Wirehaired Vizsla: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Wirehaired Vizsla mother and pup

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The Wirehaired Vizsla (WHV) shares many of the characteristics of their smooth-haired relative. They're athletic, affectionate and eager to please. They're, however, a completely separate breed, with a much more recent history, a more hardy disposition, and they're generally thought of as a little more laid back.

Breed Overview

Group: Sporting

Height: 23 to 25 inches (male); 21.5 to 23 inches (female)

Weight: 55 to 65 pounds (male); 45 to 55 pounds (female)

Coat: Dense, wiry, close-lying topcoat, with pronounced eyebrows and beard; water-repellent undercoat is also dense on the top of the body

Coat Color: Varying shades of solid golden rust

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Wirehaired Vizsla

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly  High
Pet-Friendly  Medium
Exercise Needs  High
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Bark  Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Wirehaired Vizsla

The traditional smooth-coated Vizsla has an ancient history that can be traced as far back as the 8th century and the Maygar clans in Hungary. Through the centuries they were revered for their hunting skills and temperament.

The Wirehaired Vizsla is an entirely separate breed, although they do still have many similar characteristics and traits to the smooth-coated variety.

The Wirehaired variety was first developed in the 1930s. They came about by crossing Vizslas with German Wirehaired Pointers in an effort to produce a more weatherproof and warm coat, and a sturdier countenance. This would make them a more robust hunting companion in the cold mountainous terrain of Northern Hungary.

World War II resulted in the decimation of the populations of Vizslas and Wirehaired Vizslas. It was thought that other dogs were introduced to the Wirehaired breeding programme after this, possibly including the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, the Pudelpointer and even the Irish Setter.

The breed was first imported to North America in the 1970s, but they didn't receive full recognition from the AKC until 2014.

Wirehaired Vizsla Care

The Wirehaired Vizsla, like their smooth-coated relative, is regarded as a versatile, loving and spirited breed. While they're thought to be slightly less high-energy than a traditional Vizsla, they're still best suited to living with owners that lead an active lifestyle.

If they don't get enough exercise and enrichment, problem behaviors can surface as a result of boredom.

If you're looking for a dog to bond with through dog sports, you'll have a good match with a Wirehaired Vizsla. Their enthusiasm, intelligence and energy mean they do well in agility, and canicross and their natural hunting abilities lend themselves well to scent work trials.

They're often lovers of water, and swimming can be a great form of exercise. They can cope with cold water conditions better than their smooth-coated counterparts.

Wirehaired Vizslas aren't always as vocal as traditional Vizslas, but they're another breed that forms exceptionally strong bonds with their families. They always want to be by your side and can be prone to separation anxiety if they're left for extended periods on their own. They would suit a home where there's someone around for them most of the day.

They're fun-loving and warm-hearted and tend to get along well with respectful children and other dogs. Their hunting background means that they can have a high prey drive, so care should be taken if they live in a household with small furries, and you may need to put in extra work with recall training.

They're known for being very biddable and eager to please and this, combined with their intelligence, means that they respond exceptionally well to positive reinforcement training methods.

The breed doesn't have a high maintenance grooming regime. They aren't excessive shedders, and a general brush through once a week should be enough to lift out dead hairs and keep the coat and skin in good condition. As with many wirehaired breeds, their coat may need stripping to prevent it from becoming untidy and to encourage new hair growth.

Wet Wirehaired Vizsla headshot
K_Thalhofer / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

All breeds are subject to certain inheritable conditions. Obtaining a puppy from a reputable breeder that performs relevant health checks on prospective parents will decrease the chance of your pup developing these types of conditions, but it's not a guarantee.

Some of the conditions Wirehaired Vizsla can be prone to include the following:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These are common across many breeds, not just WHVs. If the hip or elbow joints form abnormally, this can cause degenerative pain and mobility issues. In severe cases, surgery may be required to ensure a good quality of life for the dog.

Hyperuricosuria (HUU): This relates to high levels of uric acid being present in the dog's urine, and it can cause bladder or kidney stones to develop. There are higher than average incidences of this occurring in Wirehaired Vizslas, but there's a test available to check whether prospective parents are carrying the gene.

Idiopathic Epilepsy: Idiopathic epilepsy is something that Wirehaired Vizslas can suffer from. This is an inheritable form of seizures from which the exact cause is unknown. Often this type of epilepsy can be managed successfully with the use of medication and changes to the dog's lifestyle.

Eye Disease: WHVs can be prone to certain inheritable eye conditions including Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Entropion and Ectropion. Good breeders will have ophthalmic tests done on prospective parents to reduce the risk of these conditions being passed on to puppies.

Diet and Nutrition

As with any dog, you should feed your Wirehaired Vizsla a high-quality and properly portion-controlled diet.

With their large, deep chests, Wirehaired Vizslas can be more susceptible to a condition called Gastric Torsion. This is commonly referred to as Bloat. This can be life-threatening, and there are still a number of unknowns about its cause and effective treatment.

It's widely accepted that feeding your dog smaller meals more often is likely to reduce the risk of them developing this condition. So feeding two or three meals a day rather than one large one is recommended. For dogs that gulp their food down in seconds, using a slow feeding bowl could also be beneficial.

Pros
  • Affectionate and biddable

  • Intelligent and eager to please

  • Low-maintenance grooming regime

Cons
  • Needs lots of exercise and enrichment

  • Can be prone to separation anxiety

  • Can have a high prey drive

Where to Adopt or Buy a Wirehaired Vizsla

Regardless of the breed you're planning to offer a home to, finding a good breeder is crucial.

Make sure you get the chance to meet the puppies with their litter mates and mother in a comfortable and peaceful home environment. They shouldn't be released to come home with you until they're at least eight weeks of age.

A good place to start your research would be through the Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America.

Don't discount adopting a Wirehaired Vizsla or similar breed. Adoption can be exceptionally rewarding, and there are so many dogs in shelters across the country looking for their forever home. You could also reach out to a breed-specific rescue organization like New Hope Vizsla Rescue.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you're interested in dogs similar to the Wirehaired Vizsla you could also consider the following breeds:

There are lots of wonderful dog breeds out there. By doing your research, you'll find one that will be best suited to having a forever home with you.