The Vizsla is a breed that originated in the region now known as Hungary. They have been depicted on art dating back to the 10th century. These dogs were developed by the Magyar people, a tribe based in the area. The name Vizsla means “pointer” in Hungarian and these dogs were created using many different pointer breeds including the Transylvanian Hound and the Turkish Yellow Dog, a breed which is now extinct. Popular with early barons of the time, these dogs were used as a hunting breed, using their superior sense of smell to track down small prey such as rabbits and waterfowl. After World War II, when the Russians took control of Hungary, this breed almost went extinct. In an effort to save the breed, many native Hungarians smuggled these dogs into Austria and the United States. The Vizsla was officially recognized by the AKC in 1960.
The Vizsla is a medium sized breed that stands at about 20 to 26 inches tall at the withers and they usually weigh between 40 and 60 pounds. These dogs have a strong body and they are slightly longer than they are tall. The head is slightly domed and wedge shaped. The muzzle is long and tapering with a very slight stop. The nose is usually flesh colored, blending in with the rest of the coat. They eyes are medium sized and should come in various shades of brown that also blend in with the coat. Their eyes may be yellow or another color that contrasts with the coat, but this is considered a fault in the show ring. The long ears are thin and silky to the touch. They are rounded at the tips and hang down alongside the dog’s face. The tail is high set and thick at the base, tapering to a point. Usually the tail is docked to about two thirds of its original length, but this practice is illegal in most parts of Europe. The Vizsla has a short and smooth coat. It comes in solid shades of rusty-gold and is easy to groom. They need regular brushing to remove loose hair and dirt and should be occasionally dry shampooed. They only need to be bathed when they get really dirty and even then it should only be done using a mild shampoo. These dogs are average shedders.
The Vizsla is a naturally gentle and loving pet. They love to play and are good with children. They can also get along well easily with other dogs. The Vizsla is a trainable breed, but they can be quite stubborn if they sense that their owner is not a strong pack leader. They need and owner that is not only firm and consistent in their training, but can also remain calm and be patient. These dogs are eager to please and a naturally authoritative owner who establishes the rules and expectations of the household early on will have the easiest time training these dogs. Vizslas are also known to be avid chewers, especially if they are not well trained. These dogs should also be well socialized while they are still puppies. They are a hunting breed so they should only live with cats or other small animals that they have been raiser with. Socializing should include taking them out to expose them to new people, places, and situations. This helps to ensure that they don’t feel frightened or threatened by anything later on in life.
The Vizsla is a very active breed both indoors and out. They are not recommended for life in an apartment or other small home. They need at least an average sized yard to run and play in. These dogs have a lot of energy and stamina, and without plenty of exercise every day they will be much more likely to misbehave. These dogs need both physical and mental exercise daily. If their needs are not being met they will become neurotic and even destructive. These dogs will need a long walk or run daily. They will also enjoy getting the opportunity to run in an open space, but make sure it is safely enclosed so they don’t take off after any small prey they may spot.
Like many breeds, the Vizsla is prone to hip dysplasia. This condition can affect their mobility, especially as they age. They have also sometimes been known to suffer from canine epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy. Less serious ailments include food and skin allergies. A healthy Vizsla will live about 12 to 15 years.
Overall the Vizsla is a breed that is not for everyone. They need an owner that knows how to be a strong pack leader and provide the correct training. They are also best suited to a highly active family that will make sure that these dogs are getting all of the exercise that they need.