Vizsla

Vizsla

[vizh-lo]
Vizsla, breed of large sporting dog introduced into Europe by the Magyar invasion of the 10th cent. and perfected in Hungary over hundreds of years; also called Hungarian pointer. It stands between 21 and 24 in. (53.3-60.9 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs between 40 and 60 lb (18.1-27.2 kg). Its short, smooth coat may be various shades of solid rusty gold or sandy yellow. Its tail is docked. Developed to exhibit the caution and alertness necessary for hunting on the plains of Hungary, the Vizsla is particularly suited for hunting in flat, open country. It is used on a variety of upland game and waterfowl and can be trained to point and retrieve on both land and water. See dog.

The Vizsla (approximately VEEZH-luh), is a dog breed originating in Hungary. The Hungarian or Magyar Vizsla represents one of the best in sporting dogs and loyal companions and has a strong claim to being one of the smallest of the all-round pointer-retriever breeds. The Vizsla's size is one of the breed's most attractive characteristics and through the centuries he has held a unique position for a sporting dog -- that of household companion and family dog.

The Vizsla is a natural hunter endowed with a good nose and an above average trainability. Although they are lively, gentle mannered, demonstrably affectionate and sensitive, they are also fearless and possessed of a well-developed protective instinct.

Description

Appearance

The Vizsla is a medium-sized short-coated hunting dog of distinguished appearance and bearing. Robust but rather lightly built, they are lean dogs, have defined muscles, and are observed to share similar physical characteristics with the Weimaraner, the grey-blue dogs, but are smaller in size.

Various breeds are often mistaken for Vizslas, and Vizslas are often mistaken for other breeds. Redbone Coonhounds, Weimaraners and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are some of the most commonly confused breeds. The body structure of a Vizsla is very similar in appearance to a Weimaranar and Redbone Coonhound, though the Vizsla is typically leaner with more defined musculature. Weimaranars and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are larger than Vizslas. The nose of the Vizsla will always have a reddish color that blends with the coat color. Black, brown, or another color nose is an indication of another breed - or at least not a pure Vizsla.

Color and coats

The standard coat is a solid golden-rust color in different shadings, but some breeding programs have resulted in a solid rust coat. The coat could also be described as a copper/brown color, russet gold and dark sandy gold. Solid dark mahogany red and pale yellow are faulty. Small areas of white on the fore-chest and on the toes are permissible but not preferred. Some variations in the Vizsla coat color along their back (saddle-type marks) is typical.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for the Vizsla states that the coat should be short, smooth, dense and close-lying, without woolly undercoat. The Vizsla is totally unsuited to being kept outside, since unlike most other breeds, it does not have an undercoat. This lack of undercoat makes the Vizsla susceptible to the cold so it must not be kept in a kennel or left outside for extended periods of time. They are self-cleaning dogs and only need to be bathed five or six times a year, and are somewhat unique in that they have little noticeable "dog smell" detectable by humans. After several forays into lakes and streams they will develop an aroma that is a weaker version of the 'wet dog' smell. A quick bath and this odor will vanish. Lack of undercoat also means Vizslas are less likely to cause allergic reactions than many breeds..

Tail

The breed standard calls for the tail to be docked to two-thirds of its original length. Although the remainder of the tail is strong, the third docked is thin and whip-like and is open to damage in the field. The Vizsla holds its tail horizontal to the ground and wags it vigorously while charging through rough scrub and undergrowth. Without docking, the unprotected tip is docked to keep it from splitting and bleeding. Once damaged, the tail is extremely difficult to heal, sometimes requiring amputation later in life when the dog must be placed under general anaesthetic causing undue stress and pain.

The docked tail of the Vizsla is significantly longer than that of other dogs with traditionally docked tails such as the Weimaraner, Doberman, Boxer, and Australian Shepherd. Since the tail is docked when the puppy is less than three days old, this longer dock can result in some variation in tail length among Vizsla dogs from different breeding programs.

With the practice of docking banned in some localities, Vizsla clubs and advocacy groups routinely maintain information on tail injuries to dogs that were not docked.

Size

The Vizsla is a medium-sized dog, and fanciers feel that large dogs are undesirable. The average height and weight:

  • Males
  • Females
    • Height: 21 - 24 in. (53 - 61 cm)
    • Weight: 40 - 55 lb (18 - 25 kg)

Temperament

Vizslas are very high energy, gentle-mannered, loyal, caring, and highly affectionate. They quickly form close bonds with their owners, including children. Often they are referred to as "velcro" dogs because of their loyalty and affection. They are quiet dogs, only barking if necessary or provoked.

They are natural hunters with an excellent ability to take training . Not only are they great pointers, but they are excellent retrievers as well. They will retrieve on land and in the water, making the most of their natural instincts. However, they must be trained gently and without harsh commands or strong physical correction, as they have sensitive temperaments and can be easily damaged if trained too harshly. Vizslas are excellent swimmers and often swim in pools if one is available. Like all gun dogs, Vizslas require a good deal of exercise to remain healthy and happy. Thirty minutes to an hour of exercise daily in a large off-leash area is optimal.

The Vizsla thrives on attention, exercise, and interaction. It is highly intelligent, and enjoys being challenged and stimulated, both mentally and physically. Vizslas that do not get enough attention and exercise can easily become destructive or hyperactive. Under-stimulated Vizslas may also become depressed or engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviours such as persistent licking. Vizslas are very gentle dogs that are great around children. The Vizsla wants to be close to its owner as much of the time as possible. Many Vizslas will sleep in bed with their owners if allowed, burrowing under the covers.

Health

The life expectancy of the Vizsla is 12-15 years. The Vizsla is considered to be a robust dog, but some localized breeding programs using a small number of dogs have led to heritable illnesses in some offspring, including:

Responsible breeders do not select dogs for breeding if they have such inherent problems.

History

The Vizsla is mentioned in the very early times in Hungarian history. It is known that the ancestors of the present Vizsla were the trusted and favorite hunting dogs of the Magyar tribes who lived in the Carpathian basin in the Eighth Century. Primitive stone etchings over a thousand years old show the Magyar hunter with his falcon and his Vizsla.

The first written reference to Vizsla dog breed has been recorded in the Illustrated Vienna Chronicle prepared on order of King Lajos the Great (Louis the Great) by the Carmelite Friars in 1357.

Companion dogs of the early warlords and barons, Vizsla blood was preserved pure for centuries by the land-owning aristocracy who guarded them jealously and continued to develop the hunting ability of these "yellow-pointers". Records of letters and writings show the high esteem in which the Vizsla was held.

The Vizsla survived the Turkish occupation (1526-1696), the Hungarian Civil War (1848-49), World War I, World War II and the Russian Occupation. However, Vizslas faced and survived several near-extinctions in their history, including being overrun by English Pointers and German Shorthair Pointers in the 1800s (Boggs, 2000:19) and again to near-extinction after World War II. A careful search of Hungary and a poll of Hungarian sportsmen revealed only about a dozen Vizslas of the true type still alive in the country. From that minimum stock, the breed rose to prominence once again. The various "strains" of the Vizsla have become somewhat distinctive as individuals bred stock that suited their hunting style. The Austria-Hungary Empire extended its influence over a large area for many years, but with frequent border changes Hungary was reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. As a result, owners of vizslas suddenly found themselves living in Czech Rep., Slovak Rep., Romania, the former Yugoslavia, Italy, Germany, Poland or Russia.

The Vizsla started arriving in the United States at the close of World War II. As interest in and devotion to the breed began to increase, owners formed the Vizsla Club of America in order to gain AKC recognition. As a result of registering foundation stock with the AKC, Vizsla owners were able to obtain official recognition on November 25, 1960, as the Vizsla became the 115th breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The Vizsla was used in development of other breeds, most notably the Weimaraner, Wire-haired Vizsla and German Shorthair Pointer breeds. There is much conjecture about those same breeds, along with other pointer breeds, being used to reestablish the Vizsla breed at the end of 19th century. In either case the striking resemblance among the three breeds is indisputable.

History outside of Europe

Vizsla in the U.K.

Approximately 1,000 Vizsla puppies are registered with the Kennel Club of Great Britain (KC) each year, making the breed one of the top 50 most popular. The number is steadily rising year on year as more people recognise the breed. At least two breed clubs for the Vizsla exist in Britain.

Vizsla in the U.S.

Frank J. Tallman and Emmett A. Scanlan imported Vizsla Sari as the first Vizsla in the United States of America.

Sari and her two pups (Tito and Shasta) were delivered by a TWA cargo plane to Kansas City via New York from Rome on October 7, 1950. Sari was later bred with Vizsla Rex. The male Vizsla Rex del Gelsimino, born 8/1/49, was purchased for $75 in food, clothing, medicine, and other supplies thanks to Belgrade's US Embassy employee M.M. Yevdjovich who provided the direct connection to the owner in Stapar, Serbia to Tallman's representative Harry R. Stritman. Rex understood German and Hungarian commands and the claim has been made of history dating back to 1730 although never verified through a Serbian dog book in Yugoslavia.

Rex was delivered by a TWA cargo plane to Kansas City via New York via Brussels from Belgrade on June 12, 1951.

There is a bit of controversy about Rex's official breeder, verbatim from (Boggs, 2000:26):

The Yugoslavia Kennel Club offered to give temporary registration to Vizslas at a local dog show so as to register future blood lines since many of the dogs in Yugoslavia and behind the Iron Curtain were pure bred, but without registration papers.

The American Kennel Club recognized Vizsla as the 115th breed on November 25, 1960.

Vizsla in Australia

Vizsla dogs are also being bred in Australia.

In popular culture

The American children's book and cartoon character, Clifford the Big Red Dog, is acknowledged to be a giant vizsla.

See also

  • Wire-haired Vizsla, a separate breed from the Vizsla. The Wire-haired Vizsla was developed in the 1930s by the interbreeding of the Vizsla and the German Wirehaired Pointer to get a dog with a heavier coat, suitable for working in the colder weather and more substantial frame

References

Further reading

  • Marion I Coffman - "Versatile Vizsla"; Alpine Blue Ribbon Books; 2nd edition (May 2004). ISBN 1577790561.
  • Robert L White - "Hungarian Vizsla"; PetLove Books (Published in UK by Interpret Books). ISBN 1-903098-59-9.
  • Chris C Pinney, D.V.M. - "Vizslas, A Complete Owner's Guide"; Barron's, 1998. ISBN 0-7641-0321-0.
  • Ernest H Hart - "Vizslas"; TFH Publications, 1990. ISBN 0-86622-436-X.

External links

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