Vizsla

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Vizsla

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Introduction

The Vizsla, also known as the Hungarian Pointer, the Hungarian Vizsla, the Magyar Vizsla, the Yellow Pointer, the Smooth-Coated Vizsla, the Short-Haired Hungarian Vizsla and the Vizsla Korhaar, is an ancient breed. It descended from dogs traveling with the Magyar people across Central Europe more than a thousand years ago, finally settling in what is now Hungary. The Vizsla is a medium-sized, elegant pointer in form, but it combines the best traits of pointers and retrievers in function. This is an all-purpose hunting dog that can track, point and retrieve feather or fur in water or on land. The breed name is thought to mean "alert and responsive," although another interpretation is that it was named after a 12th century settlement called "Vizsla." The Vizsla is known for its superior nose and stamina even in hot weather.
The mature male Vizsla ideally is 22 to 24 inches at the withers; the ideal female is 21 to 23 inches in height. Dogs measuring more than 1½ inches over or under those limits are subject to disqualification under the American breed standard. Adult Vizslas typically weigh 45 to 65 pounds. The Vizsla's short, smooth coat should be a solid golden russet in color. Dark mahogany red and pale yellowish gold are faulty, and white patches are undesirable. Tails are typically docked.

History & Health

History

The Vizsla originally was used by nomadic Magyar hunters who used it to flush game birds as an aid for falconry, as well as to track and drive birds and other game into nets. Vizslas were favored by warlords and barons as both hunters and companions. Once firearms were common, the type of dog that hunters needed changed to one that was faster but still stealthy enough not to rouse the quarry unnecessarily, with a keen nose for tracking, good eyesight and a willingness and capability to retrieve. Most canine historians believe that the Vizsla's ancestors probably include the Transylvanian Hound and the Turkish Yellow Dog, which is now extinct, with subsequent additions of pointer blood. Authorities generally accept that the Hungarian Vizsla predates its German counterpart, the Weimaraner, although some argue that the Vizsla comes from crosses between Weimaraners and assorted pointer breeds.
The Vizsla almost disappeared in the late 1800s. A Hungarian survey of hunting establishments concluded that only about twelve Vizslas were left in the entire country by that time. This led to a concerted effort by breed enthusiasts to save the breed. The people who support the theory that today's Vizsla derives from the Weimaraner crossed with other pointer breeds suggest that these crosses occurred during this period of rebuilding the breed. Hungarian dog authorities reject this view.
As with many other breeds, the Vizsla suffered a steep decline in numbers during the world wars and was practically exterminated in its homeland. A few staunch breed devotees refused to let it disappear, scattering to neighboring countries such as Austria, Italy and Germany before the Russian occupation in 1945, taking their dogs with them. Other Vizslas survived in Turkey, Czechoslovakia and southern Russia.
The first Vizslas came to North America in the 1950s. An American breed club was organized in 1954. The Vizsla was recognized by the American Kennel Club and admitted to its Stud Book in 1960, as a member of the Sporting Group. The first AKC Triple Champion was a Vizsla, with titles in field, obedience and conformation. The first AKC quintuple champion was also a Vizsla, this time titled in obedience, agility, field, amateur field, master hunter and conformation.
Today's Vizsla is highly competitive in all disciplines, including conformation, hunt tests, obedience, agility, field trials and tracking. Vizslas have served on archaeological excavations and participated in search-and-rescue efforts at Ground Zero after the Septbember 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York. They are highly trainable and have been used as therapy dogs, guide dogs, service dogs, drug and explosive detection dogs and search-and-rescue dogs. This is an active breed with a gentle, sensitive nature, and it thrives on attention from the people it adores.

Health

The average life span of the Vizsla is 11 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, ectropion, entropion, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, sebaceous adenitis and von Willebrand disease.

Temperament & Personality

Personality

Vizslas are lovingly referred to as "velcro dogs" because they want to be with the people they love 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This attachment goes back to the Vizsla's roots as a hunting dog. In the field, he never strayed too far from the hunter, which created a strong bonding experience. Vizslas are the perfect family dog for those who are already committed to an active lifestyle. Hunters can still use them to track and point in the field, and at home Vizslas make superb hiking, biking and jogging companions. They are fairly easy to train, and make a fine addition to active, outdoorsy families.

Activity Requirements

Vizslas need at least one hour of vigorous activity every day in order to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament. Vizslas who do not get enough activity quickly become neurotic and destructive. Running the backyard is a good start, but these hunting dogs prefer to have a "job" to do. That job can be anything from carrying a backpack while he walks the neighborhood, to simply keeping up with you on a jog. Vizslas prefer all exercise be conducted alongside a person he loves.
Vizslas do very well in organized activities including agility, tracking, field work and advanced obedience. They enjoy the extra bonding time and appreciate the opportunity to think while they exercise.

Trainability

Vizslas are fairly easy to train, but some can be mighty stubborn. Start your Vizsla early for best results and be prepared to show calm-assertive leadership at all times. They are not dominant dogs, but Vizslas have a tendency to test boundaries, especially if they are not getting proper exercise. Sessions should be conducted with praise and treats, though it is ok to be firm (but never harsh) with a Vizsla if he does not listen to you.
When your Vizsla has mastered basic obedience, he can move on to advanced activities. Proper socialization should also be part of his training regimen, as Vizslas can be over protective of their families. If your Vizsla is easy-going, he will make an excellent therapy dog.

Behavioral Traits

Separation anxiety is very common among Vizslas. These velcro dogs need to be with people at all times or they become anxious and depressed, which they express through destructive chewing and excessive howling or barking. Before you leave the house for a long period of time, make sure to vigorously exercise your Vizsla which can help stave off anxiousness. It is best, however, that Vizslas live in a home where someone is always around, whether it is a farm or in a family with one stay at home parent.
Vizslas are verbal dogs. They bark, howl, grunt, whine, moan and make "talking" noises throughout the day. If you are looking for a silent dog, the Vizsla is not for you. They are also prone to barking excessively so teach your Vizsla early on to obey commands to quiet down.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
That of a medium-sized, short-coated, hunting dog of distinguished appearance and bearing. Robust but rather lightly built, the coat is an attractive shaded golden rust. Originating in Hungary, the Vizsla was bred to work in field, forest and water. Agile and energetic, this is a versatile dog of power, drive and endurancein the field yet a tractable and affectionate companion in the home. It is strongly emphasized that field conditioned coats, as well as brawny or sinewy muscular condition and honorable scars indicating a working and hunting dog are never to be penalized in this dog. The requisite instincts and abilities to maintaina "dual dog" are always to be fosteredand appreciated, neverdeprecated.

Head
Lean and muscular. Skull moderately wide between the ears with a median line down the forehead. Stop between skull and foreface is moderate. Foreface or muzzle is of equal length or slightly shorter than skull when viewed in profile, should taper gradually from stop to tip of nose. Muzzle square and deep. It should not turn up as in a "dish" face nor should it turn down. Whiskers serve a functional purpose; their removal is permitted but not preferred. Nostrils slightly open. Nose self-colored. Any other color is faulty. A partially or completely black nose is a disqualification. Freckles due to aging or sun exposure are not to be faulted.Ears, thin, silky and proportionately long, with rounded-leather ends, set fairly low and hanging close to cheeks. Jaws are strong with well developed white teeth meeting in a scissors bite. Eyes medium in size and depth of setting, their surrounding tissue covering the whites. Color of the iris should blend with the color of the coat. Yellow or any other color is faulty. Prominent pop eyes are faulty. Lower eyelids should neither turn in nor out since both conditions allow seeds and dust to irritate the eye.Lips cover the jaws completely but are neither loose nor pendulous.

Neck and Body
Neck strong, smooth and muscular, moderately long, arched and devoid of dewlap, broadening nicely into shoulders which are moderately laid back. This is mandatory to maintain balance with the moderately angulated hindquarters. Body is strong and well proportioned. Withers high. While the Vizsla may appear square, when measured from point of breastbone to point of buttocks and from the highest point over the shoulder blades to the ground, the Vizsla is slightly longer than tall. A proper proportion of leg length to body length is essential to the desired overall balance of the Vizsla. The Vizsla should not appear long and low or tall and leggy. Backline firm with a slight rise over a short and well muscled loin. The croup is gently rounded to the set on of the tail and is not steep, sunken or flat. When moving at a trot, a properly built Vizsla maintains a steady, level backline. Chest moderately broad and deep reaching down to the elbows. Ribs well-sprung and carried well back; underline exhibiting a slight tuck-up beneath the loin. Tail set just below the level of the croup, thicker at the root and docked one-third off. Ideally, it should reach to the back of the stifle joint and when moving it should be carried at or near the horizontal, not vertically or curled over the back, nor between the legs. A docked tail is preferred.

Forequarters
Shoulder blades proportionately long and wide sloping moderately back and fairly close at the top. Upper arm is about equal in length to the shoulder blade in order to allow for good extension. Forelegs straight and muscular with elbows close. Feetcat-like, round and compact with toes close. Nails brown and short. Pads thick and tough. The removal ofdewclaws, if any, on front and rear feet, is strongly recommended, in order to avoid injury when running in the field.

Hindquarters
Hind legs have well developed thighs with moderately angulated stifles and hocks in balance with the moderately laid back shoulders. They must be straight as viewed from behind. Too much angulation at the hocks is as faulty as too little. The hocks are let down and parallel to each other.

Coat
Short, smooth, dense and close-lying, without woolly undercoat. A distinctly long coat is a disqualification.

Color
Golden rust in varying shades. Lighter shadings over the sides of the neck and shoulders giving the appearance of a "saddle" are common.Solid dark mahogany and pale yellow are faulty. White on the forechest, preferably as small as possible, and white on the toes are permissible. Solid white extending above the toes or white anywhere else on the dog except the forechest is a disqualification. When viewing the dog from the front, white markings on the forechest must be confined to an area from the top of the sternum to a point between the elbows when the dog is standing naturally. White extending on the shoulders or neck is a disqualification.White due to aging or scarring mustnot be faulted. The Vizsla is self-colored, with the color of the eyes, eye-rims, lips, nose, toenails and pads of feet blending with the color of the coat.

Gait
Far reaching, light footed, graceful and smooth. When moving at a fast trot, a properly built dog single tracks.

Size
The ideal male is 22 to 24 inches at the highest point over the shoulder blades. The ideal female is 21 to 23 inches. Because the Vizsla is meant to be a medium-sized hunter, any dog measuring more than 1 ½ inches over or under these limits must be disqualified.

Disqualifications
Partially or completely black nose.
Solid white extending above the toes or white anywhere else on the dog except the forechest.
White extending on the shoulders or neck.
A distinctly long coat.
Any male over 25 ½ inches, or under 20 ½ inches and any female over 24 ½ inches or under 19 ½ inches at the highest point over the shoulder blades

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