Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Hungarian Vizsla
Average Cost to keep/care for a Hungarian Vizsla
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Hungarian Vizslas are extremely intelligent, handsome and athletic gundogs with their gold coats and eyes to match. As their name suggests they hail from Hungary where they were first bred to hunt and where they have always been highly prized, but over recent times the breed has gained popularity as family pets and companion dogs in many other countries of the world, and for good reason. The Vizsla is a noble, kind and extremely loyal dog and once they form a strong bond with their owners they become valued members of a household enjoying nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on in the home.
Vizslas are what is known as Hunt, Point and Retrieve dogs and a breed that's incredibly versatile in the field. Being so intelligent, they are easy to train, but with this said Vizslas are a good choice for first time owners providing they are trained and handled by someone who has the time to dedicate to an energetic, loyal and devoted canine companion.
There is some debate as to how the Hungarian Vizsla was first developed with some people saying their ancestors were around centuries ago whereas other people believe the breed came about much more recently, namely in the 20th century. With this said, there is some evidence of Vizslas having been around during the 10th Century, as such these proud dogs predate even the Weimaraner and the fact that they have many unique physical traits, sets the breed apart from any other pointers that were around at the time.
Very similar dogs are depicted in prints that date back around a thousand years which show early settlers called the Magyars using their dogs to hunt when they arrived in Hungary. These early records led to the Vizsla often being referred to as "Yellow Turkish Hunting Dogs". They were taken to other regions of Europe by the Magyars where they were crossed with other local dogs with the end goal being to breed highly skilled hunting dogs. Nobles and upper classes owned many hunting dogs which included setters and retrievers prior to the 1800's.
By the start of the 19th Century, hunting changed thanks to it being the beginning of the Industrial Age and a time when guns became popular hunting tools. This saw more people being able to hunt game other than the upper classes, but because they could not afford to own many dogs, they needed an able and versatile hunting dog to work alongside them retrieving all sorts of game over land and water. It was during this time that hunting dogs would also become companions and guard dogs with the Vizsla fitting the bill perfectly with the breed reigning supreme although at the time, it was still the upper classes who owned one. It was in the 20th Century that just about every household in Hungary owned a Vizsla and the breed became a national treasure.
During the two World Wars, the breed was almost wiped out altogether, but luckily some Vizslas were smuggled out of Hungary which saved these handsome dogs from vanishing off the face of the earth. Today, thanks to careful and selective breeding, the Vizsla has been developed into a highly skilled hunter that’s very capable of retrieving game both on water and land. They have also become a popular choice as family pets and companion dogs, thanks to their handsome looks and kind, loving natures.
Height at the withers: Males 56 – 64 cm, Females 53 – 61 cm
Average weight: Males 20 – 30 kg, Females 18 – 25 kg
The Hungarian Vizsla is a very handsome medium-sized dog that boasts a honey/gold coats and matching eyes. They are well-muscled and athletic looking always alert and ready to work when asked. They boast a very noble, lean and moderately wide head with a median line down their forehead and moderate stop. Their muzzle is quite square even though it tapers slightly to the tip. Noses are brown with well-developed nostrils and their jaw is powerful and strong.
A Vizsla's eyes are oval and medium in size being a darker shade of their coat which adds to their stunning and distinctive looks. Their ears are set quite low being moderately long, V-shaped and thin with them hanging close to a dog's cheeks. They boast a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are moderately long, muscular, strong and smooth with dog's holding them slightly arched.
Shoulders are muscular and well laid back and a dog's front legs are straight and well-muscled with dogs standing very upright. They have short, well-muscled level backs and high withers with a dog's chest being quite broad and deep with a prominent breast bone. Ribs are well sprung and their belly nicely tucked up. Their croup is well-muscled and they have well developed back legs with muscular thighs.
Their feet are round with dogs boasting tight, arched and short toes giving them a very cat-like appearance. Nails are strong, short and a tad darker than the colour of a dog's coat. Tails are quite thick which dogs carry slightly curved and which tapers to the tip. When a Vizsla moves they carry their tails horizontally.
When it comes to their coat, the Hungarian Vizsla boasts a straight, dense, short, smooth coat that has a natural sheen to it and which feels quite greasy to the touch. The accepted breed colour for Kennel Club registration is as follows:
Sometimes a Vizsla can have very small patches of white on their chests and feet which although acceptable as a breed standard are not very desirable.
When a Vizsla moves, they do so gracefully and elegantly covering a lot of ground with an easy stride. When trotting and galloping, the Hungarian Vizsla has a very lively and active gait.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform and work.
Male Vizslas should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that some Vizslas can be a little taller or shorter as well as slightly heavier or lighter than set out in their Kennel Club breed standard which is given as a guide only.
A well-bred Vizsla is a friendly, confident and outgoing dog and one that is social by nature whether they are around people or other dogs. Hungarian Vizslas are known to be gentle. lively and extremely affectionate dogs. They have a highly developed instinct to protect and were originally bred to point and retrieve game both on land and on water. As such, these dogs like nothing more than to be kept busy both physically and mentally for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and obedient dogs. They thrive on human company which means anyone wanting to share a home with a Vizsla must have the time to dedicate to their devoted canine companion.
Vizslas are a good choice for first time owners because not only are these dogs always eager to be around people, they are also quick learners and highly intelligent dogs which makes them easy to train. However, they are high energy dogs and as previously mentioned need to be given a ton of exercise that includes lots of mental stimulation. As such, anyone who shares a home with a Vizsla has to have the time needed to keep their canine companions happy.
If not given enough mental stimulation and the right amount of daily exercise, a Vizsla may well develop some serious behavioural issues which can be hard to correct and this includes being destructive around the home. They are not the best choice for people who lead more sedentary lives because these dogs are definitely not couch potatoes.
Their training and education must start early when puppies are at their most receptive to learning new things and puppies need to have been well socialised and introduced to new situations, people and other animals/dogs as soon as they have been fully vaccinated. Waiting until they are older can make it that much harder to train these lively, active dogs. Vizslas need to know their place in the pack and what is expected of them, bearing in mind that being so smart, these dogs are bound to tests the limits and boundaries from time to time.
These dogs do not like to be left on their own for long periods of time and suffer from separation anxiety which can lead to all sorts of other issues and this includes dogs injuring themselves which is why one member of the family usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house so they never spend too much time on their own.
Vizslas are a good choice for first time owners, providing they have the time to dedicate to a loyal and active dog that craves human company. They are the ideal family pet or companion for people who lead active outdoor lives because Vizslas thrive on doing something and being so intelligent, they excel at many canine sports.
The Hungarian Vizsla was bred to Hunt, Point and Retrieve which are traits that are deeply embedded in their psyche as such they will chase anything they see when they get the chance. However, the good news is that because they are such intelligent dogs and because in the right hands they are easy to train. In short, a Vizsla can be taught to behave around smaller animals although it is always wiser to keep a dog on the lead when walking them anywhere near livestock and wild animals just in case a dog decides to give chase.
Vizslas are fun-loving, confident dogs that enjoy playing interactive games and because they are so people-oriented, they love to entertain and be entertained which is why they are so good much fun to have around.
Hungarian Vizslas are known to be extremely versatile dogs, but they do not adapt well to apartment living. The reason being they are so active and energetic as well as being highly intelligent. As such they are far better suited to people who live in houses with large, secure back gardens and people who live in the country.
Vizslas are incredibly people-oriented and form strong ties with their families. As such, they really hate it when they are left on their own for long periods of time. If left to their own devices, an intelligent Vizsla would find ways to entertain themselves and because they suffer so badly from separation anxiety, Vizslas can be destructive around the home. Another favourite pass time of a bored Vizsla is to sniff out a treat and being so capable of opening cupboard doors would quickly empty out the contents out onto a kitchen floor until they find what they are looking for.
Some Vizslas are known to be "barkers", but this does not mean that an unhappy dog would let the world know they are unhappy about a situation. With this said, they are typically quieter dogs having been bred to Hunt, Point and Retrieve which is a task they are taught to do quietly, but this is not always the case. Vizslas that bark excessively should be gently taught not to when they are still young, but this must be done carefully because they are so sensitive by nature and are therefore easily hurt.
Most Vizslas have an affinity with water and enjoy swimming whenever they can. As such care must be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses, just in case they decide to leap in and then need rescuing. However, a lot of them hate even going outside when it is raining and it would be a mistake to force a Vizsla into the water if they don’t want to go because it would just end up frightening them.
Hungarian Vizslas are good watchdogs and will quickly let an owner know when there are strangers around or when something they don't like is going on around them. It is in their nature to protect the people they love and their property. However, they are not aggressive dogs by nature and would simply bark rather than show any aggression towards a stranger especially if they have been well bred and socialised.
Vizslas are hard-working, instinctive and inquisitive dogs by nature and they are ranked 25 out of 79 other breeds when it comes to intelligence. As such in the right hands and environment they are easy train, but their education must start early and it should to be consistent with dogs being handled with a firm, yet fair and gentle hand, bearing in mind that Vizslas are known to be an "in your face" breed in the nicest of ways.
They are always eager to please and they are extremely quick learners, but this means they can learn the good and the bad just as fast. The other thing to bear in mind is that Vizslas are inherent hunters with an inexhaustible exuberance for life and all this needs to be gently harnessed to bring the best out of these dogs. Vizslas are quite sensitive by nature and therefore do not respond well to any sort of heavy handed training or correction, but they do answer well to gentle, positive reinforcement training methods. The key to successfully training these dogs is to always be consistent and fair so that a dog understands what is expected of them. Vizslas must be given as much physical exercised as possible combined with a ton of mental stimulation to be truly happy well-balanced dogs.
With this in mind Hungarian Vizslas excel at all sorts of canine sports which includes the following:
Vizslas are known to get on well with children and they enjoy playing interactive games with them in the great outdoors. However, any interaction between children and dogs should be well supervised to make sure play time does not get too boisterous which could end up with a child getting knocked over, albeit by accident.
The Hungarian Vizsla is also known to get along with other dogs. However, they need to be introduced to cats early and if they have grown up with them, they generally accept their feline companion being around. Care must be taken when a Vizsla is around any small pets and animals, just in case.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Hungarian Vizsla is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Vizslas are known to be a healthy and robust breed and one that boasts a long lifespan for a dog of their size. However, like so many other pure breeds, they are known to suffer from a few health issues that are worth knowing about if you are planning to share your home with one of these handsome, intelligent and lively dogs. The health issues that appear to affect the breed the most include the following:
Hip scoring breeding dogs is essential because it is one of the only ways of reducing the risks of Vizsla puppies inheriting the condition from their parents although the tests are never by any means foolproof. The test would establish if a dog's hips are in good condition and if they are carriers of the genes responsible for hip dysplasia, but the test cannot determine other things which includes diet, body weight and environmental factors that might cause a dog to develop the condition. Dogs must be 1-year old to have the test and they should be tested annually with lower tests scores being the best. For the Hungarian Vizsla the breed mean score should be a total of 12.
One of the more common causes of seizures seen in dogs is a condition known as idiopathic epilepsy. It describes dogs that suffer recurring seizures where the underlying cause remains a mystery although the condition is thought to be one that has its origins in genetics. For the moment, the Animal Health Trust is carrying out studies on 12 different breeds with the Hungarian Vizsla being one of them.
The research being carried out needs as many DNA samples from affected and non-affected dogs which is the only way of finding out how the disorder is genetically passed on to offspring and to establish which gene is responsible. All responsible Vizsla breeders would take part by filling out a questionnaire found on the Animal Health Trust website. The test requires a simple cheek swab.
Polymyopathy is a muscle disorder that has been recently recognised as affecting Hungarian Vizslas which sees dogs having difficulty swallowing and regurgitating their food. Other signs of there being a problem are as follows:
Fortunately, cerebellar ataxia is a rare neurological condition, but it is one that can be inherited, but very recently some Vizslas in the UK have been reported as suffering from the disorder. The signs of there being something wrong with a dog include incoordination with dogs as young as 2 to 3 months old can be affected. Sadly, the prognosis is poor for dogs when they are diagnosed as suffering from cerebellar ataxia because no treatment or cure exists. As such it is kinder to put a dog with the condition to sleep rather than let them suffer unnecessarily.
The good news is that there is a DNA test available through the Animal Health Trust and no Vizsla should be used for breeding purposes having not been tested beforehand.
Alabama Rot is an extremely rare disorder where dogs develop skin lesions that look like normal wounds, but then dogs suffer total kidney failure which proves fatal. Vets find diagnosing the condition challenging which does not help although some dogs fight off the disorder and go on to live relatively normal lives having suffered a minimum amount of damage to their kidneys. With this said, Vizslas in the UK that have been diagnosed as suffering from Alabama Rot were successfully treated. If a Vizsla shows signs of developing a skin lesion on their legs and paws, they should see a vet as a matter of urgency.
Tail docking was made illegal in the UK with different laws applying to Scotland where there is now a total ban. However, in England and Wales, the law is slightly different in that certain Hunt, Point and Retrieve dogs can still have their tails docked and this includes the Hungarian Vizsla. However, the correct paperwork must be provided and the procedure can only be carried out by a qualified vet.
Vizsla puppies would have already been given their initial vaccinations, but it is then up to their new owners to ensure they are given their follow-up shots with the vaccination schedule being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets prefer to wait until a Vizsla is around 9 months old before spaying or neutering them because dogs are more mature before undergoing the procedures. With this said, other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never earlier unless for medical reasons.
Older Vizslas are more prone to putting on weight which is why a close eye should be kept on their calorie intake and the amount of daily physical exercise a dog is given. Some dogs when they are spayed or neutered may also put on weight after the procedures and again, it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline and to adjust their diet and daily exercise accordingly. Obesity can negatively impact a dog's overall health and wellbeing shortening their lives by several years thanks to the extra pressure that's put on their hearts and other vital internal organs.
Some Vizslas suffer from allergies and it's important to make a note of when things flare up because there are several things that can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. Finding out the cause can often prove challenging and it can take time so it's important to make a dog feel more comfortable in the meantime. The other thing that;s essential to bear in mind is that Vizslas are known to suffer from an often fatal condition known as Alabama Rot, so if a dog shows any signs of developing a skin condition, getting them to the vet as a matter of urgency is essential.
Other typical triggers for allergies in dogs are as follows:
Responsible breeders would always use the following tests to ensure their breeding dogs do not carry any of the genes responsible for certain hereditary health issues that are known to affect Hungarian Vizslas:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions for Kennel Club registered breeds, for the Hungarian Vizsla, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the breed.
It is mandatory for all KC Assured Breeders to have stud dogs tested using the following schemes and the Kennel Club strongly advises that other breeders follow suit:
The Kennel Club also strongly recommends that all breeders adhere to the following breeding advice:
As with any other breed, Vizslas need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Vizsla puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to arrange picking up a puppy when people in the home are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time it usually takes for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a Vizsla puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Vizsla puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned, puppies would have had their first vaccinations, but they would need their follow up shots a little later when they are a certain age. The vaccination schedule of puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Vizslas need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a Vizsla will start to have a greying muzzle, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Vizsla in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Vizslas need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older Vizslas is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Vizslas don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Vizslas boast short, dense coats which means they are low maintenance on the grooming front. With this said, a weekly groom is all it takes to keep their coats looking good. However, it's important to wipe a dog's coat dry when they get wet or have been out for a walk in the cold because the Vizsla does not have an undercoat and therefore they can quickly feel the cold and get a chill.
They do not need to be bathed that regularly because Vizslas don't have that doggy smell about them that other breeds tend to develop. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis to make sure they are dry and that no thorns or brambles are embedded in them. If too much moisture builds up in a dog's ear canal, it can lead to a yeast infection flaring up which can be really hard to treat.
The Hungarian Vizsla is a high energy dog and one that needs to be given a ton of daily exercise for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. Ideally, they need to anything from 1 to 2 hours every day and this needs to include lots of interactive games. Allowing a Vizsla to run around a secure back garden off their lead means they can really let off steam, but the fencing must be very secure to keep these dogs in.
These dogs also need to be given a tremendous amount of mental stimulation because they are highly intelligent dogs and if left to their own devices for longer periods of time, it can lead to them developing unwanted behaviours which includes being destructive around the home and they can suffer from separation anxiety.
If you get a Hungarian puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Vizsla puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 15 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Vizsla must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Vizsla can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Vizsla, you would need to pay anything from £600 to over £3000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Hungarian Vizsla in northern England would be £45.92 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £70.07 a month (quote as of September 2017). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Hungarian Vizsla and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Hungarian Vizsla would be between £110 to £140 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred pedigree Vizsla puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Vizslas are an extremely popular breed both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Vizslas there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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