Whippets are beautiful dogs with wonderful personalities, and they can be pretty lively when they’re playing, but they are not very intimidating. If you’re looking for a dog to guard your house and frighten off strangers, you might be asking yourself: are whippets protective?
In general, Whippets are sweet and amiable dogs that don’t make for very effective guard animals. While they are very loving animals that develop strong relationships with their owners, they are not naturally very defensive or protective dogs. In fact, Whippets are more likely to be polite and gentle with strangers than aggressive.
Though they may not be great at scaring off intruders, Whippets are an incredibly popular breed for very good reason. This article will go into detail about the sort of temperament and personality that you can expect from one of these charming and adorable little dogs, where it comes from, how they change over time, and how to raise yours to feel happy and safe.
Where Do Whippets Get Their Personalities From?
If you want to know more about how a dog breed is likely to act and behave, it’s always a good idea to explore their history a little bit. Protective breeds that make for good guard dogs are usually ones that have been bred to look after other animals, like sheepdogs, or have a background as strong defenders of the family, like a Bullmastiff.
Whippets, on the other hand, were bred to hunt out in the open field, chasing down rabbits and hares, rather than fighting off threats. They are part of the group of dogs known as Sighthounds, which also includes Greyhounds, Salukis, Irish Wolfhounds, and more. As one of the smaller breeds in that category, Whippets are also among the most docile and soft-hearted.
All of the Sighthounds have been mixed and cross-bred for generations, and it wasn’t until the first Kennel Clubs were established that the individual breeds were identified. The first official “Whippets” were given their name around the middle of the 1800s.
These wonderful little dogs originally had a reputation as “the poor man’s greyhound” in the past because they were less expensive to buy. They soon became favored for their chasing instinct and joined Greyhounds as popular racing dogs. This is why they have so much energy when it comes to sporting endeavors.
Unfortunately, dog racing has a dark side. Breeding for profit and utilizing dogs to fuel gambling will always lead to poor treatment and the practice is widely considered inhumane. While Whippets love to run and enjoy vigorous exercise, all dogs need to be raised and treated with love. In many ways, dogs like Whippets need us to protect them, not the other way around.
What Temperament Do Whippets Have?
Naturally, Whippets are polite, sweet-natured, and docile. They are gentle dogs that rarely have a problem with people or other animals, though they do love to chase anything that runs. They usually spend most of their time cuddled up and sleeping peacefully, but they can be very playful and energetic when they have the chance.
While they can gain sudden bursts of intensity when they’re playing, and they can be a little stubborn when you’re trying to train them, they are actually quite sensitive dogs. They can scare easily and, if they are not socialized well and treated with love, they can be quite anxious.
Whippets are also very quiet dogs. They love to watch, but they don’t like to make much noise, so they aren’t very good at scaring off intruders with a bark.
At What Age do Whippets Calm Down?
While adult Whippets are generally very calm and quiet dogs, that demand very little from their owners, they can be pretty mischievous and chaotic as puppies. If you’ve had puppies of any kind before, this won’t come as any kind of shock.
The older your Whippet gets, the more stately and mature they will become. Around 1.5 – 2 years old is the average time that you’ll notice them settle down and start showing a more grown-up attitude to life. This may seem like a long time, but Whippets actually mellow out a lot earlier than other breeds.
You might also notice a spike in their naughtiness when they are around 8 months old, but don’t despair, it just means they’re turning into a rebellious teenager. This phase usually doesn’t last too long, but it will require some patience from you to get through a tricky few months.
Can Whippets be Aggressive?
It can be easy to mistakenly think a dog that loves to chase is an aggressive dog. Whippets can focus on a moving target and blast off at top speed in pursuit of them, but they’re not natural killers. You can even train your dog to be respectful of smaller pets, though their prey drive can be a little unpredictable.
You might have seen pictures of Greyhounds, Whippets, or Wolfhounds in muzzles – or you may even have seen it in person – and thought that perhaps they are nippy or dangerous. Actually, the muzzles that racing dogs wear are for their own protection, so they don’t hurt their teeth when playing or running with their mouths open.
Whippets can also be pretty greedy, and some end up needing to wear a muzzle just to stop them gobbling down things that are too big for their little stomachs!
When it comes down to it, Whippets just love to run. Even without something to chase you’ll get used to watching them dart around in zigzags just to burn off the extra energy they have. There’s nothing more joyful than a Whippet at top speed.
What Should I Keep in Mind While Raising My Whippet?
Whippets make for fantastic pets and they are usually very sweet and loveable, but there are a few things to keep in mind while you are helping them to grow.
You should know that Whippets:
- Can be anxious and nervous if they are not well socialised or are treated poorly
- Have a strong instinct to chase things that run
- Need an enclosed outdoor space to run around in
- Can be stubborn during training
- Are sensitive to changes and stress
Because Whippets can be a little challenging as puppies and develop anxiety and fearfulness if they are not treated well, they are often put up for adoption by incompetent owners. That means that there are often many of these amazing dogs just waiting to be picked up and given the love and attention that they deserve.
Do Whippets Bond with One Person?
As with many dogs that form strong bonds and have a very loving nature, Whippets tend to become particularly close with one family member. This is perfectly natural behavior and it shouldn’t cause any problems. Are Whippets protective over the individuals they bond with? To some degree, however, it manifests as separation anxiety on their part rather than aggression towards others.
Whippets are not likely to growl or become defensive around other people, they just show a lot of affection to the people they love and can get a little jealous and needy if they are feeling left out.
Within a family, Whippets will form a bond with everybody that they get to spend time with and, though they may pick favorites, they are still going to be sweet and loving to all. More often than not, you just need to make sure that you’re putting in the effort with them so that they know they are safe around you.
How Can I Help My Whippet to be Less Anxious?
The most protective part of a Whippet’s nature is often the way that they are protective of themselves. They can easily become very timid if they are treated with hostility or aggression, but they can also become very anxious if they are too dependent on specific people to feel safe.
You want to make sure that your Whippet is socialized appropriately with people, as well as other dogs, while they are still young. This will stop them from viewing all humans and dogs as an inherent threat. You should also make sure that you are allowing them to have some time in a safe space on their own, like a puppy crate, to give them some independence.
An important rule for raising any dog is that positive reinforcement is always better than punishment. Whippets love praise and they love food so they can easily be shown what behaviors are desirable without punishing them. Dogs learn from what they see, so show them love and maturity and they will be loving and mature.
With Whippets, in particular, punishment and aggression can give them a lot of fear and anxiety. They don’t always have the capacity to follow instructions clearly, particularly if they’ve spotted something that they simply have to chase, and no amount of punishment is going to change that. They are just going to learn that they can’t trust you to always be kind and calm around them.
Whippets are gentle, polite dogs that are neither aggressive nor particularly protective. While they love to run and can be pretty cheeky as puppies, they are mostly calm and docile pets that are very rewarding to raise.
Whippets generally don’t make for good guard dogs because they are prone to being timid and anxious, and they don’t like to bark or stand up to others. While they are very loving and form strong bonds with their owners, they are not fighters and are usually well-mannered and soft with strangers rather than intimidating.
These are dogs that have huge amounts of love and joy to give, but they need to be protected and cared for more than we need them to protect us.