The Hungarian Vizsla: Versatile, Gentle, and Growing in Popularity
By Susie Yakowicz
If you’ve never heard of a vizsla—also known as a Hungarian vizsla, Magyar vizsla, and Hungarian pointer—you’re not alone. Even though vizslas have been around for more than a thousand years, many people don’t know anything about them. But these sleek, rust-colored canines, originally bred as Hungarian hunting dogs, have started to gain popularity in recent years—and with good reason. Besides being commendable working and sporting dogs, vizslas have much to offer as companions and family pets. According to the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dogs, the vizsla has jumped to number 33, up 11 spots in less than 10 years. Here’s why:
Working Dogs at Their Best
The vizsla’s extraordinary hunting ability dates back to its ancestors, who accompanied the Magyar tribes of Hungary on hunting trips for upland game, rabbit, and waterfowl. Vizslas are especially skilled at pointing and retrieving, thanks to their sharp noses and boundless energy. But they make great therapy dogs, too, because of their knack for sensing people’s moods. No matter how they’re put to use, vizslas were born to work, and they do it with unconditional enthusiasm.
Exemplary Dog Sport Competitors
Check any list of the fastest dog breeds, and you’ll likely see vizslas in the top five, with speeds up to 40 miles per hour. In addition to quickness, vizslas have other traits of a praiseworthy competitor—athleticism, trainability, liveliness, and intuition. And as long as they’re with you, they’re up for anything, whether it’s agility, tracking, flyball, or obedience. Not the dog sport type? No worries, a trip to the park for a game of Frisbee or a long walk will suit vizslas just fine, too.
A Loyal Family Dog
Probably the number one reason vizslas have gained popularity is their ever-growing role as a family dog. It’s easy to see why the vizsla earned the nickname “Velcro dog”; vizslas love being as close to their people as they can get. In fact, the more they can be touching you, the better! Besides that, they’re eager to please, gentle, loyal, affectionate, protective, responsive, and easy to care for (their short coats with no undercoat require little brushing and infrequent bathing)—all desirable qualities for a family pet.
Bear in mind, this lively dog that likes to be with people is not for the sedentary, rarely-at-home family. If bored, vizslas can get destructive. They need plenty of activity to burn their energy. If you can’t give your vizsla daily exercise, find someone who can—a trusted friend or qualified pet sitter, such as Preferred Pet Sitter. Proper and consistent training along with daily structure and interaction will help your vizsla thrive and ensure a rewarding experience for you.
Below are some other key traits of this increasingly popular breed:
a life span of 12-15 years
a medium-sized dog, averaging 40 to 65 pounds
little or no “doggy” smell
good with other pets (but may chase small animals)
good with children (but supervision is always recommended with small children)
generally a healthy breed
available in shorthaired and wirehaired (considered a separate breed) varieties
can be chewers and eaters of anything, especially as puppies
need regularly nail trimming, as nails grow quickly and can get quite long
Susie Yakowicz, proud owner of her vizsla Rue, writes from her home in Minnetrista. She has published hundreds of articles for websites and blogs on topics ranging from dogs to health and wellness to history. For more information on her work, please visit her blog Writing from Minnesota.
Twin Cities Vizsla Club: www.tcvc.org
Vizsla Club of America: www.vcaweb.org
Writing from Minnesota: www.susieyakowicz.com/blog