Vizsla

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Sporting

Personality
Energetic, playful and caring

Life Expectancy
13-15 years

Average Height
Males 22-26 inches; Females 20-24 inches

Average Weight
Males 45-60 lbs; Females 40-55 lbs

Coat Color
Rust or gold

Coat Length/Texture
Smooth and short, with no undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Consistent year-round

Also known as Hungarian Vizsla, Magyar Vizsla, Hungarian Pointer

General Temperament

Throughout it’s history, the Vizsla was renowned for both it’s admirable hunting ability and it’s loyalty as a household companion. They are affectionate and gentle in the home, yet fiercely dedicated on the hunt. Vizslas are alert and watchful and will bark to announce the arrival of visitors, but are not excessive barkers. This breed is energetic and excitable with supreme stamina, and is a wonderful pointer and retriever for a hunter, or a companion for a very active household.

Vizslas are very reliable with children, and are particularly fond of active children who will give them plenty of playtime, although they may be a bit too rambunctious for toddlers. They generally get along well with other dogs, and will usually tolerate cats that they are raised with. But it will likely see other small house pets and wildlife as prey.

The Vizsla is very intelligent and eager to please, and therefore relatively easy to train. Owners must establish their dominance from the start and be sure to make their expectations very clear to the dog. An untrained adult Vizsla can be very tough to control. They can be easily distracted, but are very obedient once trained. Provide plenty of safe toys and rawhides as this breed loves to chew.

With their intensive need for exercise and activity, the Vizsla is not recommended for apartment life. If they are not given enough attention and regular physical activity, or are allowed to get bored for extended periods, they can become seriously destructive or suffer from behavioral problems. They love to work and move and need long daily walks. The Vizsla makes an excellent jogging partner.

Breed History

A native of Hungary, the Vizsla (much like the Puli) is likely a descendent of the dogs brought to Eastern Europe during the the Magyar migration in the 10th century. This breed was a favorite among the early landowners and warlords, who guarded the dogs jealously, developing them along pure breed lines for hundreds of years. The Vizsla was revered both for it’s unending loyalty and spectacular hunting ability, both in pointing and retrieving. Like many other pure breeds, the World Wars threatened the existence of the Vizsla, but this breed persevered. After the dissolution of the reign of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when frequent border changes resulted in Vizsla owners being spread among many different countries, the breed approached extinction, with only a handful of true specimens still remaining. But through the efforts of dedicated breeders, the Vizsla rebounded.

The Vizsla was granted full breed recognition with the American Kennel Club in 1960.

Body Structure and Composition

The lean and lithe Vizsla possesses a body that is both robust and lightly built at the same time. The muzzle is approximately equal in length to the skull. The long ears are set relatively low on the wide skull, and lang loosely against the sides of the face. Eye color of this breed should closely reflect the color of the coat. A Vizsla’s long neck leads down to a wide and deep chest and a topline that is rounded from the loin to the tail set. In the United States, the tail of this breed is typically docked to 2/3 of it’s original length for conformation purposes, although this practice has been banned in many other countries. The forelegs and hind legs are muscular yet svelte, matching the composition of the rest of the body. The cost color of this breed is quite distinctive, and should always be a solid rust color.

Medical Information

Generally a healthy and hardy breed, the Vizsla has a low incidence of certain heritable diseases. Hip Dysplasia occurs in a small number of Vizsla lines. This disease causes a degeneration of the fit between the head of the thigh bone and the hip socket, resulting in lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. The rare few Vizsla’s can also suffer from Hypothyroidism, which causes underactivity of the thyroid gland, affecting the dog’s metabolic rate. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include lethargy, weight gain, skin infection and hair loss, cold intolerance, chronic ear infections or severe behavioral changes. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) provides certification of breeding stock to help prevent the spread of these diseases, among others.

Epilepsy has been seen in a significant number of Vizsla’s in recent years. The University of Minnesota is currently conducting a research study to determine any genetic markers indicating the presence of epilepsy in canines (either in affected individuals or carriers) in an effort to help control the spread of this disease.

An occasional brushing is all that is needed to keep the Vizsla coat in top condition. Wash with a mild shampoo only as needed.

Anecdotal Information

Clifford the Big Red Dog, a famous children’s literary character and animated PBS cartoon, is arguably the most famous Vizsla in American pop culture.

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