Greyhounds, whippets, and Italian greyhounds are all similarly athletic and majestic sighthounds, but what differentiates the three?
I’m Leah Spaulding, and I have an extensive background with pets.
I studied pet care and nutrition for three years working at a holistic pet store, and I’ve been the Vice President of a pet nonprofit organization called Their Voice for two years.
At home, I have a rat-terrier named Bean and a “wonder-mutt” named Bandit.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet many fur-babies!
Though greyhounds, whippets, and Italian greyhounds look very similar in body shape–with their streamlined bodies long legs–they differ in personality and weight.
Today, I’m here to break down the differences and similarities between the three breeds in a thorough comparison.
Overview of Whippets
Swift and statuesque, whippets came from England–the product of breeding terriers with greyhounds in Victorian England.
They are the fastest dogs of their size and excellent at being ratters.
They spend about half of the day cuddling and the other half playing outside.
Overview of Greyhounds
As speedy as they are sweet, the greyhound is one of the oldest dog breeds–having been depicted in ancient tomb carvings of the ancient Egyptians and mentioned in the Bible.
Throughout time, they were considered so majestic that only royal families could have one.
They’re known for their adept ability to chase prey. Controversially, they are also known for racing.
They are the fastest dog breeds in existence, with the ability to run up to 43 miles per hour.
They love playing outside, but equally love to cuddle up next to you and be couch potatoes. Greyhounds are either playing or cuddling–it’s like having two dogs for the price of one!
Overview of Italian Greyhounds
The smallest of the three, Italian Greyhounds are sensitive, human-loving dogs.
They originated in Southern Europe and they came to be through the selective breeding of greyhounds, their larger relatives.
They share the speedy and slender body shape as greyhounds and whippets, but would much rather be snuggled in your lap than exercising.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Size Comparison
Though they have a similarly narrow, athletic build, whippets, greyhounds, and Italian greyhounds differ greatly in size.
Italian greyhounds are the smallest of the three breeds, weighing in between seven to fourteen pounds. Their height can range from thirteen to fifteen inches.
They are in the toy group and their size is considered small.
Whippets are between Italian greyhounds and greyhounds in size. They can be between eighteen and twenty-two inches tall.
They weigh between twenty-five and forty pounds and classify as medium-sized dogs.
Greyhounds are considered to be a large breed dog. They are between twenty-seven and thirty inches tall, and range between sixty and seventy pounds.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Temperament Comparison
Whippets are described by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as “calm, affectionate [and] playful.” They think they are lap dogs and love their humans!
My impression of greyhounds is that they are quiet and loyal. The AKC lists the greyhound personality traits as “independent, gentle, [and] noble.”
Italian greyhounds are “sensitive, alert, [and] playful,” according to the American Kennel Club. The Italian greyhounds that I’ve met are a bit needy and stick like velcro to their humans.
Italian greyhounds, greyhounds, and whippets rarely bark, but if they lack confidence and training, they may whine when you aren’t paying attention to them.
They all prefer warmer weather and don’t like the cold. Most will refuse to go outside if it’s raining.
Whippets, Italian greyhounds, and greyhounds all require regular exercise, with the greyhound needing perhaps a bit more.
All of these dogs need active humans that will take them to stretch their long legs and run! That being said, the exercise they need is not about endurance, and short runs are great.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Lifespan Comparison
The life expectancy of a whippet is between twelve and fifteen years.
Similarly, Italian greyhounds are expected to live between fourteen and fifteen years.
Their larger cousin, the greyhound, has a lower life expectancy of ten to thirteen years–which is to be expected for most large breed dogs.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Health Conditions Comparison
Specialists recommend that whippets ears, eyes, and hearts are checked, though they are not particularly predisposed to anything serious and are relatively healthy dogs.
Greyhounds can get a condition called “greyhound neuropathy” that is specific to their breed. It involves weakness and neurological issues.
Breeders of greyhounds should be testing for this gene mutation in breeding pairs. Vets also recommend having their eyes and heart checked out for any abnormalities.
For Italian greyhounds–or iggys–, it is crucial for breeders to screen their dogs for a variety of issues including autoimmune issues.
The American Kennel Club recommends the following tests: “Hip Evaluation, Ophthalmologist Evaluation, thyroid evaluation, [and] patella evaluation.”
As with most deep-chested dogs, veterinarians warn against the dangers of bloat, which requires immediate medical attention and can be avoided by feeding small meals throughout the day rather than all at once.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Appearance Comparison
All three dogs have long tails and narrow bodies. They are built athletic, with long legs and deep chests.
Whippets can be long or short-haired dogs. The other two only come short-haired. They all have smooth, low maintenance coats.
Whippets and Italian greyhounds have triangle-shaped heads with front-facing round eyes and pinned back ears.
Greyhounds have long faces–with their muzzles almost as wide as their faces, but otherwise, they share the same facial features.
It is widely accepted for all three breeds to be any variety of colors ranging from fawn to black and everything in between.
Since all three dogs are related, your decision may come down to whether a small, medium, or large dog better suits your home.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Grooming Comparison
All three dogs require little brushing and grooming. Their smooth coats rarely shed. A long-haired whippet may require more grooming than the others.
Only an occasional bath and brush are recommended for any of them.
Though no dogs are truly hypoallergenic, these three breeds produce less pet dander than most dogs and may be better suited to a person with dog allergies.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Trainability Comparison
Whippets, Italian greyhounds, and greyhounds are good with other dogs and supervision is advised when they are around kids.
They are extremely fast and experts recommend they are always kept on a leash–if they see a squirrel, it may be the last time you see them.
All three breeds are considered “independent” when in regards to training–and therefore are not recommended as a first dog. Training classes from a young age are greatly encouraged.
Aloofness is something that they all share–and without confidence, this can mean apprehension and fear with strangers.
In addition, all three dogs–particularly the Italian greyhounds–are prone to separation anxiety and special care is needed to reduce the amount of time they are left alone.
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Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Availability Comparison
Whippets are the most popular breed out of the three–ranked as number sixty by the AKC.
They are followed by Italian greyhounds at number seventy-two, and greyhounds (rather hard to find) as the 151st most popular breed.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Diet Comparison
I always recommend high-quality dog food for all dogs, but especially for these athletic sighthounds.
Athletic dogs like greyhounds, italian greyhounds, and whippets particularly need a dog food that is somewhat higher in protein and calories to keep up with their activity level.
For all three dog breeds, maintaining their “inverted S-shaped” figure–their muscular neck flowing into strong shoulders, a deep chest, and a cinched waist–is important for their narrow frames.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Cost Comparison
Greyhounds out of the three dog breeds are perhaps the more expensive. Due to their popularity rating, finding one may require travel.
Also, as a large breed dog, they may have more health problems relating to their joints than their smaller counterparts.
Whippets and greyhounds would be similar in costs throughout their lives.
What to Consider
As always, I recommend adoption first and foremost. If you can’t find the dog you are looking for through adoption–look for a responsible breeder.
How do you know you’ve found a responsible breeder? That person will investigate you as a potential buyer, ensuring your home is the right fit for the puppy.
Responsible breeders will have tested any pair of dogs for any genetic mutations prior to breeding them and provide documented proof.
When visiting the litter, you should also be able to meet the breeding pair. If the breeder wants to meet you in another location, like a parking lot–buyer beware.
Always avoid buying a pet from a pet store. 99% of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy-mills–where dogs are mass produced with little care for pet welfare.
Whippet vs Greyhound vs Italian Greyhound: Final Thoughts
If you are looking for a small dog that is very tuned-in to you and eager to cuddle, the Italian greyhound may be the dog you are looking for.
If a playful medium-sized sight-hound is more your forte, a whippet could fit the bill.
If a calm and quiet large-sized dog that loves to exercise is more for you, a greyhound may be right for you.
They are all wonderful dogs in their own ways! Happy dog search!