What Is The Best Dog Food for a Whippet?
The Ultimate Whippet Food Buyer’s Guide
Often known as the “poor man’s Greyhound,” the Whippet is a sighthound that was developed in England. Small Greyhound-type dogs similar to Whippets can be seen in art for hundreds of years but they were not distinguished from Greyhounds or other coursing dogs until around the 18th century. The smaller dogs were considered too small to hunt stag (deer) and were more often kept by people who couldn’t afford to keep the larger Greyhounds. Yet the smaller dogs were perfect for hunting rabbits – making them ideal for poachers and the common person. They could stop and start quickly, turn on a dime, and chase down the quickest rabbit. These skills made the smaller dogs popular when Whippet racing became a major sport in England in the 19th century. The dogs were particularly esteemed in northern England and Wales where racing was established. Even today Whippets are one of the fastest of all breeds and they can accelerate faster than any other breed. By the time dog shows began in the mid-19th century, Whippets and Greyhounds were separate breeds. The Kennel Club in the UK officially granted the Whippet recognition in 1891. The AKC accepted the Whippet in 1888. Today the Whippet is the 59th most popular breed in the United States.
In temperament, Whippets are known as calm, affectionate, playful dogs. They have a low percentage of body fat and a thin coat so they do not make good kennel dogs. You should plan for your Whippet to be a house dog most of the time – or consider a different breed. They do require an hour or two of daily exercise and enjoy sunning themselves on warm days but they are known as (mostly) quiet, dignified house dogs the rest of the time. You can count on a Whippet being gentle, mischievous, clever, and definitely wanting to enjoy your furniture. Owners report that they are a “velcro” breed which is unusual for a sighthound but true with Whippets. Like many hound breeds, Whippets enjoy the company of other dogs and you may want to consider having more than one Whippet. Whippets can be a good choice for a family with children, as long as the kids are taught to treat the dog with properly. As always, children and dogs should be supervised when they are together. Whippets do have a strong prey drive so if you have cats or other small pets, this breed may not be a good choice. Whippets are also known to kill birds and other small animals when they are loose in the yard which may bother some potential owners. They do not make a very good watch dog since they do not bark much and they are usually very friendly with strangers. Like many hounds, Whippets are intelligent dogs but they can be independent thinkers. For this reason they are not always easy to train.
Quick Look : Top 4 Best Dog Foods for Whippets
|*New Formula* ACANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain Free Dry Dog Food
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Whippets are medium-sized dogs that have an appearance of elegance and fitness. Their look should suggest speed, power, and balance. The ideal height for males is 19 to 22 inches; for females it’s 18 to 21 inches, measured at the highest point of the withers. Whippets generally weigh between 25 and 35 pounds.
As you might expect, Whippets are still in demand for racing, though it’s done for ribbons and titles these days and not for gambling purposes. Owners can also participate in lure coursing with their Whippets – a sport which simulates a rabbit hunt using an artificial lure. Most Whippets love these sports since it lets them exercise their instincts and love of running. Whippets also compete in obedience/rally, agility, flyball, nosework and tracking, and even dock diving. Some people even like to do barn hunt activities with their Whippets. The breed also makes a wonderful therapy dog. If you engage in any of these activities with your Whippet, you should take that into account when you figure how many calories your dog needs in his diet.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Whippet weighing 30 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 894 kcal. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. For example, if you course with your Whippet (30-lb dog doing moderate coursing), you might need to feed him somewhere around 1490 kcal. Growing puppies consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Whippet puppy (4-12 months) weighing 20 pounds needs an estimated 733 kcal per day. You always need to adjust your dog’s food intake based on his activity level and other factors.
Whippets are a medium-sized dog so they can eat most dog foods unless they have a particular health issue. You do not need to look for a small breed or large breed formula, for example.
Likewise, Whippet puppies can eat most puppy foods. Most breeders recommend feeding a good puppy food until your puppy reaches about 90 percent of his adult size – which can be rather early for this breed. They can attain most of their physical size by the time they are 6-8 months of age and then continue to fill out. Some breeders, however, recommend a puppy food for the first few months and then suggest switching to an all life stage food by the time the puppy is about six months of age. You should talk to your breeder about the food they recommend for their puppies since they usually have experience with how their puppies grow and develop. (You can view some interesting comments about how Whippet puppies grow and develop on this page.)
For more information about Whippets we recommend the Timbreblue Whippets site.
Feeding Your Whippet
According to most sources, Whippets are reasonably easy dogs to keep and feed. They can do well on a variety of different foods and dietary approaches. Most Whippet breeders recommend feeding the best quality dog food you can afford that agrees with your dog. It does no good to feed your dog the most expensive food if it’s causing him to have diarrhea or lots of gas. If your dog is having some of these digestive problems when you feed a very expensive, good quality dog food, the food may be too rich for your Whippet; or you may be overfeeding. Try feeding less food. If that doesn’t help, check the fat and fiber percentages in the food. They may be too high for your dog. Look at the protein sources in the food. Some high protein foods today use a lot of plant sources of protein such as peas and lentils which do not agree with all dogs. Meat protein is easier for dogs to digest.
According to the American Whippet Club, Whippets are generally not prone to the frequent ear infections, skin allergies, joint problems, food allergies or digestive problems that can be found in some other breeds. However, as with all dogs, purebred and mixed, it’s possible for some dogs to have food allergies or food sensitivities. Common food allergens for dogs include: beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. Symptoms of food allergies include itching and scratching which leads to redness, hair loss, damaged skin, and skin infections. Dogs can also have food sensitivities which result in diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence, and a generally upset stomach. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, it’s best if you work with your veterinarian to address it.
Because of their speed, racing history, and low body fat, some people assume that Whippets are always slim. Unfortunately, this is not true. Whippets can become fat, just like other breeds. If you free feed (leave food down all the time) or feed your Whippet according to the amounts suggested on dog food labels, you will often end up with an overweight dog. Do monitor how much food you are feeding your Whippet and measure the portions.
Many Whippets maintained at a healthy weight for the breed may look skinny to people who are unfamiliar with the breed. Per the American Whippet Club:
While a Whippet at a healthy companion weight may look thin to people unfamiliar with the sighthound family of dogs, maintaining your Whippet at the proper weight and muscle tone is key to their enjoying an active and healthy life. You should be able to detect at least two vertebrae at the top of the spine, ribs should not protrude but should be able to be easily felt under a thin layer of flesh and hipbones should not be sunk into fat so as to give the appearance of dimples.
Do not overfeed your Whippet to try to make him look plumper to ignorant people. You will be harming his health if you do.
Adult Whippets usually do well eating two meals per day. You can feed Whippet puppies 3-4 meals when they are very young, then move to three meals per day as they get older. By the time they are about a year old they should be eating two meals per day.
Whippet Health Problems
According to breeders and owners, Whippets are one of the healthiest of all breeds. While all dogs can have some genetic problems, Whippets seem to be free from most serious issues at this time, at least on a widespread basis. There have been isolated reports of deafness and some genetic eye defects, but these reports have been rare in the breed. The bleeding disorder von Willebrands, which occurs in multiple breeds, has also been reported in a few dogs. Many Whippet breeders have their dogs health tested for these issues.
Older Whippets may experience arthritis and spinal cord problems such as Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE). Hip and elbow dysplasia are virtually unknown in the breed. Skin lacerations and athletic/orthopedic injuries, especially to the dog’s toes, can be common.
Cardiac disease is an area of increasing concern in the breed, however. The club recommends that breeders periodically have their dog checked with echocardiograms. There is also long-term research underway on hearts in Whippets.
Sighthounds, in general, are sensitive to anesthesia and other medications. If you have a Whippet, this is something you should discuss with your veterinarian.
Senior Whippets may need to have their food adjusted as they age. Otherwise, none of these health issues should affect a Whippet’s diet.
Whippets usually have a lifespan between 12 and 15 years. They are normally considered one of the longest-lived breeds.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
As with most dogs, when choosing a food for your Whippet you should look for a food that has good sources of protein and fat.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Whippet may still be able to eat an alternative grain such as barley or oats. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs that is low glycemic such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If your Whippet has a food allergy or food sensitivity, you may need to work with your veterinarian to identify the food triggers unless they are very obvious. There are lots of good foods with alternative meat proteins today as well as limited ingredient diets which we will discuss below.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Whippet
|*New Formula* ACANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Read Reviews Where To Buy
Whippets should be able to eat most good quality dog foods. If your dog has a food allergy or food sensitivity you will need to try to avoid foods with ingredients that are triggers for your dog.
We suggest a variety of foods here for Whippets. Most of the foods we have selected do not contain corn, wheat, or soy, unless noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s dietary needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to suit him. If you are lure coursing with your Whippet or doing agility or other strenuous work, you may need to bump up the calories you are feeding to meet his energy needs at certain times. Just remember to reduce the calories when your dog is back in pet mode.
Best Dog Foods for Whippet Adults
Fromm’s Four-Star Nutritionals Chicken a la Veg has chicken, chicken meal, pearled barley, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes as the first five ingredients. We like the chicken and chicken meal as protein in the first two ingredients; and we think the pearled barley and oatmeal are good sources of dietary fiber. Sweet potatoes are a medium-glycemic carbohydrate. The food has 24 percent crude protein (for those who like a lower protein percentage) and 15 percent crude fat, and 3.5 percent crude fiber, with 395 kcal/cup. It is AAFCO-approved for all life stages. The food has chicken cartilage which is a natural source of glucosamine; probiotics, and antioxidants. No corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also made at the family’s own facilities in Wisconsin. The Fromm family has been making dog food and dog products for over 100 years and they have a great reputation. We think the ingredients are good quality and many Whippets will do well on this food.
Exciting news if you like Acana. Champion Pet Foods has completed their new kitchen in Kentucky and they are now reformulating some of their dog and cat foods to reflect what is now “regional” to the Kentucky area. So, it’s still the same award-winning company, but Acana will be made in Kentucky. We’ve had a chance to review the Acana dog and cat foods and there are some changes in the meat proteins but the foods still look good. If you visit the Acana web site you can view the old and new formulas to see the changes (we really like being able to compare the formulas). The current (old) Grasslands formula, for example, is heavy on lamb, duck, whitefish, and lentils. The new formula (due any time) will feature goat meal and catfish meal, in addition to the lamb and duck. The old formula has 31 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. The new formula has 33 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 6 percent crude fiber, and 12 percent moisture. The food has 60 percent animal protein ingredients and 40 percent vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. No grains, potatoes, or tapioca. If you’re looking for a good grain free dog food for your Whippet that is low in carbohydrates, we think that the Acana foods are a good choice. Acana foods typically have slightly less meat protein than Orijen (made by the same company), but we think they’re a good choice for many dogs.
Victor dog food has something of a cult following. It’s made by Mid America Pet Food – a company that co-packs for some other well-known brands. Mid America is a family-owned and operated company located in east Texas. According to the company, more than 80 percent of the ingredients used in their foods come from a 200-mile radius of their facility. They currently have seventeen formulas available. They have foods that are free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and grain by-products. They use no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Yukon River Salmon formula has 32 percent crude protein, 15 percent crude fat, and 34 percent crude carbs. Seventy-six percent of the protein in the food comes from fish. We think that active Whippets would do well on this food. Or you could check out one of Victor’s other foods. People who feed Victor are devoted to this brand. Considering the ingredients, their foods are very reasonably priced.
The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, and Potatoes. This recipe is an all life stage food with 460 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It has 70 percent meat ingredients, 30 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It is grain free – no corn, wheat, or soy. No gluten. No ingredients from China. It has 38 percent crude protein and 17 percent crude fat, with 3.5 percent crude fiber. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin added, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Merrick uses local growers from Texas, where the food is made. We think this food has good quality protein and other ingredients for Whippets that need good nutrition for an active lifestyle. Not everyone will like a protein percentage this high but if you do, give this food a try.
Best Dog Foods for Whippet Puppies
Whippet puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. Some people like to feed a puppy food for a few months and then switch over to an all life stage food when their puppy is a few months old. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They usually have the most experience with raising Whippet puppies and can guide you.
Puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1.2 . It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth. If you are feeding your puppy a food that is properly formulated, you should not add any extra calcium, such as milk, cottage cheese, or other calcium supplements. Doing so can lead to serious health problems such as OCD (osteochondritis dessecans) – painful bone spurs that may require surgery – and other orthopedic problems.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Whippet puppies. Note that an all life stage food can also be fed, as long as the nutrients are appropriate for your puppy.
Canine Caviar Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy food has no corn, no wheat, no soy. It’s grain free, gluten-free, and it’s GMO-free. It contains no by-products, tapioca, or potatoes. It has a single protein (dehydrated chicken) and carbohydrate source (split peas – though we aren’t sure if sun-cured alfalfa counts as a carbohydrate or not) and the meat is hormone-free, pesticide-free, and antibiotic-free. It also has the proper calcium level for puppies. There’s more, but you get the idea. It says it’s formulated for small breed puppies but it’s just fine for Whippets and other puppies. If you are trying to be very careful with your Whippet puppy, then this LID holistic puppy food from Canine Caviar is definitely a food you may want to consider. Canine Caviar also has several other formulas so you can rotate the proteins. Seriously, this food is so holistic we don’t even know what some of the stuff means, but we are impressed with it.
This is one of our favorite foods for all puppies. Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula is a limited ingredient food with nine ingredients plus vitamins and minerals and probiotics. It’s grain free with probiotics to help digestion; antioxidants for a healthy immune system; and omega 3 and 6 to support healthy skin and a beautiful coat. The first five ingredients are chicken, menhaden fish meal, lentils, peas, and potatoes. The recipe is supposed to be especially good for puppies with sensitive digestion. The food has 30 percent crude protein, 12 percent crude fat, 4 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. This food checks in at 520 kcal/cup, so it’s high in calories but active, growing Whippet puppies can usually burn them off. Just remember that you don’t need to feed a lot of food with these very nutrient-dense foods. If your Whippet puppy does well on this puppy food, Canidae has some good adult foods – both grain free and foods with grains.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Whippet
It’s not unusual for many Whippets to live into their teen years. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your dog as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, some very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Whippet. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Whippet’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older. (We know Orijen is expensive but this food really stands out for senior dogs.)
Another food you may want to consider for older dogs is Weruva’s Caloric Harmony Venison and Salmon Meal Dinner with Pumpkin. This food (and several others in this product line) is potato-free with no corn or wheat, easy to digest, and low-glycemic. It contains pumpkin and oatmeal for healthy gut motility. Meat protein comes from grass-fed venison and the food also features salmon meal and herring meal. The dry matter basis for this food is an estimated 37.8 percent protein;14.4 percent fat; 3.9 percent fiber; and 35 percent carbs. The calorie count (calculated) is Metabolizable Energy (ME) 3320 kcal/kg; 348 kcal/cup. Those look like good figures for senior dogs who need more protein without extra fat.
Best Dog Foods for Whippets with Skin Problems/Allergies
If your Whippet needs to avoid common proteins in dog foods due to food allergies, here is a food we like.
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your Whippet has a food allergy, he may benefit from Wild Calling! The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes. (Please note that you cannot buy dog food products containing kangaroo meat in California.)
Best Dog Foods for Whippets with Sensitive Stomachs
If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different from a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious. If your dog is having gastrointestinal problems, it’s a good idea to see your veterinarian, especially if the problem continues even after you change dog foods. Dogs can have problems such as irritable bowel disease, colitis, pancreatitis, and other issues that need a diagnosis so they can be treated. However, in many cases a dog simply has an intolerance to a certain food ingredient or a few ingredients. In these cases, you may resolve the problem by avoiding those ingredients.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
We recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients are: Sweet Potatoes, Salmon, Salmon Meal, Canola Oil, and Potato Fiber. It has 21 percent crude protein, 10 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 380 kcal/cup and it’s an all life stage formula. If your dog can’t eat some of the ingredients in this food, Natural Balance has lots of other LID recipes that you might check.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Whippets
If your Whippet becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise. Older Whippets are often happy to nap on the sofa all day so you may have to take him out for walks and runs.
If your Whippet needs to lose more than one or two pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a Whippet that needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, and Sweet Potatoes.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week. If your Whippet acts like he’s starving between meals, try giving him some low-cal, healthy snacks like pieces of carrots or apples. You can also add some low-sodium green beans to his food. This is an old trick. The green beans help your dog feel fuller without adding many calories to his diet.
Whippets make wonderful family pets. Adults are calm, affectionate, and playful. Puppies can be wild and crazy but that’s true of most puppies. These dogs love to snuggle, unlike some sighthounds, and they will take full advantage of your sofa, best chair, and your bed. While they do need some time outdoors everyday to exercise and enjoy a supervised run, they are essentially house dogs. Keep them warm and cozy in cold weather with a sweater since they don’t normally have a lot of extra body fat. With good food and regular vet care, your Whippet should live a long, healthy life with you.