Hungarian Vizsla Temperament: Versatile gun dog with gregarious character
Spectacularly coloured, the Hungarian Vizsla is a flash of the richest red when the sun hits their coat. But their coat is not the only eye-catching attribute of this versatile dog breed. They have a temperament to match their handsomeness, and the breed has many followers growing daily.
So has the breed caught your eye, and you're asking yourself if the Hungarian Vizsla would fit your lifestyle? The following blog post will dive deeper into the temperament of this alert, intelligent and energetic dog breed, so by the end, you have a good idea if this dog will make it into your Top 5 favourite dog list.
Spoiler alert: We might be biased, but think they will make the cut.
History of the Hungarian Vizsla
As the name suggests, the Hungarian Vizsla is native to Hungary. They were exclusively bred for Hungarian noblemen and, for a long time, seen as aristocratic dogs. Vizslas are one of the oldest gundog breeds in the world and accompany noblemen on their hunting quests.
The name "vizsla" has been found in manuscripts dating back to the 14th century and was accompanied by images of a similar-looking dog. Their true origin is unknown. Evidence shows that their ancestors arrived in Hungary with tribes in the late 9th century. Their depictions in the 14th century do look like Hungarian Vizsla and are often seen as their direct ancestors.
They're an HPR breed (Hunt, point, retrieve) like German Pointers, Weimaraners and Large Munsterlander. To be the most effective field worker, the Vizsla had to point, flush the birds, wait for the hunter to shoot and ultimately retrieve the shot bird. This makes them one of the most versatile dog breeds around. As they needed to hunt with people in tandem, they have a very people-orientated temperament and are eager to please.
The colour of a Vizsla can have different shades of russet gold. The Shorthaired Vizsla and the Wirehaired Vizsla are recognised as two separate breeds as the coat variability is due to the dominance of different genes. A Vizsla doesn't have the gene for black colour, so you will never encounter a black purebred Vizsla.
This dog was close to extinction a few times in its breeding history. Due to the breed being reserved for aristocrats only, many hunters chose Setters and German Pointers as their dogs, and soon the number of purebred Vizslas reduced dramatically. A group of breeders searched the land for Vizslas, and they were able to save the breed.
Another close-to-extinction event was WWII. When the Germans and Russians came to Hungary, aristocratic owners had to suffer the consequences, and so did the Hungarian Vizsla. The latter has always been closely linked to the upper class.
A dozen Hungarian Vizslas were left after the devastating war. Only dedication, exports abroad and breeding programs saved this beautiful breed from extinction.
Compared with previous years, a lot of Vizslas were registered in 2021. 2022 saw a drop in registrations back to normal levels. 3,110 Hungarian Vizslas were registered in 2022.
Source: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/2402/quarterly-breed-stats-gundogs.pdf Updated March 2023
What is it like to live with a Hungarian Vizsla?
They will keep you busy.
The Hungarian Vizsla is a faithful sporting dog, bred to follow a horse for hours and still fulfilling its duty energetically. They embody intelligence, beauty and grace whilst also having a very people-orientated temperament. Even working in the field, they will constantly check where you are while still fulfilling their job.
They have a very demanding activity level. Vizslas love to go for hikes, chase after birds and jump into the water.
You have found the perfect companion dog if you're a dedicated jogger or love riding a bike outside. These dogs need mental and physical stimulation daily; otherwise, you might end up with a dog with destructive behaviour tendencies. 2 hours of mental and physical stimulation are recommended. Vizslas love to retrieve, so they automatically tend to chew on things and are mouthy.
Vizslas love to put their nose to work and sniff everything. Switching up routes for your daily walks will stimulate them, and they will love the versatility of smelling something new.
This dog is highly intelligent and easy to train. However, an untrained Vizsla will be a nightmare in your house. They will also pick out your most expensive or favourite thing and chew it up. For this reason, firm and consistent training, as well as physical stimulation, is a must.
They don't tend to be a dominant breed, but they can sometimes question your instructions or display selective hearing if they pick up an enticing scent. Again, patience and consistency will be the key to success. Compared with other dog breeds, they tend to have an above-average learning ability and respond best to positive reinforcement training techniques.
Vizsla excel in agility training. They are naturally athletic, and swift and display a high trainability. Their playfulness lasts many years, and they will happily practice any activity with you.
Vizslas are very demonstrative in their affection. Although they love to be busy and have a job, their favourite place is near you or on you. Therefore, positive experiences with you will make them thrive.
On the other hand, Vizslas are sensitive, and harshness can make them timid and anxious. They don't like being separated from their human companion, so including them in your activities is crucial. If this is not possible, the Vizsla might be the wrong choice for you.
Vizslas tend to be shy in social situations with people they don't know due to their sensitive nature. So early socialisation will benefit their development. Put them into strange situations with people of different ages, so they learn to behave accordingly and build confidence.
Overall, Vizslas are good with people and bond exceptionally closely. Socialisation will ensure your dog grows into a well-rounded canine.
Let's now have a look at some common Hungarian Vizsla questions.
Are Hungarian Vizslas good family dogs?
Hungarian Vizslas are generally excellent family dogs. Their energy can be exuberant with smaller children, and they can accidentally knock one of their feet. Socialisation can do wonders. They can learn to be gentle as they're very trainable dogs. Their loyal, lovable and easy-going temperament makes them perfect dogs for an active family, and they portray a lot of patience with children. If you give them everything they need, they will return the love tenfold.
Can Hungarian Vizslas be left alone?
The Hungarian Vizsla has a very people-orientated and sensitive temperament. Therefore, it is not recommended to leave them alone for extended periods. They are not very independent and love to be always with you. If you need to leave the house for longer than 2 hours, you should seriously reconsider the Vizsla as a choice. A Vizsla who lacks attention will likely become destructive and unhappy in the house.
What's the difference between a Weimaraner and a Vizsla?
Novice dog enthusiasts sometimes think the Viszla is just a silver-grey Weimaraner or the Weimaraner a rust-coloured Vizsla. While they look similar due to their floppy ears, long muzzles and athletic build, they are separate breeds. Temperament-wise, the Vizsla and Weimaraner a very similar as they were bred for the same purpose as an HPR breed.
A Weimaraner will only be different shades of grey, whilst the Vizsla will always bear the shades of red and rust. Weimaraners are a bit taller, and their ears sit higher on their skull. The Vizsla is known to be a Velcro dog, always sticking with you like glue and eager to please.
Hungarian Vizsla Temperament in a nutshell
Considered one of the most energetic and people-orientated breeds
Vizslas can be a bit timid towards people they don't know
They need more than 2 hours of mental and physical stimulation a day
Can be destructive if they are left alone for several hours a day
Above-average trainability but requires dedication by the owner
Potential health issues in the Vizsla breed
As a new owner, you should be prepared to pay medical expenses associated with the breed. Therefore, always opt for comprehensive insurance.
As with many purebred dogs, a Hungarian Vizsla can be prone to specific health conditions. Of course, not all Vizslas will display health problems, but it's crucial to be aware of them and spot problems early.
The first step is to choose a reputable breeder who has done all health testing. Be aware that the breeder shouldn't breed a dog younger than two years. Health clearances aren't issued before the maturity of the dog.
Hip and Elbow dysplasia
Canine Epilepsy: A brain disorder that can cause seizures
Von Willebrand's: An inherited blood clotting disorder can lead to excessive bleeding. The blood can not clot properly.
Eye problems: Like canine cataracts or canine entropion
Keep your dog healthy with plenty of exercises, high-quality nutrition, and vaccinations and reduce plastic and toxic intake through toys and accessories. Choose natural plant-based products to improve their quality of life and reduce your carbon pawprint.