Elegant but playful, sweet but a tad cheeky, you really won’t go wrong with any one of these sighthounds—but you might want all three!

Advertisement

When these kind whispers of grace glide past on their candlestick legs, it still gives you pause to know they can suddenly break into a 30–40 mph sprint! This is just one of many fascinating aspects of comparing a whippet vs. greyhound vs. Italian greyhound: no matter how far and fast all these sweet sighthounds run, they're loyal dogs and always eager to be right by your side.   

Genna Mize, DVM, is a staff technical services veterinarian at Virbac Animal Health. In her experience with these breeds, she finds them to be similar in terms of disposition, describing them as "calm, gentle, and affectionate with a propensity to be somewhat shy, particularly around strangers." These three breeds have sensitive temperaments and pick up on emotions easily. So it's a special type of bliss when one of these elegant pups finally rests a slender snout on your knee, demonstrating a quiet acceptance and a desire to be near.

Have we established that whippets, greyhounds, and Italian greyhounds are full of love with a capital 'L'? Good! Let's explore a few more fun facts about these three sighthounds.

An Introduction to the Whippet, Greyhound, and Italian Greyhound Dog Breeds

Since they share runway looks, blazing speed, and lap-seeking abilities, it's easy to think these three beauties are simply different sizes of the same breed, but they're not! However, they do share one particular quality.

As sighthounds/gazehounds, these dogs have an innate ability to hunt by sight rather than by smell. So you'll often hear the characteristic 'high prey drive' associated with them. Is this worrisome? Not really, especially if you research breeders and adoption agencies carefully to understand your pup of choice.

Whippet

woman sitting in a field kissing her whippet dog
Credit: encierro / Adobe Stock

If you're more outdoorsy and trying to decide on a whippet vs. greyhound, you might appreciate a whippet's more sporty nature. While these handsome pups from Northern England certainly know how to be best in show, they also are a bit more sparky and ruff and tumble—they've won dock diving competitions, for example. These active, bright puppers don't like being left alone, so consider a quality doggie daycare or regular dog walker so your BFF (best furry friend!) stays on his best behavior and is ready for a cuddlefest when all members of his human family return home.

Greyhound

woman on a beach kissing the top of her greyhound's head
Credit: Westend61 / Getty

Egyptian hieroglyphics depict queens and pharaohs with their trusty greyhounds. Prized companions, these notable African dogs are considered one of the oldest breeds in the world. Yes, they're famous for being fast, but some people also refer to these sweethearts as "40 mph couch potatoes." They really don't mind avoiding any agenda and just hanging with you. (We can relate!) Greyhounds can be a little nervous, though, so calm their anxiety with relaxing routines and counterconditioning. While they don't need to be active all the time, they do relish opportunities each day for quick bursts of activity followed by mellow walks. Keep outdoor games handy, and plan to teach them how to 'drop it'!

Italian Greyhound

woman wearing a leather jacket holding an italian greyhound wearing a turtleneck sweater outdoors
Credit: veera / Adobe Stock

Italian greyhounds are the tiniest gazehounds. With a lineage that dates back to the Romans, this pint-sized combination of lively curiosity, adoring cheekiness, and sweet charm made them canine favorites throughout royal courts and artists' salons for centuries in Greece, Turkey, Europe, and Asia. According to the Italian Greyhound Club, an 'IG', as she's often called, is no shrinking violet: she has a lot of energy to burn and responds well to positive reinforcement training. IGs are terrific nestling companions for seniors, new pet parents, or apartment dwellers.

Differences Between the Whippet vs. Greyhound vs. Italian Greyhound

Rarely do these breeds slow down and line up in a row so we can spot their subtleties, so maybe this chart showing the differences between each type of dog will help.

infographic comparing greyhound, italian greyhound and whippet dog breed physical characteristics dogs on blue and green background
Credit: fotojagodka / Getty / jagodka / TrapezaStudio / Adobe Stock

Yes! They could be triplets! But as similar as they might be, here's the skinny on how they differ.

Appearance

Short-haired coats, broad barrel chests, tucked tummies, thin curled tails, and deep soulful eyes are all qualities this trio have in common. Here's what might vary:

  • Whippets show off various colors and patterns, including cream, fawn, grey, black, and blue, as well as brindle markings. They might also have a wisp of alternating tone from forehead to snout, which might be thick or narrow.
  • Greyhounds flash color styles ranging from bright white to midnight black and everything in between. While sometimes their masks are a different shade than body color, they're usually solid, but there's frequently a different hue across their chests.
  • Italian greyhounds' coats can be solid or bi-colored in a spectrum of cream, fawn, gray, yellow, red, seal, blue, chocolate, black, or blue. Their masks are more often black, but sometimes have thin strips or even rings of color on their muzzles.

Size

Comparing the greyhound vs. Italian greyhound size or an Italian greyhound vs. whippet size is simple. Just remember:

  • Italian greyhounds are miniature dog breeds, weighing only 7–14 pounds and averaging about 13–15 inches high. Snuggle with her in matching sweaters
  • Whippets tip the scale at 25–40 pounds and stand 18–22 inches tall. You might not be able to smuggle them into an overhead compartment, but they'll travel nice and toasty in other doggie carriers.
  • Greyhounds are the largest of the three, standing 27–30 inches tall and weighing 60–70 pounds. This means when it's cozy time, you'll need a large dog bed with a warming function.

Health

Why are we talking about keeping these pups so warm? Because Mize says sighthounds are particularly sensitive to the cold. (We would be too with such little body fat!) They're also generally more affected by anesthetic procedures than other breeds. Here are some of her additional health notes:

  • Whippets are susceptible to a type of, likely heritable, heart disease called mitral valve disease.
  • Because of their deep chested conformation, greyhounds are susceptible to a very serious, potentially deadly condition called gastric torsion, commonly known as bloat. "There is a surgical preventative surgery to minimize risk of development of this condition," Mize says. "I'd recommend chatting with your veterinarian about it should you consider adding a greyhound to your family."
  • Italian greyhounds have such fine bone structure that Mize says can make them more susceptible to bone fractures. "So care must be taken to avoid dangerous situations to avoid such an injury," she adds. "For example, this might not be the best pet for a rowdy household with very active children."

Speed

Quality backyard fencing is a must if you want a whippet, greyhound, or Italian greyhound. They're famous for immediate sparks of energy. Even the delicate Italian greyhound can sprint up to 25 mph if something in the bushes catches her eye. While the whippet and greyhound's speeds might be slightly slower—30 mph on average compared to 40 mph—whippets can leap! High! Remember what we said about dock diving? Champions of that sport.

Now that you're familiar with these spectacular sighthounds, test your knowledge of other canine look-alikes!