General Health and Care

Vizslas in general are a very healthy hunting breed with very few health concerns, but there are a number of hereditary illnesses for which a given Vizsla and its sire and dam should be tested before you assume ownership of it. If healthy and properly cared for, your Vizsla should enjoy a lifespan of anywhere from 10 to 15 years.  Before you purchase an adult or puppy, you may wish to have tests conducted and/or certificates provided for the following Vizsla health problems (in cases where certification is not available, a Vizsla breeder may provide a guarantee against inherited conditions).

The Vizsla's short coat lacks an undercoat (very fine, fluffy hairs closest to the skin).  This may explain why some believe Vizslas are one of the  "hypoallergenic" breeds. However,  a new study (2011) by Henry Ford Hospital researchers finds that homes with so-called hypoallergenic dogs don’t have lower household levels of allergens than those with other breeds. Vizslas do shed, but you can control your Vizsla's shedding by rubbing the dog with a non-cotton towel to pick up loose hairs. 

A Vizsla's short coat is not made for warmth. Vizsla should not be left outside for extended periods of time in colder weather and should be brought inside at night.  For areas that have harsh, cold and/or rainy weather conditions a doggy overcoat (or two) is advisable.  Besides,  your "Velcro" Vizsla's need for human companionship is strong; thus your Vizsla's emotional well being would be best served by housing it indoors.

Vizslas are medium- to high-maintenance dogs that require a lot of attention, exercise, and mental stimulation. Due to a Vizsla's high energy, it's highly recommended that you're prepared for the amount of work required to own this breed of dog. A misbehaving Vizsla is invariably a bored and/or inactive Vizsla. Rescue foundations and shelters find exhaustion and feelings of being overwhelmed as the top reasons owners surrender their Vizslas for adoption.

Vizslas have a low incidence of hip dysplasia with many breeders hip scoring their breeding dogs and many of their dog's offspring to help lower the number of problems. The Vizsla Club of America calls for breeding stock to be radiographed and specifies that no dog or bitch with the slightest evidence of hip dysplasia be used for breeding purposes.  For that reason, you should look for a reputable breeder to prevent dysphagia, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism. 

Neutering your dog or not

Neutering, and the age at which a dog is neutered, may affect the animal’s risk for developing certain cancers and joint diseases, according to a new study of golden retrievers by a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis. The study, which examined the health records of 759 golden retrievers, found a surprising doubling of hip dysplasia among male dogs neutered before one year of age. Learn more about the study published February 13, 2012 in  online scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Specific Health Problems 

Polymyositis: There is a newly recognised disease in the Hungarian Vizsla. It is a breed associated presentation of Polymyositis. The principal clinical signs are swallowing problems, excessive foamy drooling and muscle wasting (especially around the head). We need to hear from any vizsla owner that has had experience of this disease. Forty-seven UK Vizslas robustly satisfy the phenotypic criteria required by the current research. This project aims to develop a DNA test for our breed specific variant of Polymyositis. Learn more about this disease at

Adapted from

The Vizsla Club of America's (VCA) code of ethics regarding breeding states the following: "VCA members shall breed only those dogs who have a DNA number and are free of serious hereditary defects (including epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, Von Willebrands, entropion and cranial muscular atrophy), and are over two years of age and have been x-rayed and OFA-certified as free from hip dysplasia."

Hip Dysplasia
According to hip dysplasia statistics from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), the Vizsla ranks 108th among breeds that have had at least 100 evaluations between January 1974 and December 2008. Just over 11,600 Vizslas have been evaluated in that time, and 7.2% of them were found to be dysplastic. The high number of evaluations is one proof of how seriously Vizsla breeders have taken this problem. An OFA certification of the parents of your Vizsla puppy means that their hips were x-rayed and evaluated for abnormal results and found to be in excellent, good, or fair condition.

Epileptic seizures are another Vizsla health problem. No certification is available for this condition. However, if a Vizsla has epilepsy, it's often evident by the time it's about two or three years old, and sometimes not until its fourth or fifth year. Responsible Vizsla breeders will provide guarantees against inherited epilepsy. Even if your Vizsla is diagnosed with epilepsy, it can be treated and controlled with appropriate medication.

An underactive thyroid reduces a Vizsla's metabolism level, resulting in a wide variety of possible symptoms. This condition may be caused by allergies, air pollution, or an improper diet. Thyroid problems can be diagnosed via full thyroid testing, including FT4, cTSH, and TgAA.

Sebaceous Adenitis
Sebaceous adenitis is a skin disease in which the sebaceous glands become inflamed. A Vizsla with this condition will display mild scaling and a moth-eaten appearance. SA is usually found in young adult dogs. It can be diagnosed via a skin-punch biopsy.

Autoimmune Thyroditis
Autoimmune thyroditis is present in some Vizlas but can be diagnosed by a blood sample analysis  of breeding dogs. It is recommended those dogs not be bred as this may be a genetic issue in some breeds. There is no reported research  data on this in Vizslas.

Eye Conditions
Entropion and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) are two eye conditions that can affect Vizslas. Eye health can be certified annually through the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).

Entropion occurs at birth.  The upper and/or lower eyelids roll inward so that the edge of the lid, or eyelashes produce irritation to the eye. Often excessive folds of loose skin or the presence of shortened eyelids may be the cause of the disorder.  Symptoms include:  Excessive tearing, blinking; symptoms range from mild to severe depending on the degree of entropion. In some cases the blinking spasms will lead to a greater degree of entropion which will lead to conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva) and ulceration of the cornea. Treatment includes:  Ointments to reduce inflammation and irritation or surgery required to correct entropion. The method of surgery removes a margin of skin perpendicular to the inverted lid. The incision is then sutured which causes the edge of the inverted lid to roll away from the eye.

PRA is the most common disorder affecting the retina of the dog and is a result of the reduction of retinal blood vessels and atrophy of the receptor cells of the retina. There are two types of PRA: generalized-PRA and centralized-PRA. In generalized-PRA, there is overall retinal function loss. Both eyes are affected, though one may be at a more advanced stage than the other. The condition is progressive, as indicated, though the rate of progression varies from breed to breed and individual to individual; however, the end result in all cases is blindness. Dogs afflicted with g-PRA often can only recognize objects immediately in front of them as there is early loss of peripheral vision. Centralized-PRA also affects both eyes and is progressive, however, dogs may retain peripheral vision for several years, but there is an early loss of central vision.  The age of onset: g-PRA: 2-3 years; c-PRA: 4-10 years.
Symptoms include:
  • g-PRA: night blindness, "tunnel vision" 
  • c-PRA: gradually failing vision, 
  • tendency to collide with stationary objects in dog's path, 
  • poor distance vision, 
  • slow pupillary reflexes, 
  • dilation of pupils even under daylight conditions.  
Currently there is no successful treatment for slowing down or reversing the degeneration processes associated with either form of PRA. Treatment with vitamin A has been reported to improve vision in dogs in early stages of the disorder, but long-term prognosis remains doubtful.

Vizsla dogs are prone skin problems and may have allergic reactions showing up as bumps or hives on the skin.  Food or skin contact allergies may occur or they may be sensitive to vaccines, chemicals, and common anesthetics. Changes in diet, environment and medication (e.g. antihistamines or cortisone) may be needed as  an ongoing treatment plan.

Other medical conditions to which Vizslas may be susceptible include hemophilia, heart defects, von Willebrand disease, and cancer.

Living Conditions

A Vizsla's greatest needs are exercise and human contact. Vizslas will often literally follow their owner(s) from one place to another within the house earning the name, Velcro Dog. Your Vizsla should have access to a fenced yard or other areas to run for off-leash. While the dog is a hunting breed it will not do well to sleep outdoors.  Apartment living may be tolerated by your Vizsla if you provide a lot of running and walking as compensation.  If you are not prepared to offer your Vizsla the ample attention and physical activity it requires consider another breed.

Education of your Vizsla

Vizslas are intelligent, curious, full of energy, notice everything and have a short attention span as a young dog. With consistent training they will become a partner with an ability to think for itself in the home or in the field. Owners need patience and must provide loving leadership and guidance. A curious breed, Vizslas love to please. But they also need time to figure things out, often inventing new ways to solve their learning tasks. 

When you bring your Vizsla puppy home, you may wish to create a partitioned area where it can play and sleep. Allow your puppy some time to explore its new home, offering plenty of love and attention-along with a few treats. Vizsla puppies are known for being somewhat difficult to housetrain. Consistency is the key to training- Our Vizsla learned within a week where to go to eliminate and had very few accidents afterward.  Crate training is often recommended, especially if your Vizsla . Vizsla puppies also like to chew on things, so keep your puppy in certain areas of the house or make sure that any potentially dangerous snacks (e.g. electrical cords) are inaccessible.

If your Vizsla absolutely must sleep outdoors, then it's best to provide a shelter that is comfortable and well insulated. The Vizsla's thin coat offers little protection against cold weather. The shelter should offer enough room for your dog to move around, but don't make it too big. A smaller shelter will help your Vizsla to feel secure, and will also offer greater warmth.

A large yard and plenty of indoor and outdoor space is the best living situation for a Vizsla. Ideally, a Vizsla should not be left alone during the day. If necessary, employing a dog walker to exercise your Vizsla would help it to cope with daily absences.


The Vizsla is very athletic and is one of the oldest hunting breeds in the world. This is not a dog that will be content with sedentary apartment living and a short daily walk. Jogging, running, swimming (Vizslas are typically excellent swimmers), hunting, hiking, roller blading, and extensive walking are all activities that a Vizsla would enjoy. A long walk twice a day might be adequate, but a Vizsla would be happiest if it can run-preferably off-leash-for at least 30 minutes, and preferably an hour or more, every day. 
Vizslas need a lot of mental stimulation both mental and physical. If a Vizsla is not getting enough exercise, behavioral problems are very likely to ensue. Destructive behaviors may i include hyperactivity, chewing furniture,  plants or digging huge holes in the yard. Vizsla puppies will tend to jump on or at people. 

Life Expectancy

A healthy, well-cared for Vizsla will typically live from 12 to 15 years. However, that range may vary by two years or more either way (10 years to 17 years).

General Grooming

While the Vizsla breed's exercise needs may be high, its grooming is wonderfully low-maintenance. Vizslas are naturally clean with little to no smell-except for that which occurs as a result of a hunting trip. Luckily their short, close-lying coats help keep them from getting too muddy or smelly. They may shed more than you'd expect for dogs with such short coats (twice annually). Regular brushing is best done outside if anyone in your household is allergic.  Bathing your Vizsla is seldom necessary. Rather a quick rinse or rub down with a cloth will do the trick. A weekly nail clipping, teeth cleaning, and brushing  makes grooming routine simple.

Bathing your Vizsla too often will cause its coat to lose color, and will remove natural oils that keep its skin from drying out. Bathe only as necessary, and use a natural or dry shampoo. It's not unusual for a Vizsla to be bathed just twice a year. More frequent spot washing of your dog's face is fine, and will help to keep up its appearance. Regular use of a bristle brush would also help to keep your Vizsla's coat and skin healthy. Check your Vizsla's paws and eyes daily and ears weekly for signs of infection, and gently remove debris.

Post Hunting Grooming
Gun Dog Magazine's article How to Clean Your Dog's Eyes  shares tips on how to keep your hunting Vizsla's eyes in tip top shape.

Health articles and information 

View The Vizsla Club of America's Health page to learn more
Important Muscle Diseases In The Vizsla Dog: What My Veterinarian Should Know To Reach A Correct Diagnosis  (PDF - 68kb) 
G. Diane Shelton DVM, PhD, DACVIM
Announcement of new blood test for canine cancer

CHIC—The Canine Health Information Center 

The Canine Health Information Center, also known as CHIC, is a centralized canine health 
database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the 
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). 

The CHIC website is located at The CHIC website contains 
basic information on CHIC such as its mission and goals and maintains a listing of 
participating breeds and approved breed specific protocols. The CHIC website also 
provides a search engine to locate dogs that have been issued CHIC numbers, their test 
dates and the results of their tests. 
CHIC Mission Statement & Goals 
To provide a source of health information for owners, breeders, and scientists, that will assist in 
breeding healthy dogs by 
• Working with parent clubs in the identification of health issues for which a central 
information system should be established; 
• Establishing and maintaining a central health information system in a manner that will 
support research into canine disease and provide health information to owners and 
• Requiring scientifically valid diagnostic criteria for the acceptance of information into 
the database; 
• And by basing the availability of information on individually identified dogs at the 
consent of the owner. 
Vizsla Requirements 
• To qualify for CHIC, Vizslas must be screened for Hip Dysplasia (OFA), Thyroid (OFA), 
and have a CERF eye examination.
Vizsla Optional Tests 
• Penn Hip certification is not required but submitting this data is encouraged and accepted 
only after OFA Hip certification is completed. 
• Other optional tests include: Elbow Dysplasia (OFA, OVC, GVC), Cardiac (OFA), 
Sebaceous Adenitis (OFA, GDC) and von Willebrand’s testing. 
• Blood test results for von Willebrand’s testing accepted from this laboratory only: 
Comparative Coagulation Section, Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, College of 
Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, P.O. Box 5786, Ithaca, NY 14853-5786, phone: 
(607) 253-3900, The vizsla breed does not have a DNA 
based test for von Willebrand’s disease. Using one laboratory should help make test 
results comparable and less questionable between vizslas. 

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