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Wirehaired Vizsla

Nicole Cosgrove

wirehaired vizsla dog in water

The Wirehaired Vizsla is a medium to large purebred from Hungary, bred to be a versatile hunting dog able to point, retrieve and even keep a scent when swimming. Due to it being level headed and gentle it also makes a great family dog too. It has also been known as the Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla, the Drotzoru Magyar Vizsla and the Hungarian Wire Haired Pointing Dog. For short it can be referred to as the WHV or the Vizsla. It is actually the smallest all round hunting breed and today does well in event such as competitive obedience, tracking, watchdog, pointing and retrieving. It is seen as a separate breed to the Smooth Coated Vizsla.

The Wirehaired Vizsla at A Glance
Name Wirehaired Vizsla, English plural: Vizslas or Vizslak
Other names Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla, Hungarian Wire-haired Pointing Dog, Drotzoru Magyar Vizsla
Nicknames Vizsla, WHV
Origin Hungary
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 60 pounds
Average height 22 to 25 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Wiry, dense
Hypoallergenic No
Color Russet, golden
Popularity Not that popular – ranked 157th by the AKC
Intelligence Excellent – understands new commands with 5 to 15 repetitions
Tolerance to heat Very good – can live in very warm weather but nothing too hot
Tolerance to cold Moderate – can handle mild and cool climates but nothing very cold
Shedding Low – not a lot of hair will be left around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Moderate – not especially prone to weight gain
Grooming/brushing Low – easy to look after with regular brushing
Barking Occasional – will be some barking but not all the time
Exercise needs Very active – will need active and committed owners
Trainability Moderately easy – can be stubborn but usually very responsive in the right hands
Friendliness Excellent – social breed
Good first dog Good but best with people with experience
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good but need socialization
Good with strangers Very good with socialization
Good apartment dog Moderate – not best in apartments, ideally should have access to a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone for long periods, can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Quite healthy, a few issues can include eye problems, hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for miscellaneous items, license, basic training and toys
Average annual expenses $1,000
Cost to purchase $1,050
Rescue organizations Several including the Vizsla Club of America Rescue
Biting Statistics None reported

The Wirehaired Vizsla’s Beginnings

The Wirehaired Vizsla is a recently developed breed from the 1930s. It was bred from the crossing the smooth coated Vizsla and German Wirehaired Pointers. The Vizsla is an old breed, around from the days of Magyar tribes hunting with their dogs as far back as the 900s. The first written reference is from the mid 1300s. Throughout the centuries it has been a popular hunting dog used especially by the aristocracy and in particular to hunt upland game and fowl. It was and still is valued too as a good family companion. The Vizsal survived a lot of tough times in Hungary, the Turkish occupation, the Revolution, both world wars and Soviet times. At one time there were only 12 left in the country but the breed was revived, its popularity regained and in America it received recognition in 1960.

The Wirehaired Vizsla was bred to be an excellent hunter in the forest, water and field, to have a great nose and to be easy to train. It was developed by Vasas Jozsef an owner of a kennel who wanted a dog with the look of the Vizsla but with a larger frame and thicker coat so that it was better in freezing water and weather. He also wanted the dog to still be a great companion too. Two Vizsla bitches were bred with a German Wirehaired Pointer and the best offspring were kept and bred together. The first Wirehaired Vizsla was called Dia de Selle. There was still refining to be done though as her body was not quite heavy enough and the coat not quite trough or thick enough.

New Lease on Life

World War II nearly saw the extinction of both types of Vizsla. Breeding records were destroyed and there were fewer kennels and breeders working. A few breeders spread across Easter Europe saved what they could and thankfully they were successful. In the 1970s it came to the US and to separate it from the smooth coated kind it was called the Uplander. The Canadaian Kennel Club recognized it in 1977 and the United Kennel Club did too in 2006. However the AKC did not give full recognition until 2014. The Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America was formed shortly before. In Hungary it is estimated there are only 140 to 150 dogs being registered each year, in the US that amount is about 400 to 450. It ranks 157th in popularity by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Wirehaired Vizsla is a medium to large breed weighing 40 to 60 pounds and standing 22 to 25 inches tall. It looks quite like a mix of its Pointer and Vizsla ancestors, lean, robust and distinguished. It is well balanced, strong and its tail is low set, thick and docked where that is still allowed. Its neck is strong, fairly long and arched and its shoulders are muscular. It has a level black, broad and deep chest and powerful legs. Its feet are cat like and round in and some places dewclaws are removed. As its name indicates it has a wiry coat. It lies close to the skin and is dense and water-repellant. Over the body it is longer and around the neck and legs it gets shorter. Colors are sandy, gold or russet and some small white marks are accepted in the show ring.

Its head is longer than its muzzle and that muzzle tapers and then is squared at the end. It has wide nostrils and the nose is brown. It has bushy eyebrows and a strong beard and its oval eyes are medium sized and tend to be a darker color than its coat. In the middle of the forehead there is a depression and its ears are set somewhat low, are thin and long and fall close to its cheeks in a v shape that is rounded off.

The Inner Wirehaired Vizsla


The Wirehaired Vizsla is an intelligent and loyal dog with a lot of energy. It is outgoing and friendly and becomes very attached to their owners forming very close bonds sometimes to one person in particular. It is alert and has strong protective instincts so will bark to let you know of an intruder and also should act to defend you and its family. Other than that it is an occasional barker, some may need a command to stop it barking but in general it is not a nuisance barker. When in the right home it is easy going, very affectionate and quite gentle making it a great family companion. With strangers it is more wary until it is sure you are not a threat.

This is a sensitive dog so is best in balanced and harmonious homes, not where there are loud voices. It will want to be close to its owners and would even sleep in the same bed if allowed. Outside it is bold, driven, fearless and natural hunters. With the family it is more affectionate, lively, and wants to be a part of family activities. It needs lots of exercise, attention and interaction and mental challenges to stay steady and happy. If a Wirehaired Vizsla is acting depressed, over anxious, destructive or hyperactive these are signs it is not getting its needs met. They are known to cry and whine often when they are feeling neglected or sad. It does not like being left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety.

Living with a Wirehaired Vizsla

What will training look like?

For owners with some experience the WHV is easy to train as it is smart, eager to please and inclined to listen and obey. It can actually be quicker to train than some other breeds with the right approach. This means it needs less repetitions but the methods should be kept positive as being sensitive means it will not respond at all well to physical punishments or scoldings. Offer it, treats, encouragement, praise and rewards. Be firm and in control, consistent at all times and patient. It does have an independent and stubborn side to it which is why experience helps. Without good training it is difficult to control and sometimes even hard to live with. Training is also important to prevent it from becoming over protective and from being too wary of strangers, as is early socialization. When you have your puppy home you should start both straight away. Socialization means exposing it from a young age to different places, people, sounds, situations, animals and so on. That way it gets used to them, learns the right way to react and grows to be a happier dog you can feel more able to trust.

How active is the Wirehaired Vizsla?

This is a very active breed and really needs owners who are the same. People who already jog, hike, walk, swim and such will have a lot easier time making sure this dog gets the kind of physical activity it needs each day. It is not best suited to apartment living as it needs a yard to play and explore in. That yard does need to be properly fenced in though. If it is not being used to hunt with it will need at least an hour of good paced walking a day, along with opportunities in the week for off leash runs, play time with you and explore time. It will also need mental stimulation. Do not consider this breed as a companion for you if you do not get out daily yourself and prefer to relax on the couch during your off times.

Caring for the Wirehaired Vizsla

Grooming needs

The wiry coat of the WHV is quite easy to look after, it does not need to be trimmed or stripped. It should be brushed once or twice a week using a firm bristled brush and it only sheds a low to average amount so there is not a lot of vacuuming to do after it. Its facial hair will need wiping down sometimes and some combing to keep them tangle free. Bathing should only be done when it really needs it to avoid drying out its skin. In between real baths you could opt to dive it a dry shampoo. Other needs include keeping its nails clipped if it does not wear them down naturally with its outdoor activity. Use a proper dog nail clipper and take care not to cut too far down which will cause pain and bleeding. Its teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week and its ears should be cleaned at least once a week using a damp cloth and cotton ball with dog ear cleanser. Take the time to check for signs of infection like irritation, redness, swelling and such. Some owners choose to use a professional groomer for some of these duties.

Feeding Time

Feeding your WHV will likely mean about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much each dog can eat can vary depending on things like its healthy, age, metabolism, level of activity and size. All dogs need access to water at all times and it should be kept fresh.

How is the Wirehaired Vizsla with children and other animals?

The WHV when it has been socialized is very good with children, it can be gentle and patient but can also be playful, lively and very affectionate. It can play for hours with them, so they both get to wear each other down! Care should be taken around young children though, toddlers may get knocked down accidentally during play, and because this dog is possessive of its belongings, it will not like young children taking its things. Make sure children are taught how to properly approach, touch and play with dogs. It is generally good with other dogs also so with socialization and training can go to places like a dog park and interact with other dogs. Because it is a hunting dog though care should be taken around other small animals. With cats it is raised with for example it will likely leave them alone, but strange ones that run away from it could trigger its prey drive.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Wirehaired Vizsla has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is somewhat healthy though prone to several possible health issues including hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, swallowing problems, eye problems, allergies and digestive problems, ear infections, infertility, cancer, skin problems and epilepsy.

Biting Statistics

In reports that look at dogs attacking people and causing bodily harm in the US and Canada over the last three and a half decades, the Wirehaired Vizsla is not mentioned. This is not a breed known to be aggressive, to people or to other dogs. It is protective though and without good socialization and training in some dogs that might lead to being over protective and perceiving threat where there is none. Take the time to properly raise your dog, give it the attention, stimulation and exercise it needs and it is less likely to have any kind of aggression issues. Keep in mind though that there is no absolutely 100% safe breed that could never have any kind of bad day. Some times there are things that are out of our control.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A puppy of this breed will cost somewhere around $1050. It is not a common breed and will take some homework to find a trustworthy breeder and once you do, because they are rare, it is probable you will have to wait on a waiting list. If you are looking for something from a top show breeder expect that wait time to be longer and the price tag to go up significantly. Regardless of the wait and time spent looking, always stick to reputable breeders and never turn to puppy mills, pet stores or backyard breeders. If you are looking more for a companion and family pet than a show dog or hunting dog you might consider checking at rescues or shelters to see if one of the dogs there suits you. Adoption fees are $50 to $400 and that would probably cover some medical needs too.

There are initial costs to deal with too when you bring your dog home. There are things it will need for example like a crate, collar and leash, bowls and these come to around $240. As soon as you come home you should arrange for a vet visit to have it looked over and tested for certain things. Blood tests can be done, deworming and vaccinations given, a physical exam done as well as it being micro chipped and spayed or neutered. These will cost an estimated $290.

Each year there will be other costs that come with any pet ownership, food, grooming, health and so on. For this dog you can expect about $1000 to be the annual cost, that covers $485 a year for pet insurance and basic health care like shots, flea and tick prevention and check ups. $245 a year for miscellaneous costs like basic training, miscellaneous items, toys and license. Then $270 a year for dog treats and for a good quality dry dog food.


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The Wirehaired Vizsla is a great hunting dog and great companion. It should be with owners who are active, experienced and can handle a dog with so much energy and a mind of its own. In the right home it is gentle, well mannered, very affectionate and devoted. It needs lots of attention and as well as being very active also give it lots of mental stimulation. It can get on well with other dogs and other pets but if not well raised can be difficult, hyperactive and destructive.

Featured Image Credit: Shakarrigrafie, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

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.