Italian Greyhound vs. Whippet – What’s the Difference?

Whippet vs. Italian Greyhound

Choosing between Whippet or Italian Greyhound dogs can be a delightful dilemma for prospective dog owners. Both breeds, hailing from the sighthound family, share many traits yet also possess their own unique characteristics.

This guide aims to explore these elegant and swift breeds across various key aspects: appearance, personality, activity level, trainability, maintenance, and health. By diving into these categories, we’ll help you understand the nuances of each breed, making it easier for you to decide which one aligns best with your lifestyle and preferences.

Whippets and Italian Greyhounds are very similar because they are Greyhound cousins. They also have several differences. Read on to learn all about these adorable breeds.

Whippet vs Italian Greyhound: How to Tell the Difference

Whippet

miniature whippet dog

Origin

Whippets’ history began in Victorian North England, where coal miners liked hunting rabbits and dog races but couldn’t afford to feed and kennel large Greyhounds, which also needed space to exercise. They bred down the Greyhound to the medium-sized Whippet breed. It’s not known which dogs they used to create the smaller breed.

Whippets can run 35 miles per hour. They are the fastest medium-sized dog as well as one of the fastest dog breeds.

In the early 1900s, the textile workers emigrated to New England. They brought their Whippets, and Americans loved the dogs. Modern Whippets enjoy lure coursing but don’t have to speed around a race track or hunt rabbits. The Whippet dogs are wonderful companions.

Their name came from the “whappet,” a very old word meaning “a small dog that yaps.”       

  • Height 18-22 inches tall
  • Weight 25 – 40 pounds

Coat type 

italian whippet

Short and smooth coat (and also long coat) in black, blue, blue brindle markings, blue fawn, fawn, fawn brindle, red, white, white and fawn, white and red, red brindle, sable, black brindle, white and blue fawn, white and sable, white and black, white and blue, cream, white and blue brindle, white and red brindle, white and fawn brindle.

Personality

whippet grayhound

Whippets are energetic, playful, laid-back, affectionate, fast, gentle, good with children and dogs, and need stimulation. They like to chase things, so fetch is a favorite pastime. They need some exercise, and then they nap.

Lifespan and health 

whippet grayhound

The Whippet is prone to health issues like progressive retinal atrophy, mitral valve disease, and immune-mediated problems. The Whippet lifespan is 12-15 years.

Activity level 

greyhound like dogs

They have a lot of energy, so they need to take walks, play, run around the yard, jog, or have a vigorous game of fetch. You can sign them up for lure coursing. The American Kennel Club and local groups offer them.

Trainability 

dog like greyhound

Whippets are very trainable with positive reinforcement.

Maintenance 

Whippets are low maintenance. They like to relax and sit on the couch with their owners. They enjoy a weekly brushing. They don’t shed much, so their grooming is very low maintenance. Feeding dogs healthy food and an annual trip to the vet are important.

Italian Greyhound

italian greyhound size comparison

Origin

Italian Greyhounds’ history began 2,000 years ago when they were bred as noble companions in Greece and Turkey. The Italian Grey may have hunted small game. In Renaissance Italy, they were a status symbol for wealthy people and aristocrats.

Miniature popular breeds were in big demand. Royalty like Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria, James I, Frederick the Great, and Anne of Denmark had them.

These days, Italian Greyhounds enjoy participating in dog shows, lure coursing, and being pampered by their people.

  • Height 13-15 inches tall
  • Weight 7-14 pounds

Coat type 

italian greyhound size comparison

Italian Greyhounds have a short and smooth coat and are available in many colors, including fawn, blue, red, red fawn, black, blue fawn, sable, seal, white and black, white and blue, white and fawn, white and red, white and red fawn, white and seal, white and sable, black and tan, white, brindle, blue and tan, chocolate, and cream.

They are one of the types of blue dog breeds and are known for being beautiful and elegant.

Personality

italian greyhound small

The Italian Greyhound is a lapdog but has a prey drive. They are affectionate, sweet, athletic, fond of other dogs, playful, alert, sensitive, friendly, and very trainable but stubborn during training. They are susceptible to separation anxiety. That makes sense because if all you want is to sit in someone’s warm lap and they aren’t even home, it’s quite disappointing.

Lifespan and health 

greyhound like dogs

Pure-breed dogs are at risk of having breed-related health issues. Italian Greyhounds can suffer from cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, liver problems, cancer, dental problems, bone and joint problems, bleeding disorders, epilepsy, and a luxating patella (kneecap slips out of place).

They can have a bad reaction to anesthesia. Their lifespan is 14-15 years — nice and long.

Activity level 

The Italian Greyhounds are somewhat energetic but do value their naps and lap time. They will exhibit a high activity level if they see a little animal, so hold on to that leash tightly.

Trainability 

mini greyhound dog

The Italian Greyhound is very intelligent but may be stubborn and difficult to potty train as a puppy and train in general.

Maintenance 

They are slender and look like a tall and skinny dog breed (although their size is 13 to 15 inches). About 60 minutes of exercise (a walk or two and fetch) in a doggy sweater when it’s cold out (because their short and smooth coats don’t insulate them from cold weather) and a weekly brushing will keep your Italian Greyhound happy. Feeding dogs healthy food and an annual trip to the vet are advised.

Similarities Between Italian Greyhound and Whippet

whippet vs italian greyhound

Both Whippets and Italian Greyhounds are sighthounds like their larger cousin, the Greyhound. Italian Greyhounds and Whippets have a lot of similar physical characteristics.

They have easy-to-maintain short coats, lots of energy, are athletic, and love being outside fetching, running, hiking, jogging, and playing dog sports. They need exercise and mental stimulation or can become destructive if bored.

The two breeds are both great pets because they are smart and good with other dogs and children (especially if you train and socialize them at an early age). These breeds are all in for cuddles and like being under the blankets.

Physically, they both have rose-shaped ears, a swan-like neck, long skinny legs, and a long arching back. Both breeds look like miniature greyhounds.

Both Whippets and Italian Greyhounds have a prey drive, so keep them on a leash in case you encounter something they want to chase. They enjoy playing fetch. They are calm indoors but more animated outside, especially if they see a small animal.

Greyhounds, Italian greyhounds, and Whippets are among the most sensitive dogs. These three breeds pick up on emotions easily.

Speaking of Greyhounds, if you’ve ever wondered, “is Greyhound racing cruel?” It’s a tragic and horrible non-sport in which the dogs are kept in cages almost all day, become injured, and even die.

Differences Between Italian Greyhound and Whippet

Differences Between Italian Greyhound and Whippet

The obvious difference between the two breeds is size, as Italian Greyhounds (IG) are quite a bit smaller than Whippets. IGs are in the Toy group, and Whippets are classified in the Hound dog breed group. Whippet height is 18-22 inches, so they are a bit taller than the 13-15 inch IG.

Iggies are velcro dogs that suffer from separation anxiety because they always want to be with their humans. They are a little demanding in that they NEED their people’s attention. Whippets are laidback dogs.

The AKC says that the Italian Greyhound (IG) may have a little more energy than the Whippet. Whippets are very good sleepers that can handle being alone because they’ll get some beauty rest.

IGs can be fragile because they are such small dogs. Their size makes them good apartment dogs, although a Whippet thrives in an apartment as long as they get out to exercise.

FAQs

Which Is Better: Italian Greyhound or Whippet?

Neither the Whippet nor the Italian Greyhound is better because your ideal pet depends on your lifestyle. The Whippet needs a little more exercise because they are bigger. If you want a clingy pet, you might choose the IG. If you need to leave your pooch a lot, the Whippet will be able to handle it better than the IG. Whippets get the zoomies in the house if you don’t exercise them.

Are Italian Greyhounds Cuddly?

Doggy historians believe that the IG was created as a companion animal. Cuddling and sitting in laps are their favorite activities.

Are Whippets Better Than Greyhounds?

Neither a Whippet nor an Italian Greyhound is better than the other. The two breeds are both adorable and sweet pups with their own special traits.

Can Whippets Be Off-Leash?

A Whippet off leash may spot a squirrel or another small mammal and run away in pursuit. It’s inadvisable to leave a Whippet off leash because they can run 35 mph and are difficult to catch.

Wrap-up 

In the Italian Greyhound vs Whippet comparison, the two dog breeds have many similarities, and each is a lovely companion with a great personality. They look like miniature Greyhounds. The main differences between the dog breeds are that Whippets are larger, don’t need as much attention as Iggies, and aren’t a needy companion.

Like other breeds, people need to match the dogs’ needs with their lifestyle.

Elise Margulis
Elise Margulis is a talented animal writer and a devoted pet parent residing near Manhattan in a cozy suburb. With a Chow mix and a rescued Siamese as her loyal companions, she's been animal-obsessed since childhood. Penning informative articles on pet nutrition, health, and animal welfare, she's also an avid advocate for adoption and animal rights. When she's not writing, she serves as the editor of two local online news sites. Working from home with her fur babies, she advocates adoption and animal welfare through volunteering and social media. A true animal lover and vegetarian for over 31 years, she's on a mission to raise awareness and make the world a better place for all creatures.

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