similar size and temperament.
If they don’t have this companionship, they can be prone to depression, refusing to play with their toys, and moping around your home.
Is An Italian Greyhound A Good Fit For You?
It’s natural for any dog lover to see an Italian greyhound and fall in love with them on sight, but before their adorability and charm take you in, be aware that they require a LOT of love and attention.
They are affectionately nicknamed ‘velcro dogs’ because of their tendency to follow you around and constantly stay by your side.
Also, because of their playful nature, when they decide it’s time to play, there isn’t much you can do to deter or distract them until you’ve given in to their demands.
If you decide you want to take a nap and your Italian greyhound doesn’t want this to happen, they will make sure you stay awake until they decide it’s naptime for you both!
As puppies, they’re extremely injury-prone (especially up until around 18 months), but even as adults, their small frame makes them more susceptible to broken bones.
This means paying extra attention during play with larger, stronger dogs or when walking them. This dog has no fear and will try squeezing into dangerous nooks and crannies with no thought for the consequences.
Do Whippets And Italian Greyhounds Get Along?
Yes! Because both breeds are amongst the quietest and laziest dogs, this, alongside their relaxed temperament, means they get along quite nicely.
Not only do they get along, but they could also even happily live side by side with one another in the same household. If you decide to get both dogs, then the Italian greyhound, despite its smaller size, would be the dominant of the two.
The only problem you might have is that you would have to pay extra care to ensure your Whippet wasn’t starved of attention.
You might not mean to make them feel ‘left out,’ but the Italian greyhound, being a lapdog, would constantly be by your side, and the whippet’s size would make it harder for them to get in on the action.
The whippet and the Italian greyhound are both cousins of the greyhound, making them similar in looks, temperament, and potential health problems because of genetics.
Ultimately, both dogs are even-tempered, loving, and friendly, making them perfect companions for anyone who has the time and patience to reciprocate this love and give them the affection they so desire.
If you’re a first-time owner, then the Italian greyhound’s temperament may be more suited to your lack of experience.
They are less demanding and more resilient than whippets, leaving more room for trial and error as you learn how to satisfy their needs best.