A young male Vizsla
|Other names||Hungarian Vizsla
|Country of origin||Hungary|
|Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Vizsla is a dog breed originating in Hungary, which belongs under the FCI group 7 (Pointer group). The Hungarian or Magyar Vizsla are sporting dogs and loyal companions, in addition to being the smallest of the all-round pointer-retriever breeds. The Vizsla's medium size is one of the breed's most appealing characteristics as a hunter of fowl and upland game, and through the centuries the Vizsla has held a rare position among sporting dogs – that of household companion and family dog.
The Vizsla is a natural hunter endowed with an excellent nose and an outstanding trainability. Although they are lively, gentle mannered, demonstrably affectionate and sensitive, they are also fearless and possessed of a well-developed protective instinct.
The Vizsla is a medium-sized short-coated hunting dog of distinguished appearance and bearing. Robust but rather lightly built, they are lean dogs, have defined muscles, and are observed to share similar physical characteristics with the Weimaraner.
Various breeds are often mistaken for Vizslas, and Vizslas are often mistaken for other breeds. Redbone Coonhounds, Weimaraners and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are some of the most commonly confused breeds. The body structure of a Vizsla is very similar in appearance to a Weimaraner and a Redbone Coonhound, though the Vizsla is typically leaner with a more defined musculature. Weimaraners and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are larger than Vizslas. The nose of the Vizsla will always have a reddish color that blends with the coat color. Black, brown, light pink, or another color nose is an indication of another breed. A Vizsla's eye and nail color should also blend with the coat color.
Color and coats
The standard coat is a solid golden-rust color in different shadings, but some breeding programs have resulted in a solid rust coat. The coat could also be described as a copper/brown color, russet gold and dark sandy gold. Solid dark mahogany red and pale yellow are considered faults and a disqualification. Small areas of white on the fore-chest and on the neck, tail are permissible but not preferred. Some variations in the Vizsla coat color along their back (saddle-type marks) is typical.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for the Vizsla states that the coat should be short, smooth, dense and close-lying, without woolly undercoat. The Vizsla is totally unsuited to being kept outside, since unlike most other breeds, it does not have an undercoat. They are self-cleaning dogs and infrequently need to be bathed, if ever, and are somewhat unique in that they have little noticeable "dog smell" detectable by humans. After several forays into lakes and streams they will develop an aroma that is a weaker version of the 'wet dog' smell. A quick bath and this odor will vanish.
The Vizsla is a medium-sized dog, and fanciers feel that large dogs are undesirable. The average height and weight:
- Height: 22–25 in (56–64 cm)
- Weight: 45–66 lb (20–30 kg)
- Height: 21–24 in (53–61 cm)
- Weight: 40–55 lb (18–25 kg)
The American breed standard calls for the tail to be docked to two-thirds of its original length. Breed standards in countries where docking is banned do not require this (UK breed standard, for example). The Vizsla holds its tail horizontal to the ground and wags it vigorously while charging through rough scrub and undergrowth.
The docked tail of the Vizsla is significantly longer than that of other dogs with traditionally docked tails such as the Weimaraner, Doberman, Boxer, and Australian Shepherd. Since the tail is docked when the puppy is less than three days old, this longer dock can result in some variation in tail length among Vizsla dogs from different breeding programs.
Vizslas are very high energy, gentle-mannered, loyal, caring, and highly affectionate. They quickly form close bonds with their owners, children and even strangers. Often they are referred to as "velcro" dogs because of their loyalty and affection. Vizslas will cry or whine when they feel neglected or are otherwise unhappy. Some will bark at strangers if they feel that they are invading the "pack" space. They are very good guard dogs when trained.
They are natural hunters with an excellent ability to take training. Not only are they great pointers, but they are excellent retrievers as well. They will retrieve on land and in the water, making the most of their natural instincts. However, they must be trained gently and without harsh commands or strong physical correction, as they have sensitive temperaments and can be easily damaged if trained too harshly. However the owner must show quiet authority in training, otherwise the dog is likely to take over the training session.
Vizslas are excellent swimmers. Some may need a little motivation to get in the water but as they get used to it they will love it. Like all hunting dogs, Vizslas require a great deal of exercise to remain healthy and happy.
The Vizsla thrives on attention, exercise, and interaction. They are intelligent dogs and need a lot of mental stimulation when young. If left alone for long hours, they can be bored and destructive.  With proper socialization and training, Vizslas are very gentle dogs that can be great around children. The Vizsla wants to be close to its owner as much as possible.
A Vizsla Club of America survey puts the average lifespan of the Vizsla at 9.15 years. The Vizsla is considered to be a robust dog, but some localized breeding programs using a small number of dogs have led to heritable illnesses in some offspring, including:
- Hip dysplasia is very rare but remotely possible.
- Canine epilepsy
- Cancer (lipoma, mast cell tumors, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma)
- Sebaceous adenitis
Responsible breeders do not select dogs for breeding if they have such inherent problems. Vizslas can also suffer from hypothyroidism, dwarfism, persistent right aortic arch, tricuspid valve dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. Major risks include epilepsy and lymphosarcoma. Vizslas can also be prone to skin and food allergies.
Unlike many other dogs, Vizslas do not have an undercoat. Therefore, they are unsuited for living outdoors. They do not make good kennel dogs. They are not fitted to keep in kennels, they don't manage especially well, either psychologically or physically.
The Vizsla was already known in early Hungarian history. The ancestors of the present Vizsla were the trusted and favorite hunting dogs of the Magyar tribes who lived in the Carpathian Basin in the 10th century. Primitive stone etchings over a thousand years old show the Magyar hunter with his falcon and his Vizsla.
Companion dogs of the early warlords and barons, Vizsla blood was preserved pure for centuries by the land-owning aristocracy who guarded them jealously and continued to develop the hunting ability of these "yellow-pointers". Records of letters and writings show the high esteem in which the Vizsla was held.
The Vizsla survived the Turkish occupation (1526–1696), the Hungarian Revolution (1848–49), World War I, World War II and the Soviet Period. However, Vizslas faced and survived several near-extinctions in their history, including being overrun by English Pointers and German Shorthair Pointers in the 1800s (Boggs, 2000:19) and again to near-extinction after World War II. A careful search of Hungary and a poll of Hungarian sportsmen revealed only about a dozen Vizslas of the true type still alive in the country. From that minimum stock, the breed rose to prominence once again. The various "strains" of the Vizsla have become somewhat distinctive as individuals bred stock that suited their hunting style. Outside Hungary, vizslas are commonly bred in Romania, Austria, Slovakia, and Serbia.
The Vizsla started arriving in the United States at the close of World War II. As interest in and devotion to the breed began to increase, owners formed the Vizsla Club of America in order to gain AKC recognition. As a result of registering foundation stock with the AKC, Vizsla owners were able to obtain official recognition on November 25, 1960, as the Vizsla became the 115th breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The Vizsla was used in development of other breeds, most notably the Weimaraner, Wire-haired Vizsla and German Shorthair Pointer breeds. There is much conjecture about those same breeds, along with other pointer breeds, being used to reestablish the Vizsla breed at the end of 19th century.
Vizsla in the UK
Approximately 1,000 Vizsla puppies are registered with the Kennel Club of Great Britain (KC) each year, making the breed one of the top 50 most popular. The number is steadily rising year on year as more people recognize the breed. There are two breed clubs for the Vizsla in Britain, The Hungarian Vizsla Club and The Hungarian Vizsla Society. The winner of the Best In Show award at Crufts 2010 was a Vizsla named Hungargunn Bear It'n Mind.
Vizsla in the U.S.
Frank J. Tallman and Emmett A. Scanlan imported Vizsla Sari as the first Vizsla in the United States of America.
Sari and her two pups (Tito and Shasta) were delivered by a TWA cargo plane to Kansas City via New York from Rome on October 7, 1950. Sari was later bred with Vizsla Rex. The male Vizsla Rex del Gelsimino, born 8/1/49, was purchased for $75 in food, clothing, medicine, and other supplies thanks to Belgrade's US Embassy employee M. M. Yevdjovich who provided the direct connection to the owner in Stapar, Serbia to Tallman's representative Harry R. Stritman. Rex understood German and Hungarian commands and the claim has been made of history dating back to 1730 although never verified through a Serbian dog book in Yugoslavia.
There is some controversy about Rex's official breeder, verbatim from (Boggs, 2000:26):
The Yugoslavia Kennel Club offered to give temporary registration to Vizslas at a local dog show so as to register future blood lines since many of the dogs in Yugoslavia and behind the Iron Curtain were pure bred, but without registration papers.
The American Kennel Club recognized Vizsla as the 115th breed on November 25, 1960.
In popular culture
- Former White House Press Secretary and cohost of The Five, Dana Perino has owned two Vizslas, Henry (deceased) and Jasper.
- Kubrick the Dog, a 2011 photography book by British fashion photographer and film maker Sean Ellis.
- Gary Dell'Abate, also known as Baba Booey from The Howard Stern Show has a Vizsla named "Murphy".
- The Hungarian cartoon Frakk, a macskák réme ("Frakk, the nightmare of cats") centers on a Vizsla dog named Frakk.
- Wire-haired Vizsla, a separate breed from the Vizsla. The Wire-haired Vizsla was developed in the 1930s by the interbreeding of the Vizsla and the German Wirehaired Pointer to get a dog with a more substantial frame and a heavier coat, suitable for working in colder weather.
- National symbols of Hungary
- "Vizsla Club of America". Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- "AKC Vizsla Breed Standard". Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- "Colorado Wyoming Vizsla Rescue Group". Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- Kara Spak (2009-01-22). "Labrador retriever is Chicago's top dog". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
- Gottlieb, Gay (2002). The Complete Hungarian Vizsla. Ringpress. ISBN 0-948955-32-5.
- "The VIZSLA". Retrieved 2015-09-15.
- "Vizsla Club of America Welfare Foundation 2008 Health Survey" (PDF). Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- "Orthopedic Foundation for Animals". Archived from the original on 2008-06-14. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
- Dogster Vizsla Resource. Accessed April 20, 2010.
- Hungarian dog breeds. Dr. Sárkány Pál - Dr.Ócsag Imre. ISBN 963-232-261-4. (Hungarian)
- "Own a Vizsla". www.moonmoth.net/. Retrieved 2014.
- "dog-breeds/vizsla". www.hillspet.com. Retrieved 2014.
- "The_Vizsla_Breed.". www.vizslabonneterrekennel.com. Retrieved 2014.
- "is-the-vizsla-the-right-breed-for-you". www.rmvc.org. Retrieved 2014.
- [Vizslas are not good kennel dogs and thrive best if they get to live inside]
- "breeds/vizslas". www.k9web.com. Retrieved 2014.
- Boggs, Bernard C (2000). The Vizsla. Behi Publishing Company. ISBN 0-9700978-0-8.
- KC Registration Statistics. Accessed May 28, 2007.
- "Hungarian Vizsla Club".
- "Hungarian Vizsla Society".
- "Crufts 2010 won by Hungarian Vizsla called Yogi". BBC News. 14 March 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
- "White House Press Secretary Avoids Foreclosure on D.C. Home". Fox News. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Vogue Photog Sean Ellis' Book About His Best Friend: Kubrick the Dog". Racked. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- Photo of Murphy. Accessed August 21, 2009.
- Marion I Coffman - "Versatile Vizsla"; Alpine Blue Ribbon Books; 2nd edition (May 2004). ISBN 1-57779-056-1.
- Robert L White - "Hungarian Vizsla"; PetLove Books (Published in UK by Interpret Books). ISBN 1-903098-59-9.
- Chris C Pinney, D.V.M. - "Vizslas, A Complete Owner's Guide"; Barron's, 1998. ISBN 0-7641-0321-0.
- Ernest H Hart - "Vizslas"; TFH Publications, 1990. ISBN 0-86622-436-X.
- B.C. Boggs - "The Vizsla"; Glenbrier Publishing Company; Revised Edition 1982. ISBN 0-9608838-0-0.
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