Toby – Life with a new puppy

Formally known as Red Mallow Pepper – A Hungarian Vizsla

The Breed

The Vizsla is believed to be one of the oldest of the sporting breeds. It originates in Hungary, and is thought to have been developed in the 1600s. The aristocrats of Hungary recognized the breed’s potential, and started developing it into a competent and responsive gundog that could be worked on both mammals and birds. The Soviet Communists took over Hungary in 1945, and most Hungarians immigrated to nearby countries such as Austria and Turkey. A few took their Vizslas with them, and it is these dogs that prevented the extinction of the breed. The Vizsla reached America in October 1950, when sportsmen imported a bitch and her pair of two-month-old puppies the country. The American Kennel Club recognized the Vizsla in 1960. The breed was placed in the Sporting group, as its original functions were hunting, retrieving and pointing.

The Vizsla is believed to have descended from two now-extinct breeds, the Pannonian Hound and the Turkish Yellow Dog. More recently, it seems that German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointers, English Setters, Foxhounds and English Pointers have contributed to the Vizsla.

The Vizsla is a medium-sized gundog that stands between 21 and 25 inches (53 to 64 centimetres) and weighs between 48 and 66 pounds (20 to 30 kilograms). The neck of the Vizsla is muscular and arched, the feet are compact and cat-like, the coat is short and smooth, the gait is graceful and far-reaching, and the eyes should be darker than the coat color. The tail is docked to two-thirds to prevent injury whilst the dog is working. The breed standard describes the Vizsla’s unique coat color as ‘solid golden rust in different shadings’. Small patches of white on the feet and chest are common in America, but are undesirable in the show-ring.

In temperament, the Vizsla is sensitive, affectionate, eager-to-please, intelligent, alert, fearless and responsive. It makes a great gundog and is gaining popularity with both experienced and weekend hunters. As a sporting dog, the Vizsla surpasses the German and English Pointers. They are fast are reliable, and retrieve and point well. The breed also has the potential to be a great companion. Vizslas are sociable dogs that love company, and are not suitable for households where they would be left alone for most of the day. They are prone to separation anxiety, and should be taught to enjoy their own company while they are puppies. A crate is useful for keeping a dog out of mischief when you’re not there to supervise.

Vizslas expect to be treated as a member of the family, and feel insulted when excluded from their family’s activities. Vizslas like nothing better than to be in the company of their masters, and often pursue them about the house – even to the extent of waiting for their owners to leave the show or bathroom. If you’d find this annoying, you shouldn’t own a Vizsla.

As befits a good gundog, Vizslas love to hold and carry objects in their mouths. Whilst this makes training the retrieve command easier, you should discourage your dog from mouthing your clothes, possessions and hands if this isn’t to become a troublesome habit. Vizslas make competent watchdogs – they’ll bark when someone is on the property and are suspicious of strangers, but they are not aggressive by nature. However, don’t encourage barking if you don’t want to own a dog that barks non-stop.

Grooming the Vizsla is not a strenuous task – a quick brush with a hound-glove three or four times a week is all that is needed. The teeth should be brushed and the nails clipped regularly. The Vizsla doesn’t shed a huge amount of hair and is often considered to be one of the cleanest breeds available.

On the whole, the Vizsla is a remarkably healthy breed. There are few inherited problems – the most common is hip dysplasia. Von Willibrand’s Disease, epilepsy, heart valve defects, skin problems, entropion, ectropion and Progressive Retinal Atrophy have also been seen in the breed. Choose a breeder with care – obtaining a puppy from a reputable source reduces your chances of owning a sickly dog. A good breeder hip scores his or her dogs, and should be able to provide you with proof of their animals’ health. The Vizsla is a long-lived breed that can live to sixteen-years-old. The typical lifespan is eleven- to fourteen-years-old.

The Vizsla is an athletic breed that needs a considerable amount of exercise. An hour-long run off the lead would satisfy an adult Vizsla, although they are not averse to more. Swimming and retrieving are good ways to exercise an adult Vizsla. Vigorously exercising puppies aged less than six months old can damage their joints – jumping and running are particularly dangerous.

For a clever breed such as the Vizsla, mental stimulation is essential. A short, daily training session is recommended. Vizslas excel at agility, tracking, obedience and other sports, and are quick to learn new commands. They respond well to positive reinforcement-based training methods, such as clicker training


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