Italian Greyhound vs. Whippet: A Comparative Analysis for Pet Parents

a whippet and a grayhound

For dog lovers, the choice of a new four-legged friend can be both exhilarating and challenging. When considering breeds as closely related as the Italian Greyhound and the Whippet, where subtleties define personality and care needs, the decision becomes weightier. These elegant, sighthound breeds share more than a passing resemblance, with their sleek, athletic frames and affinity for speed, but they also boast unique traits that set them apart. Let's delve into the key differences and similarities between the Italian Greyhound and the Whippet to help you determine which breed might be your next best friend.

Physical Distinctions

Size and Weight

Both the Italian Greyhound and the Whippet are part of the sighthound family, known for their lean muscular builds and keen eyesight. The Italian Greyhound is the smaller of the two, standing at about 13 to 15 inches tall and weighing between 7 and 14 pounds. In contrast, the Whippet is a bit larger, ranging from 18 to 22 inches in height and weighing between 25 and 40 pounds.

photo of whippets in paris


Coat and Color

Their coats are similar; short, smooth, close-lying, and easy to care for. Traditionally, both breeds boast a variety of coat colors, often solid or bearing a range of different patterns, from brindle to fawn. They do not require a lot of grooming, only the occasional bath and brushing will keep their coat shiny and in good condition.


Italian Greyhounds and Whippets have a reputation for being gentle, affectionate, and good-natured. They are both excellent companion animals that typically do well with children and other pets. When it comes to exercise, the Whippet may have slightly more endurance, but both breeds require regular physical activity to keep them happy and healthy.

Exercise and Training Needs

Energy Levels

While both breeds are known for their bursts of energy and incredible speed, the Whippet may have the edge in stamina. Whippets tend to be a little more rambunctious and may require more frequent and vigorous exercise. Italian Greyhounds, on the other hand, are more likely to enjoy a few sprints followed by a nap on a sunny spot on the couch.


Bred for chasing small game, training sighthounds can be a unique experience. Both breeds are intelligent and can be trained with patience and positive reinforcement. They are known to be sensitive, so a heavy-handed training approach is not recommended. Early socialization and consistent training can go a long way in ensuring a well-behaved pet.

Exercise Safety Precautions

It’s essential to be mindful of their instinct to chase. Ensure you either have a secure, fenced-in yard or exercise them on a leash in open areas. A sighthound’s chase instinct can outweigh their recall, and you wouldn't want to find out the hard way that your pup can outrun you.

Living Conditions

Apartment Living

Due to their smaller size, Italian Greyhounds are often a popular choice for apartment dwellers, but Whippets can also do well in smaller spaces as long as they receive adequate exercise. Both breeds are known to be "couch potatoes" indoors, often snuggling up with their humans for warmth and affection.

Need for Company

Italian Greyhounds and Whippets are companion breeds and do not do well with long periods of solitude. They thrive on human company and can suffer from separation anxiety. If you are away from home a lot, it may be best to consider another breed or make sure they have a canine companion to keep them company.

Climate Considerations

Their short coats make them sensitive to cold weather, so they will need a warm coat or sweater in the winter. They are also prone to sunburn, so extra care should be taken in the summer to protect their skin when temperatures rise and sun is strong.

Health and Longevity

Both Italian Greyhounds and Whippets are generally healthy breeds with long lifespans. However, there are some health concerns to be aware of, particularly with Italian Greyhounds. Because of their small size, they can be more prone to broken bones and dental issues. Both breeds are also known to be sensitive to anesthesia.

Whippets are at risk for certain hereditary and congenital conditions, including heart disease and eye problems. Responsible breeding and regular vet check-ups can help mitigate these risks, ensuring a long and healthy life for your canine companion.

Choosing Your Perfect Match

Deciding between an Italian Greyhound and a Whippet is a personal choice that depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and ability to provide for a dog’s specific needs. Both breeds bring their own set of charms and challenges, and either can make a wonderful addition to the right home.

Consider your daily routine, living space, and the amount of time you can commit to exercise and companionship. Additionally, check in with local breeders or rescue organizations to learn more about individual dogs' temperaments and health history.

In conclusion, whether you gravitate toward the smaller stature and sensitive nature of the Italian Greyhound or the larger, more athletic build of the Whippet, both breeds offer their unique blend of speed, grace, and loyalty. With proper training, care, and love, either one can become your most treasured and adored pet.

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