Complete Guide To The Vizsla: Health, Care, Feeding and More

The Hungarian-bred Vizsla is a versatile working dog and champion canine athlete. Intelligent, steadfast and focused, they’re hardworking and personable family companions.

As a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience, I’ve seen my fair share of Vizslas. I really recommend potential Vizsla owners to do their homework. This is a dog best served by a family who understands the needs of a Vizsla. To learn more, read further.

How Big Do Vizsla Get?

Male22″-24″ at the shoulder55-60 lbs
Female21″ – 23″ at the shoulder44-55 lbs

What Do Vizslas Look Like?

Also called the Hungarian Pointer, the Vizsla shares characteristics similar to the German Shorthaired Pointer and Weimaraner. Long and lean with thin, rounded ears hanging to their lower jawline, they are long-legged but muscular striking an intense, athletic pose.

Their short coats are smooth and dense in shades of golden rust. Self-colored, their hue extends to their eyes, nose, lips and pads, giving them a unique monochromatic look. Running in the field, they’re sleek, ghost-like blurs — docked tails give them a smooth line.

What Is The Personality Of A Vizsla?

Ranking 25th in intelligence among breeds, the Vizsla is a smart, sophisticated family dog. Gentle with kids, they’re easygoing and eager to please. Devoted but not demanding, they’re rarely aggressive and make better babysitters than guard dogs.

Well-mannered, Vizslas are fine apartment dogs — they’re not known to bark excessively. Trained, they’ll be happy in a city or country setting as long as they get enough attention and outdoor activity.

When they don’t receive enough activity or mental stimulation, these dogs can be worriers. That gets reflected in their anxiety levels and any associated destructive behaviors. These dogs are sensitive, deep-thinkers. Give them something to do or they’ll pace around the house incessantly.

How Much Grooming Do Vizslas Need?

The Vizsla’s short coat is virtually maintenance-free. Weekly brushing with a soft-bristled brush or grooming mitt removes dirt, tames shedding and distributes skin oils for a lustrous finish. Vizslas are not, however, hypoallergenic as a breed, shedding almost as much as other dogs.

Ever the outdoor enthusiasts, Vizslas will reliably roll in anything of olfactory interest, requiring an occasional bath. Lukewarm water and a pH-balanced dog shampoo are ideal for removing mud and curbing unpleasant odors — harsh soaps can dry their skin and worsen shedding.

With compact, cat-like feet, their nails should be kept short. Closely packed toes will suffer from even minor overgrowth. Trim them monthly with a clipper or rotary tool — sanding has an advantage over cutting, since it leaves no rough edges to catch outdoor debris.

Vizsla Puppy

How Much Exercise Does A Vizsla Need?

Energetic, they need considerable exercise for both body and mind. Games that make the most of their tracking ability are mentally stimulating, but they need room to run. Once their joints are developed enough to sustain consistent impact, they’re ideal jogging partners.

Ways To Exercise A Visla Include:

  • Frequent, LONG walks and hikes over varying terrain
  • Wearing a weighted vest (only for younger, healthier dogs with no orthopedic issues)
  • Dog Parks
  • Swimming
  • Field Trials
  • Agility
  • Other organized dog activities such as dock diving, obedience trials, and coursing ability tests (CAT).

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For Vizslas?

Best Puppy Food For Vizslas:

Best Adult Food For Vizslas:

If you have an adult Vizsla that is so active that is also has a tough time keeping weight on, consider keeping them on puppy food and even supplementing their diet with puppy canned food as well (stick with the brand you’re already using for the dry food as this will hopefully limit stomach upset).

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

How Long Do Vizslas Live?

12 – 14 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Do Vizslas Have?

Vizslas are a relatively healthy breed of dog. While any breed can have allergies and orthopedic issues, Vizslas are not at all more predisposed to these conditions than any other dog.

I mentioned the unique needs of the Vizsla above a few times and that may be just the dogs I tend to see where I live. Anxiety is a concern for these dogs when they don’t have enough to do. They just think too much otherwise. Dogs like Border Collies are also prone to this.

Where Can I Learn More About Vizslas?

Vizsla Club of America

AKC Breed Page

You can also check out a public event involving Vizslas to see them in action and hopefully talk to a few owners!

Where Can I Find A Vizsla?

Vizsla Club of America Breeder List – start on this page

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Looking for a rescue? Check out this list of local/regional Vizsla rescues maintained by the national club.

Interesting Facts About Vizslas

Vizslas have a story as distinctive as their appearance. Did you know?

• Vizslas Are Old Souls

The Vizsla breed dates back to the ancient Hungarian empire. Kept by the nomadic Magyar tribe, historians disagree on whether their ancestors were European or Asian.
Regardless, they played a critical role among people always on the move, so they were refined over generations for both speed and endurance.

Bred to hunt and move among horses, these all-purpose dogs were ready for any challenge. By the early 1800s, the modern Vizsla was fully evolved.

They Owe Their Color to a Recessive Gene

Vizslas get their stunning color from a single recessive gene — crossbred dogs typically lose the beautiful red hue. Variations in shades are common, but the AKC-approved “Golden Rust” color is the most valued.

• They’re Fast

Vizslas were selectively bred to keep up with a cavalry, so it’s no surprise they’re swift. Tied with Afghan Hounds for third on the list of fastest dogs, they’ve been clocked at 40 miles per hour. Only the Greyhound and Saluki are faster.

• They’re Not Fond of the Cold

It’s unusual for a hunting dog to shun the cold, but with little body fat and no undercoat, they’re quick to catch a chill. Their short coats are easy to groom but too thin to protect them adequately against sub-zero temperatures. A coat or sweater helps them manage winter weather.

• Vizslas Are Remarkable Swimmers

Despite a coat not well-suited for the cold, Vizslas love the water — their webbed feet make them powerful swimmers. For safety, keep them out of icy ponds, and have a towel handy to warm them when they’re done their dip.

They Barely Survived the World Wars

The Vizsla population was decimated in the late 19th century. Reports indicate fewer than a dozen purebreds were left alive.

From that minimum stock, enthusiasts rebuilt the breed, exporting the first examples to the US in the 1950s. Vizslas were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1960 as its 116th official breed.

• Vizslas are Premiere Service Dogs

Despite their instincts to chase, their incredible intelligence and trainability make them superb service dog candidates. They’ve served worldwide as seeing-eye and therapy dogs, working as drug sniffers with the Transportation Security Administration. Teams of Vizslas assisted with search and rescue operations at Ground Zero on 9/11.

• They’re AKC Champions

Becoming an AKC Triple Champion is no small feat, requiring three distinct titles — Champion of Record, a Field or Herding title and a championship in agility, obedience or tracking. Vizsla Kai became the first to do it in 1980.

Chartay upped the ante in 2000, becoming the first Vizsla, or dog of any breed, to become the AKC’s first Quintuple Champion, an accomplishment that took seven years.