Also known as the Hungarian Vizsla, Hungarian Pointer and Magyar Vizsla, the Vizslas are believed to have descended from the hunting dogs of the Magyars, who settled in Hungary millennia ago. These bird dogs were certainly a favorite and trusted companion of the tribe’s people, what with stone etchings showing a Magyar hunter with his falcon and a Vizsla. The hunting dog breed evolved with the times, first developing excellent powers of scent during the 19th and early 20th century, and then used as messengers during the First World War. The Vizsla nearly became extinct during the Second World War but, thankfully, the hunting dogs survived.
Because of their excellent scenting skills, Vizslas are natural hunting dogs. But they were first a pointer before anything else. This is probably why the earlier hunting dog breed had longer muzzles that are quite useful for pointing where a game is hiding. Although they prefer to stay close to their owners or the hunter, they will welcome any opportunity to hunt, even if it means moving far from their handler. Vizslas are hunting dogs that the nobles and warlords used to hunt birds. Over time, they were trained to retrieve downed game, in addition to being a pointer. And because they are also excellent swimmers, with some needing a little persuasion to get wet, they are just as adept in retrieving shot game in water as well as on land. This breed of hunting dogs are ideally an upland gun dog, which means they can inhabit field, orchards and bushes in search of pheasant, quail, rabbits, hares and even a deer. Due to the danger involved in chasing larger games, the Vizsla must be trained to only hunt specific species.
Their reputation as natural hunters translates to how well Vizslas can take training. But because they are gentle-mannered, they must be trained just as gently. They respond well to positive reinforcements, rather than strong physical corrections or harsh commands. It’s important that Vizslas are properly trained and at an early age, because they tend to be difficult to handle without it.
The Vizslas are among the smallest of the all-round pointer-retriever hunting dogs. They’re medium in size and have a strong, slightly longer body. Their build is often compared to the physical characteristics of the Weimaraner, lean and with defined muscles. Another feature that sets them apart is their tail that is thick at the root and docked at 2/3 of the original length. At withers, they generally stand at 1 foot 9 inches or up to 2 feet, and weigh from 45 to 65 pounds. Their standard coat has a solid golden-rust color that comes in different shadings. Some breeding programs, however, produced a bird dog with solid rust, copper/brown, dark sandy gold and russet gold coat.
They won’t be called Velcro Vizslas if not for their loyal, caring and highly affectionate nature. In fact, they’ll be happy to lean on the legs of their owners or serve as a footwarmer. Aside from being energetic, they’re also a talker and would whine, moan or make any kind of noise just to say a piece of their mind. They also love to chew just about anything they can put their mouths on, so plenty of chew toys is essential, but we still make great hunting dogs.
Vizsla is generally a robust bird dog that hip dysplasia, which is a disease common in hunting dogs, rarely occurs although not entirely impossible. Heritable illnesses also manifest only on hunting dogs that resulted from localized hunting dog breeding programs. Other conditions may also include canine epilepsy, cancer, sebaceous adenitis, dwarfism and hypothyroidism. As a very active and energetic hunting dog breed, Vizslas must have at least 60 minutes of exercise daily. Otherwise they can become destructive and neurotic. Long walks, a game of fetch, jogging and dog sports are just some of the activities that will keep them in high spirits. Mental stimulation is also as important to them as an exercise. Their average life span is between 10 to 14 years.