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The Vizsla is a medium to large purebred from Hungary with a great reputation for its intelligence and its all round hunting ability from pointing to retrieving. Around for centuries it is now also enjoyed as a very loyal companion who is both bold and protective. It can be found in activities such as pointing, hunting and man trailing.
|Here is the Vizsla at a Glance|
|Other Names||Hungarian Vizsla, Magyar Vizsla, Hungarian Pointer, Drotszoru Magyar Vizsla, Hungarian Short-haired Pointing Dog|
|Average size||Medium to large|
|Average weight||45 to 65 pounds|
|Average height||21 to 24 inches|
|Life span||10 to 14 years|
|Coat type||Short, dense|
|Color||Copper, brown, russet gold, sandy dark gold|
|Popularity||Quite popular – ranked 32nd by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Very good – Quite a smart dog|
|Tolerance to heat||Very good – able to handle quite hot climates|
|Tolerance to cold||Low – not able to handle even cooler climates|
|Shedding||Average – there will be some loose hair to clean up|
|Drooling||Low – not a breed known for drooling|
|Obesity||Below average – not prone to obesity at all|
|Grooming/brushing||Easy to brush and just needs doing a coupe of times a week|
|Exercise needs||Fairly active – needs plenty of physical and mental stimulation|
|Trainability||Easy to train – particularly when it is clear you are the dominant one|
|Friendliness||Excellent – very amiable and social|
|Good first dog||Good – but best with experienced owners|
|Good family pet||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with children||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Good to very good with socialization – may chase small animals|
|Good with strangers||Excellent – friendly and approachable|
|Good apartment dog||Low – needs a yard and space to move around in|
|Handles alone time well||Low – can suffer from separation anxiety|
|Health issues||Generally quite healthy – some issues include hip dysplasia, eye problems and cancer|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year which includes pet insurance and basic care|
|Food expenses||$270 a year which includes dry dog food and treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year which includes license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous costs|
|Average annual expense||$1000 a year as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1000|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Vizsla’s Beginnings
The Vizsla’s origins can be found in 10th century Hungarian etchings where its ancestors were hunting dogs belonging to the Magyar tribes. These were people who settled in Hungary over one thousand years ago. Over the years they became jealously guarded companions to barons and warlords alike, kept pure and bred to excel in pointing and retrieving roles when hunting. They were used mostly for hunting hare and game birds.
The first written record of the breed also known as the Hungarian Pointer can be found in the ‘Illustrated Vienna Chronicle’ in1357. The name Vizsla is Hungarian for pointer. The breed lived through the Turkish invasion of Hungary from 1526 to 1696. It survived the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 to 1849 but the 1800s were a hard time with German Shorthair Pointers and English Pointers becoming popular.
By the late 19th century and up to the first world war it was a distinct and well thought of breed with fantastic scenting powers. It worked well with its handlers and during the first world war was used as a very effective messenger dog. However with the advent of World War II this breed almost became extinct once more.
New Lease on Life
At the end of the war when Hungary was in the hands of Russia lovers of the breed were concerned it was going to disappear completely. To try and save it they sent dogs to Austria and in the early 1950s to America. At this time the breed had quite a different look with more of a range of colors, longer ears and longer muzzles.
In 1954 the Vizsla Club of America was created and in 1960 the AKC recognized the Vizsla as a breed. Since then breeders there have worked on standardizing the breed until the noble bearing you see today was achieved. Today it is still used as a hunting dog but it is also a working dog in other fields, appears in several show events and makes a great companion dog. It has also been used to develop other breeds including the German Shorthair Pointer, the Weimnaraner and the Wire haired Vizsla. It is ranked 32nd by the AKC.
The Dog You See Today
The Vizsla is a medium to large dog weighing 45 to 65 pounds and standing 21 to 24 inches tall. It has a very noble and distinguished look. It is lean, built lightly but has strength and muscles that are defined. It has a single coat only which is smooth, short and dense. Common colors are brown, white, mahogany, copper and different golds.
It has a tail that is docked in America and countries where it is still practiced. In places like the UK though this is now a banned practice and the tail should be left long and is held out horizontally to the ground. Its nose and eyes are different shades of brown and its head is slightly rounded.
The Inner Vizsla
Understandably this is a very energetic and lively dog and is best in a home that is happy to have this kind of dog. The Vizsla likes to play and is very alert so makes a very good watchdog. It will bark to let you know of any intruder.
It is very loyal and forms very close bonds with its owners. In fact this is a breed known to be a velcro dog as they stick very close to you at all times! It is very affectionate and responsive and will cry if they are being neglected or if they think they are being ignored. This also means they do not like being left alone and they can suffer from separation anxiety.
A thriving Vizsla is getting lots of attention, mental stimulation and physical exercise. Most are biddable but some are shy, some are stubborn and some are overly excitable and startle easily. It is a very intelligent dog, cheerful and generally friendly. It can bark at strangers though if it feels its territory is being invaded.
Living with a Vizsla
What will training look like?
Being an eager to please and intelligent dog the Vizsla is easy to train but requires its trainer to be very firm and clearly dominant. It will need less repetition than many dogs so will even train more quickly. Key to successful training is the use of positive methods such as using treat, rewards, praise and encouragement as opposed to punishing or scolding.
Training should start as soon as you bring the puppy home as should socialization. Have a few sessions a day keeping them short and engaging. It does have an independent nature but is still willing and will obey when with a confident leader.
How active is the Vizsla?
The Vizsla is an active dog so it will need regular long walks as well as opportunities to run off leash at places like dog parks. It is not best suited to apartment living as it really does better with access to a large piece of land or yard to play and run in.
This is a dog with a history of working hard so needs lots of activity and stimulation. It enjoys different canine sports, playing fetch, at least two half hour brisk walks. It would also do well joining you for a jog, cycle or swim and so on. If it does not get enough stimulation it can become bored, destructive and vocal. It likes to chew so make sure it has chew toys to rotate through.
Caring for the Vizsla
The Vizsla sheds a moderate amount all year so expect loose hair around the home and on clothing. Brush it daily to reduce how much is left around and this will not only help with the hair it will also make its coat healthier and it will move the natural oils around its body. Use a rubber curry brush and also use a damp cloth to give it a wipe down now and then. Give it a bath just as it needs one using a dog shampoo only, too frequently and it can damage the oils in its skin.
Trim its nails when they get too long if they are not worn down naturally. Take care not to cut into the quick. Give its ears a check for infection and wipe them clean once a week, taking care not to insert anything. Finally give its teeth a brush at least two to three times a week.
How much this dog needs to eat will vary depending on size, age, health, metabolism and how active it is. A range may be 2 1/2 to 4 cups a day split into two meals. Use a good quality dog food as they are a lot more nutritious.
How they get on with children and other animals
A Vizsla when socialized well is very good with children, it will play, be loving and be energetic with them. It can be a bit exuberant though so it is best to supervise toddlers who may get knocked over by accident. Make sure children are taught how to touch and approach dogs safely without hurting them or startling them.
It gets alone fine with other dogs and can learn to get along with some pets like cats but with birds or small animals like rabbits it cannot be trusted just because of its history it sees them as prey.
What Might Go Wrong?
The Vizsla has a life span of about 10 to 14 years though the Vizsla Club of America puts that average at close to 10 years. While it is a fairly healthy dog there are some health issues linked to it and due to some poor breeding there are some lines that are more prone than others. These issues include Hip Dysplasia, Epilepsy, Cancer, Skin problems, Hypothyroidism, Eye problems, Dwarfism, and Allergies.
When looking at 34 years of information and reports of dogs attacking people leading to the need for medical attention in the US and Canada, the Vizsla is not mentioned. There are no reports of it being involved. This makes it one of the safer breeds, not prone to sudden attacks, being aggressive and so on. It is important however to keep in mind that any dog can snap or attack given certain situations or conditions. It is important when buying a dog to get one you can meet the needs of. If you are not active, do not get an active dog. Make sure you give it early socialization and training, it is well loved, fed and stimulated.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Vizsla puppy is going to cost about $1000. For something from a top breeder that is show quality that price is going to shoot up to several thousands. If you are happy to a) re-home a dog and b) have a new pet that is an adult then you could check out rescues and shelters for one. If you find one they would also include medical procedures and a physical in with the adoption fee which would be about $50 to $200.
Upon getting a puppy there are going to be some medical things to take care of. You will want a vet to give a physical to check it is healthy and that will include taking blood to test. It should be given its shots and dewormed. It should also have a micro chip put in and when old enough be spayed if it is female and neutered if it is male. These will cost an estimated $300. The dog will need a crate, collar, leash and bowls too for another $175.
Each year there are costs to owning a Vizsla. It will need to be fed a good quality dry dog food and you may be getting treats to offer it for a treat or for training. These costs can fluctuate a lot depending on branding but a base figure of $270 a year.
Medical costs like visits to the vet for a check up, flea and tick prevention, pet insurance and shots will come to about $485 a year. Other miscellaneous costs like basic training, license, toys and the like will come to around $245 a year.
This gives a starting figure of $1000 a year for expenses.
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The Vizsla is an active dog and will need owners who are happy to spend an hour or more a day on physical brisk exercise. It will also need mental stimulation, early socialization and at least basic training. It is happy when it is getting lots attention and companionship and will not be a dog that is happy being left alone for long periods or being ignored because you are too busy all the time. Also keep in mind it likes to chew so make sure it has the right things to chew on or it will turn to your shoes and furniture.
Featured Image Credit: Barna Tanko, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Vizsla’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Vizsla
- Living with a Vizsla
- Caring for the Vizsla
- How they get on with children and other animals
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag