What Is the Difference Between a Whippet & a Greyhound?

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The first obvious difference between the whippet and greyhound dog breeds is their size. The whippet looks like a miniature version of a greyhound. However, the greyhound's aristocratic history stretching back to ancient Egypt and the whippet's background among the hardscrabble, working-class British show these dogs have more differences than just appearance.

Greyhound running through grass field
Greyhound running through grass field (Image: SakariLampola/iStock/Getty Images)

Greyhound History

The greyhound's history extends back to ancient times. The earliest evidence of the dog is carvings on Egyptian tombs from around 2751 B.C., says the American Kennel Club. The dogs are depicted hunting goats and deer. The Romans were the first to describe greyhounds in writing. For many centuries, the dogs were considered high-class animals and only royal families owned and bred them. Greyhounds were trained to hunt foxes, deer and rabbits. The first greyhounds were brought to America by Spaniards in the 1500s, and were shown as early as 1877 in major dog shows.

Greyhound dog running across sand
Greyhound dog running across sand (Image: tsik/iStock/Getty Images)

Whippet History

The English Kennel Club did not recognize the whippet breed until 1891, even though the breed had been developed for hundreds of years. The breed was created by combining genetic traits of Italian greyhounds, greyhounds and a terrier-type dog, according to the AKC. The whippet was called "the poor man's racehorse" and was usually owned by working-class people. Whippets came to America with English mill owners. For a long time, Massachusetts was the home of whippet dog racing.

Running whippet on grass
Running whippet on grass (Image: Ottó Kálmán/iStock/Getty Images)

Size

The main difference between whippets and greyhounds is their size. The American Kennel Club reports the ideal height is 19 to 22 inches for male whippets and 18 to 21 inches for female whippets. Height is measured from the ground to the highest point of the dog's withers. The ideal weight for whippets is 25 to 45 lbs. Greyhounds are larger, with males weighing 65 to 70 lbs. and females at 60 to 65 lbs. They measure from 27 to 30 inches tall.

Whippet playing with ball on grass field
Whippet playing with ball on grass field (Image: tsik/iStock/Getty Images)

Speed

Greyhounds are the second-fastest land mammals in the world and are faster than whippets. The top speed for the greyhound is almost 39 mph. The whippet can reach speeds of 35 mph. Both breeds of dogs have been used in racing competitions for centuries. The Romans and Egyptians raced greyhounds for sport and competed in prey-chasing exercises called coursing. Racing the dog with artificial lures started in 1876 in England, but it did not catch on until the early 1900s in America. "Rag races" with whippets became a major English pastime in the 1800s among the working-class citizens.

Side view of black greyhound dog on grass
Side view of black greyhound dog on grass (Image: Erik Zunec/iStock/Getty Images)

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