With their lithe legs, gilded fur, and gorgeous brown eyes, the Vizsla is a picture of grace and elegance. This beautiful dog has origins in Hungary, where they were a hunter’s aide for the Hungarian nobility. This is why they are also called the Hungarian Pointer. They have carried this refinement with them through the centuries and done their work excellently. These days, the Vizsla has found a place in homes all over the world as an excellent family pet.
Many people find the Vizsla to be a fantastic canine companion. They’re not for absolute beginner dog owners, but caring for them isn’t too difficult. They are incredibly friendly and enjoy being part of the pack. They also don’t need a lot of grooming. Watch out for their energy needs. These dogs certainly have a lot of energy to burn!
If you’re looking to bring your very own Vizsla home, then keep on reading. We’ve prepared this guide full of all the basics about your Vizsla. We’ll go over their history, how they look and behave, plus what you need to know about caring for them. Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating breed and what makes them such wonderful dogs.
There’s no doubt that the Vizsla is a dog with a long and colorful past. They are likely a descendant of hunting dogs brought to present-day Hungary by the Magyar tribe, who settled there over a thousand years ago. The Vizsla’s ancestors were prominent even then, as stone etchings exist of this dog alongside a hunter and his falcon.
True enough, Magyar warriors needed a dog to match their cavalry’s speed and strength, and these early ancestors brought those qualities into the Vizsla breed we know and love today.
This breed hasn’t been in the west as long as many other dogs found in Europe in earlier centuries. However,it is the oldest of the great European Vorstehund group’s breeds, bred for pointing and retrieving. For many centuries, land-owning nobility kept this early bloodline pure. They saw to it that the breed was carefully guarded, as they developed the hunting ability the Vizsla is now famous for.
This valiant breed survived over the many centuries, despite tumultuous events in the annals of history. They persisted through the Turkish occupation, from 1526 to 1696, as well as the Hungarian Civil War of 1848 to 1849. Towards the end of the 19th Century, the Vizsla suffered a decline in numbers, to the point of near-extinction.
At some point during the same time period, only about a dozen purebred Vizslas remained. Breed conservation efforts brought the Vizsla back to prominence, and various strains existed that suited the owner’s individual hunting style. The breed went on to surviving both World Wars, though WWII brought them close to extinction once again. Conservation efforts continued, and the breed kept pushing on.
Around 50 years later, in 1980, a Vizsla named Kai became AKC’s first triple champion of any breed, by winning in field, show, and obedience trials. The Vizsla DeChartay was the second Vizsla triple champion in 1997.
The Vizsla’s popularity has only soared since they came to the United States. Of the 193 breeds registered with the AKC, the Vizsla takes 34th place! This is certainly excellent for a breed that nearly went extinct less than a century ago! These days, whether on the trail or on the couch, they are as beloved as they were centuries ago.
The Vizsla is a courageous breed with a heart of gold. The AKC describes the Vizsla’s temperament as “lively, gentle-mannered…affectionate and sensitive”. This makes them a wonderful family pet. However, their high energy and attention needs dictate that they be doted on more than other breeds. This means they are not the best choice for families with busier lifestyles. Experience with high-energy dogs will also be beneficial.
Vizslas do best in homes where they can be around their humans, whom they greatly adore. Their friendly nature makes them great with kids. They will be happy to be playmates with kids of all ages, though you should supervise their interactions with your younger children! The Vizsla can be excitable and rambunctious, knocking small kids over in the process.
Vizslas are valorous, and will step in to protect their family if they sense real danger. However, their friendly nature makes it difficult for them to be intimidating. As such, they’re not the best guard dogs. Still, their alertness will definitely be of use to you if you need a dog to keep watch! Vizslas are happy to announce visitors and new people in your midst.
Vizslas are dogs with a large skillset, and have had a number of different jobs over the years. Many of them work in K-9 units, doing detective work for the TSA, and even serve as seeing-eye dogs! Their soft, gentle nature makes them a great option for work as a therapy dog as well.
Co-Habitation With Other Animals
The Vizsla’s high hunting instincts make living with smaller animals like hamsters, birds, and reptiles difficult. They are hunting dogs, after all, so the prey drive will be there no matter what.
As for pets sharing the home with them, the Vizsla gets along fabulously with other dogs, especially with correct socialization. If introductions are done properly, then you should be set! Vizslas love being part of a pack, and being with other dogs will help create that warm, fuzzy feeling.
Size and Appearance
Vizslas are classified as a medium-sized dog by the AKC. These dogs are quite tall, with males standing at an average of 23 inches at the withers, while females stand at around 22 inches. Males weigh an average of 57 pounds, while females are lighter at 50 pounds. AKC breed standard dictates their general appearance as “robust but rather lightly built”, and “agile and energetic.”
The Vizsla has dignified features that give them much beauty. Their heads are strong and lean; the skull is moderately wide between the ears. When you view their heads in profile, their muzzle is around as long, or slightly shorter than their skull.
Their eyes are medium sized and moderately deep-set, with a color that blends with the Vizsla’s coat. The nose is the same; colors beyond these are penalized by AKC standard. Their ears are thin and silky, of a medium length ending in rounded tips a little past the Vizsla’s strong jaw. Their lips are rather tight, and never loose or otherwise flappy.
Vizslas are light yet muscular. Their athletic frame allows for incredible speed. Their necks are strong, smooth, and well-arched. Their necks transition nicely into broad shoulders, which move into a firm backline that arches slightly over the loin.
Tails are commonly docked one-third off as per breed standard preferences (but not mandatory). Their legs are well-muscled and powerful, letting them run with ease. The forelegs are straight, and the hindlegs are balanced. These end in feet that are round and compact– like a cat’s, with brown colored nails. This gives way for the gait, which is “light footed, graceful and smooth”.
Coat and Colors
Vizslas have short, dense, smooth coats. It’s important to AKC standard that the coat not be long. There is also no undercoat, meaning they do not shed as intensely as breeds who have one. However, Vizslas still shed moderately, which can make life difficult for allergy sufferers. While they aren’t considered hypoallergenic, grooming them is an easy task. We’ll expound more on their grooming in a later section.
The beautiful coat of the Vizsla comes in varying shades of golden rust and sandy gold. Often, you will see lighter shades of their coloration around the neck and shoulders, giving them a sort of “saddle” marking. AKC standard allows some white on the forechest and toes, though it should be as little as possible. White elsewhere counts as a disqualification.
Because of their coat colors, the Vizsla is often mistaken for other breeds. It’s quite common to see them compared as a family companion to red-coated Labradors, or sometimes compared to Weimaraners.
The Vizsla is a self-colored dog, so most of its features should blend in nicely with its tawny coat. This is especially handy in situations where they’d need camouflage, such as hunting!
It’s impossible to avoid your Vizsla’s high-energy needs. Their energy is a hallmark of the breed, and must be handled with care. Expect to give them around 2 hours of exercise each day. This can be divided into several shorter sessions throughout the day, if you cannot do it all in one go. The Vizsla loves to go out for long walks, and will make an excellent running companion.
You could also have them run alongside you as you ride a bicycle. You can bring them out to the dog park to play with other dogs, but don’t be surprised if the others tire out much quicker than this golden pooch!
Since these dogs are quite intelligent, you will need to provide them with some variety when setting up their exercise routines. Fetch and frisbee are always a good idea, as is tug-o-war. Essentially, they will need a lot of toys to play with, both with you and in their alone time.
While they do not require a lot of time spent by themselves, it is still to their best benefit to provide them with a secure space to play outdoors. This can help them get rid of pent up energy, allowing them to relax more freely.
Because of their energy, Vizslas typically not do very well in apartments. They can live in them provided they get all of the exercise for the day, but this can be hard to do in a tighter, more urban setting. They will also need space to move around freely, something that is important to their mental wellbeing.
As they are hunting dogs, it would be great if they had time to explore in a more rural setting, as they love navigating rougher terrain.
Vizslas will have a difficult time coping with cold temperatures because of their lack of undercoat. If you live somewhere particularly cold, you will need to accommodate this need. Getting them used to wearing sweaters is a great idea. They can tolerate warmer weather better, but like all dogs, they can still overheat. Make sure they are staying cool and hydrated through the summer months.
Training your Vizsla is quite simple. They are one of the more intelligent dog breeds, coming in at #31 of almost 200 breeds! Beyond their intelligence, they are also eager to please their trainer. Their obedience makes training much easier, regardless if you choose to pursue it by yourself or with a professional. It’s important that they learn how to respect you immediately. Otherwise, like all dogs, they can display stubbornness, which is difficult to train out of them. Consistency is key in successfully training your Vizsla.
Whatever happens, do not be impatient with your Vizsla. They will quickly become upset and resentful towards people who yell at them, or even hurt them. Positive reinforcement is going to get your dog to where you want them to be much quicker than you’d anticipated.
Follow up your dog’s good behavior with treats, pets, and lots of praise. Many trainers have found success in implementing a clicker in their training routines. Firm leadership is a must, but be sure to still show gentleness; the Vizsla is very sensitive!
Socializing your Vizsla is also pretty easy. As we have previously mentioned, this breed is friendly and will quickly take to just about anybody. Still, ensure that they are introduced properly to new faces. They must learn to behave appropriately when meeting new people and animals. This can be hard due to their high prey drive!
In the event that your Vizsla Is having a difficult time adjusting to somebody they are sharing the home with, it may be best to separate them until both parties are comfortable with each other. You may also consider enrolling your Vizsla in puppy kindergarten classes. Learning how to empathize with other canines is important to further socialization and good behavior.
It’s important that your Vizsla spends their life as healthy as they can be. They live from 12 to 15 years, after all, so those years had better be enjoyable! A Vizsla coming from good breeders will be a healthy dog with the certificates to prove it.
Besides that, the breeder will be able to let you know of any potential issues your Vizsla may be susceptible to. Still, like all dogs, Vizslas can develop health conditions unexpectedly. Understanding these conditions can help you address the situation with your veterinarian.
Here, we have listed a few different health conditions your Vizsla may develop. Not all dogs of this breed will have these conditions, but they are still ones that you should look out for. Be vigilant of any change in your Vizsla, in case these are indicative of illness– they’re not always obvious!
Von Willebrand’s Disease
This disease is one of the most common blood clotting disorders in humans; you may be surprised to know that your dog can have it as well. Von Willebrand’s disease comes from a deficiency of a certain protein that helps to clot blood, called the von Willebrand Factor.
This can cause serious bleeding in the event of even a mild cut. This disease is difficult to spot as your dog can appear completely fine all their life, until they experience an injury. However, some dogs may experience other symptoms. These include nosebleeds, blood in stool or urine, and easily bruised skin.
This condition does not greatly affect your dog’s quality of life, provided that you both are careful. Ask your veterinarian about options for dealing with the disease. It’s important that your Vizsla is screened for this issue as soon as possible, as certain medications like aspirin can exacerbate it.
Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joint becomes unstable, through both developmental and environmental factors. Vizslas are susceptible to this bone and joint condition. The femur does not meet the pelvic bone correctly and can create excessive wear and tear on the bones.
This leads to arthritis later in life, which can be extremely painful for your dog. This condition manifests outwardly as a strange gait, unsteady posture, or limping– easily spotted in your graceful Vizsla. Discuss management as soon as possible with your veterinarian in order to preserve your dog’s quality of life.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is an eye condition that can affect your Vizsla’s quality of life. This often occurs later on in their life, with the degeneration of the retina. In the early-onset form, seen in puppies, it is known as retinal dysplasia. This is where the cells of the retina do not develop correctly.
In both conditions, the dog ends up partially or completely blind. While the disease is not painful, it can severely impact your dog’s way of living. Talk to your vet about the options available to your dog, as well as what to do in the event of blindness.
Your Vizsla’s health rides on the quality of nutrition they receive. It is important to give them only the best in balanced nutrition. You can find this in high-quality dry kibble, as it is the simplest food to give, with the most complete nutrients.
Since your Vizsla is a medium-sized breed, it shouldn’t be hard to find a high-quality food appropriate for their breed size. However, they will also need to eat according to what’s appropriate for their life stage. This helps them develop a healthy body during their puppyhood, and this also maintains that healthy body through their adult and senior years.
Regardless of your Vizsla’s age, they should eat dog food specifically formulated for active breeds. Fully grown Vizslas will eat anywhere from 1.5 to 3 cups per day of adult dog food, and active breed formulas have a higher calorie count to support their activity levels.
Vizslas may develop pickiness with their food. Given their willingness to obey, it will be helpful to be stricter about mealtimes. Give them around 30 minutes to eat their food when you set down their bowl. At the end of 30 minutes, pick the bowl up and do not give it back until the next meal. In more severe cases, you can opt to add wet food to your dog’s dry kibble to make it more palatable.
Vizslas do not need much grooming at all, which is great for families that want a low-maintenance dog. They do shed, so brushing them once a week with a rubber brush can help rid them of loose fur. This will not eliminate the possibility of fur getting onto your clothes and furniture, but it still helps to lessen it.
Bathing your Vizsla is also easy, since you only need to do it when your dog is visibly soiled or very smelly. The Vizsla’s shedding helps remove dirt from their coat, so bathing isn’t something to worry about too often.
When you do bathe your dog, be sure to use lukewarm water and a mild soap that’s gentle on their skin and fur. Dry your Vizsla thoroughly afterwards, as moisture trapped in the ear can lead to infection. You can prevent infection by cleaning their ears once a week with a cotton pad and an ear cleaner from your vet.
Wipe away dirt and debris only on the parts of the ear you can see. Be sure to keep their nails trimmed with a good grinder to prevent injury when moving around. They should also have their teeth brushed a few times a week for good dental hygiene.
While the Vizsla doesn’t require a lot of grooming, it’s important that they not be in distress the times they are being groomed. Teach them to enjoy this bonding experience with you by grooming them soon after you welcome them into your family, and consistently after that. Use lots of positive reinforcement, and they will more easily relax.
Breeders and Puppy Costs
If you’re looking to adopt a Vizsla, you may be thinking of going to a breeder. This is a good option, as long as the breeder you’ve chosen is responsible. There are many unscrupulous breeders who operate puppy mills. The dogs here are abused; these places are run solely for the sake of profit.
There are many good, reputable breeders who are enthusiastic about the Vizsla breed. They’ll often be happy to let you meet your puppy in the weeks before you bring them home. This way, you can start socializing your puppy, and transition more seamlessly into a happy home life together.
You can also view your puppy’s living quarters; you’ll find them to be both clean and comfortable. Your breeder will be able to answer the questions you may have about the breed and your puppy. They will also give you veterinary certificates for any tests, vaccinations, or deworming done on your dog.
Online, there’s no shortage of resources available to help you find your perfect puppy. Many forums on social media will be able to help point you in the right direction. Otherwise, the AKC has this resource for breeder referrals. A purebred Vizsla puppy is fairly expensive. Expect to pay around $1,500 to $2,200 for a pet-quality Vizsla, with show quality dogs being double that price or more.
Rescues and Shelters
While going to a responsible breeder is a good option in obtaining a Vizsla, we always recommend checking the local rescues and shelters first. It’s possible to find this breed among the dogs at the shelter, although rare. You’ll have more luck looking at a dedicated breed rescue, like the Vizsla Club of America.
This may be a bit more effort, but it’s only the fraction of what you’d pay a breeder. Not only this, but you’re giving your new dog another chance at life. Over 3.3 million dogs are brought to shelters each year in the United States alone, with many of them euthanized after enough time has passed. You’d be changing the life of a dog who has endured many hardships, and that is something truly special.
Vizslas are incredibly sweet dogs, but ones from the shelter will need some time to open up to you. Enough patience, care, and love will have them trusting you, and they’ll have no shortage of gratitude and affection to show you once you get through to them!
As Family Pets
- Vizslas were originally bred for hunting.
- This means they are extremely active dogs.
- Vizslas will also have a high prey drive.
- This means sharing the home with other small animals may be unrealistic.
- Vizslas are not guard dogs, but will protect their family in the face of danger.
- Vizslas are great watchdogs, and will always alert you to any new presence.
- They can be friendly and sociable and will love spending time with their family.
- The Vizsla also makes an excellent family companion.
- They are well known for their happy attitude, and are great with kids.
- Vizslas also develop separation anxiety quite easily.
- This means they aren’t well suited to families that are gone for long periods.
- Vizslas do not require a lot of grooming.
- You can expect some seasonal shedding, but not as heavy as other breeds.
We hope this article has shed light on the amazing dog breed that is the Vizsla. Welcoming one of these wonderful, beautiful dogs into your home will no doubt create a lot of work for you. As long as their needs are met, you will not have much trouble with this obedient pup. It’s just a question of being able to bring them out for their daily exercise, which can admittedly be a lot! However, this work is always well worth it.
It may be difficult to keep up with our rambunctious Vizslas, but they’re always there to give us love, attention, and devotion. It’s important that we return that with as much intensity as we can muster. Understanding all the things you need to know about your dog is the best way to foster an incredible, fun, and happy life.