The Hungarian Vizsla

The Hungarian Vizsla

Elegant aristocrats

Your at-a-glance guide to the Hungarian Vizsla…

The Hungarian Vizsla, as its name suggests, originated in Hungary – possibly as far back as the ninth century. Quite a mix of breeds went into creating the Vizsla, including setters, Bloodhounds, Greyhounds and Sloughi, so it’s not surprising that this breed has a variety of instincts and characteristics, making it a versatile and adaptable companion.
The breed almost became extinct during the early part of the 20th century due to wars in Europe, but luckily some enthusiasts managed to preserve it. World War Two again proved a difficult time for the breed, but some dogs were smuggled out of Hungary and Vizslas became established in other countries. It wasn’t until 1953, though, that the Kennel Club registered imported dogs.

 ‘Can do’ dogs
Excelling as a gundog, the elegant Vizsla became popular within the shooting fraternity, but gradually his good looks, dignified bearing, versatility and ‘can do’ attitude made him attractive to the pet-owning public too. Around 1,000 puppies are registered with the Kennel Club each year, ensuring the breed remains within the 50 most popular in the UK. Vizlas are particularly known for being people orientated, thriving on attention, and they usually form close bonds with their owners – so much so that they are sometimes referred to as ‘Velcro dogs’. They love to be included in whatever you are doing!

All-rounders
Hungarian Vizslas are versatile dogs and can, and do, enjoy taking part in lots of activities including field trials, working trials, showing, agility, obedience, flyball and heelwork to music. In addition, some are used as Pets As Therapy (PAT) dogs.
Renowned for their gentle manners, Vizslas make affectionate if lively pets, as well as superb sporting and activity partners. These dogs make wonderful companions for those people willing to train and look after Vizslas properly, so it pays to take your pet to socialisation and training classes as soon as he is old enough. Generally good with children, provided both children and dog are properly trained and suitably supervised, this breed is excitable and can be noisy, barking when provoked into doing so or to alert their owners to visitors.

Breed file:
Size: medium-large.
Height & weight: dogs 57-64cm (22½-25in) and bitches 53-60cm (21-23½in) at the withers; weight 20-30kg (44-66lbs).
Lifespan: nine to 15 years.
Exercise: needs a lot of daily exercise when mature to remain physically and mentally healthy. At least an hour’s exercise, including free running, is recommended, plus time in the garden to self-exercise. Incorporate training and games into exercise time to help keep your Vizsla mentally as well as physically stimulated. Do not leave them alone for long periods as a bored Vizsla may become destructive, as indeed will many dogs if left alone.
Training: usually willing to learn and eager to please, so easily trained if done correctly. While Vizslas make superb family pets, puppies can be quite a handful as they are extremely lively, cheeky, energetic and inquisitive, so you will need to be patient, kind and firm. Well brought up and socialised Vizslas are friendly and confident.
Grooming: being shorthaired, they simply need wiping over with a towel when wet, a daily brush with a ‘velvet’ grooming glove and daily brushing when moulting. Claws need regular attention to prevent them getting too long. Use canine ear wipes to keep the ears clean.
Colour: russet gold.
Diet: eats most things.
Health: generally a healthy and robust breed. Problems that can affect some dogs include epilepsy, polymyositis and cancer (particularly haemangiosarcoma) – further information can be found on the club websites (see ‘Useful contacts’). Good breeders, and the clubs, will be happy to advise on any aspects of Hungarian Vizsla care, feeding, health, behaviour and training.

Useful contacts

Top tip
Expect to pay around £850 for a Hungarian Vizsla puppy, or contact the breed clubs for rescue dogs homes. Ensure you buy from a breeder whose stock is hip-scored. 

Many thanks to Betty Smith and Shelia Gray and the two breed clubs for their help in producing this feature. All content correct at time of going to press (23 April 2010).