THE VIZSLA IS: Loyal, sensitive, intelligent, affectionate, vivacious, eager enthusiastic, versatile, noble, a hunter, a tracker, a protector, a guide dog, a best friend, and the ultimate couch potato.
History: The Vizsla is believed to have originated with Magyar tribesmen who moved out of Central Asia and settled the area which is now Hungary. The Vizsla became the favored hunting companion of the Hungarian aristocracy. World Wars I and II, and the subsequent Russian occupation, proved to be very hard on the breed. By the end of WWII, the Vizsla was nearly extinct. Some of the survivors began arriving in the United States in the early 1950's, and the breed was admitted to the American Kennel Club in 1960.
Appearance: Designed to be a "walking gentleman's shooting dog," the Vizsla is one of the smallest of the pointing breds. The official breed standard calls for males to measure between 22" and 24" at the shoulders and females to measure between 21" and 23". Males typically weigh 50 - 65 lbs and females about ten pounds less. (The official AKC standard for the Vizsla is available through a local club or from the VCA.)
One of the most striking characteristics of the Vizsla is that they are self-colored (or color coordinated). The nails, nose, and eyes are all variations of golden rust coat color.
The Vizsla has a short, single coat. There is a wire-haired Vizsla which is recognized in Canada and Europe, but it is an entirely different breed. On rare occasions, long-haired Vizslas are seen. This is a mutation and should not be bred.
Temperament: Often described as an "aristocratic clown," the Vizsla has a very high energy level (not be confused with "hyperactivity"). He is very "people oriented" and demands an unusual amount of attention from his owner. The Vizsla does, however, have a strong desire to please and takes well to training. Do not mistake the Vizsla's desire to please with passiveness. He is an utterly charming con-artist who does not hesitate to employ deceit in order to get his own way.
The Vizsla is a "demonstratively affectionate" dog. If you are offended by dogs that want to lick your face, please reconsider getting a Vizsla! The Vizsla can live in a variety of situations, but unless you are willing to provide for his special needs (PLENTY of exercise, early and consistent training, LOTS of time with the family), you are both likely to be unhappy. The Vizsla does not care for being kept isolated from his family in a kennel or the backyard. Left in this sort of situation, the Vizsla is likely to become a nuisance barker and/or escape artist.
Grooming: Although the Vizsla presents an elegant appearance, his grooming requirements are minimal. Baths when needed, and regular ear cleaning, coat brushing and nail trimming are all that are needed. Getting your Vizsla used to a doggie tooth brush at an early age is a very good idea. Contrary to popular belief, the Vizsla does shed. Those little, short hairs can cling quite stubbornly to furniture. Regular brushing helps to minimize the shedding and contributes to a healthy coat.
Living with a Vizsla: The Vizsla can be an excellent house dog provided it gets enough exercise. When selecting any breed, one should always keep in mind the purpose for which the breed was designed. The Vizsla is a pointing breed. Pointing breeds are designed to hunt all day long, independently, many yards ahead of their master. Pointing breeds are generally high energy, independent dogs. One should never lose sight of that when choosing to live with a Vizsla. Add to this description the fact that Vizslas are miserable without the company of their families, and you can see that the Vizsla's owner must make an extraordinary commitment to his dog.
Fenced yards are highly recommended - the bigger the better - but do not expect your Vizsla to exercise himself. Some Vizslas live quite happily in townhomes and apartments, but their owners must be dedicated to an exercise program for the dog.
Like any other dog, the Vizsla is happiest when he knows his boundaries. A dog crate helps define your dog's boundaries. The dog is a den animal, and a properly used dog crate will provide your dog with a safe place to sleep and spend time in when he cannot be supervised.
The breed standard calls for a well-developed protective nature, and it is true that most Vizslas make excellent alarm systems. They are not, however, "guard dogs" in the traditional sense. Once properly introduced to your guests, your Vizsla will be a charming if somewhat overwhelming host to all visitors.
Vizslas are very good family dogs and tend to be very careful around young children and fun companions for older children.
A healthy Vizsla: Like all dogs, Vizslas do have some health problems. First and foremost, all breeding stock should be x-rayed and certified clear of hip dysplasia by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). Some Vizsla breeders also x-ray their dogs' elbows, have them tested for Von Willibrand's disease (a bleeding disorder), have their eyes checked and certified clear by CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation), and test for thyroid disorders. Other concerns are allergies and epilepsy.
Your Vizsla should be fed a good quality dog food. Your veterinarian will recommend an inoculation schedule and start your puppy on heartworm preventive at the proper age.
Enjoying your Vizsla: Graceful and aristocratic in bearing, the Vizsla is a multipurpose dog. Properly bred, he has excellent pointing and hunting instincts and works well on both fur and feather. Vizslas are usually easy to train and have a natural retrieving ability. The Vizsla is an excellent choice for the walking hunter who wants to spend his time hunting birds rather than hunting his dog.
But the Vizsla is far more than a hunting dog. He is also an excellent choice for obedience, tracking, agility, search & rescue, therapy work, and as a family companion. Yes, they do make wonderful walking or jogging buddies for the pet owner who is not interested in competitive events. It is interesting to note that two of the three AKC Triple Champions are Vizslas!
How do I find a Vizsla puppy? If you wish to purchase a puppy, seek out a reputable breeder. Availability of Vizslas varies, so prepare to be patient and to go out of state if necessary to buy your well-bred Vizsla puppy. If you are unfamiliar with the process of finding a responsible breeder and knowing what questions to ask, the local Vizsla club is available to help you. A phone call to a breeder referral chairman is a good place to start. She can answer questions you might have about the breed, help you determine if this is the right breed for you, and give you information on ethical breeders who might have puppies available. The Vizsla Club of America also has a Breeder's Directory which can be purchased from the VCA Corresponding Secretary. A recommended breeder in the Clear Lake area is Clay Myers. His pager number is (713) 815-5500. A recommended breeder in Houston is Tim Milligan.His email is milligan1 @ comcast.net and his evening number is (281) 232-9226.
How about an older dog? Perhaps a puppy is not the best choice for your current lifestyle. Give serious consideration to whether you have time and patience for a puppy. Raising a Vizsla puppy is a major commitment in terms of time and training. An older dog most like is already housebroken and beyond the worst of the typical destructive puppy behaviors. An adult dog from a breeder or from a rescue program may be a better option for you.Both the North Texas Vizsla Rescue Club, Inc. and the VCA have active breed rescue programs. They may be able to direct you to a wonderful Vizsla that needs a home.
The Texas Gulf Coast Vizsla Club, Inc. seems to be inactive.
Versatile Vizsla by Marion Coffman, Alpine Publishers, P.O. Box
7027, Loveland, CO 80537.
The Vizsla by B.C. Boggs, Glenbriar Publishers, PO Box 1844,
Chillicothe, OH 45601
The Complete Vizsla & The Hungarian Vizsla by Gay Gottlieb,
MacMillan Publishing, 201 W. 104 St, Indianapolis, IN 46290.
Vizslas by E. Hart, T.F.H. Publications, 1 TFH Plaza, 3rd & Union, Neptune City, NJ 07753