The smartly built Vizsla, a gundog used to hunt hares and water birds in Hungary, became popular after World War II. Although its appearance is somewhat daunting, this dog is gentle and loving.History
This breed is sometimes called the Hungarian Pointer, the Magyar Vizsla, the Yellow Pointer, or (when it is being compared with its Wire-haired relative) the Smooth-coated Vizsla, or the Vizsla Korthaar. It may have been named after a settlement called Vizsla, which was located in the Danube Valley. Some authors, however, interpret the name as meaning ‘alert and responsive’. In function, this is one of the continental pointers that will also act as a retriever.
In many respects, this is the Hungarian counterpart of the popular German gun dog the Weimaraner, and some canine authorities have argued that it was created by crossing the Weimaraner with various Pointers as recently as the 20th century.
This view angers Hungarian dog experts, who believe that it is the Weimaraner that is the later of the two breeds. They insist that, long before the silvery-grey Weimaraner appeared, there were reliable records of the rust-gold Vizsla. According to them, the earliest of these records date from the 11th and 12th centuries, when the Vizsla played an important hunting role for the Magyars, who used it as an aid to falconry. And they point out that, in a 14th-century Hungarian codex, the Vienna Chronicle, the image of a Vizsla appears in the chapter dealing with the falconry exploits of the nobility.
There seems to be no reason to reject these claims, and the Vizsla can therefore be accepted as an indigenous Hungarian dog with an impressively long pedigree. Despite this, it did not always fare too well. Towards the end of the 19th century this ancient breed was in serious decline and few examples were left. To ascertain just how serious the position was, a careful survey of hunting establishments was undertaken and it was found that there were only about a dozen of the dogs remaining alive in the entire country. This discovery led to a salvage operation and a gradual rebuilding of the breed.
Some have argued that it was shortly after this, in the early part of the 20th century, that the few surviving Vizslas were mated with various pointers to strengthen the stock, and that the modern Vizsla is this ‘improved’ stock, rather than the original Magyar dog. If this is true, it could provide a reason for the heated argument between the Hungarian breeders and the others. It becomes a moot point as to whether an improved Vizsla is a true Vizsla. But so many other breeds have been enhanced by occasional crosses during their long histories that it seems churlish to call the modern Vizsla a ‘20th century’ breed, and its ancient status should therefore be accepted.
The breed was to suffer further setbacks as a result of the upheavals of World Wars I and II, with most of the Vizslas remaining in Hungary being destroyed. Fortunately, however, many refugees from the wars fled with their much loved dogs to neighbouring countries, where the scattered remnants of the breed managed to survive. Later, when peace was restored, it was possible to return enough of these to Hungary to safely re-establish the dog in its homeland.
Geographically, this breed’s traditional hunting activities have always been located on the hot central plains of Hungary, the game-rich region called the Puszta. This is the reason for the development of the dog’s very short coat, a feature which assists it when hunting in high temperatures. Hunting in cold winter weather is left to its thicker-coated, wire-haired cousin.Temperament
The breed is robust but not large and is a willing worker and companion. It does not train well under force or harsh measures. Puppies must be well socialized at an early age. The proper temperament in a puppy is alert and responsive, never shy or aggressive.
The Vizsla is the pointer breed that becomes strongly attached to its owners and shows a preference for a place near the hearth, rather than a bed in the kennels. It is a gentle, sensitive dog with an excellent disposition. Abroad, it has become a popular household companion, and an elegant show dog.Health
All breeding stock should be X-rayed at two years of age for hip dysplasia. There are some skin problems that exist in the breed. Stock should be purchased from blood lines that are free of epilepsy.Puppies and Training
The six to eight puppies per litter are born with adult coloration. The tail should be docked within a week of birth. Basic training should be started when puppies are two months old, general training at six months. Although this breed is extremely intelligent, some dogs find it difficult to be trained as a house pet. Early contact with people prevents puppies from becoming shy.