Medium sized and muscular in stature, vizsla dogs originated in Hungary, where they were bred for hunting. Their coats are short and most often rusty red in color. Vizslas are extremely loving and people oriented. In fact, they often get so attached to their humans that they’ve earned the nicknamed “Velcro vizlas.”
These dogs would much rather follow their person around all day than be left alone at home or in the yard. However, vizslas have a great deal of energy that needs to be released every day. Because of this, breeders of these dogs recommend they get at least an hour a day of vigorous exercise, whether it be hunting, hiking or swimming.
Vizlas are also hard-working dogs that tend to do best when they have a job to do. For this reason, and because they are so personable, vizslas make excellent guide dogs and therapy dogs, but their keen noses make them valuable as drug detectors and for search-and-rescue missions as well.
Physical CharacteristicsThe vizsla is blessed with a strong, muscular body and a short, smooth, rust-colored coat. Its nose is generally flesh-colored and its ears are long and silky, usually extending down close to the cheeks. Traditionally, the vizsla’s thick tail is cropped to two-thirds of its original length. The vizsla has a strong neck and a tapered muzzle. Its eyes are medium-sized and contrast in color with its coat. Its front legs are straight and its feet are cat-like.
Bred to be a “walking gentleman’s shooting dog,” male vizslas are generally between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. Female vizslas are usually between 21 and 23 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 55 pounds.
TemperamentLively and affectionate, vizslas make excellent additions to the family. They are intelligent dogs that take well to training and have lots of endurance in the field. Vizslas are gentle but can be stubborn and overly protective of their owners when not trained properly. They are true hunters at heart and talented pointers.
Vizslas are sensitive dogs and need a patient, firm hand to guide them. They love children and can play for hours but may be a bit too rough and tumble for very young toddlers.
Vizslas are good with other dogs and sometimes cats but should not be left alone with mice, hamsters, rabbits and other small creatures. Very sociable creatures, vizslas do not like to be kept isolated from their people. If this happens, vizslas will likely become chewers and nuisance barkers out of boredom. While vizlas have highly protective natures and they will let you know when a stranger appears, they do not make good guard dogs because they prefer to befriend a stranger rather than attack him.
Care & GroomingVizslas are an energetic breed that needs daily long walks or jogs. They need plenty of opportunity to run free off the leash, making a fenced-in yard a must for vizsla owners.
The vizsla has a smooth, short coat that needs occasional brushing with a firm-bristle brush to remove dead hair. Regular brushing will minimize shedding and keep the coat healthy. Their nails should be trimmed once or twice a month and their ears cleaned regularly. Regular toothbrushing is also recommended.
Exercise is paramount for keeping this breed happy and healthy. One hour a day, split into two half-hour segments, will keep a vizsla’s energy down to a point that it will be happy to sit on your lap when day is done. However, without sufficient exercise, this breed of dog can become destructive and hard to handle.
Because vizlas are retrieving dogs, they like to chew. Make sure to provide your vizsla with ample chew toys, which you should rotate regularly to prevent him from becoming bored and gnawing on furniture, shoes and other household items.
When training vizslas, be firm but kind and give healthy treats as a reward when he learns to do something new and recognizes commands. Start training your vizsla as a puppy for best results.
HistoryBelieved to date from as far back as the 10th century, vizslas were bred to be companions to hunters from the Magyar hordes, a people who came out of Central Asia and settled in what today is Hungary. The dogs are thought to be ancestors to pointers and their name means “pointer” in Hungarian. The vizsla's keen sense of smell and limitless energy made them perfect for tracking and catching ducks, geese and rabbits.
In the 18th century, the vizsla was the favorite breed of titled noblemen and overlords, who used them to trail small animals in the woods. But by the end of the 19th century, the number of vizslas had greatly decreased. Later, when the Russians took control of Hungary after WWII, it was feared the breed would become extinct, but luckily some vizlas were smuggled out of the country to the United States and other countries, where breeders produced new litters.
Vizslas were recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1960. In this country the dogs are sometimes called the Hungarian vizsla or Hungarian pointer.