Vizsla Dog Breed Facts, Traits, Characteristics & Pictures

Active Hungarian Vizsla dog running outdoors with a wooden stick in its mouth

If you have heard of Vizsla dogs but do not have intimate knowledge of this dog breed’s unique characteristics, you are not alone. Although Vizsla dogs are currently enjoying a steady climb to popularity and are now ranked 31 out of 193 dog breeds arranged according to popularity, many people have little to no knowledge of the dog’s characteristics, distinctive traits, capabilities, and health concerns.

The Hungarian Vizsla might look deceptively like any other hound, but they are considered a true pure-bred aristocratic breed of nomadic origin. Although they are mostly known for their activeness, fierce loyalty, and friendly disposition, Vizsla dogs have much more to offer. If all you know about Vizsla dogs is that they are great companions, we have brought a list of other traits, facts, and characteristics of these amazingly mild-mannered doggos.

Beautiful Vizsla dog standing in water

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History of Vizsla Dogs

Often referred to as Velcro Vizslas or Magyar Vizsla, Vizslas can be traced far back to early Hungarian history. Although most of the data is lost, and the origin of this breed cannot be fully traced from one location to the other, the fact remains that Vizslas are native to Hungary, where they were bred by and affiliated with members of the Magyar tribe.

Vizslas were initially bred to hunt dogs, particularly Hungarian pointers and retrievers. Their masters were nomads and hunters who poached game and recruited the Vizslas’ commendable visual and olfactory senses in their hunting. Because they were hunting dogs, Vizslas were never from their masters, often shadowing their steps. This is probably where the term ‘Velcro’ becomes attached to the breed’s name.

The earliest mention of the Vizsla can be traced as far back as 1000 years ago in Hungary before it got lost in ancient European history. The ancestors of the present Vizsla breed were considered among the best hunting and sporting dogs. They were created from two breeds which are the Transylvanian hound and the now-extinct Turkish yellow dog.

Although evolution has changed Vizslas so that the features of the current vizslas are no longer identical to those of their ancestors, Vizslas have remained purebred throughout their existence. Remaining a pure breed is a feat that not every dog breed survived.

Other than being praised as one of the best hunting dogs in ancient Hungary, Vizsla dogs were great companions, often to aristocrats, barons, and warlords. Due to the breeds’ elite features and aristocratic bearings, they were jealously guarded to protect their bloodline and further sharpen their hunting ability.

Although the Hungarian Vizsla almost became extinct after World War II, they were saved, survived, and bred once again. Now, Vizsla dogs thrive, not as primary hunting dogs but as companions outside of Hungary in places like Czechoslovakia, Romania, Italy, and the United States, among other places.

Vizsla dogs have been bred with other breeds like the German Shorthaired Pointer but still exist as significantly pure-bred dogs. Vizsla dogs have risen to prominence over the years but still, somehow remain one of the least talked-about dog breeds. This is a shame because, with their aristocratic bearing and distinguished characteristics, Vizslas deserve all the recognition and love they can get.

What Do Vizsla Dogs Look Like?

The Vizsla dog is an elegant pooch that looks like any other hound, thanks to the genes of their ancestors. Because of their similarities with other hounds, it is easy to mistake a Vizsla for other hound breeds if you do not know what physiological traits to look out for.

A Vizsla is a robust, medium-sized dog with a lean build. They are muscular, with a chiseled dome-shaped head and tapering muzzle contributing to their lean, sleek, and light-footed look. With their body structure, Vizslas can be compared to a smaller version of Weimaraners.

A Vizsla’s unique coat color is one of the most defining features that create its overall elegant look. Vizslas generally have dense and short rusty-gold colored coats with no undercoat. However, their coat color can divert from the original golden rust color and range from golden to red golden, rust-colored, and even sandy yellow.

Sometimes, a vizsla dog would even have white markings, mainly in the chest area. A Vizsla’s face is framed by medium-length or long silky ears that hang downward. Its eyes often match the color of its coat but can sometimes be green, grey, or blue, especially at a younger age.

Unlike breeds like French Bulldogs and Labrador Retrievers, Vizsla necks do not have dewlaps. Their front legs are straight and cat-like, with a long and sleek tail that can be docked. Essentially, the Vizsla boasts of good looks with an elegant and muscular build that facilitates its high-energy lifestyle. 

Characteristics of Vizsla Dogs

Are you thinking of adopting a Vizsla dog? While they are undoubtedly a distinguished dog breed, Vizslas, like any other dog breed, have certain traits and characteristics you need to be aware of. Knowing what a Vizsla’s unique traits and quirks are will not only help you know if they are the perfect furry companion for you but will also help you realize if you can take care of this breed.

Some characteristics of Vizsla dogs include:

1. High Energy Levels

They thrive in settings that offer lots of activities to help them burn their high energy levels. This is unsurprising as this breed was created to be a significant part of hunting teams. Vizslas are strong dogs with lean and athletic frames designed to offer maximum speed and stamina.

Thanks to its ancestral hunting history, this highly energetic Hungarian breed is, by default, created to be preoccupied with a high level of physical activity. From running around to playing fetch or chasing squirrels, Vizsla dogs always find a way to be active and remain preoccupied and fit.

While their high energy levels are not necessarily a bad trait, it is essential to note that Vizsla dogs do not make excellent kennel pets. They will find it difficult to flourish in areas that keep them constrained with little to no activities. However, if you constantly find yourself engaging in fun activities like running, going on long walks, or enjoying nature on camping trips, Vizsla dogs are the perfect companions for you.

If you plan to own a Vizsla dog, be prepared to have lots of space and time to dedicate to high-energy exercises.

2. Strong Bonds

If you plan on getting a Vizsla dog, you might as well throw your privacy out the window. Bathroom trip? You will always have your furry friend tag along with you. Meditation? You better make room for your Vizsla dog. Vizslas are fondly nicknamed Velcro dogs, but this is more than just a name.

For Vizslas, being a velcro dog is a significant part of their personality. Vizsla dogs are affectionate pets. They offer great companionship, fierce loyalty, and a bond so strong that they can’t seem to fathom a life without you in it.

The strong bonds they form with their family- and even other family pets- means you can expect them to become protective of you. While Vizsla dogs are not necessarily violent, at least when appropriately raised and socialized, their over-protection and loyalty mean they always want to be with their family.

Vizsla dogs love to show emotions and love to receive affection in return. They hate to be left alone, don’t fare well in situations that require them to be lonely, and can suffer from anxiety if away from their owners for too long.

Two puppies drinking a water. Two months old viszla mixed breed puppies in the garden

3. Kid-Friendly

Vizsla dogs may be built to look tough, but they look quite deceiving. Underneath all those layers of elegant muscle build, Vizsla dogs boast a heart of gold and softness towards children, making them great family dogs. While many aggressive dog breeds see children as competition or simply can’t stand the constant crying or pulling, vizsla dogs love to be around kids.

You can trust your Vizsla dog to extend the loyalty and affection it shows you to your children.  Since Vizsla dogs love to be touched and played with, they will enjoy every bit of the attention they get from your little ones. They fit nicely in families and will undoubtedly make your family feel complete.

4. Long Lifespan

Since a medium dog’s average lifespan ranges between 10 to 13 years, it is safe to say that Vizsla dogs have an excellent lifespan. The average Vizsla dog has a lifespan of between 11 to 15 years. While this is nowhere near our wish to own a dog that lives forever, you can rest assured that you will enjoy a significant number of years with a Vizsla dog. With proper food and exercise, your Vizsla will live a long and healthy life.

5. Multi-talented

Vizsla dogs are highly intelligent and trainable animals. They are multi-talented and can quickly pick up new skills, given you have the patience and use creative reward-based training processes. It is essential to note that thanks to their high energy, Vizslas can get easily distracted. However, this shouldn’t be a problem as the breed’s enthusiasm levels run as high as their energy. All you need to do is their attention once again and sustain it for as long as you can.

6. Dog-Friendly

Vizslas are social dogs and extend their friendliness from humans to other dogs. They boast of excellent canine communication skills that enable them to avoid confrontation with other dogs Although this trait is innate, it is vital to begin socializing your Vizsla with other dogs from a tender age. This will help you avoid hostility and teach them to learn to accept or at least tolerate other dogs.

7. Low Shedding

One thing many dog owners dread is getting dog hair all over the house. If this bothers you, a Vizsla isn’t a perfect fit for your home. However, thanks to their short and dense coat, you can expect less shedding than you will from hairier dogs. They are easier to groom, will require fewer grooming products, and essentially require less effort to remain clean.

If you require a dog with limited shedding, especially if you suffer allergies, you should consider adopting a Vizsla dog.

8. Health Concerns

Vizsla dogs are a relatively healthy breed, especially since they are wired to be active dogs their whole life. However, like any other dog breed, they can be susceptible to certain illnesses. Some health problems and concerns you should look out for in your Vizsla include:

  • Canine Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Ear infections
  • Eye disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Skin problems

To ensure your Vizsla stays healthy, keep it active, look for signs of common dog illnesses, and provide suitable high-quality feed. It will also help if your dog comes from a reputable breeder with high breed standards and healthy parents.

Cons of Owning a Vizsla Dog

As with any other breed, Owning a Vizsla dog is not a bed of roses. This breed has unique requirements that must be met to flourish in its environment. An inability to meet these needs can cause problems for you and your pet. Some cons of the Vizsla breed include:

  • They are not great pets for people who work away from home for long periods at a stretch. When left unattended to and without company, Vizsla dogs experience separation anxiety which might cause them to get destructive.
  • If you are not a particularly active person, owning a Vizsla can get tiring. Although they are great companions, Vizsla dogs should not be considered a dog breed for seniors or people who travel a lot and cannot afford to spend lots of time outside.
  • Although they have moderate trainability, Vizsla dogs are not the easiest dog breed to train. Thanks to their limitless energy, they can easily be distracted and stubborn. If you plan to own a Vizsla, ensure you stock up on lots of treats and patience, you are going to need them during your dog training sessions.
  • Without proper socialization, Vizsla dogs can get extremely timid.
  • Vizslas are mouthy dogs and infamous mouthers. They will chew and nibble on anything if not controlled- your hands, shoes, and even furniture. To help them cope, you will need interesting toys they can gnaw on for constant oral and mental stimulation.
  • Vizslas do not thrive in cold weather

Facts About Vizsla Dogs

Vizsla dogs are an undoubtedly talented and intelligent breed. Here are some fun facts about this distinguished and aristocratic dog breed.

  • Vizsla dogs are considered one of the oldest hunting dog breeds in the world.
  • They were reserved for royalty and were referred to as the gift of Kings.
  • Vizsla dogs were employed as messengers during World War II.
  • A Vizla’s eye color might change as it ages. This is evident in Vizsla puppies born with blue or green eyes.
  • The American Kennel Club recognized the Vizsla dog breed in 1960. The breed became the 115th breed to be recognized by AKC.
  • Vizsla dogs were part of a search, rescue, and recovery team during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
  • Vizslas are one of the fastest dogs and can run as fast as 40MPH.

Is The Vizsla Right For You?

Knowing if the Vizsla is suitable for you, your family, and your home is an entirely different ballgame from simply wanting to own one. Ensuring you are an excellent match for owning a Vizsla is the first step in ensuring you and your dog enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and healthy relationship.

If you are:

  • Active and outdoorsy
  • If you have a large family that can keep your Vizsla company when you are away from home
  • Noisy barks don’t bother you
  • You are not a first-time pet owner (if you are and you have the patience necessary to handle a Vizsla, no problem)

Then you and a Vizsla dog will make a great team. However, if you prefer easier-to-handle dogs with a low activity level or dogs with low separation anxiety (like Chow Chows or Scottish Terriers), then Vizslas may not be the best breed for you.

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Jonas Muthoni