The vizsla is a medium-size dog with a long history originating from Hungary. This dog is muscular with a smooth, dense coat in shades of russet. Known for their pointing and retrieving skills, they were prized and versatile hunters, often mistaken for pointers since they are both part of the sporting group and have physical similarities. Today, the vizsla has evolved as a popular, loving, beautiful, and active companion.
HEIGHT: 22 to 24 inches (males); 21 to 23 inches (females)
WEIGHT: 55 to 60 pounds (male); 44 to 55 pounds (female)
COAT: Smooth, short, and dense
COAT COLOR: Varying shades of golden rust in color
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 14 years
TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, loyal, gentle, energetic
Characteristics of the Vizsla
Vizslas are exceptionally companionable and form strong bonds with their family members. They tend to be friendly with people and other dogs (and cats) in general and thrive in company. This does mean, however, that they can be prone to developing separation anxiety if left on their own too much and they are best suited to a household where they will have someone around most of the day.
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History of the Vizsla
The vizsla has an ancient and noble heritage. It is believed that their origins can be traced as far back as the 8th century. It was during this time that the Magyar clans in Hungary were established and they needed dogs with stamina, speed, athleticism, and courage to aid them with their hunting. This is why they are often referred to as the Magyar or Hungarian vizsla.
There is even a piece of artwork dating back to the 10th century that features a Magyar tribesman, his falcon, and a dog that closely resembles the look of a vizsla.
As the centuries moved on, these dogs became prized possessions of Hungarian noblemen. They continued to refine the breed's hunting skills and temperament so that it more closely resembles the modern-day vizsla that has won the hearts of many.
By the late 19th century, the population of vizslas had dramatically declined, and they were on the verge of extinction. The dedication of breed enthusiasts meant it was able to escape this fate and the demand for this dog has since continued to grow again.
The first vizslas arrived in the United States in the mid 20th century, they gained recognition by the AKC in 1960, and they continue to be a popular breed in North America and Europe.
The vizsla is regarded as an adaptable, affectionate, and active breed. They are best suited to living in an active home that enjoys a consistent outdoor lifestyle that includes hiking, for example. They are very energetic and if they do not get enough daily exercise and stimulation, they can become easily bored and destructive in the home. In addition, they are known to be excellent chewers, so make sure you have lots of safe and interactive toys for them to engage with.
This breed excels in competitive sports and can make great agility dogs. Their hunting pointing and retrieval skills mean they also do well in scent work trials, and they are often great lovers of water. They are known for their stamina and athleticism and love to run, so you will often see advice from owners that this breed needs hours every day running around outdoors. A quick walk around the block will not be enough for a vizsla. However, this type of energy makes them a popular choice if you enjoy the sport of Canicross (running with your dog).
Vizslas do not have a high maintenance grooming regime. They have a short coat that will only need brushing around once a week to lift out dead hair and keep the coat in good condition. They are not known for excessive shedding, either.
Vizslas are also intelligent and eager to please. Making sure you give them enough mental stimulation is important to prevent problem behaviors from surfacing. They respond extremely well to positive methods of dog training and, with the right, guidance, pick up commands and training cues very quickly.
They are quite a communicative breed and can be prone to alert barking, howling, and other vocalizations. You will need to make sure that you do not accidentally reinforce these behaviors as they can then become a problem. Always reward them for being quiet and ask for an alternative behavior to keep their barking under control.
Common Health Problems
Vizslas are known for being a generally healthy breed. They do have some health conditions that they can be more genetically predisposed towards.
Making sure you find a reputable breeder that performs health checks on prospective parents will help to reduce the risks, but some of the conditions they are known for include:
Canine Epilepsy: Vizslas are more prone to epilepsy-related seizures than the average breed. There is ongoing research in this area. In the meantime, it is reassuring to know that, while there is currently no cure, it is a condition that can often be well managed with medication and lifestyle adaptations.
Auto-Immune Diseases: Vizslas are also recognized to be more prone to certain auto-immune diseases. Cases of seasonal and food allergies are more common. There is also a breed-specific condition that is currently being researched called vizsla inflammatory polymyopathy. Symptoms can include muscle wastage around the skull, problems swallowing, and excess drooling. If this is diagnosed early enough, the prognosis is normally good as it can be treated with immune suppressant drugs.
Hip Dysplasia: This is common amongst many breeds. It relates to the abnormal formation of one or both of the hip joints. It is usually a progressive condition and, in severe cases, surgery can be required to help maintain a good quality of life.
Diet and Nutrition
As with any dog, you should feed your vizsla a high-quality and properly portion-controlled diet.
Vizslas, with their deep chests, are recognized as being more at risk from the life-threatening condition referred to as bloat.
It is recommended that feeding them at least twice a day, rather than one large meal, can help to minimize the chance of this occurring. If they are prone to gulping their food down, encouraging them to eat more slowly from a slow feeder or interactive treat toy could also help.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Vizsla
Whatever puppy you are planning to bring home, you should do your research and find a good breeder.
You should be able to see the puppies together with their mother in a nurturing home environment. They shouldn't be allowed to come home with you until they are at least eight weeks old.
Before searching for a vizsla, remember that the breed needs an owner willing to commit to intense playtime and attention every day. If you feel confident handling a vizsla, contacting the Vizsla Club of America could be a good place to start your research.
Don't rule out offering a vizsla a forever home through adoption. This can be a rewarding experience. The Vizsla Club of America is involved directly in breed rescue. There are also other breed-specific rescues across the country to reach out to, including New Hope Vizsla Rescue. Don't forget to check for the breed at your local rescue shelter.
If you buy from a breeder, expect a vizsla to be quite inexpensive, with prices ranging from $500 up to $1,700.
Suited to owners leading an active lifestyle
Intelligent and eager to please
High energy and needs a lot of stimulation
Not suited to a home where they are left alone too much
Can be prone to chewing and barking
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
If you are interested in dogs similar to the vizsla you could also consider the following breeds:
There are lots of wonderful dog breeds out there. By doing your research, you will find one that will be best suited to having a forever home with you.
Is a vizsla a good dog to have around children?
Though vizslas are affectionate towards their owners, you may be surprised to hear that this breed is not recommended for families with children. That's because this breed needs a lot of time and attention that a busy family with small children may not have to give a pet. As a hunting breed, this dog plays long and hard, too, which may be too rough on little kids.
Are vizslas rare?
The vizsla is not considered to be a rare breed. However, the closely related wirehaired vizsla breed, with its shaggy facial hair and eyebrows, is indeed a rare find, and it is also not as popular a dog as the short hair vizsla breed.
Are vizslas good apartment dogs?
You may find lots of contradictory information about whether or not a vizsla is a good apartment dog. The bottom line: If you have access to a park or good outdoor area and can give your vizsla adequate time and attention, then any size apartment will be fine for this medium-size breed. However, this breed tends to be very vocal and barky, which many apartment-dwelling neighbors may not appreciate so much.