Vizsla - Breed Introduction
Their golden rust coat, muscular body and layed back personality make the Vizsla popular not only as a working dog, but as a loving campanion for a family. When it was first bred, it was bred to be a companion dog.
The Vizsla is a Hungarian breed; and sometimes is called the Hungarian Vizsla. It originated as the favorite companion dog of the Hungarian nobility, and is seen in many paintings of royal families in their palace or on horseback…their Vizsla at their side!
Also called the Hungarian Pointer, Magyar Vizsla and Drostszom Magyar Vizsla, today’s dogs are no different than the original Vizsla. This is a breed that has not been cross bred to other breeds to increase size, color or any other physical or personality traits. This is one of the purest, and most ancient, breeds accepted in kennel clubs around the world.
While a tall dog at 22 to 25 inches (56 to 63.5 cm) at the shoulder, the Vizsla weighs between 48 to 66 pounds (22 to 29 kilograms) making him a medium sized dog. There are two coats – Wirehaired and smooth haired-with the wirehaired being slightly taller than the smooth haired dogs.
History of the Breed
While it’s not known exactly how old the Vizsla is, ancient writings and etchings indicate that it is at least 1000 years old. Bred for the harsh climate of the Hungarian plains and used for hunting, pointing and falconry, the Vizsla was closely guarded by its owners. It was indispensable in the field during hunts, and also as a companion and protector of family members of the household.
During World War 1, a large amount of Vizslas were destroyed or taken out of the country, making them almost extinct. Hungarian immigrants who came to the United States brought many dogs with them during the 1930s, and soon the breed through a small gene pool was resurrected.
The Vizsla today is the most popular gun dog in Canada and other countries. But the Vizsla is mostly known as one of the best companion dogs a person or family could have!
The Vizsla was accepted by the AKC during 1960 for registration and competition.
Color and Coat
The Vizsla's coat is preferably a golden rust color--also referred to as copper/brown, russet gold and dark sandy gold--but a dark yellow is also acceptable. Small white areas on the chest and toes are permissible, though not desirable for the show ring.
It’s coat is a double coat but is short and smooth. the undercoat is not a woolly undercoat. The wirehaired’s coat is wiry, close-lying, strong, and dense. ¾ of an inch to 1¼ inch (2-3 cm) in length with a dense, water-repellent undercoat. The coat should never be shaggy, soft or thin; nor lacking an undercoat or brushes on the legs.
Personality and Temperament
Gentle-mannered and caring, Vizlas quickly bond to their owners, including young children, and are very affectionate. In fact, they are so affectionate that they are lovingly referred to as the “Velcro dog”….they stick to you very closely.
Quiet dogs, they only bark if necessary or need to alarm their owners of danger. While seemingly laid back, they have a lot of energy. They make superior hunting dogs, but are not good in kennels with nothing to do.
They’re better in a home environment where they can play a good game of tug-of-war, or sit with their owners on the sofa and watch a movie.
While some breeds are aloof, Vizslas greet visitors to their home with the same warmth they give to their owners.
If bored, the Vizsla will dig holes in the yard: so make sure you have them trained young so you don’t start this bad habit. They also like to “lip” things in the house, so keep things up and out of their reach.
Although bigger, because of their laid back personality, the Vizsla can live in an apartment as long as they get daily exercise and can have your attention for a lot of the time at home. In addition to children, Vizslas are good with other dogs, cats and pets.
Because they are highly intelligent, they are easy to train. They can be trained for hunting, excel in agility and field trials, and also are used in search and rescue. Since they can jump over 5 feet, if you have a yard it has to be fenced with at least a six-foot fence.
The Vizsla’s eyes almost blend into their gorgeous golden red coat. Their large heads with squared muzzles and large brown noses, topped off with thin, long ears gives the Vizsla a distinguished look. Their muscular body and deep chest makes them even more dignified in profile.
As for their conformation, their neck is strong, and muscular, moderately long and arched. It broadens to sit into their shoulders which gives them balance. While the back is short, the withers are high and the top line slightly rounded to the set of their tail. The tail should be docked about one-third off from the rump.
The forelegs are straight and muscular. Their feet are cat-like: round and compact with toes close. The nails are brown and pads are thick and tough. The hind legs sit into well developed thighs.
Typical Health Concerns
The Vizsla does have some health concerns, most due to their size. Bloat (gastric torsion) is a sudden deadly illness. They also suffer from hip dysplasia, allergies, epilepsy (which develops between the ages of 2 and 5 years), Von Willebrand’s disease (a bleeding disorder), hypothyroidism, digestive problems, and eye conditions like ectropion or entropion.
The Vizsla is an average shedder with a smooth, short coat. During shedding, the undercoat should be stripped out with a stripping comb. The owner should brush their Vizsla every other day with a firm bristle brush, and their nails trimmed once a month if the dog is not outdoors and active.
Dry shampoos can be given occasionally, but baths should be given only when needed and only mild soaps should be used.
Average Life Span
The average age for a Vizsla is 14 to 15 years.