According to the American Kennel Club, the Vizsla is one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. It's not hard to see why this stunning dog is so treasured, given its sleek, athletic build, lovely rustic brown coat, intelligent personality and friendly disposition.
The Vizsla began as a breed in Hungary centuries ago, and it's possible the breed's origins date back to the 9th century. Vizslas were originally developed as hunting dogs by the Magyar tribes found in Hungary. The name Vizsla has several meanings in Hungarian including pointer, retriever, and deerhound. Vizslas first came to the U.S. after World War II and were officially recognized as a breed by the AKC in 1960.
According to the Vizsla Club of America's breed standard, males should be about 22 to 24 inches high at the shoulder, and females 21 to 23 inches. These are muscular dogs with a lean, powerful frame designed for speed and endurance during hunting expeditions. They have long ears, tapered noses, and square muzzles. The males weigh about 50 pounds, and females are slightly smaller at 45 pounds.
The golden rust hue of Vizslas' coats, as well as their brown eyes and noses, make them immediately identifiable. Although rare, a dark mahogany or yellow color is one of the Vizsla's variations, however these are excluded by the club standard. Some dogs may have a little white coloring on their chest or toes, which is acceptable, but white on the rest of the body or on their black noses is not. Their coat is short and dense, and they shed very little. Brushing once or twice a week and bathing as-needed are required for regular grooming.
Because of their tendency for being friendly and close to their owners, Vizslas have been dubbed "Velcro Vizslas" by their fans. However, due to their extreme clinginess, this puts them at higher risk for separation anxiety. Therefore, puppy parents should work on socialization and training so their Vizsla accepts being alone from a young age. Because some Vizslas are hesitant around strangers, early socialization is essential.
Due to their active nature, if they are not provided sufficient mental and physical stimulation, they can become destructive. You can prevent this bad behavior by taking your Vizsla for walks and runs, playing fetch, swimming, or engaging in another type of activity for at least one hour per day.
Family Friendly Dogs
Vizslas are generally amiable canines that get along with other dogs and do well with youngsters. They may not be a good fit in a household with smaller pets because they are among the breeds that were bred to hunt small game. Some members of the breed can get along with cats, especially if they were raised with one, but if you already have a cat this may take some acclimation.
Vizsla Exercise Needs
Vizslas were bred to perform in the field by pointing and retrieving game, thus they are not suitable for inactive owners. They require a lot of exercise and are ideal for those who enjoy jogging or hiking. While having a fenced-in yard in which they can run and play is ideal, Vizslas thrive in a home where they can go for a daily long walk or jog. Because they are superb retrievers, playing fetch is also a fantastic form of exercise for them. Vizslas also love water, and they are excellent swimmers. Swimming is a great way for Vizslas to burn off energy if you have a pool, a lake, or ocean access nearby.
Training a Vizsla
Vizslas are a wonderful training partner because of their intelligence and eagerness to work with people. They respond best to positive reinforcement training, which should begin the moment they're adopted. Because they are often distracted, especially by movement and small animals, working with them on attention and focus from an early age can be quite beneficial. Vizslas are appreciated for their versatility in the field of hunting, but they are also popular in canine sports such as agility, scent work, obedience competitions, and dock diving.
Vizsla Health Concerns
Vizslas are generally healthy dogs with an approximate lifespan of 12 to 14 years. In terms of their health, there are a few conditions that are known to afflict the breed.
- Behavior problems due to their sensitive nature are a frequent issue with the breed. Vizslas can suffer from thunderstorm phobia and separation anxiety, and medication and behavioral modification may be required if your Vizsla develops these issues.
- Ear infections are common in Vizslas because of their long floppy ears.
- Epilepsy is often hereditary in Vizslas and involves mild to intense seizures.
- Gastric dilation-volvulus, also known as bloat, is a deadly condition where the dog's stomach twists.
- Hip dysplasia is a painful disorder of the joints that affects many athletic dogs, including Vizslas.
- Hypothyroidism involves a decrease in the production of thyroid hormone leading to lethargy, weight gain, and skin conditions.
- Lymphosarcoma is the number three cancer found in dogs and involves the lymphocytes and lymphoid tissues.
- Parvovirus is a virus that can be deadly in puppies and is known to be of particular concern with some breeds, including Vizslas.
- Progressive retinal atrophy is a degenerative disease involving the retina of the eye.
- Skin problems are often found in Vizslas as either primary or secondary conditions.
Where Can You Get a Vizsla?
If you decide to purchase a Vizsla puppy from a breeder, expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,000 with a median price around $1,250. You can find breeders through the Vizsla Club of America, which also provides helpful information you can use to interview breeders. The AKC PuppyFinder is also a source of breeder referrals. If you prefer to rescue a Vizsla, the Vizsla Club of America has a list of regional rescue contacts who can help you find dogs up for adoption.
Is a Vizsla the Right Dog for You?
Vizslas are lovely, affectionate friends who are equally at home snuggled up as a lap dog as they are joining you on a long run. They make wonderful family dogs, but they will require training, early socialization, and an active, engaged owner who will provide them with the exercise and mental stimulation they require in order to be happy and healthy.