Families on the lookout for a new dog to add to their homes might have noticed a striking “new” breed that seems to be popping up in many commercials and advertisements: the all-red Hungarian Vizsla. Featuring floppy ears, expressive eyes, and that wonderful red color, the Vizsla has appeared in print ads for Benjamin Moore paints, Polo Ralph Lauren, Crown Royal Liquors, and Anthropologie, as well as several greeting cards for American Greeting Cards. But do they make good family pets?
Yes… for the right family! Vizslas are a great breed of dog for the active family, especially those with kids. They are very forgiving and tolerant and love to be in the middle of the action. They are most happy being close to their owners, and while they will tolerate being left alone while their family goes to work and school each day, a family needs to be sure to schedule in some play time at the end of day to avoid a bored, destructive dog. Young vizslas, in particular, are also voracious chewers because of their retrieving instinct, and need to be taught not to chew on inappropriate items.
Bred to be hunting dogs, with the best abilities of both pointers and retrievers, the vizsla loves to run and requires exercise every day (although when not exercising, vizslas love nothing better than laying around on the bed or couch taking a good long nap!). Some vizsla owners find a day or two at doggie day care each week, especially for their young puppies, is an excellent way to burn off some excess red dog energy and provide some much needed canine socialization.
Vizslas are also one of the most . They have an insatiable curiosity, often sticking their large red noses into places that they shouldn’t, so owners need to be vigilant about keeping an eye on things like the garbage and the pantry. The breed’s intelligence also makes the dog very trainable, and they are favorites of hunters and obedience trainers. Vizslas also great problem-solvers – one who decided he needed a drink of water when nobody was around figured out how to stand up on his hind legs and reach out with his paw turn on the bathroom faucet by himself (although the family has thus far been unsuccessful in teaching him to turn it off)!
With great personalities and striking good looks, vizslas are often the center of attention. Standing between 20″ and 25″ tall and weighing between 45 and 60 lbs., this is a medium dog breed. Their short hair is a distinctive rusty-red and shows off a muscular body. Most unusual is the vizsla’s eyes and nose color which blend with its hair color. Their tales are docked when young to two-thirds its length.
Vizslas were originally bred to be the companions and hunting dogs of the warlords and aristocracy in Hungary, although they came to the brink of extinction as a breed during the many years of war in middle Europe. Thankfully, a few Hungarian sportsmen were able to repopulate the breed and Vizslas were first brought to the United States from their native Hungary at the close of World War II. The Vizsla Club of America was founded to promote the breed in the US and soon after the American Kennel Club admitted the breed into its registry in 1960.
Finding a vizsla puppy to add to the family can be a challenge, as there are a fairly limited number of breeders – most of whom are very particular about whom they place their puppies with. Reputable breeders can be found through the Vizsla Club of America. Expect to be “interviewed” by most breeders or have to complete a questionnaire about your family and home. In addition, will cost anywhere between $800 and $1,000.
Although a high-cost and definitely a high-energy dog, the vizsla is an excellent addition to many a happy family. If you’re looking for a dog who’s smart, loyal, fun, and cute enough to be in commercials… then the vizsla just might be the dog for you!