The Breed History
The Maygars who originally bred the ancestors of these dogs a millennium ago were a Central European people. They eventually colonized Hungary. The Vizsla first entered the history record formally in the 1200s, and the name in Hungarian means "pointer". It is thought that breeds such as the German Shorthaired Pointer, Pointer, Transylvanian Hound and perhaps others contributed to the bloodlines. During the World Wars, these dogs were almost rendered extinct. A few were exported out of the country and served to perpetuate the breed. They were brought to North America in the 50's and were admitted to the AKC in 1960.
Breeding for Function
Hunting dogs of exceptional speed, agility, good nose and stealth, they were bred for close work for bird and upland game hunting, and for waterfowl retrieving. They perform well in obedience trials and agility.
Height at Withers: female 21-23" (53-58.5 cm), male 22-24" (56-61 cm)
Weight: females 40-55 lb (18-25 kg), males 45-60 lb (20.5-27 kg).
Coat: Their distinctively colored russet gold (golden rust) short dense glossy coat is the only color of the breed, though a narrow spectrum of shades is acceptable. Only very limited small white marking of chest or toes is acceptable. In Europe, a longhaired variety exists, and this haircoat is similar to the German Wirehaired Pointer coat. The longhaired variety is also recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club.
Longevity: 12-14 years.
Points of Conformation: These lithe dogs are medium-sized and regal in their carriage, the chiseled skull is of moderate conformation (mesocephalic), with moderate stop, square muzzle, brown nose, and long pendulous silky ears with very fine leather. Eyes should blend with the coat, but not be yellow. Moderate length and arch define the neck, and the back is short, and only towards the hind end does it gently round. A deep chest and well-sprung ribs meld into a lightly tucked loin. The tail is often docked to one-third length and is carried horizontally. The legs are very straight, the feet are small and very compact and the toes are well arched. Dewclaws usually are removed if present. Gait is easy, long-strided, very animated and elastic, and they are nimble-footed. They will single track at a fast trot.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Very active dogs, but they are also very gentle and affectionate and they make an excellent companion dog for an active outdoorsy family. They are considered highly trainable, but can be distracted more easily than some. They are naturally protective and crave close social contact with people. They are good alarm barkers and should be socialized early. They have very high exercise needs, and must be provided with regular exercise sessions to prevent boredom vices such as chewing. Avoid lines that are high strung or tend to dominance. Some dogs are prone to separation anxiety and thunderstorm anxiety. The coat needs minimal brushing, and shedding is low to average.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 7.1% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 2.2% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Vizslas have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.1 Fibrinogen (Factor I) Deficiency: A rare, autosomal recessive fibrinogen deficiency occurs in the breed, producing severe bleeding early in life.
Anxiety: In the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey, 8.22% were reported with Storm Anxiety, 5.35% with Separation Anxiety, and 4.71% with Noise Anxiety.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 7.9% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Allergies: Inhalant or food allergy. Presents with pruritis (itching) and pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots). Reported as a breed at increased risk in a Hungarian study. 6.99% were reported with Seasonal Allergies at a mean age of 1.9 years, and 4.79% with Food Allergies at a mean age of 1.7 years in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Demodicosis, Juvenile: Demodectic mange has an underlying immunodeficiency in its pathogenesis. Reported at a frequency of 6.27% in the the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Mast Cell Tumor (MCT): Skin tumors that produce histamine, causing inflammation and ulceration. They can reoccur locally or with distant metastasis. Reported at a frequency of 5.91% at a mean age of 6.4 years in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Arthritis: 3.95% of Vizslas are reported with arthritis at a mean age of 8.3 years in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Idiopathic Epilepsy: In Vizslas, epilepsy appears to be primarily (73% of affected dogs) a partial onset seizure disorder that can present with clinical signs of; limb tremors, staring, pupillary dilatation, or salivation without loss of consciousness. Average age of onset is 3 years. One study suggests a possible autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Control with anticonvulsant medication. Reported at a frequency of 3.07% at a mean age of 2.8 years in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Umbilical Hernia: Congenital opening of the body wall at the umbilicus. Should be closed surgically if large. Reported at a frequency of 3.03% in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 3.03% of Vizslas CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Hemangiosarcoma: Malignant cancer of red blood cells, usually involving the spleen, liver, heart, or bone marrow. Reported at a frequency of 2.91% at a mean age of 9.1 years in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Cataracts: Anterior, posterior, intermediate and punctate cataracts occur in the breed. Identified in 2.84% of Vizslas CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Vizsla with a cataract.
Heart Murmur: According to the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey, 1.84% of Vizsla are identified with a heart murmur at a mean age of 5.4 years. The valvular location of the murmur is not indicated.
Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma: Malignant cancer of lymphoid tissue. Can present as B-cell or T-cell (mycosis fungoides) type. Reported at a frequency of 1.84% at a mean age of 8.3 years in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Primary Glaucoma: The breed is predisposed to primary glaucoma due to goniodysplasia. Screen with gonioscopy and tonometry. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Cryptorchidism (Retained Testicles): Can be unilateral or bilateral. Reported at a frequency of 1.40% of males in the 2008 Vizsla Health Survey.
Corneal Dystrophy: Epithelial/stromal form of corneal opacities. Identified in 1.33% of Vizslas CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 1.14% of Vizslas CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Sebaceous Adenitis: A condition leading to destruction of the sebaceous glands. The focal form occurs in the Vizsla, with localized areas of alopecia, erythema, and excessive scaling. The head and extremities appear to be more consistently involved. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Autoimmune destruction of blood cells. IMHA is reported at an increased frequency versus other breeds. An Australian study showed a 10x odds ratio versus other breeds. There is a female preponderance.
Polymyositis: Affected Vizslas present with with clinical signs of dysphagia, regurgitation, excessive salvation, masticatory muscle atrophy and pain on opening the jaw between 1-9 years of age. The majority of affected dogs are male. The condition is poorly responsive to prednisone or azathioprine. Undetermined mode of inheritance.
Entropion, Factor VII Deficiency, Osteochondritis Dessicans of the Shoulder, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and von Willebrand's Disease are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Myasthenia Gravis and Masticatory Muscle Myositis: A 21-month-old, castrated male Vizsla was presented for pelvic limb weakness, difficulty opening his mouth, ptyalism, voice change, and urinary incontinence. Myasthenia gravis and masticatory myositis were diagnosed.
ACTH-independent Hyperadrenocorticism: A 6 year old Vizsla dog was diagnosed with ACTH-independent hyperadrenocorticism associated with meal-induced hypercortisolemia. Treatment was with trilostane.
Tests of Genotype: None
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Hip radiographs, CERF eye examination, and thyroid profile including autoantibodies (annually until 8 years). Optional tests include cardiac evaluation (with a specialist), elbow radiographs, skin biopsy for sebaceous adenitis, and von Willebrand's assay test. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend patella evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Magyar Vizsla (historical), Hungarian Vizsla, Hungarian Pointer, Drotszoro Magyar Vizsla (historical), Viszla
- Registries: AKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 44 (3,010 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Vizsla Club of America: vcaweb.org
Vizsla Canada: vizslacanada.ca
Hungarian Vizsla Club (UK): hungarianvizslaclub.org.uk
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