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The Vizsla

Vizslas Hungarian is a dog breed originating in Hungary. The Hungarian or Magyar Vizsla are elite sporting dogs and loyal companions, in addition to being the smallest of the all-round pointer-retriever breeds. The Vizsla's medium size is one of the breed's most appealing characteristics as a hunter of fowl and upland game, and through the centuries the Vizsla has held a unique position for a sporting dog – that of household companion and family dog.

The Vizsla is a natural hunter endowed with an excellent nose and an outstanding trainability. Although they are lively, gentle mannered, demonstrably affectionate and sensitive, they are also fearless and possessed of a well-developed protective instinct.

Description

Appearance
 
Profile of a 5-month-old Vizsla with the AKC standard "golden rust" coat.The Vizsla is a medium-sized short-coated hunting dog of distinguished appearance and bearing.[2] Robust but rather lightly built, they are lean dogs, have defined muscles, and are observed to share similar physical characteristics with the Weimaraner, the grey-blue dogs, and are similar in size.

Various breeds are often mistaken for Vizslas, and Vizslas are often mistaken for other breeds. Redbone Coonhounds, Weimaraners and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are some of the most commonly confused breeds. The body structure of a Vizsla is very similar in appearance to a Weimaranar and Redbone Coonhound, though the Vizsla is typically leaner with more defined musculature. Weimaranars 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 - or at least not a pure Vizsla. Eyes and nails should also blend with coat color.


Color and coats
 
An adult Vizsla with a solid rust coat.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 faulty. Small areas of white on the fore-chest and on the toes 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. This lack of undercoat makes the Vizsla susceptible to the cold so it must not be kept in a kennel or left outside for extended periods of time. They are self-cleaning dogs and only need to be bathed infrequently, 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. Lack of undercoat also means Vizslas are less likely to cause allergic reactions than many breeds.

Tail
The breed standard calls for the tail to be docked to two-thirds of its original length. Although the remainder of the tail is strong, the third docked is thin and whip-like and is open to damage in the field. The Vizsla holds its tail horizontal to the ground and wags it vigorously while charging through rough scrub and undergrowth. Without docking, the unprotected tip can suffer splitting and bleeding. Once damaged, the tail is extremely difficult to heal, sometimes requiring amputation later in life when the dog must be placed under general anaesthetic causing undue stress and pain.

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.

With the practice of docking banned in some localities, Vizsla clubs and advocacy groups routinely maintain information on tail injuries to dogs that were not docked.


Size
The Vizsla is a medium-sized dog, and fanciers feel that large dogs are undesirable. The average height and weight:

Males
Height: 22–25 inches (56–63 cm)
Weight: 45–66 pounds (20–30 kg)
Females
Height: 21–24 in (53–61 cm)
Weight: 40–55 lb (18–25 kg)

Temperament
 
Excellent example of the AKC breed standard "golden rust" coat.Vizslas are very high energy, gentle-mannered, loyal, caring, and highly affectionate. They quickly form close bonds with their owners, including children. Often they are referred to as "velcro" dogs because of their loyalty and affection. They are quiet dogs, only barking if necessary or provoked. Sometimes when these dogs feel neglected or want something, they will cry.

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. Vizslas are excellent swimmers and often swim in pools if one is available. Like all gun dogs, Vizslas require a good deal of exercise to remain healthy and happy. They require a minimum of thirty minutes to an hour of exercise twice daily, and preferably more; a large off-leash area is optimal.

The Vizsla thrives on attention, exercise, and interaction. It is highly intelligent, and enjoys being challenged and stimulated, both mentally and physically. Vizslas that do not get enough attention and exercise can easily become destructive or hyperactive. Under-stimulated Vizslas may also become depressed or engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviours such as persistent licking. Vizslas are very gentle dogs that are great around children. The Vizsla wants to be close to its owner as much of the time as possible. Many Vizslas will sleep in bed with their owners if allowed, burrowing under the covers.


Health
The life expectancy of the Vizsla is 12–15 years. The Vizsla is considered to be a robust dog, but some localized breeding programs using a small number of dogs have led to heritable illnesses in some offspring, including:

Hip dysplasia is very rare but remotely possible.Responsible breeders do not select dogs for breeding if they have such inherent problems.

Vizslas can also be prone to skin and food allergies.

History
The Vizsla is mentioned in the very early times in Hungarian history. It is known that the ancestors of the present Vizsla were the trusted and favorite hunting dogs of the Magyar tribes who lived in the Carpathian basin in the Eighth Century. Primitive stone etchings over a thousand years old show the Magyar hunter with his falcon and his Vizsla.

The first written reference to Vizsla dog breed has been recorded in the Illustrated Vienna Chronicle prepared on order of King Lajos the Great (Louis the Great) by the Carmelite Friars in 1357.

Companion dogs of the early warlords and barons, Vizsla blood was preserved pure for centuries by the land-owning aristocracy who guarded them jealously and continued to develop the hunting ability of these "yellow-pointers". Records of letters and writings show the high esteem in which the Vizsla was held.

The Vizsla survived the Turkish occupation (1526-1696), the Hungarian Civil War (1848-49), World War I, World War II and the Russian Occupation. However, Vizslas faced and survived several near-extinctions in their history, including being overrun by English Pointers and German Shorthair Pointers in the 1800s and again to near-extinction after World War II. A careful search of Hungary and a poll of Hungarian sportsmen revealed only about a dozen Vizslas of the true type still alive in the country. From that minimum stock, the breed rose to prominence once again. The various "strains" of the Vizsla have become somewhat distinctive as individuals bred stock that suited their hunting style. The Austria-Hungary Empire extended its influence over a large area for many years, but with frequent border changes Hungary was reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. As a result, owners of vizslas suddenly found themselves living in Czech Rep., Slovak Rep., Romania, the former Yugoslavia, Italy, Germany, Poland or Ukraine.

The Vizsla started arriving in the United States at the close of World War II. As interest in and devotion to the breed began to increase, owners formed the Vizsla Club of America in order to gain AKC recognition. As a result of registering foundation stock with the AKC, Vizsla owners were able to obtain official recognition on November 25, 1960, as the Vizsla became the 115th breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The Vizsla was used in development of other breeds, most notably the Weimaraner, Wire-haired Vizsla and German Shorthair Pointer breeds. There is much conjecture about those same breeds, along with other pointer breeds, being used to reestablish the Vizsla breed at the end of 19th century. In either case the striking resemblance among the three breeds is indisputable.

 
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