This article will discuss the Whippet vs. Italian Greyhound question, exploring the difference between a whippet and an Italian Greyhound. For anyone not overly familiar with the two breeds, Italian Greyhounds and Whippets look very similar; if you met each one separately, you might not immediately know which was which. Both dogs are sighthounds and have almost identical physiques.
This confusion is understandable because both the Italian Greyhound and Whippet are closely related to the more well-known Greyhound, and nearly everyone recognizes a Greyhound. There’s another reason for the familiarity, and that’s the increasingly popular Whippet Italian Greyhound mix.
The Whippet Vs. Italian Greyhound Debate
The single most significant difference between the Italian Greyhound and the Whippet is their size. This is why I suggested if you met them separately, it would be difficult to identify the difference. But put them side by side, and it’s immediately apparent Whippets, and IGs are different dogs.
But which is the Whippet and the Italian Greyhound, and what other differences separate the two breeds? That’s what we’ll explain to you, so if you’re thinking of adopting either dog, you’ll have a much clearer picture of which breed will suit you and your family’s lifestyle and situation.
1. Italian Greyhound And Whippet History
Even though the Whippet and Italian Greyhound are different breeds, they are both descendants of the bigger and faster greyhound. All three dogs are very similar, but the Italian Greyhound is easier to spot because they are pretty tiny compared to the other two.
Italian Greyhound History
Italian Greyhounds are the smallest of the sighthounds; they also go by the names Iggy and IG. Hunters initially used them for hunting small prey such as hares, rabbits, and vermin, but not by using a sense of smell but by their sense of sight. The IG originates from ancient Egypt because small greyhound-type dogs were interred within the Egyptian burial grounds and pyramids. There are also stories in Greek mythology that describe a hound similar in appearance to the IG.
Between the middle ages, Italian Greyhounds were a familiar sight all over southern Europe. Because of the dog’s massive popularity in Italy, the dog became known as the Italian Greyhound. Several of the Renaissance painters of the 16th century included the dog in their paintings.
By the 17th century, the Italian Greyhound was becoming popular with English royalty and other European and Russian nobility; at this time, the dog was more of a companion dog than a hunting hound.
Italian Greyhounds made their way across the Atlantic to America in the 1800s and became very popular. In fact, without the help of the Americans after the two World Wars, the population of Italian Greyhounds had dwindled to such an extent they would have become extinct. Italian Greyhounds were first recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1886 and placed within the Toy Group.
The complete history of the Whippet is not 100% clear, but Whippet-like dogs are known to have existed in England for centuries. They are going back as far as medieval times; regular and small-sized greyhounds were both kept for hunting. The smaller-sized Greyhounds are probably the forerunners of today’s Whippet.
There’s a popular theory that between 150 and 200 years ago, Greyhounds were bred with Terriers to make a smaller but more tenacious dog. Hunters used this dog for rabbit coursing and the bigger Greyhound for hare coursing.
The Whippet-like dogs (in those days, the word whippet described any fast-moving dog) became popular with owners who couldn’t afford the more expensive Greyhound, using the dog to poach rabbits so that they could feed their families.
Owners soon found a more lucrative purpose for these dogs: “rag racing,” where gamblers would place bets attempting to pick the winning dogs. In time the popularity of the sport and the dogs soon spread throughout the UK and became the beginnings of dog track racing. The first time there was any mention of the name Whippet attributed to show dogs was in 1876. It took until 1890 before the Kennel Club of England accepted the Whippet, and the dog was allowed in their shows.
The very first champion Whippet, was a dog called Zuber in 1896. The Whippet Club was formed in 1899 and had a terrific effect on the numbers of Whippets being registered to the Kennel Club. By the early 2000s, Whippets were one of the most popular dogs in the UK. Even though the Whippet is primarily a British dog, the breed was registered with the AKC earlier in 1888.
2. Whippet Vs. Italian Greyhound Characteristics
The Whippet and Italian Greyhound are very different from each other in both height and weight. Whippets can reach a height of 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 25 and 40 pounds; females are always a few pounds lighter and up to a couple of inches shorter than males. On the other hand, Italian Greyhounds grow up to 15 inches in height at the shoulder and can weigh up to 14 pounds; female Italian Greyhounds are a similar height and weight to males.
That’s quite a substantial difference between a Whippet and an Italian Greyhound. The AKC has placed the IG within the Toy Group and the Whippet in the Hound Group. Concerning their popularity, at present, the Whippet is 61, and the Italian Greyhound is 73 out of a possible 197 most popular dogs in the USA.
If we compare the life expectancy of the Whippet to the Italian Greyhound, we can see that Whippets have a lifespan of between 12 to 15 years and the Italian Greyhound 14 to 15 years. There’s very little to choose between the two dogs as far as how long they live; of course, this is an average lifespan and doesn’t attempt to predict how long either dog will actually live.
Those measurement characteristics are where the two dogs diverge; you could say the IG is a miniature Whippet. Both dogs have a very similar physique, an arching back, long muscular limbs, and a large chest, in keeping with most sighthounds and super speedy dogs. Talking about speed which both these dogs are famous for, let’s talk about the Whippet first.
3. How Fast Do Whippets And Italian Greyhounds Run?
If you’re wondering how fast is a Whippet, I can tell you they are speedy. Not as quick as the Greyhound, but they can out-accelerate one, which takes some doing. Whippets can reach a speed of 35 MPH or 56 Km/h. You would think dogs running at such high speeds would be high-energy, but that’s not the case. Whippets are short sprinters and not long-distance runners. They use their speed in short bursts.
Italian Greyhounds are also speedy runners, but they can’t compete with a Whippet because of their much smaller size, as you would expect. The IG tops out at a maximum speed of 25 MPH or 40 Km/h. That’s still pretty nifty and puts them into the top fifteen fastest dogs worldwide.
4. Italian Greyhound And Whippet Temperament
There’s little to choose between the Whippet and Italian Greyhound as far as temperament goes. Both dogs are very tranquil, home-loving snuggle bugs. They really enjoy lounging about and doing next to nothing. In fact, it’s quite a shock when you see them move at the speeds they do when you consider their laid-back manner.
Sometimes they are so quiet you wonder if they’ve got out of the house on their own and gone missing. Both breeds make an excellent family pet and are wonderful with children; they are both very calm around the family’s kids.
The Whippet and Italian Greyhound both need early socialization to help them overcome any nervous or timid tendencies. They are known to suffer from separation anxiety when left for too long; socialization can help with this issue. But you must start socializing them very young.
As we mentioned, they’re calm and ultra laid back dogs, but both are capable of a mad five minutes where suddenly they’ll burst into life and rocket around the house or the yard in a tremendous burst of energy. They can be hysterical to watch; just don’t leave breakables in the near vicinity of these mad moments because they will get broken. Remember, both the Italian Greyhound and Whippet are both sighthounds and have hunting in their genes. If they see a squirrel, or any other small creature, especially if the creature runs, the dogs will go after it.
Even if you have these dogs well trained, if you have them off-leash, you run the risk of them chasing after any small animals that catch their eyes. It’s not worth the risk because they can easily cause an accident. Likewise, if you have a yard and the dogs exercise in there, ensure you have a high enough fence so they can’t escape; they are both jumpers, so build a fence a reasonable height.
Final Thoughts Whippet Vs. Italian Greyhound
The Whippet and Italian Greyhounds are so alike they could almost be siblings. They even have similar personalities. Deciding on one or the other is often determined by their size. If a prospective owner wants a tiny dog, they should go with the Italian Greyhound; if they have more room, a yard, and prefer a bigger dog, their choice should be a Whippet.
The Whippet Vs. Italian Greyhound debate simply comes down to size. Which do you prefer?