The Vizsla is an ancient breed of dog: Images of this breed have been discovered that date as far back as the 10th century. These dogs shared the lives of a nomadic tribe that hunted through Central Europe, which eventually settled in the area we now know as Hungary. They were used to help in the hunt for rabbit and waterbirds. Their exceptional hunting ability was valued by their owners, but they were also important as companions.
During the last hundred years, the Vizsla has been faced with extinction many times, but the breed survived, and is now popular throughout the world. They excel in dog sports such as obedience and agility, but also make a wonderful family pet. The breed has played an important role in the development of other breeds such as the Weimaraner and the German Short Haired Pointer.The Vizsla was imported into the United States in the 1950’s, and was registered by the AKC in 1960.
The Vizsla is the smallest of the pointer breeds, and when mature only reaches 26 inches in height at the shoulder. An adult male can weigh up to 60lbs, or 27kg. They are a sleek, strong, muscular dog, with gentle brown eyes and an alert expression.
The coat of the Vizsla is short, and they have no undercoat. This can make them susceptible to cold, so make sure your Vizsla has shelter and warmth during the cooler months of the year. The standard coat color is a solid rust color, but there may be slight variations in shade.
This breed has the tail docked to 2/3 of its original length, but this is not permitted in some countries.
The Vizsla is extremely intelligent and they learn very quickly. To bring out the best in this breed, they need consistent leadership and training. They are quite sensitive, and benefit most from gentle positive methods of training. This will avoid causing them anxiety and stress.
They are also extremely athletic, and need to burn off their excess energy. If they don’t get an opportunity to use up their energy they can become edgy and highly strung. Some people believe that the Vizsla can develop obsessive compulsive disorders if they aren’t given a job to do, and certainly behavioral problems often develop when a bored dog finds their own entertainment.
This is a gentle and loving breed of dog, and they rarely have aggression issues. They are very affectionate to their owners, and mix well with other dogs. However, they do have a protective streak, and make good watch dogs.
Being a hunting breed, the Vizsla has a strong prey drive, which can make them unsuitable for households with other small animals such as rats or ferrets.
The Vizsla is a sound breeds of dog, with very few serious health issues to speak of. There is a low incidence of hip dysplasia in the breed, and epilepsy may be a problem. Responsible breeders will choose their breeding stock carefully, to reduce the incidence of these diseases in the breed.
There is a specific muscle disease in the Vizsla known as Vizsla myositis, which affects young adults up to 2 years of age. The term “myositis” means muscle inflammation. Affected dogs have wasting of the muscles on their head, drooling and difficulty swallowing. Nobody is sure of the cause of Vizsla myositis, but it is thought to be immune mediated. Also, the fact that some closely related dogs have been affected suggests that there is a genetic link. However, a definite cause hasn’t yet been identified, and there is no test for the condition.
These dogs may also suffer from skin and food allergies, which can lead to itchy skin and signs of inflammatory bowel disease.
The Vizsla coat is one of the easiest to maintain. They don’t need bathing very often, and their short coat just needs an occasional once-over with a grooming mitt or brush. They do shed, but because they don’t have an undercoat, this isn’t excessive.
The main issue with looking after a Vizsla is meeting their need for physical and mental stimulation. They have great stamina, and will enjoy running, biking or rollerblading with you. If you prefer a leisurely lifestyle and are not prepared to thoroughly exercise your dog every day, this may not be the breed for you.
Similarly, regular obedience training will keep your Vizsla’s mind active, and avoid boredom related behavioral problems such as digging or chewing.
This is not a dog that is suitable for apartment living. They need space, and they need the opportunity to run. If you have a reasonable back yard, and are an active person, the Vizsla might just be the ideal companion for you. They are an ideal choice of breed for dog sports such as agility, flyball and retrieving, as they are very agile and very fast learners.
They are also well suited to active families with older children. They are gentle with young people, and are always ready for a game. They can be excitable so they may not be good for households with very young children or toddlers, as the children could easily be knocked over.
If you are an active person and can meet their need for exercise and mental stimulation, the Vizsla is the perfect dog. Medium sized, low maintenance, and relatively few major health issues. They will provide you with entertainment, companionship, and protection for up to 15 years.