The majestic and attractive Vizsla is a historic Eastern European dog breed. A companion to humans for centuries, the Vizsla is renowned for its hunting, tracking, and herding skills. The dog’s sleek and strong appearance also makes the Vizsla a popular show dog and families in both Europe and North America love the dog for its attentive nature and training ability.
The history of the Vizsla begins with the nomadic Eastern European tribe, the Magyars. The Magyars for the most part, are the ancestors of modern day Hungarians and migrated and/or were driven from their original homeland in the eastern Ural Mountains to the Carpathian Mountain Basin about where present day Hungary is now back in the 800s. It is believed that these dogs were brought with them, making the Vizsla a very ancient breed indeed. Although the Vizsla doesn’t show up in written history until the 10th century, pictographs going back to ancient times depict a dog looking much like the modern day Vizsla alongside Margyar nobles and are shown hunting and involved in falconry. The breed was able to maintain its lineage because the Vizslas could only be owned by Hungarian royalty and noble land owners, thereby keeping the breeding very selective. The breed was little known outside of this area until the 20th century.
Unfortunately, World War II and the invasion of Russia into Hungary decimated the breed and only a few dogs survived, mostly by war refugees who took their dogs with them as they settled in neighboring regions such as Czech, Romania and even Italy. From these dogs, the breed slowly revived.
The first Vizslas entered the US on October 7, 1950, when Sari and her two 2-month old puppies, a boy named Tito and a girl named Shasta, arrived. Sari’s owner, Frank J. Tallman, began the first Vizsla club in 1953 and by 1958 there were some 650 Vizslas in the US. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1960.
The Vizsla is a striking dog with a reddish-brown coat and has the physical features of both pointers and retrievers. Bred as a hunter and prey retriever the Vizsla is muscular and athletic. However, the breed’s medium-size and short coat makes the dog a great family companion as well. The Vizsla is “self-colored” meaning the dog’s nose, toes, eyes, lips and foot pads match the color of its coat. The AKC says the Vizsla’s temperament is good-natured, lively and affectionate. Vizslas are active dogs and need lots of exercise and while the dog’s coat does shed, because the hair is short, coats are easy to groom and maintain.
Like all pure-bred dogs, it is important to research the breed and breeders for anyone considering adopting a Vizsla. While strong and majestic, Vizslas tend to get very attached to their pet parents and can develop separation anxiety. Like most hunting dogs, Vizslas require a lot of physical exercise and attention. If left alone for long periods of time, they can develop negative behaviors, such as destructive chewing, to occupy their time. However, if given lots of love, attention and exercise, Vizslas will become faithful and loving family pets. Learn more about the breed and find reputable breeders and Vizsla rescue groups from the Vizsla Club of America.
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