These are some common questions people ask me, have posted, or use to find this blog:
- Where are Vizslas from?
- Are Vizslas good running dogs?
- Can Vizslas live in apartments?
- How much exercise do Vizslas need?
- What are Vizslas like indoors?
- Do Vizslas shed?
- What do you feed your Vizsla?
- What can I do about my Vizsla's allergies?
- Are Vizslas good with children?
- Who are Captain's parents and where is he from?
1. Where are Vizslas from?
Vizslas are from Hungary. They were bred as hunting dogs. You can find more information about Vizsla breed history in the links below (AKC).
2. Are Vizslas good running dogs?
Yes, definitely (in general). They are bred for endurance and are very active. It IS important to keep some things in mind though, if you are a runner planning on having a Vizsla running buddy:
- It's a good idea to avoid running frequently and for long distances before your Vizsla is fully grown. Running too much before bones are fully developed can lead to hip and joint problems later in life, so most Vets will recommend waiting until your dog is about 12-14 months old to consistently run with him/her. We did run with Captain a little bit before he was 12 months, but we kept frequency and distance low.
- If weather is warm, it's very important to have water available on your route or bring some with you. Dogs can overheat faster than people do.
- You should be as aware or more aware than your dog is when running with him/her, whether on or off leash, for your safety and for your dog's.
- Off-leash: We often get comments from other people when we're running off-leash how amazed people are that Captain stays right by me. He's very good about avoiding other dogs and people when we're running off-leash, but this took time to develop; as a puppy, he would have run up to any and every dog he saw. I keep Captain on leash in high-traffic areas, through neighborhoods and sidewalks, and tend to let him off through parks, trails, beaches, and areas where there's space. He will chase a squirrel if he sees one off leash, but not so far that he can't see me or isn't close to me- he is more concerned about staying with me. I take this in large part as a breed characteristic, wanting to be near their owners.
- On-leash: We use a Ruff-Wear running leash (featured in my giveaway post)- highly recommended. After some pulling for the first few minutes of our run, Captain usually settles in very nicely and for the most part runs by my side. Some exceptions are if he has to go to the bathroom, if I'm having a really slow day ;-), or if he sees a squirrel or cat. In the latter case, there is often a GIANT yank, which can be pretty uncomfortable if I'm not ready for it.
- Pay attention to how your dog is acting while running- you NEVER want to be yanking your dog around. If he's not keeping pace with you, slow down or stop running. (Chances are, with a Vizsla, this won't happen often.... Captain seems completely un-phased by 10 mile runs when it's not hot).
- We have more information about how we run with Captain on our Running Page. As a summary, I usually run between 3-5 miles with Captain daily, but sometimes do longer trail runs; his longest run is 14 miles. Our weekly mileage total is anywhere from around 15-30 miles.
No and yes. We lived in a 750 square-foot apartment the first 2 years we had Captain; it's not about the size of YOUR living area, necessarily, but the resources you have around you, how active you are, and how often you get outside. No, a Vizsla cannot be left alone in a small apartment for his/her life. No dog should be. But if you have access to a large field or running space, and can get out there multiple times a day, that's all you really need. A Vizsla living with active, caring people in an apartment that pay attention to his/her needs for exercise and attention will fair far better than one left alone in a backyard.
4. How much exercise do Vizslas need?
A lot ;-)
Vizslas were bred to hunt, so really, they're ready for ~4-5 hours of being outside in the woods, any day. For most of us, that's not necessarily part of our lifestyles, but that doesn't mean a Vizsla can't fit into a more typical schedule, with some effort.
Exercise requirements do vary with age - we have noticed Captain doesn't need quite as much play time as when he was a puppy- but we have met many a Vizsla-owner who has joked: "Oh -my Vizsla? Yeah, he slowed down around age 10." Below are estimated requirements and general guidelines.
As a puppy:
- Estimated 2-4 hours of play and exercise, with plenty of social interaction with other puppies and dogs.
- Doggie daycare can be a good option, not just for socialization but also for giving you a break. Take the time to research options, though; it should be an interactive center where dogs aren't kept in cages for the day, one where there is sufficient trainer:dog ratio and separation of puppies and large adult dogs, and space for dogs to rest, drink water, and be in properly ventilated, clean areas. We would take Captain to a daycare maybe once a week, where he could play all day for about 6-7 hours, or do a half day (the perfect option)- 4 hours of playing with other puppies left him napping on the couch for the night!
- At a minimum they need ~1.5-2 hours of exercise per day.
- It's always good to have at least one day per week with a little bit more (a hike, a trip to the beach, a long walk with other dogs).
- Yes, there are days when work is way too busy and Captain gets less time; but do this for more than 2 days in a row, and you will end up with a very crazy, anxious, "riled-up" dog. If your life is hectic, taking time to find a really attentive dog-walker or day care might be a good option (keeping in mind that Vizslas are really sensitive dogs, so you need to do your homework to find a good fit).
Our typical schedule is a morning walk or run, a mid-day walk or run, an early evening walk or run, and a pre-bed walk. Often, our morning walk and late night walk can be quite short, but the evening run/play time needs to be at least 30-45 minutes to keep Captain satisfied (and this used to be more like an hour when he was a puppy). We also tend to do longer runs and/or day-long hikes on the weekend. As a 4-5 year old Vizsla, there are a number of days a week I take Captain on two runs a day: a morning 3 miler and an evening 3-5 miler. You don't necessarily need to be a runner to take care of a Vizsla, but I think the two are well suited; it's more time efficient for me, and I enjoy it. But if you like hiking, or have a farm or large field, or like to walk a lot and have access to wide open spaces where a Vizsla can really run, that will work too.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you aren't an active person (or don't want to be), a Vizsla is not the dog for you. And in addition to exercise, Vizslas really need attention; another thing to keep in mind.
5. What are Vizslas like indoors?
Anyone who has seen Captain run around like crazy usually asks me what he's like inside. Aside from rainy days and when he was a puppy, Captain actually mainly sleeps most of the day when we're not outdoors exercising. Ever hear the saying, "A tired dog is a good dog" -? Well, it's true. With enough exercise, Captain is one happy little cuddle-bug. Vizslas are affectionate and love to be right next to (or on top of) owners (and friendly household guests). If allowed to, they will cuddle on couches, under blankets, in bed, and will take over your furniture. Not because they aren't trainable or don't listen (quite the contrary- Vizlas are highly trainable and definitely listen)- but because inevitably you will want to cuddle with them, and they will train you ;-)
6. Speaking of furniture...do Vizslas shed?
Yes. They do have short hair, which means incredibly easy cleaning and basically no grooming, but don't fool yourself into thinking that doesn't mean you won't have small red hair all over. Luckily, it's very manageable, doesn't clump up, and is easy to vacuum away. And, as a side-note: if you have a tan couch and light-colored comforters, you won't even see any hair at all ;-)
7. What do you feed your Vizsla?
We feed Captain Iams Large Breed. That may be surprising, but we have a few friends who are Vets and they have recommended it. I also almost always mix in a little bit of fresh steamed sweet potato. We feed him a little bit more than the recommended amount per weight on the bag, because he's very active. We did try out some other foods, but these either led to weight loss or allergies (see below), and so we have stuck with what works for us. His coat is shiny, he is lean but muscular and his weight is stable, and he happily eats now (as a puppy, he often would not eat breakfast, but this is no longer the case!) He has been between 60-65lbs for a few years now.
I also give Captain a variety of treats every now and then- his most usual treat is a peanut butter kong or homemade frosty paws.
8. What can I do about my Vizsla's allergies?
This is a really tough question. Many Vizslas get allergies, but not all Vizslas are allergic to the same things, so there's not always a quick answer. It can be a time consuming, frustrating problem to get to the bottom of. I have spoken to our experiences with this in my allergies post- see also comments for further information. I recommend a process of elimination diet to see whether new foods may be causing the issue (go back to the basics of what you were feeding your dog before the issues started- "safe foods" only, and then add one food back about 2 weeks at a time to see if the allergies pop up again). Of course, it is also good to see your Vet, and if the problem persists, an allergist or dermatologist.
9. Are Vizslas good with children?
Yes. There are always exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, Vizslas can be gentle and patient with little ones. This may take time to learn and get accustomed to, and firsts for Vizslas can be a big deal- the fear of the unknown. For example, Captain barked the first few times he saw a toddler running (what is that?!), and there have been occasions after his initial introduction to kids, such as a child hiding in a tree, or carrying something odd, in which he has bark at them (see also my "Vizsla Freaks Outs" post for other Vizsla oddities). I always immediately tell him "no" and "down" so that he has learned it is never ok to bark at children. But Vizslas have sweet, loving temperaments, and their bonds with all family members is strong.
10. Who are Captain's parents and where is he from?
Captain is from Red Dog Ranch, in Ramona, CA. His parents are Sedona and Tacoma... but really they are me and my husband ;-)
More Vizsla tidbits:
- Vizlsa Things- my fun takes on what makes a Vizsla a Vizsla
- Vizsla Gear- recommendations for good things to have for the active dog
- Words to describe a Vizlsa: energetic, loyal, loving, affectionate, trainable, ... and beautiful -of course ;-)
- In the US, breed standard is to dock tails at 2/3 length (the original rationale being to protect the tail from damage while hunting)
- Breeds people often confuse with the Vizsla: Weimaraners (these are silver/gray colored, slightly larger, and from Germany), Redbone coonhounds (these have a black nose rather than liver-colored as the Vizsla), and Rhodesian Ridgebacks (these are slightly larger and darker than Vizslas, with a black nose, and have a hair ridge down their back).
- A standard male Vizsla is ~45-67lbs (I have heard they are larger in Europe), while females tend to range from 40-55lbs (though we have run into a number of tweensy-little females 30-35 lbs out here!). From personal experience, most of the females I've met are slightly more energetic and slightly less affectionate (at least with non-owners) then the males.