Vizsla (pronounced Veesh-la)
Vizslas are medium-sized hunting dogs and family pets with characteristics of a pointer and a retriever. Males are 22 to 24 inches in height and weigh between 45 to 60 pounds while females are 12 to 23 inches and weigh 40 to 55 pounds. The dog’s short coat can be a variety of shades of golden rust. The average life expectancy of a Vizsla is 12 to 15 years.
The Vizsla originated in Hungary and was present in drawings dating back to the 10th century. They were hunting dogs for the Magyar tribe and hunted a variety of game using their superior noses and high hunting ability. They were bred to work on a variety of terrains such as fields, forests and water. The breed almost went extinct after the World Wars.
Russia occupied Hungary and viewed the dog as an aristocratic symbol and wanted to destroy them. Residents smuggled the dogs to other countries to the protect the breed, and they first appeared in the United States in the 1950s. They were accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1960.
The Vizsla’s hunting instincts have remained strong over the last century and make them an ideal hunting dog. They also compete in conformation shows and enjoy being a family pet.
The Vizsla is intelligent and obedient when trained with positive reinforcement. The dog takes to training better than other breeds and is a natural hunter. Always supervise a Vizsla around smaller animals the dog may view as prey, such as cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and other small mammals.
Personality traits offer a gentle, affectionate and energetic dog eager to please that generally does well with other dogs and children. Vizslas thrive on human companionship and can suffer from separation anxiety. Prolonged kenneling or absence from their family or owner is not recommended and can cause distress, destruction and withdrawal. Vizslas are sometimes referred to as ‘Velcro dogs’ for their constant desire for closeness.
Vizslas are active dogs that need an outlet for energy on a daily basis or they could become stressed, disobedient or destructive. The dog has a high level of stamina and impressive endurance that makes them ideal for joggers or cyclists. They are not ideal for apartment life unless exercised sufficiently and do better in homes with a yard.
Bored or lonely Vizslas may jump small fences, so always make sure to give them an opportunity to exercise every day. The Vizsla can endure hot, dry weather better than most breeds.
Watch this video showing Butch the Vizsla and his daily routine of a few miles in the woods with his owner, and then we’ll discuss grooming:
Vizslas shed regularly but have a short coat, so grooming is minimal beyond daily brushing. They are usually bathed when necessary and most owners use a dry shampoo.
The nails should be checked and trimmed frequently since the dog is energetic and may spend a large amount of time outdoors. Clean the ears and teeth regularly and look for any changes in the eyes since the breed can experience eye problems.
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Common Health Problems
Vizslas are prone to hip dysplasia, skin problems, eye problems, allergies, seizures and epilepsy. Other possible conditions or afflictions would be the same for most dogs. Ask if any hip or eye examinations or tests are available if the common health conditions are a concern.
Is the Vizsla the Right Dog for You?
The Vizsla is a great dog for active individuals and families where they will be given ample opportunity to exercise and play. They are active indoors and much more active outdoors, so a home with a yard is recommended over an apartment or condo.
The Vizsla has a high ability to be trained but can be slow to potty train. Be prepared to provide ample attention and exercise with a Vizsla and avoid prolonged crating or absences. Vizslas love active children but should be supervised around small animals due to their hunting instincts.
If you are able to provide a consistent energy outlet and desire an affectionate dog, the Vizsla would be an excellent addition to your home.
Adopt, Don’t Buy
If you consider getting a Vizsla for your next pet, check adoption resources first. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Petful’s adoption center.
- The Vizsla Club of America
- The Hungarian Vizsla Club (United Kingdom)
Photo: Fido Factor/Flickr