To bring a dog into your life and home is no light matter. Dog ownership is a privilege that comes with a great responsibility to give your canine friend the life they need and deserve.
Too many people get a dog because they like how they look but are utterly unprepared for the level of care that these dogs require. Such stories often end unhappily for both the dog and human. Asking if Vizslas are high maintenance is a sign that you take this responsibility seriously. So, how much care do these striking dogs require, and are you the best person for a Vizsla?
Vizslas are high-maintenance dogs and are not suitable for new dog owners. They are not problematic, but they are highly affectionate and attached to their owners and don’t cope with being left alone. They are gentle and sensitive, requiring patient owners who won’t respond negatively out of frustration. They have incredibly high levels of energy, requiring active training and exercise.
The American Kennel Club describes Vizslas as affectionate, gentle, and energetic. These three descriptors, along with the history of the Vizsla breed, are excellent indicators of a Vizslas temperament and the extent of their maintenance requirements.
It is necessary to note here that high maintenance does not mean difficult or problematic. Vizslas, especially when they have been well-socialized as all dogs should be, are amazing, friendly, and even-tempered dogs. They just aren’t ornamental dogs who can get along fine with minimal attention and care.
Vizsla Breed History
Looking at a dog’s breed history can often give you a good idea of what to expect in terms of characteristics and ownership requirements. And looking at the Vizslas’ history, you can see how they ended up being high maintenance dogs.
Vizslas are reportedly descended from an ancient breed of dog who trailed the marauding Magyar people as these people ravaged their way over Western Europe before settling in what is now known as Hungary. The Magyar people were horse-riders, and they set a punishing pace, with which their dogs had the strength and endurance to keep up.
Over the next few centuries, Vizslas survived the Ottoman Empire’s invasion, the Hungarian revolution, and two world wars, providing testimony to their enduring spirit and value to humans throughout their history.
Over time, Vizslas were adapted by military commanders and aristocrats and bred to be multi-purpose hunting dogs. They developed the speed, athletic versatility, and eagerness to please that remains at the heart of the modern Vizsla.
These medium-sized, short-coated dogs are now classified as sporting dogs, gun dogs, or pointer dogs by various canine clubs and associations. They are also often known as the Hungarian Vizsla or the Hungarian pointer, and they rank as number 31 on the American Kennel Club’s most popular breeds of dogs.
Vizslas Are Affectionate: How This Makes Them High-Maintenance
To say that a Vizsla loves its owner is to say that a tornado is a little breezy—an understatement of note! Vizslas have always worked and lived close to people. They consequently develop strong bonds of affection and loyalty to their owners. Vizslas are also one of the breeds of dogs who are known to attach strongly to one person in particular, even if they live in a multi-person home.
Vizslas are part of the unofficial group known as Velcro dogs. They want to be with their people. They will sit on your feet but would really prefer to cuddle on your lap. And they will sleep next to your bed, but they would sooner join you under the covers, especially in colder weather. If your rule is that the dogs are not allowed on the furniture, you will have to be very persistent to get a Vizsla to abide by this rule.
Vizslas will follow you wherever you go, including into the bathroom. If you are quick enough to lock them out, don’t expect a peaceful bathroom moment. Whining, scratching, and snorting under the door will probably be the soundtrack you are stuck with.
Not only do Vizslas give endless affection to their owners, but they also crave it in return. You will need to provide your Vizsla with lots of attention, love, and time. Vizslas need dedicated training and exercise, but you can use these times of training and exercise as an expression of affection, which your Vizsla will appreciate.
Some people may find the constant affection given and required by a Vizsla annoying. So, make sure your personality will suit an extremely affectionate dog before you get a Vizsla.
Vizslas Should Not Be Left Alone For Too Long
Another consideration that arises out of the Vizsla’s deep attachment to its owner is leaving it alone. Vizslas are very unhappy to be left alone, and if left alone for long periods of time, they can become destructive. Their athleticism also means that they are escape risks unless your yard is heavily fortified.
You have to understand this before you get a Vizsla because it will have to influence the way you live. These are not dogs that form one part of your life. You need to include them into all aspects of your life and possibly even adapt the way you live to allow for this inclusion. You will need to carefully consider this when planning your social life and vacations.
Vizslas can also develop separation anxiety.
Vizslas Are Gentle: How This Makes Them High-Maintenance
Vizslas are gentle dogs with a sensitive nature. They can be boisterous because of their high energy levels (which we will discuss in the next section), but they are not aggressive or hard-headed dogs. They are emotionally sensitive dogs who require a kind and patient owner.
Because they are such high-energy and needy dogs, they can cause frustration in their owners, especially when their owners do not understand a Vizsla’s nature. This frustration cannot be taken out on the dog. Vizslas can become very upset if their owners shout or smack them. Perpetual negative reactions like these can even cause behavioral issues in the Vizsla.
This sensitivity does not mean that you have to let your dog get away with bad or improper behavior. Vizslas need to be disciplined but not punished. They require training to be manageable and to foster a happy dynamic between the owner and Vizsla, but they cannot be trained using the aversive training techniques of negative reinforcement or positive punishment. You need to use negative punishment or positive reinforcement.
Negative reinforcement methods remove a negative for good behavior, and positive punishment adds a negative for bad behavior. Positive reinforcement adds a positive for good behavior, and negative punishment removes a positive for bad behavior.
Vizslas Are Energetic: How This Makes Them High-Maintenance
Many Vizsla owners say that their dogs are more energetic than they had expected, even after thorough research and hearing how active and energetic these dogs are. Vizslas require a minimum of thirty minutes to two hours of dedicated exercise time every day. Very young puppies or very old dogs may require less than this, but young dogs may need more.
Unfortunately, the exercise requirements of a Vizsla do not change when you are away from home on vacation or if you are ill. And they still need exercise if the weather is inclement. You should have a reliable family member, friend, or pet sitter, who your Viszla is comfortable with and who can take them out for exercise when you are sick or away. If you go on vacation, you should seriously consider going places where you can take your Vizsla with you.
As mentioned, Vizslas still need exercise in bad weather, but their thin coats make them quite susceptible to the cold, so you will have to ensure that they are kitted out with the accessories required for outdoor activities (coats, rain-jackets, etc.).
Vizslas will exercise in the yard on their own, but they much prefer to exercise with their owners. This can be games in the yard or neighborhood walks on a leash. Vizslas need to be given opportunities to run. You can take your Vizsla to a dog park or open area in the country if you live further away from the city.
Another option is to take your Vizslas on runs, jogs, or bike rides with you. If you are an avid fan of cycling or running, you will have a great companion in your Vizsla. They not only have lots of energy, but they also have endless stamina. Just remember that a Vizsla should not run long distances until they are fully mature (around two years old).
Vizslas also love to swim, so you can incorporate this into their daily exercise if you have access to a swimming pool, lake, dam, ocean, etc., but remember to be careful as bodies of water can pose many dangers to your dog. If they swim in a chlorinated swimming pool, you should give them a rinse with fresh water from the hose afterward to minimize the chance of skin irritation.
Training is like a secret weapon in Vizsla ownership. Training provides you will a way to control your active dogs, provides quality time with them, gives them an opportunity to please you (high priority with a Vizsla), is an outlet for their physical energy, and stimulates them mentally. Vizslas are very intelligent so providing them with mental stimulation is a requirement for good ownership.
Vizslas should definitely start with obedience training, but there is so much more you can do with this dog that has been dubbed the versatile Vizsla. They can be trained for field trials, rallies, agility, and coursing. Vizslas can also be trained as therapy dogs, hunting dogs, tracker dogs, or for scent work.
You might find your life wholly flipped (in a good way) when you start to train your Vizsla. The world of competitive dog sports can draw you in and keep you hooked. You will meet new people and like-minded people with amazing dogs of their own.
Grooming Requirements Of A Vizsla
Vizslas have very few grooming requirements. They need a weekly brush because they shed their short coats. You need to keep their nails clipped, their teeth clean, and their ears clean. You can increase the frequency of grooming when they go through their big seasonal shed or if you want to control the amount of loose dog hair around your home. Another reason to groom a Vizsla more frequently is to use it as a form of affection.
Potential Health Issues Of A Vizsla
Vizslas are mostly healthy dogs, but they can be prone to certain medical conditions that are incurable and will add to the maintenance requirements of Vizslas who have these conditions. These health conditions include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy
Are Vizslas Good For New Owners?
Vizslas are not good dogs to get if you are a first-time dog owner. They are very intense and require experience, patience, affection, and commitment, and they need these things for their whole lives. Vizslas can live for up to fourteen years.
If you are a new owner and your heart is really set on a Vizsla, first research what people who own Vizslas say about living with and loving these dogs. Visit online forums, speak to breeders, and contact any friends or co-workers who own Vizslas. If you see a Vizsla in a dog park, talk to the owner and ask honest questions. They will probably be very happy to tell you the real truth.
You have to be willing to include them entirely in your life and make the changes required for their happiness. If you are not willing or you are unable to do this, consider a different breed of dog.
Vizslas Are Wonderful
All of this information is not meant to put you off a Vizsla; it is intended to provide the information needed to make a responsible and informed decision to become a Vizsla owner.
If you are willing and able to be the owner they need, committing to them, whatever that requires, you will be hugely rewarded by these faithful companions. People who own Vizslas can’t imagine their lives without them, even though their eyes are fully open to the challenges presented by this ownership.
Vizslas are affectionate, gentle, and energetic. They require lots of attention all the time. Vizslas are deeply attached to their owners and love to please them, but this requires patience, reciprocal affection, and plenty of quality time from their owners. They cannot cope with being left alone and can become destructive or even develop separation anxiety if left on their own often or for long periods.
Their sensitive natures make them averse to punishment and negative reinforcement training methods. Vizslas are heartbroken when their owners display displeasure towards them, and shouting or smacking a Vizsla can cause more emotional damage than you think.
Vizslas have extreme energy levels. If you are not an active person, it is unfair to get such an active dog. They need at least thirty minutes to two hours of dedicated exercise every day, daily time off the leash (at a dog park, out on runs, or in a large yard). Training is also essential for Vizslas. They require the actual training to be manageable, but they also benefit greatly from the mental and physical stimulation, as well as the quality time with their owners.
Vizslas are lovely, rewarding, and affectionate companions. But they are not dogs that you should get on a whim. Nor are they recommended for new owners. Vizslas do not slot into the dog-owning part of your life, they have to be included in every aspect, and if you are not willing to make changes, you should look for a different breed that will fit with the current structure of your life.