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The Whippet VS The Italian Greyhound

Commonly Confused Breeds: Can You Tell The Difference?

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With their slender physique and sleek coats, the Italian Greyhound and the Whippet both look like miniature Greyhounds. There’s a reason for that. Both breeds likely share an ancestor and are from the same family of dogs—the sighthounds. All three possess the sighthound’s hallmark deep chest, trim waist, and narrow head.

What we have with the diminutive and delicate Italian Greyhound is essentially a finer-boned, miniature version of the Greyhound, achieved through selective breeding. Originating in Italy in the Middle Ages, it’s unclear whether the Italian Greyhound was originally developed for companionship or hunting small game, though centuries of breeding for aristocratic companionship have certainly followed. By nature, the Italian Greyhound is athletic and agile—he loves to run—but this member of the Toy Group also fine boned.

The Whippet is sweet and fleet—these smaller cousins of the ancient Greyhound are tough to beat, literally. The breed originated in 18th-century England, where they were developed for hunting hare in open fields. Bred to chase down fast-moving prey, the Whippet can reach speeds of 35 mph (56 km/h).

Size is in fact the main difference between the two breeds: while the Italian Greyhound is 13 to 15 inches tall at the withers (shoulder) and weighs seven to 14 pounds, the comparatively heftier Whippet weighs in at 25 to 40 pounds and is 18 to 22 inches tall at the withers.

As for personality, both are laidback dogs that love cuddling on the couch. In canine-speak, the Italian Greyhound is the classic Velcro dog—so closely bonded with his guardians that it feels like he’s attached at the hip. The I.G. is an incredibly affectionate and loving dog but known for being shy around strangers. He’s famously playful—delighting his people with hilarious antics. Elegant and graceful, playful and loving, the Italian Greyhound packs a tremendous amount of personality in such a tiny package. Note though, that while a charming, attentive lapdog, the IG is still at heart a lightening quick coursing hound, and, sighthound through and through, will bolt after prey like both of his larger cousins.

The Whippet’s gentle heart and affectionate, even temper makes him a wonderful, self-contained companion, happy to curl up on the couch—though don’t let that fool you into thinking these laid back indoor-qualities transfer over to the dog park. The AKC standard reads: “Temperament: Amiable, friendly, gentle, but capable of great intensity during sporting pursuits.” However, as long as they’re exercised properly, the Greyhound is a sweet, playful low maintenance dog that likes relaxing and rarely barks.

Whether you're drawn to the Whippet or the Italian Greyhound, breed fanciers will say you can’t go wrong.

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