Getting to know the Vizsla
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
There are many versatile dog breeds and the Vizsla is no different. Vizslas were bred for long days in the field and are known for their high energy. However, this affectionate, eager-to-please dog can be a wonderful family pet. The Vizsla is seen in almost all dog sport venues including obedience, agility, scent work, and therapy work.
The Vizsla is an old breed and is also called the Hungarian or Magyar Pointer. The Magyar people moved west from the Ural Mountains and settled in what is now Hungary. Drawings over 1000 years old depicted a yellow dog resembling the Vizsla. The Magyars selectively breed their yellow dogs to point and retrieve game. The red color came from the use of the German Schweizhund and the pointing ability came from a Transylvanian breed. The Turkish invaded the area in the 1500s and also had influence on these hunters.
While it seemed the Vizsla was already perfect, other dog breeds were interbred to get different traits. After being in its pure form for centuries, the Vizsla was down to only a dozen dogs by the end of the 19th century. Care was taken to gather these dogs and resurrect the breed. Like many breeds, the Vizsla numbers were low following the World Wars. The Vizsla made its appearance in the United States around 1950 and joined the American Kennel Club in 1960.
Best known for its golden rust color, there are many distinguishing features of the Vizsla. The Vizsla has short, dense fur that highlights a muscular physique. The fur, nose, and other pigment should be uniform in color but a small amount of white on the chest and toe tips is acceptable. This sporting breed has low set, rounded, hound-like ears. The Vizsla has a deep chest with a tuck up in the belly area. With “cat-like” feet, these dogs tend to be light-footed and graceful. The breed standard calls for a one-third docked tail and dewclaw removal to minimize field injuries, but these practices are becoming less common.
Vizsla breeders tend to be proud of their dogs and strive for healthy working dogs. The Vizsla is considered to be a robust dog. Hip dysplasia can occur but is not as common as some breeds. Heart disease and epilepsy can also develop in Vizslas. Hypothyroidism and dwarfism can also occur. Certain cancers such as mast cell tumors or lymphoma are more common in Vizslas. Skin disease and allergies are not uncommon. The thin skin and fur make Vizslas sensitive to cold weather.
Researching breeders is important with finding any new dog, but making sure you have plenty of time to train and exercise a Vizsla is a must to have this wonderful, loyal breed.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.