Getting a new dog is an exciting time, but it’s important to make the right decision when picking out your next pooch. Whippets can make an adorable and loving addition to your home – but are they aggressive?
Although all dogs have the ability to be aggressive in the right circumstances, it’s very rare to see any kind of aggression in a Whippet. If aggression does occur in a Whippet it is usually in response to nervousness triggered by unfamiliar people, strange dogs they don’t know, or loud noises.
In this article, we will cover how and why Whippets may show aggression, how to prevent aggression from developing, and what to do if your Whippet is already showing aggressive behaviors. These are not aggressive dogs, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Are Whippets aggressive?
A Whippet showing genuine aggression towards other animals or unfamiliar humans is a very rare occurrence. Typical displays of aggression in dogs include snapping, biting, and growling – all of which are highly uncommon behaviors in Whippets.
These are lively, playful, and friendly dogs who are prone to over-excitement in certain situations. An overly enthusiastic Whippet may jump up at you, bark, and charge at you – these aren’t signs of aggression, but it can be a little overwhelming if you’re not used to dogs.
Aggression occurs in Whippets who are either very young and haven’t learned to play nicely yet or older Whippets who have had negative experiences in the past and have learned to be defensive around new people. These dogs can be encouraged to leave their aggressive tendencies behind and return to their naturally friendly disposition.
Signs of aggression in Whippets
If you are new to dog ownership, then you may be wondering what to look out for if aggression is a concern to you. Here are some of the ways that a Whippet may show aggression:
- Baring their teeth and snarling
- Growling, sometimes without teeth baring
- Lunging and snapping, even if their teeth don’t actually make contact with skin
- Biting or nipping
- Biting and shaking their head
- Persistent loud, guttural, barking
Remember that Whippets can show a lot of these behaviors even when they aren’t being aggressive. They are very playful dogs who can have a tendency to take it a bit far, especially when they are younger.
If you aren’t sure whether your Whippet is being aggressive or just playful, then consider a trip to a dog behavior specialist. Often it is enough to trust your instincts when judging if the behavior is aggressive or playful.
Why are some Whippets aggressive?
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and Whippets are no different. If you have your Whippet from a puppy then you may notice some mock aggression that disappears with age, this is nothing to be concerned about.
Most Whippets with aggression problems come from rescue shelters. We often don’t know the back story of a rescue animal and your rescue Whippet may have had some negative life experiences that manifest in aggression, even now they are in a safe and loving home.
Here are some reasons your rescue Whippet may be showing signs of aggression:
- They were abandoned by their last owners. This will have caused them to lose trust in humans.
- They may have been a stray, so have had to learn to be overly cautious with every new setting or person they encounter.
- They have been mistreated in the past. If a Whippet has been hit or shouted at they have learnt to use aggression as a defense tactic.
- They haven’t been trained properly. Even naturally friendly Whippets need training and socializing to learn how to behave around other dogs and strangers.
How to stop aggression developing
Whippet puppies should be trained and socialized as soon as they are old enough. Rescue Whippets may have some behavioral problems that they learned in their last home. Remember – this isn’t their fault, and they will love and appreciate you taking the time to help them learn to socialize properly with other dogs and people. Here are some tips to prevent aggression from developing in your Whippet:
- Socialize them with other dogs who are calm and sociable.
- Encourage calmness and reward friendly behavior. When your Whippet interacts well with another dog or person, make sure they know they did a good job.
- Recognize when your Whippet is getting wound up or anxious and remove them from the situation.
- Take them to a dog trainer or a behavioral specialist.
Are male or female Whippets more aggressive?
Neither male nor female Whippets show more aggression than each other, they really are peace-loving dogs! When it comes to training them, females can be a little more strong-willed than males which may mean they find it harder to break bad habits, such as chasing or rough play.
Are Whippets aggressive around children?
Children can be overwhelming for dogs! Children tend to be louder and more physical than adults and this may be confusing for your Whippet. Even so, they are not usually aggressive to children and are more likely to hide away than snap or growl.
To help the situation – encourage the children to be quiet and calm. Give them some treats to show your Whippet that these are their friends and make sure the children understand how dogs like to be petted and played with.
Are Whippets protective of their owners?
Whippets have a tendency to attach to a particular family member. However, this is rarely accompanied by aggression and protective behavior. You are more likely to see your Whippet react with jealousy if they aren’t the focus of their person’s attention, but this isn’t aggressive behavior and isn’t usually a cause for concern.
Unsurprisingly, this means that Whippets don’t make good guard dogs despite being quite territorial. They love their owners and want to be close to them at all times, but they don’t have an instinct to protect their owners.
Are Whippets aggressive to other dogs?
Whippets are unlikely to show aggression to other dogs. They are keener to make friends than to make enemies – and that includes their canine counterparts.
However, their chase instinct means they may wind up playing a little too rough with smaller dogs. This doesn’t come from a place of aggression though, it’s an instinct. You can separate them from their playmate if things are getting a bit rough. Once they have calmed down you can bring them back into the same space and sit quietly with them to help keep the mood mellow.
Always reward your Whippet for keeping calm around other dogs with treats and cuddles. They will quickly learn how to be on their best behavior at playtime.
What to do if your whippet is aggressive
We all get a bit stressed sometimes – and this stress could show up as aggression from your Whippet. Luckily, these occasions are incredibly rare and are usually easily fixed. Here are some tips to help you manage any aggression flareups:
- Keep an eye on their play and intervene if it starts getting too rough. Don’t encourage rough play or reward aggressive behavior, even if your Whippet is well-meaning.
- Getting your Whippet used to socializing with unfamiliar people and dogs reduces the likelihood of developing behavioral problems like aggression, fear, and running away.
- Be aware of your surroundings while out on walks. This means avoiding situations that make your Whippet anxious, such as busy traffic or being around lots of people.
- Use an appropriate leash and collar or harness and keep your Whippet close to you in situations that may prove tricky to handle.
- If you have on-going concerns about your Whippet’s aggression, then take them to see a dog trainer or behavior specialist. A professional will help you to identify the source of the problem and establish steps to help keep your Whippet calm.
What NOT to do if your Whippet is aggressive
No matter how your Whippet behaves, there are certain things that you must never do if you want to encourage the best behavior from your Whippet.
- If you are nervous, for example if another larger dog is approaching, then your Whippet will react to that. Avoid suddenly grabbing your dog or tightening his leash because he will sense your anxiety.
- Don’t tug forcefully on the leash. You may hurt or frighten your Whippet.
- It goes without saying – but never, ever, hit your dog no matter how badly they behave. Whippets are incredibly dependent on the love and affection of their owner, and they will not respond to physical punishment.
So, are Whippets aggressive? The short answer is no! All dogs have the capacity to act with aggression if they feel threatened or intimidated, whether by another dog, an unfamiliar situation, or a strange new human. However, it is very rare to see any signs of aggression from a Whippet – they are very loving and friendly dogs in almost all scenarios.
If you have concerns about your Whippet’s behavior be mindful of their surroundings, encourage them to react calmly, and socialize them in an appropriate environment. If you are still worried then take them to see a dog behavior specialist to come up with a plan to understand and treat any problems with aggression.