Italian Greyhounds vs Whippets

image of Whippet vs Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhounds and Whippets are both members of the sighthound family, known for their elegance, speed, and keen eyesight. While they share some characteristics and can look similar at first glance, they have distinct differences in their origins, physical attributes, and perhaps even in their temperaments.


  • Italian Greyhound: This breed has a history that goes back over two thousand years, with evidence of similar dogs found in archaeological digs in the Middle East. They became particularly popular among nobility in Europe during the Renaissance, with Italy being credited for the breed's development and popularity, hence the name Italian Greyhound.
  • Whippet: The Whippet originated in England in the late 18th to 19th centuries. They were bred by crossing Greyhounds with smaller terriers and, later, Italian Greyhounds, to create a smaller, more versatile hunting dog. Whippets were initially bred for coursing and racing by miners in Northern England, earning them the nickname "the poor man's racehorse."

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Physical Differences

  • Size: One of the most noticeable differences is their size. Italian Greyhounds are smaller, typically standing 13 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing around 7 to 14 pounds. Whippets are larger, standing 18 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 25 to 40 pounds.
  • Build: While both breeds have a slender, streamlined build conducive to their sighthound lineage, the Italian Greyhound is more delicate and refined, whereas the Whippet is slightly more muscular and robust, reflecting its racing heritage.
  • Coat: Both breeds have short, smooth coats, but the Italian Greyhound's skin is even finer and more delicate. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and while there's overlap in coat color, the breed standards for each will have their specifics.
  • Temperament: While both are known for being affectionate and loyal, Italian Greyhounds tend to be more sensitive and can be nervous around new people or in unfamiliar environments. Whippets are generally more laid-back and adaptable, though they can still be reserved with strangers.
image of Italian Greyhound or Whippet
Italian Greyhound or Whippet?

Use and Activity

  • Italian Greyhound: These dogs are primarily companion animals today. They enjoy comfort and warmth and are known for their love of cuddling. Their exercise needs are moderate, and they enjoy short bursts of running.
  • Whippet: Whippets require more exercise and enjoy running in open spaces. They retain a strong prey drive and excel in dog sports like lure coursing, racing, and agility. Whippets are also loving companions and do well in families.

Both breeds make excellent pets with the right care and environment. Their elegant appearance, combined with their affectionate nature, makes them cherished companions for those willing to accommodate their specific needs and characteristics.