Vizsla Dog Breed

Golden Rust Vizsla in the Snow
iStock.com/Barna Tanko
  • Other names:
  • Hungarian Pointer
  • Hungarian Short-haired Pointing Dog
  • Magyar Vizsla
  • Rovidszoru Magyar Vizsla
  • View all 4...
Overview

Pronunciation: [Veez-shla]

This ancient hunting dog that is nevertheless very modern in her thinking is a rare breed from Hungary. The term visla in Hungarian basically means "beagle," but it is used loosely to mean "retriever," pointer" and "deer-hound." The "vizsla" pronunciation tends to be incorrectly said with a short "i." Until the mid-20th century, these beautiful dogs were very difficult to acquire and nearly never seen outside the region. Members of this breed are excellent companions for active individuals or families.

Vizsla Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred12-15 yrs.21-25 in.40-65 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

If you are looking for a great hunting dog and wondering "Should I get a Vizsla?", this page is for you. Although this breed is the smallest of the Pointers, it is also one of the best. Having a rich history that stretches back nearly a millennium, they know what to do and basically are awaiting your command. Perhaps one of the most intriguing Vizsla facts is that this may well have been the first-ever dual-purpose dog breed: they were meant to hunt as well as to live in the home. Although they are extremely friendly, they are also best for families who have a natural human alpha and has experience with this special breed.

Below is a list of Hungarian Vizsla facts including advantages as well as a few problems.

PROS

  • Extremely loving
  • Loves agility play
  • Excellent gun dog
  • Superb hunting dog
  • Beautiful show dog
  • Makes friends everywhere
  • Works well with other dogs
  • Does very well in obedience
  • Will always be at your side
  • Top-notch scenting capabilities
  • Highly skilled competition breed
  • Tend to have very low "doggy odor"
  • Is said to be a relatively healthy breed


CONS

  • Can bark a lot
  • Easily distracted
  • Not hypoallergenic
  • Can be shy if not socialized
  • May not be a good watchdog or guard dog (unlikely to attack)
  • Quickly develops separation anxiety (leads to behavior problems)
  • Must be accompanied to prompt exercise
  • Will chase and kill smaller animals and birds
  • Blowouts happen twice annually and are messy
  • Not good in homes with very young or small children


Vizsla Breed Description

This lovable, clingy and all-purpose dog is rare but remarkable. She is excellent as a family companion, a show dog, a hunting canine and as a competitor. To have your Vizsla swimming with you, hiking the mountains or doing most anything you like, is sure to be a great experience. Although training may take years and be difficult, and living conditions restricted to other dogs or perhaps no other pets at all, this is a great dog through and through.

Vizlas are incredibly intelligent, and it's best that they be trained by an experienced professional. If these dogs are not properly managed so that they wait for commands, they can be more than challenging.

When it comes to Vizsla dogs 101, the first thing you'll always learn is that these "velcro" dogs are almost literally that: constantly clinging. Wherever you may roam, they'll be your shadow. These dogs probably develop separation anxiety quicker than any other breed.

No Vizsla breed information is complete without understanding the energy of the breed. These dogs need more than a moderate amount of exercise every day. While there are a few breeds that require more exercise than the Vizsla, there are few — if any — that require one other thing: you. Even if you have a large yard from which your Vizsla won't escape, you will need to be on hand to get her to run and play. She simply won't do so on her own.

Vizsla Breed History

The Vizsla origin is believed to have been in a variety of breeds both extinct and extant: the Balkan Beagle Bloodhounds, the ancient Foxhound, the Greyhound, the Pammion Hound, the Romanian Copie, sundry Setters, the Sloughi, the German Vortsthund, and last but certainly not least — Yellow Turkish dogs. While it is not known exactly how this breed came about, there is no doubt that it was an intentionally bred, highly desired, all-purpose dog whose emergence from Hungary was a horrific one.

The Vizsla history is a long, noble and sad one. It is believed that for nearly 1,000 years, the Vizsla had been a prized dog kept by kings, nobility and war lords. All of that came crashing down in the early 20th century when the region was twice the center of a world war and thereafter the spoils of one victor starting yet another war. Prior to the devastating modern calamity, Vizslas — or a dog closely resembling the breed — were depicted in stone etchings, manuscripts and paintings dating back to the 14th century.

By the 18th century, the dog was well-established historically. There were numerous dog competitions throughout Europe, and the Vizsla excelled in many of them. Alongside the development of hunting firearms, the Vizsla was recognized as a great gun dog. In the midst of World War I, as the breed was threatened with extinction, modern breeding began. In 1936, the FCI formally recognized the Short-Haired Hungarian Vizsla. Then came World War II.

Both because of as well as due to the dog's exclusivity, the Vizla nearly died out again. The upper classes that kept them were immediate targets for the Russian forces sweeping into Europe after WW2 — which meant their dogs were also at risk (at least of being left behind); those that made it out had no time for pedigree papers.

The breed enjoyed a rebound in the United States in the 1950s. Working with the U.S. State Department, a Missouri resident named Frank Tallman accepted three imported Vizlas to provide foundation stock. The first known U.S. litter was born in 1952 and in the following year, 1953, Tallman incorporated the Magyar Vizsla Club of America. By 1960, the AKC formally recognized the Vizsla. The dog became ever more popular, and these days the breed remains strongly emergent.

*There was apparently a long-lost document in the form of a hand-written letter from the 1960s; it was recovered in 2010 in Canada. Claiming that it "identifies the ancestors of all Hungarian Vizslas today," the letter was translated from Hungarian into English. It may be read in its entirety at http://countryoforiginvizslas.com/breed-standard/history. Those who have or wish to get a Vizsla will surely want to read this.

Vizsla Appearance

The Vizsla, which is the smallest of all Pointers, is a tall, slim and unique-looking dog that to the lay eye may easily be confused with a Redbone Coonhound, a Rhodesian Ridgeback or a Weimaraner. A Vizsla tends to be thinner, however, and has one feature that stands out from all other breeds: a uniform hue throughout her hair, eyes, nose and toenails that matches the short-haired, golden-rust-color Vizsla coat.

Like those breeds with which they appear somewhat similar, this dog has a large, slightly domed head, a big, squarish muzzle and huge, floppy ears that frame eyes that are sure to melt your heart. The long, arched neck is muscular. A sleek body, strong chest and docked tail — to about 2/3rds the original length — complete the dog. Note, these are not the same as the Wirehaired Vizslas which sport bearded faces.

Vizsla Coloring

The standard color for the Hungarian Vizsla is solid golden-rust, but there is a great range of shades that naturally happen with this breed's coat:

  • Brown
  • Copper
  • Dark sandy gold
  • Pale yellow
  • Russet gold
  • Solid dark mahogany red
  • Solid rust coat


Some of these may appear to be a red Vizsla, but this broad description of coat color tends to dismiss the many hues that occur. Unlike other dogs, the Vizsla is a complete color scheme: the eyes, nose and nails will all be coordinated shades of the coat color.

If you are looking for a black, blue or grey Vizsla puppies, they do not exist. A breeder who claims to have Vizsla colors other than those described in the golden-rust color range is almost certainly cross-breeding or simply doesn't have Vizslas.

Vizsla Size

From some angles, the Vizsla size appears huge, but this dog is medium-sized. When fully grown, male Vizslas weigh from 45 to 65 pounds (or slightly more) and females are a good bit smaller at 40 to 55 pounds. As it's the Vizsla height that lends to this dog's seemingly large frame, it should come as no surprise that mature males stand from 22 to 25 inches and females are not much shorter at 21 to 24 inches. The large paws, long legs and tall body is what gives them such profile even if they don't weigh as much!

Average Adult Height

21-25 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

40-65 lbs

Vizsla Variations

There are not really any variations of the Vizsla — and certainly none that are accepted by the AKC. Still, there are many varieties of the basic coat color, and these are explained elsewhere on this page. Some may say that the long-haired Vizsla that occasionally pops up is a variation, but informed sources proclaim this a mutation. Reputable breeders will not use a long-haired Vizsla for breeding.

There is a separate breed called the Wire coated Vizsla, and this is certainly not a variation. There is also no such thing as a miniature Vizsla or another size type.

Vizsla Temperament

Don't let their focused ability and unhesitant ferocity in the field fool you; the Hungarian Vizsla temperament is a complex one. They are dual-purpose dogs — meaning a sporting dog that was also a family companion. They are extremely clingy, and for this reason, they are nicknamed "velcro dogs."

Separation anxiety is just one of the many notable Vizsla characteristics. Because these dogs are so demanding, intelligent and amiable, they will make friends everywhere. Training may be difficult, and you will have to be far more patient than with most dogs (as well as either be experienced or seek experienced trainers), but once the Vizsla starts seeking to please you, there'll be no stopping her.

There is no singular Vizsla personality, however, for some will be hard-headed, perpetually energetic and ready for the hunt; others will be relatively laid-back and much better as therapy dogs. Regardless of your Vizsla's energy levels, she will always be sensitive, loyal and working. Be sure to give her a worthwhile job to help her burn off that mental and physical energy. You should also know that this breed is very vocal, and while you will want to train her to only speak when needed, she should not be entirely prevented from barking, whining, etc.

Vizsla and Children

The desire for a Vizsla family dog should not be discussed without a thorough understanding of the breed. They are not good for households with small children as they are easily excitable dogs that love to chase smaller beings; Vizslas and babies should be supervised while together (as with any breed). If the house is often empty save for pets, a different dog breed may be best.

To be sure, the Vizsla tends to be a great family dog for those with older children, lots of friends who visit and a huge very well-fenced yard. (While they love the room to run, they are indoor dogs.) They will love agility play, challenging tasks and being practically underfoot with you or someone else at all times. You should know that while they can make good guard dogs (if trained), they tend to not make good watchdogs as they seek to make new friends with most anyone — including strangers.

Vizsla and Other Pets

Vizslas come from very long pack-hunting backgrounds, and just as they get along extremely well with humans, so too do they get along grandly with dogs. On the other hand, a Vizsla and cats can go a number of ways. They can be brought up and socialized with cats in the house, but bringing in a cat or a Vizsla to a house where the other is already established is sure to be difficult (although not impossible).

As for small furry (or feathery) creatures such as hamsters, rabbits and birds, they are guaranteed to give chase if they see or smell them, and they will often catch and kill them. The same can be said of the neighbors' cats — which is why your Vizsla must never be off-leash in the outdoors, or not in a tightly secured yard.

Vizsla Photos

Below are pictures and photos of the Vizsla dog breed.

Golden Rust Vizsla
Golden Rust Vizsla
Red Vizsla
Golden Vizsla Relaxing
Golden Rust Vizsla in the Snow
Rust Colored Vizsla
Sandy Yellow Vizsla
Rust Vizsla

Living Requirements

Owning a Vizsla can be challenging, but with consistent, patient and careful training, they'll learn to be great family dogs who won't wake the neighbors. Perhaps the one thing that must be reiterated is their separation anxiety. Pretty much no amount of training will prevent her — in the prolonged absence of Vizla owners — from barking, chewing on things and generally destroying property. Otherwise, these extremely friendly dogs can be a bit more vocal than most.

Although they are field dogs who excel in pointing, hunting and retrieving, Vizslas are not outdoor dogs — especially in less-than-warm climates. They are fine indoors, but they must be taken outside a couple times daily for long periods of exercise, or allowed into a high-fenced yard. They will chase small animals, however, and so they must always be on a lead or in a secure area.

This dog may not be best for those who have allergies. The Vizsla is not hypoallergenic, and while they don't shed a lot, they do have two annual blowouts that will amaze you despite the dog's very short-haired coat.

Vizsla Health

Some say that the Vizla is apparently not prone to many health problems, and that the breed tends to be susceptible to the typical ailments that target all dogs:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Allergies
  • Eye ailments
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Von Willibrand's disease


The Vizsla Club of America's "Welfare Foundation 2008 Health Survey" is a remarkable endeavor, started in 2008, that has provided a baseline for future Vizsla health studies. You can access it on their website for thorough health information.

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Sebaceous Adenitis
  • View all 4...

Vizsla Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Vizsla as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 14...
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