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.
Various breeds are often mistaken for Vizslas, and Vizslas are often mistaken for other breeds. Redbone Coonhounds, Weimaraners and Rhodesian Ridgebacksare some of the most commonly confused breeds. The body structure of a Vizsla is very similar in appearance to a Weimaraner and a Redbone Coonhound, though the Vizsla is typically leaner with a more defined musculature. Weimaraners 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, light pink, or another color nose is an indication of another breed. A Vizsla’s eye and nail color should also blend with the coat color.
The American breed standard calls for the tail to be docked to two-thirds of its original length. Breed standards in countries where docking is banned do not require this (UK breed standard, for example). The Vizsla holds its tail horizontal to the ground and wags it vigorously while charging through rough scrub and undergrowth.
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.
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 considered faults and a disqualification. Small areas of white on the fore-chest and on the neck, tail 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. They are self-cleaning dogs and infrequently need to be bathed, if ever, 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.
Vizslas are very high energy, gentle-mannered, loyal, caring, and highly affectionate. They quickly form close bonds with their owners, children and even strangers. Often they are referred to as “velcro” dogs because of their loyalty and affection. Vizslas will cry or whine when they feel neglected or are otherwise unhappy. Some will bark at strangers if they feel that they are invading the “pack” space. They are very good guard dogs when trained.
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. However the owner must show quiet authority in training, otherwise the dog is likely to take over the training session.
Vizslas are excellent swimmers. Some may need a little motivation to get in the water but as they get used to it they will love it. Like all hunting dogs, Vizslas require a great deal of exercise to remain healthy and happy.
The Vizsla thrives on attention, exercise, and interaction. With proper socialization and training, Vizslas are very gentle dogs that are great around children. The Vizsla wants to be close to its owner as much as possible. Many Vizslas will sleep in bed with their owners and, if allowed, burrow under the covers. Vizslas have been compared to horses in their tendency to “trot” rather than run and some “wiggle” their backsides as they walk.
The Vizsla is considered to be a robust dog, but some localized breeding programs using a small number of dogs have led to heritable illnessses in some offspring, including :
– Hip dysplasia is very rare but remotely possible.
– Canine Epilepsy
– Cancer (Lipoma, Mast Cell Tumors, Hemangiosarcoma, Lymphoma)
– Sebaceous adenitis
Responsible breeders do not select dogs for breeding if they have such inherent problems.