Vizsla owners: would you recommend the breed?

A friend and her husband have four young children, and are considering adopting a Vizsla puppy after Christmas (their previous family dog passed away a little over a year ago, and they’re feeling ready for another one). She has done some research and most of what she hears/reads says that they’re smart, affectionate, trainable dogs who make great additions to active families – if they’re exercised properly. But she just heard from another friend who said “no way, no how, run in the other direction,” and now she’s wondering.

Testimonials? Warnings? :slight_smile:

We wholeheartedly love our Vizsla. They’re sweet dogs with wonderful personalities. But they do need their exercise, every day. I recommend them enthusiastically with that caveat. If she gets her exercise, ours is a snuggly couch potato.

ETA: ours is also wonderfully patient with kids, although her high energy makes dog-shy kids nervous sometimes. Mostly though kids love her.

What breed was their previous dog? Going from a Weimaraner, Malinois, or Border Collie to a Vizsla is not going to be that much of an adjustment. Going from a Lab to a Vizsla will be.

My moniker is a reference to my Weim, who died early this year. Her personality was similar to the Vizsla she used to hang around with. From what I remember, Knorf is right on with the “needs daily exercise” bit. I hope they like running. The breed is bright, not Border Collie bright, but enough that they’ll want to think about what they want the dog to do, and how best to convince the dog that it wants to do it.

I don’t think the Vizsla club of America has a quiz like Weimaraner Rescue does, but the breed in my limited experience is similar enough to Weims that it might be of use to your friends. I loved my dog, and miss her damned near daily, but it’s not a breed for everyone. I suspect Vizslas are similar.

By the way, I should add that “exercise” doesn’t mean you have do a 5k every day to keep the dog happy. Although, they’d love that. A brisk walk or trip to the local dog park will suffice for most days.

The other thing to mention is that Vizslas are rather sensitive to cold, since they have a short coat with no undercoat. This is not a problem if you put a warm coat on her on the coldest days. People might make fun of you, but when it’s below freezing, our girly will quickly get too cold without it, so we have a fleecy vest thingy for her that she frankly loves.

ETA: regarding Gray Ghost’s points, I have found that Vizslas are temperamentally more stable and “go with the flow” than Weimaraners. YMMV. Getting a puppy from a good breeder is important! Our girl is high energy but not at all neurotic. She ignores fireworks and thunder; such things don’t merit her even lifting her head off my lap when we’re snuggled on the coach.

Weims are a bit different then. I didn’t have to do a 5k with mine, but both dogs (I also had a Lab at the time) swam after tennis balls for about an hour and half each day when they were younger. God bless whoever invented the Chuckit. A +1 on the jacket when it gets colder. Cold wet weather a Lab will shrug off will cause a short-haired dog to curl up into a ball.

As far as temperament, it depends on the dog. I think there’s a lot of overlap in the spread of temperaments between the two versatile sporting dog breeds. The Vizsla she used to hang out with was twitchier than her, but she was a lot clingier than the Vizsla. Separation anxiety was bad at times. The Vizsla owner never mentioned it as a problem with her dog. Mine grew to hate thunderstorms in her old age. I ended up with a dog leaving her dog bed to get on my bed, then sleep on top of my chest, during a particularly bad one. Nothing like an 85 pound dog that thinks it’s a cat.

Thanks, guys! :slight_smile:

If you are a long-distance runner or would like to be, this is the dog for you. If this isn’t what you are looking for, there are better choices.

I was thinking about one myself but then I heard they tend to have separation anxiety and can destroy your house in short order. So the “velcro” trait can have its disadvantages. YMMV.

Our vizsla does not demonstrate separation anxiety at all, and other than the usual puppy chewing which she outgrew, has not been the least bit destructive.

Our vizsla had anxiety requiring medication, food allergies requiring an expensive lamb-based diet, and would pee on the floor if she did not get to run for an hour or more a day. She also displayed food aggression. When my wife became pregnant, the dog’s behavior got progressively worse to the point that we passed her on to new owners through a rescue organization. I thought we would feel bad afterward; in fact we walked away with smiles on our faces and a spring in our steps. We remained dog-free for nine years because of that dog.

It’s important to work with a good breeder. I’ve interacted with many vizslas, and none of them had any of the problems brossa mentions. I should disclose that my sister was the breeder for our dog, but in any case no dogs from her kennel have ever had any of those sort of problems. Nor did any of the dogs from kennels she knew and worked with as well (with her stud).

I should emphasize that our dog does not need to run more than an hour every day. She does need her exercise, but a brisk walk suffices most days, and she really doesn’t show significant behavior problems. We notice she’s needing her exercise because sometimes she gets a bit hyper, but she’s never destructive (excepting her toys, of course) and doesn’t pee in the house or anything of that nature.

I’ll add that vizslas are best as family house dogs. They want to be with their “pack;” being forced to be alone outside for long periods of time won’t be good for them. (To be fair, few dogs do well in such circumstances.)

The general reputation is of a fairly high strung, unusually sensitive breed with very high exercise needs, susceptible to cold. Excessive timidity, hyperactivity, and separation anxiety are issues in this breed. They attach themselves to their person or people with more than usual intensity.

I would be very careful to pick a pup from calm friendly parents.

For the record, I have also encountered a ‘resource guarding’ Viszla (the term for aggressively defending food, toys, possible favorite people) who scared me. Not very many dogs scare me.

My son has had one for 11 or 12 years. It is a dog from hell. Constant whining, extreme timidity, hyperactivity and extreme separation anxiety are just the beginning of the issues. Quite frankly the damn dog was untrainable even from an early age. Run away from this breed like your house is on fire!

I know this post is oooold, but for the sake of anyone doing a Google search on Vizslas and looking for information, I thought I might add something to it.
I once found a stray dog and took it in, feeling sorry for the poor animal and worried it would be picked up by Animal Control and deposited in a shelter. My parents had owned dogs my whole life and I was sure I could handle having my own, especially since the dog was already an adult.
Except… the dog turned out to be a Vizsla.
I had no clue about the breed, but I quickly noticed the dog was having problems. For example - after 6 months, I still had to crate it. It took an extraordinarily long time to potty train, even with a regular schedule. Leaving it alone outside would result in horrible damage, including mangled door frames and chewed drywall. Crating solved the destruction issue, but reports from neighbors indicated that the dog was still whining and howling during my absence.
I walked the dog 4 times a day for the sake of potty consistency, but apparently my walks weren’t long enough. The dog was constantly crawling on me, trampling me, jumping up on furniture, counters and wouldn’t leave me alone for 5 minutes. I would try to give it toys, treats to calm it down, but to no avail. The dog insisted on interacting with me, not just passive cuddly, but ACTIVELY, almost the entire time I was around. If I didn’t respond, it would charge around the apartment or pace nervously, whining. It would drive me crazy, since I didn’t trust the dog, even after months, not to pee in the house.
Training the dog was extremely difficult, because it responded negatively to raised voices and would relapse on learned behavior at will. Basically, if it understood “no” or “sit” on one day, it would selectively choose to forget aspects of learned behavior the next. It knew, for example, that stealing food or any of my private belongings for chewing was a no no. Did that matter? Nope. As soon as I was out of the room, the dog would sneak into the restricted area and repeat the unwanted behavior. I ended up getting TWO doggie gates, which the dog then proceeded to attempt opening.
When I went online for help, people recommended dog trainers and obedience schools. Expensive much? None of my parents dogs required dog school. Training with treats and firm commands worked just fine. They also understood the premise of a raised voice.
If you yelled at the Vizsla, this dog acted like you’d just smacked it over the head with a 2X4.
Walking the dog on a leash was a nightmare. It pulled and pulled and was distracted by absolutely everything. I kept it on a very short leash and tried treat training it to stay by my side, but as soon as it saw a squirrel… yank went my arm. It was highly unpleasant to take a stroll with this animal, as the majority of the time was consumed by exerting body strength on the leash.
Makes sense, since it was essentially a hunting dog.
And that is basically what it comes down to. I am not a hunter. I am not a marathon runner. I am not living at the edge of the wilderness and go for hour long hikes. I am an urban person with a busy schedule who considers 30 min a decent walk.
Completely unsuitable for a Vizsla.
So. If you don’t want to spend ALL YOUR TIME devoted to this dog, if your hobbies don’t coincide with the needs and interests of this dog, don’t get a Vizsla. The only time I have felt similarly stressed and annoyed was when I helped care for a colicky baby. The anxiety levels are just enormous. If you aren’t 100% committed to it, or find pleasure in the lifestyle this dog literally forces you into, you and the dog will be miserable.
I ended up having to rehome the dog to a more suitable environment (not an easy feat in itself, so beware!) and since it was adopted, my life has been a sigh of relief.
I am glad I saved the dog’s life, I am happy it found a good home, but no Vizsla is coming anywhere near my life again in the future.
My situation wasn’t intentional, as I did not go out and select a Vizsla based on ignorance. It couldn’t be helped. But if you are actively seeking out a Vizsla, don’t just stop at “good family dog”, “cuddly”, “Velcro” and “loyal”. Depending on your lifestyle, there is a dark side to the Velcro you need to know about. Make sure this is something you embrace, something you are looking for in a dog.
Don’t end up like me!