Difference Between Dolphin and Whale

Dolphin vs Whale

Despite the exceptional popularity and fame that these two marine mammals have, people still refer some dolphins as whales and vice versa. In addition, there are some dolphins referred as whales even by scientists, and there is nothing much wrong, as well. Therefore, having a clear picture about these important animals would be beneficial. The information presented in this section has great importance in order to clarify any doubt about dolphins and whales. Additionally, the presented comparison between the two mammals would elevate the importance of reading the article.


Dolphin is amongst the most popular animals among all and these mammals live in the sea with their closely related whales. In fact, dolphins and whales are subgroups of the Order: Cetacea. Furthermore, dolphins belong to the Suborder: Odotoceti or known as toothed whales. They are a diversified group of animals with about 40 species of dolphins and are distributed throughout the world. Mostly the dolphins are found in the shallow waters. The size of a dolphin could vary drastically, starting from one to ten metres of length and from 40 kilograms to 10 tonnes of weight. Killer whale is a species of dolphins despite its name. However, all these dolphins prefer fish and squids as their food more often than not. The intelligence and the friendliness are the main fame of dolphins, and they live together in herds. They can restrict the fish schools into small volumes via chasing with the herds to ease the catch and feed on fish. Sometimes they chase the fish into shallow waters so that the catching would be easy, and this method of feeding is called the corralling. Their streamlined body makes them fast swimmers. However, dolphins breathe fresh air from their lungs. Sleeping behaviours have also been observed, and their remarkable whistling and whining sounds have been recorded. The usual lifespan of a dolphin is about 20 years.


Whales are the giants of the sea, and they are mammals of the Order: Cetacea. There are more than 80 species of whales including the dolphins and porpoises. When the whales are concerned, it usually does not consider the dolphins and porpoises. Whales are famed for their exceptional size and the Blue whale being the largest of all the animals in the world. They are warm-blooded animals, as they are a group of mammals. Additionally, the exclusive mammalian characteristic of nourishing the young with nutritious milk produced in mammary glands is also present among whales. Their skin is covered with hairs. The fat layer beneath the skin functions in thermoregulation, buoyancy, and as an energy store. Whales have a four-chambered heart, and they breathe through blowholes. Interestingly, their males being called as bulls, and the females as cows. They are full of interesting characteristics, as they never sleep but take resting intervals. They are usually filter feeding mammals, feeding on plankton in the marine ecosystem. The keratinized sieve-like structures present in the upper jaw, known as baleen, are important for the filtering procedure during feeding. Whales are long-lived mammals with a lifespan of 70 – 100 years.


What is the difference between Dolphin and Whale?

• Dolphins and porpoises belong to the same order of whales, but usually dolphins are known as toothed whales while whales are referred as baleen whales.

• Body sizes are much larger in whales than dolphins.

• Dolphins have teeth but not the whales. In contrast, whales have filtering structures in their upper jaw but not the dolphins.

• Dolphins are believed to be more intelligent than whales.


  • Bubbawubba Gump

    What about sperm whales? They have teeth yet I have never heard them called dolphins.