Often mistaken for a Weimaraner, a Rhodesian ridgeback or a redbone coonhound, the vizsla — pronounced “veesh-la” — is one of the most commonly confused dog breeds.
Yet these Hungarian sporting dogs, well known for their finely honed hunting skills, are never mistaken to be anything other than the smart, loyal and generously affectionate companions their families know them to be.
The history of the vizsla breed dates back to the 10th century. The Magyar tribe, which settled in Hungary’s Carpathian Basin, used vizslas as their hunting companions. Primitive stone etchings created over a 1,000 year period depict Magyar hunters with their faithful vizsla dogs.
Over time, the breed became the trusted companion of Hungarian warlords and royalty. As a result, the breed thrived under careful breeding standards in an effort to maintain the purity of the vizsla lineage.
That lineage, however, faced near extinction during the 1800s and shortly after World War II. According to Hungarian records, a mere dozen vizsla dogs were reported to still be alive. From those remaining dogs, the vizsla breed grew again.
In 1950, the vizsla made its way to the United States, after which the Vizsla Club of America was formed in order to gain the attention and recognition of the American Kennel Club. Interest in the breed increased and in 1960, the Vizsla was welcomed into the AKC.
Often described by owners as “Velcro” dogs, vizslas are known to be very affectionate and loyal family companions. With their gentle disposition, vizslas get along well with children and form tight bonds with family members. They also have a sensitive side, vocalizing their concerns if left alone for too long or neglected. Otherwise, vizslas are known to be quiet dogs, usually barking only when alarmed or provoked.
Natural-born hunters, vizslas respond well to training and are talented retrievers. Highly intelligent dogs, they thrive on mental stimulation, exercise, activity and outdoor play.
Make time for some TLC; this breed enjoys a fair amount of lap time and cuddling with its family members.
The vizsla has a medium build, weighing between 40 to 66 pounds, with a solid golden-rust color, shorthaired coat. The color of the vizsla’s coat has also been described as cooper, russet gold and dark sandy gold.
Due to its shorthaired coat, and the fact that it does not have an undercoat like many other dog breeds, the vizsla is not suited to live outdoors.
Commonly, the vizsla’s tail is docked to two-thirds of its original length, although this is certainly not necessary. Traditionally, the dog’s tail is usually docked so that it won’t become injured while in the field hunting, although records indicate that tail injuries are relatively rare.
While these may be common medical conditions, your vizsla will not necessarily develop these issues, including those listed below.
- Canine epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. The symptoms vary in severity but the dog usually foams at the mouth and appears to be chewing on something. Then he will have violent muscle contractions, lose bladder or bowel control and faint.
- Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joints that causes arthritis, is especially crippling in large breeds of dogs. Hypothyroidism is a condition caused by low thyroid hormone production of the thyroid glands. Lack of this hormone causes weight gain, lethargy, poor hair coat, infertility and susceptibility to chronic infections.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an adult-onset condition which typically occurs between ages 4 and 10. It is a gradual degeneration of the retina which leads to blindness.
- Sebaceous adenitis is a hereditary inflammatory skin condition that that results in dandruff and a “moth eaten” appearance of the haircoat.of vislas. Severe cases result in inflammation and destruction of the oil glands of the skin.