With a lineage dating back to the 10th century, the vizsla originated as a companion for the Magyars, a nomadic hunting tribe that eventually settled in Hungary. Later, these dogs became popular with Hungarian nobility before almost becoming extinct after World War I. The breed was preserved by Hungarian immigrants, who brought their dogs to the United States during the 1930s. Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1960, the vizsla is known for his pointing abilities, loyalty and intelligence. With their high level of energy, these dogs make good companions for active owners.
Exercise your vizsla daily with a long, brisk walk on a leash or game of fetch for at least an hour. These dogs are a high-energy breed and without frequent exercise, they will become destructive. Run your vizsla off-leash in an enclosed space such as a yard with fences above 6 feet in height. The vizsla can jump lower fences and escape from your yard.
Set up an agility course in your yard and have your dog run through the obstacles. The Vizsla Club of America offers agility education classes and sponsors competitions regionally; join a local chapter to participate in these events. With their eagerness to please and intelligence, the vizsla excels in agility training and trials, which provide an outlet to exercise him while engaging his mind.
Give your vizsla chew toys to play with while he is alone. This breed loves to chew and will mouth and chew items such as shoes or furniture if not provided with proper outlets for this natural behavior. Occupy your dog with puzzle chew toys, that you can place treats inside of, while you are away.
Teach your dog basic obedience commands. The vizsla responds well to training and is eager to please his owner. Employ positive training methods such as a clicker and food rewards; negative punishments stress your sensitive vizsla and encourage aggression and shyness.
Enroll your dog in more advanced training with a local obedience class through an organization like the VCA to compete in AKC obedience trials. These not only help teach your dog to obey your commands but help exercise and socialize him to other dogs as well.
Dock your vizsla's tail if you plan to show him, as this is preferred by the AKC. Have a veterinarian perform this procedure which involves the surgical removal of the top one-third of the tail. The AKC also recommends removing the dog's dewclaws on all four feet to prevent him from becoming injured while running outdoors or during agility competitions.
Groom your vizsla every week with a soft natural-bristle brush to keep his coat shiny. These dogs have a short, easy-to-care-for coat that requires only occasional brushing or bathing. You can also use a dry dog shampoo to freshen the coat when necessary. Generally, the vizsla is a clean, low-odor dog.
Provide your vizsla with a comfortable bed to sleep in near you or your family members. Vizslas love human company and enjoy spending time with you -- a dog of this breed may even follow you everywhere around the house most of the time.
Visit a veterinarian to have your dog spayed or neutered if you don't plan on breeding your dog. Get your dog current on all of his required vaccinations, as recommended by your vet, and bring him in for regular exams. The vizsla is generally healthy, though he can suffer from hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, hemophilia, Von Willebrand's disease and epilepsy.
Feed your vizsla a high-quality dog food containing an animal-based protein as one of the primary ingredients. Avoid foods that list corn or grains as the first few ingredients in the food, as the vizsla is prone to hyperthyroidism; a high-quality food can help to prevent this, according to the VetInfo website.
The vizsla is sensitive to anesthesia. Ask your veterinarian to use a special anestheisa for your dog during surgery, such as isofluorine gas, recommends Ontario-based breeder Icon Vizslas. Some vizslas may also be sensitive to certain sulpha-based antibiotics as well.
Avoid exercising your vizsla for an hour before feeding and two hours after feeding to prevent him from developing bloat, a potentially fatal condition in medium to larger-size breeds like the vizsla.
If you are a hunter, the vizsla makes an excellent companion dog to help retrieve and point at prey, especially birds, according to "Vizslas: Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Grooming, Behavior, and Training."
Because of his keen sense of smell and history as a hunting dog, the vizsla makes a good choice for search and rescue dog training, according to PetPlace.com.
Keep your vizsla indoors when not exercising him. Left alone, these dogs are sensitive to the elements, especially cold weather, due to their short coats. They also enjoy digging excessively in the yard if left unattended, which may damage your garden.
Items You Will Need
- Agility course
- Chew toys
- Puzzle toys
- Dog treats
- Soft natural-bristle brush
- Dry dog shampoo
- Dog bed
- High-quality dog food
- VetInfo: Hypothyroidism Diet Recommendations for Dogs
- PetPlace.com: Vizsla
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Vizsla
- Dogster: Vizsla Dogs
- "Vizslas: Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Grooming, Behavior, and Training"; Chris C. Pinney
- Petfinder: Adopt a Vizsla
- PetMD: Vizsla
- PetPlace.com: Learn About Vizsla Diseases
- dog playing in snow vizsla image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com