Thinking of bringing home a Vizsla? This article will give you all the information you need on this beautiful Hungarian breed, from their physical characteristics and personality traits to what to expect when owning a Vizsla, fun facts about them, and more!
Hungarian Vizsla is a medium-sized versatile, all-purpose gun dog that ranks 32nd out of 197 breeds in the American Kennel Club’s (AKC’s) popularity rankings. They are excellent pointers and retrievers on land and water and have also been known for their superb nose work and tracking abilities.
Vizslas are incredibly devoted, highly intelligent, great with children and other pets, and are so clingy that they will follow their owners around the house and love nothing more than being involved in everything their owners do. Yes, even if it’s just going to the bathroom! In fact, you’ll sometimes hear Vizslas’ owners say that their dog is like a shadow because they are always right by their side. This is why this breed is also called “velcro dogs.” And for this reason, they are not suitable for everyone as they require a lot of attention.
Vizsla is also not the type of dog that is content to lounge around the house all day. They are a very active breed and need a lot of exercises. They love to go on long walks, runs, hikes and enjoy learning new tricks and playing fetch and other games that keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
If you are thinking about getting a Vizsla, be prepared to have an active dog who wants to be by your side 24/7. And if you think you can handle all that comes with owning a Vizsla, read on to learn more about this amazing breed!
|An Overview of Vizsla Breed Characteristics|
|Weight||55 - 65 pounds|
|Height||21 - 24 inches|
|Life Expectancy||10 - 15 years|
|Coat Type||Short, smooth with no undercoat|
|Colors||Golden, Golden Rust, Golden Red|
|Breed Size||Medium-sized dogs|
|Affectionate With Family||5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Good With Children||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Good With Other Dogs||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Friendly Towards Strangers||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Breed Health||3.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Shedding Amount||2.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Grooming Needs||1.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Adaptability||5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Trainability||5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Prey Drive||3.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Playfulness||5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Protective Nature||3.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Energy Level||5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Apartment Living||1.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Good for First-Time Dog Owners||2.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Tolerate Being Left Alone||1.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Cold Tolerance||1.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Hot Tolerance||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Tendency to Drool||1.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Tendency to Bark||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Tendency to Snore||3.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Tendency to Dig||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Exercise Needs||5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Mental Stimulation Needs||4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
|Puppy Costs||3.0 out of 5.0 stars|
Breed History & Origin
The Vizsla, sometimes also referred to as the Hungarian Pointer, and the breed’s name actually means “pointer” in Hungarian. It’s believed that they descended from the ancient breeds (the now extinct Turkish Yellow Dog and the Transylvanian Hound.)
Vizslas were used by the Magyar tribes (both the nobles and warlords) over a thousand years ago to hunt upland birds, waterfowl, and hares. There are primitive stones recovered, with etching dating back to the 10th century showing the existence of a smooth-coated Vizsla hunts alongside a Magyar hunter and his falcon. For centuries, the land-owning Hungarian aristocracy kept the Vizsla’s pure bloodline and continued to develop the breed’s hunting skills.
The Hungarian Vizsla survived the Turkish Occupation from 1526 to 1696 and the Hungarian Civil War from 1848 to 1849. However, the breed’s numbers significantly declined during these conflicts and were almost extinct towards the end of the 19th century.
The Vizsla also survived World War I, II, and the Russian Occupation. By the end of World War I, there were only about a dozen remaining in Hungary, but the biggest threat was during World War II when they were almost wiped out and were again on the brink of extinction.
Fearing the Viszla would become extinct, this breed was smuggled to Austria and many other countries, including the US. Thankfully, the Vizsla population steadily increased over the past few decades and was again brought to prominence.
The first Hungarian Vizsla was brought to the United States in the 1950s. However, it wasn’t until 1960 that this breed was officially recognized by the AKC, thanks to the efforts of Vizslas owners who formed the Vizsla Club of America. Since then, its popularity has experienced a resurgence and skyrocketed after a Vizsla named Kai won in the field, show, and obedience and became the first AKC’s triple champion of any breed.
Today, Vizslas are still used as hunting dogs worldwide and are also a cherished companion of many American households.
Size & Appearance
Vizslas are a medium-sized breed of dog, with males weighing between 55 and 65 pounds and standing about 22 to 24 inches at the shoulders, while females weigh at an average of 50 pounds and stand 21 to 23 inches tall.
Vizslas have a lean, muscular, and athletic frame, and as per the AKC official standard for this breed, they have a “robust but rather lightly built, agile, and energetic” appearance.
Their head is lean and muscular, the skull is moderately wide between the ears, and they have a square, deep muzzle. When viewed in profile, their muzzle is either the same length or slightly shorter than their skull. Their lips should cover the jaws entirely and never be loose or flappy.
Vizslas have moderately deep-set, medium-sized eyes, and the color of the ring-shaped layer behind the cornea of their eye should blend in with the color of their coat. They should also have thin, silky, rounded-leather ends ears that sit fairly low and close to cheeks by the breed standard.
Their neck is moderately long, strong, smooth, muscular, and flows nicely into their broad shoulders to maintain balance with their hindquarters. Their body is strong, muscular, well proportioned, with a moderately deep, broad chest, and tails are preferably docked one-third off but not mandatory.
Vizslas’ forelegs are straight and muscular, with cat-like feet (round and compact with toes close) and short brown nails. They also have muscular hind legs and must be straight when viewed from behind. And the way their powerful legs are set gives them the ability to move swiftly with a light-footed, graceful gait.
Color, Coats, & Markings
The Vizsla has a golden rust short, dense, smooth coat with no undercoat. And although they don’t shed as much, they aren’t hypoallergenic.
It’s not uncommon to see lighter shading of their color around their neck and shoulders, giving them a saddle-type marking. They can also have white spots on their fore chest and toes, but the AKC breed standard calls for any of these white patches to be minimal. The color of their eyes, nails, lips and other features should also blend in nicely with its coat color.
You’ll sometimes find Vizslas in solid dark mahogany or pale yellow, and although some breeders produce these variations, the AKC considers these colors a disqualification in competitions.
Vizslas, also known for being one of the most versatile hunting dogs, are an affectionate, gentle, loving, and devoted breed that loves spending time with their family, hence their nickname “velcro dogs.” They are fearless and protective of their loved ones but may not be the best guard dogs due to their friendly nature.
Hungarian Vizsla is a high-energy breed that needs plenty of daily exercise, whether it be going on walks, hikes, running, playing fetch, or swimming, to stay happy and healthy. Without enough physical and mental stimulation, they can become bored and destructive and may develop other behavioral issues.
They do well in families with children but need to be supervised when around younger kids as they can be rambunctious at times and may accidentally knock them over in their excitement. Vizslas also need a lot of attention and do not like being left alone for long periods, so if you have a 9 to 5 job and no one is home to take care of them, they may not be the best breed for you.
They’re good-natured dogs that get along well with other pets. With that being said, as with any dog breed, early socialization is needed to ensure they get along well with other people, pets, and animals they may encounter in the future.
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Due to Vizslas’ high level of energy and enthusiasm, they are not the best breed for those who live a sedentary lifestyle. They typically don’t do well in apartments and are certainly not the type of dog who would cuddle up on the couch with you all day long.
Vizslas need an outlet for their high energy level. They do best in homes with large yards where they have plenty of space to run around, and an active family that loves spending time outdoors would be the perfect match for a Vizsla.
This breed thrives in warmer weather, and because they don’t have an undercoat, they won’t do well in cold climates and should be kept indoors during the colder months. For this reason, it’s a good idea to get them a coat or sweater to keep them warm when taking them out for walks in winter.
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Vizslas require a minimum of 45 to 60 minutes of exercise every day, while some recommend at least two hours per day. This can be divided into a few shorter walks, depending on your preference and schedule.
They love biking, hiking, and running. In fact, Vizslas are one of the best furry running partners. And, of course, they’ll also be more than happy to accompany you on any of your other outdoor adventures.
In addition to physical exercise, Vizslas also need plenty of mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored. Training, puzzle toys, treat-release toys, chew toys, bones, and games such as hide-and-seek, fetch, tug of war are great ways to keep them occupied and mentally stimulated.
Vizslas are intelligent dogs and eager to please their owners, making them relatively easy to train. They can learn just about anything you want to teach them. However, they can also be stubborn sometimes, so training them requires patience, firmness, and consistency.
Vizslas respond best to positive reinforcement training methods. So make sure to reward them with treats or praise them when they show good behavior. You would also want to start training your Vizsla puppy as soon as you bring them home and socialize them early on. This way, they know how to behave around other people and animals.
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The average lifespan of a Vizsla is 10 to 15 years. Overall, they are considered a healthy breed, but they are prone to certain health conditions. Some health issues Vizslas may develop includes:
- Canine Hip Dysplasia. This is a condition where their thighbone and the socket in their pelvis grow at a different rate during the dog’s development, resulting in joint laxity or improper fit of their hip joint and leading to arthritis when they get older. Although this can result from environmental factors, such as over-exercising, rapid growth, and improper diet, it’s a hereditary condition. So it’s crucial to get your Vizsla from a reputable breeder who can provide you with health clearances for the parents.
- Epilepsy. This is a common neurological disorder in dogs that causes repeated seizures. The dog may lose control of its body when that happens, leading to unusual movements like jerking or shaking, muscle twitching, and rhythmic eye blinking. While there is no known cure, it can be managed with medication, and it is still possible for dogs with epilepsy to live a completely normal life.
- Hypothyroidism. This is a condition where the thyroid gland produces abnormally low hormones, leading to dull-looking haircoat, unexplained weight gain, lethargy, and other health problems. It is another incurable condition. However, it can be treated with oral thyroid replacement hormones, and the dog needs to receive this medication for the rest of its life. And the good news is it isn’t life-threatening!
- Lymphosarcoma. Lymphosarcoma is the third most common type of cancer in dogs, which usually starts from the lymph nodes but can also start from other parts of their body such as the chest, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, liver, and bone marrow. The most effective way to treat Lymphosarcoma is chemotherapy, but some vets may also recommend surgery or radiation therapy.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This degenerative eye condition usually occurs in adult dogs, causing their photoreceptor cells to deteriorate and eventually leading to complete blindness. There’s another form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) called retinal dysplasia, in which a dog’s retina develops abnormally. Retinal dysplasia is typically seen in puppies and is an inherited form. So responsible breeders will remove their dogs diagnosed with this disease from their breeding program.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD). A common inherited bleeding disorder that prevents the blood from clotting properly, Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), is caused by a deficiency of Von Willebrand Factor (VWF), a protein responsible for platelet adhesion. Dogs with this condition will experience prolonged bleeding during surgery, after trauma, or even the smallest injuries or a minor abrasion. Some other symptoms include nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and blood in their urine or stool. Unfortunately, this is another no-cure disease, and make sure to ask your vet about the best course of treatment for your Vizsla, as some medications may exacerbate the problem.
It’s crucial to note that not all Vizslas will get the above conditions, but they are something to be aware of as an owner of this breed. So if you’re thinking of adding a Hungarian Vizsla to your family, make sure you’re prepared to deal with some of these potential health problems and always be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms. With regular vet check-ups and proper care and vigilance, you can help minimize the chances of your Vizsla developing any of the health conditions mentioned above.
Also, as you can see, some conditions are genetically inherited. So it’s probably a good idea to get your Vizsla from a reputable breeder who does health screenings on breeding stock. Some health tests the Vizsla Club of America (VCA) recommend that breeders conduct include hip, thyroid, and ophthalmologist evaluations.
There are a few things to keep in mind when feeding your Hungarian Vizsla. First of all, these dogs are highly active, so it’s crucial to provide them with the right kind of food (age-appropriate food formulated for active breeds) that will give them the nutrition they need without becoming overweight.
A high-energy breed will need food that is high in protein and fat. You would also want to avoid products containing artificial additives or high in fillers or carbohydrates such as wheat, soy, corn, and rice because they contain little to no nutritional value and may cause obesity.
Some owners prefer to feed their Vizslas a grain-free diet because some dogs are allergic to grains, which can cause various health issues like itchy skin, chronic ear infections, gastrointestinal upset, inflamed paw pads, etc. If you plan to feed your Vizsla grain-free food, make sure the grains aren’t replaced with other unhealthy ingredients.
When it comes to portion size, you should feed your Vizsla according to their activity level because every canine is different and has its individual nutritional needs. The feeding amount for an adult Vizsla is usually about 1.5 to 4 cups of high-quality dog food per day, split into two meals.
Also, one thing to note is that most Hungarian Vizslas have a good appetite and can, in fact, eat a lot for the apparent reason (high energy). Plus, they can be picky sometimes. So it’s a good idea to keep a strict feeding schedule and not to free-feed (leaving their meals out all day) them to prevent several health issues, obesity and dog bloat in particular.
Grooming & Bathing
As any dog owner knows, grooming and bathing are essential parts of pet care. Not only can that get rid of ticks, fleas, and loose, damaged hair, but also able to remove grease in a dog’s coat, ultimately preventing clogged pores, skin irritation, and all kinds of skin problems.
For owners of Hungarian Vizslas, grooming is relatively easy because they have a short coat that doesn’t require much maintenance, though they are low to moderate shedders. In fact, weekly brushing with a soft-bristled brush is usually enough to remove dead hair and distribute natural oils evenly throughout their coat.
Their nails usually need to be clipped or filed with a nail grinder every two to four weeks. However, if you can hear them clicking on the floor when they walk, that means it’s too long, and you should trim it as soon as possible. And unfortunately, Vizslas are at risk of developing ear infections because they have floppy ears. So you need to check their ears regularly for dirt, wax buildup, or any signs of infection and clean them every two weeks or even weekly.
As for bathing, it’s not necessary to do it too often since over-bathing can strip away the natural oils in their coat and skin, leading to dryness, itchiness, and irritation. Bathing should only be done when your Vizsla is visibly dirty or start to smell. And when you do bathe them, make sure the water isn’t too hot or cold and use a mild dog shampoo that won’t irritate their skin.
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What to Expect When Owning a Hungarian Vizsla - A Brief Summary
Now that you know a little more about the Hungarian Vizsla breed, it’s time to decide if they are the right breed for you. And here’s a summary of what you can expect when owning a Vizsla.
First of all, they are highly active dogs that require a lot of exercises, so you need to be prepared to walk or run with them for at least a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour every day, though they can handle more if you’re up for it. And it’s also crucial to keep their minds challenged with various activities. Failing to do so may result in destructive behavior like chewing on furniture or digging holes in your yard.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Vizslas need to have a lot of space to run around and play. And they also love being close to their humans and hate being left alone. So if you live in an apartment or are not someone who’s always home or doesn’t like having a clingy dog around, you probably shouldn’t get a Vizsla.
On the plus side, Hungarian vizslas are affectionate and loyal companions that will be by your side through thick and thin. Additionally, they are a low-maintenance dog breed and relatively easy to train. They are also very versatile dogs that excel in various dog sports like agility, tracking, hunting, obedience, etc.
So if you think you can handle a high-energy dog that requires a lot of attention and if you love going on outdoor adventures, whether it be hiking, camping, or hunting, then a Vizsla would be a great choice!
Buying a Vizsla From a Breeder
So, are you ready to add a Hungarian Vizsla to your family? If so, congratulations! You’re in for a lifetime of love, companionship, and adventures with your new furry friend. Hungarian Vizslas are some of the best breeds out there, and they will surely enrich your life in ways you never thought possible.
But before you bring your Vizsla home, there’s one important decision you need to make first, and that’s whether to buy a Vizsla from a breeder or adopt one from a shelter.
Both choices have pros and cons, but ultimately, it all boils down to what’s best for you and your family. If you’re set on buying a Vizsla from a breeder, do your research first. Avoid buying from puppy mills or irresponsible breeders who don’t care about their dogs’ health and wellbeing.
Instead, look for reputable breeders who health test their dogs and can provide you with all the necessary paperwork and veterinary certificates for deworming, vaccinations, etc.
A reputable breeder usually allows you to visit their facility, where you can meet the puppies and their parents before bringing your Vizsla home. This is vital because it allows you to see the dogs’ living conditions and make sure they are being raised in a clean, safe, and loving environment.
Additionally, a good breeder will be able to answer any questions you have about the Vizsla breed and will be more than happy to address any concerns you may have. They should also provide you with a contract that outlines all the responsibilities of both parties.
A good quality Vizsla puppy will cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on their lineage, if they are show quality, and other factors. If you need help finding your perfect Vizsla puppy, the AKC marketplace is a great place to start your search, as they only list breeders who follow the AKC’s strict rules and guidelines for raising and caring for their puppies.
Adopting a Vizsla From a Rescue or Shelter
Buying a Vizsla from a breeder is not the only option. There are many beautiful Vizslas in need of a loving, forever home waiting to be adopted from shelters and rescues, like the Vizsla Club of America.
Not only will you be giving a rescue Vizsla in need a second chance at life, but you will also save yourself a lot of money, as adoption fees are only about $150 to $350, which is only a fraction of what you would pay for a Vizsla puppy from a breeder.
It’s also crucial to note that not all Vizslas in shelters and rescues are there because they have been abused or have behavioral problems. In fact, some of them are there simply because their previous owners could no longer care for them, whether it be due to financial reasons, a change in lifestyle, etc.
So don’t rule out adopting an adult Vizsla from a shelter. They can make just as great of companions, plus they can settle into your family a lot easier than a puppy would.
Fun Facts About Vizsla That You Probably Don't Know
- Vizslas are both pointers and retrievers.
- Vizslas have webbed feet, making them excellent swimmers.
- Vizslas are one of the fastest dog breeds in the world and can achieve a top speed of 40 mph.
- Vizslas’ color makes them great camouflage dogs.
- Vizsla is the first breed that became the AKC triple champion.
- Vizslas are very clean.
- Vizslas have had many different jobs over the years. Many work as K-9 police dogs, search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs.
- Vizslas’ colors and body structure look very similar to Redbone Coonhounds, Weimaraners, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and red-coated Labrador and are often mistaken for these breeds.
- Vizslas almost became extinct after World War II.
- Vizslas and Wirehaired Vizslas are two different breeds.