The Vizsla--a medium-sized hunting dog that's at home both in the fields and curled up on the couch--is a sensitive, athletic breed that forms deep bonds with its owners. Fortunately, caring for this dog breed doesn't require a great deal of work. Below you'll find all the necessary info required for raising a Vizsla: tips on puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and plenty more. So if you know of a Vizsla that needs a home, pick it out--and keep reading!
Vizsla puppy development from birth to adulthood typically spans 14-16 months. Physically, the Vizsla growth rate in puppies' height and length is rapid for the first six months or so, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent Vizsla "fills out" by gaining muscle mass and fat; a Vizsla is usually at or near its full adult size by about a year of age. Socially, Vizsla pups develop fairly steadily: they reach adolescence at about four months, sexual maturity at 7-8 months, and full mental maturity by 16 months of age (though some may retain their puppylike behavior for an additional year or more). For specific developmental milestones, see the following chart:
|Dog Age||Development Milestone|
|2-3 Weeks||Eyes, ears open, begins walking|
|2 Months||Old enough to be separated from mother, housetrained, introduced to solid food|
|3 Months||Exercise and training can begin; vaccinations/de-worming needed|
|4 Months||Adolescent period starts, characterized by increased independence/disobedience|
|8 Months||Sexual maturity|
|9 Months||Can be switched to adult food|
More so than most breeds, Vizsla exercise needs are vital in these dogs' daily lives. The typical Vizsla has a physical build that's the canine equivalent of a professional baseball player's: muscular, limber, and incredibly agile and athletic. This means that it'll require a good bit of daily activity--and in keeping with the Vizsla's history as a close hunting companion, it's best if a Vizsla performs exercise in which a human also participates.
Exactly how much exercise does a Vizsla need each day? In short, quite a lot. Though the amount will depend on a dog's age and overall activity level, the typical adult Vizsla will require at least an hour of daily exercise. You can begin daily activities when a Vizsla puppy is three months old by taking it on short (10- to 15-minute) walks, then increasing the walks' duration as the pup grows.
Some things to consider when exercising your Vizsla: first, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints. Regardless of your Vizsla's age, it's very important that you exercise along with the dog. Vizslas are known as a "Velcro breed," meaning these dogs attach themselves to their owners--both physically and emotionally. Your Vizsla will be much more likely to perform physical activity if you (or another human) do so as well.
Precautions aside, make sure you exercise your Vizsla every single day. Whether it's a 30-minute walk or a good long game of fetch, get out there and move with the dog! An under-exercised Vizsla is known to be extremely destructive and disobedient--and since these dogs suffer great separation anxiety, if left alone a Vizsla's destruction will be even worse. Here are a few ideas for exercise you and the Vizsla can perform together:
- Walking/Jogging: Two 20-minute walks (or jogs) per day is a good target
- Fetch/Frisbee: These dogs will chase a ball for hours
- Tug-of-War: Great indoor activity; use a rope or old towel
- Canine Sports: Vizslas excel highly in obedience and agility trials, flyball, and more
- Hiking: Great bonding activity
When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Vizsla access to one or more chew-toys. These dogs are known to be frequent "chewers," so having a few toys lying around will let the dog release some pent-up energy--and will possibly save your favorite pair of slippers in the process. It's also recommended that you have a consistent daily exercise schedule for your Vizsla, such as walks/jogs after breakfast and dinner combined with a play period in the afternoon.
Maintenance for these dogs in terms of shedding and drooling is pretty low. Vizsla shedding is light, and drooling is usually a non-issue.
Vizslas' coats are single-layered, meaning they have no undercoat (which is responsible for all the stray hairs from high-shedding breeds). They do shed a bit, and they do so year-round, so owners may need to vacuum their floors or use lint rollers on their clothes and furniture from time to time. Vizsla owners say that weekly brushing, and wiping the coat with a damp cloth, usually minimizes the issue pretty well.
Vizslas may drool a bit in anticipation of food, but very little otherwise. There are, however, a very few Vizslas born with a muscular disorder called polymyositis, a condition which has excessive, foamy drooling as one of its symptoms. If your Vizsla is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of polymyositis or another medical issue, in which case the dog should see a veterinarian.
Vizsla diet and nutrition, as much as (or even more than) any breed, is incredibly important in keeping these dogs in good physical shape. With their lean, muscular bodies and active lifestyles, Vizslas require food packed with animal proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This means that only premium food should be given to these robust animals, as high-quality foods have the necessary proteins and carbs that cheap dog foods simply lack. In fact, breed club officials attest to the ability to quickly spot a Vizsla that subsists only on inexpensive food: the dog has an unhealthy-looking coat, poorly defined muscles, and clearly visible ribs. So it's critical that Vizsla dog food is of high quality, for the animal's health as well as its vitality.
But what type of food to feed your Vizsla? How much of it? And how often? Premium dry food seems to be the most popular choice among owners. Adult Vizslas, depending on their age and overall activity level, need 3-4 cups of food per day, divided into two meals. And how much to feed a Vizsla puppy? Depending on its age in months, a growing puppy will need somewhat less: 2-2½ cups per day, divided into three meals until the pup is nine months old. Use the feeding chart below for further reference:
|Dog Age||Dog Weight||Food Type||Amount||Frequency|
|2 Months||12 lbs||Dry||0.3 cups||3x/day|
|3 Months||20 lbs||Dry||0.4 cups||3x/day|
|6 Months||35 lbs||Dry||0.6 cups||3x/day|
|9 Months||45 lbs||Dry||1 cup||2x/day|
|12 Months||50 lbs||Dry||1.25 cups||2x/day|
|18 Months+||55 lbs||Dry||1.5 cups||2x/day|
It's important to try and stick the above-listed portions, because while obesity isn't highly prevalent in these dogs, it can make their quality of life very dismal. A fat Vizsla will have joint and bone problems, making its movement more difficult and even painful; overweight dogs also have breathing and digestive issues, not to mention a shortened lifespan. So no over-feeding, don't feed the Vizsla scraps from the table, and by all means, do not "free-feed" these dogs. Free-feeding is leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time, allowing it to eat anytime it wants; veterinarians say it's the major cause of canine obesity, and is a terribly unhealthy practice. Put your Vizsla's bowl down only at mealtimes, then pick it up 20 minutes or so after the dog begins eating, even if food remains.If you fear your Vizsla is overweight, give the dog this simple Ribs Test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce the dog's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk/jog or play period to its daily exercise schedule.
Though opinions differ on what's the best dog food for a Vizsla (puppies and adults alike), the most sensible and popular choice is premium dry food. For this athletic, energetic breed in particular, high-quality food is definitely recommended. While premium food is more expensive, your Vizsla will need less of it--and it has the required nutrients that cheap foods simply don't.
The Vizsla is definitely an indoor breed. These dogs form strong emotional bonds with their owners, so they'll be miserable if not allowed to spend as much time as possible around their human families. For the Vizsla, apartment living might be okay, but plenty of daily outdoor exercise is a must; overall, these dogs will be happier living in a house with a yard.
In regards to climate: the Vizsla is more of a warm-weather animal. These dogs' short coats means they'll get cold easily--so any Vizsla owners living in colder regions will need at least one jacket or sweater for their dogs for the winter months.