Thursday, June 6, 2013

Vizsla FAQs



These are some common questions people ask me, have posted, or use to find this blog:
  1. Where are Vizslas from?
  2. Are Vizslas good running dogs?
  3. Can Vizslas live in apartments?
  4. How much exercise do Vizslas need?
  5. What are Vizslas like indoors?
  6. Do Vizslas shed?
  7. What do you feed your Vizsla?
  8. What can I do about my Vizsla's allergies?
  9. Are Vizslas good with children?
  10. Who are Captain's parents and where is he from?
Answers below!


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.
3. Can Vizslas live in apartments?
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!
For an adult:
  • 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.
More Vizsla FAQ on these pages:
More FAQs, comments, or suggestions? Leave a note below!

29 comments:

  1. What a thorough post describing Vizslas. Nicely done. :-)

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  2. Hello! I have really enjoyed reading your blog since we got our Vizsla, Scout, last September. We have just moved from Boston to Palo Alto (literally, a few days ago) and I am looking for a vet who knows Vizslas well. Do you have any recommendations?

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    1. Welcome! We also moved from Boston- two great cities ;-) The vet we used when we lived in SF was All Pets, Dr. Alex Herman- not Vizsla-specific but she was great. I have a friend with a GSP who lives in Palo Alto as well, I could ask her who she uses. Another option is to ask the guys at O'Paws- a basically all-Vizsla daycare/boarding place in the city. They definitely have a lot of interaction with Vizsla owners and may have some specific recommendations. (Note we ended up not loving them for daycare and boarding, since Captain didn't seem to get enough personal attention, but this may differ for different dogs.)

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    2. Thanks for the information! If you find out what vet your Palo Alto friend goes to, I'd really appreciate your letting me know. We are trying a home-based boarding place in July that seems pretty good, but I'll keep O'Paws in mind too for the future. Thanks again! I might be in touch in the future with more questions. You keep a GREAT blog! :)

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  3. Love your post, When the kids were grown and gone, with kids of their own, I felt I needed a dog to bring back some activity into the house. i have my own Vizlsa recently and enjoy my time with him,Vizsla is the best dog in the world!

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  4. Did you have your Vizsla in Boston as well? I live in a spacious part of Boston with access to a beach and parks that would make having a Vizsla sensible.

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    1. I didn't, but I've seen many V's in Boston and it's a great city for being outside (just get a cozy winter cost for those crazy cold winters!!)

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  5. Lovely article, I have a one year old wirehaired beauty called Wilfred. Great temperament

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  6. Vizslas- what can I say?? I just love 'em. I have two and they play, sleep, run, play, sleep, eat. Total couch potatoes in the house when they have had their exercise. They burrow under the covers with us to sleep. I DO not recommend this breed for most people. You have to dedicate yourself to them and they must be acknowledged! They are forever present in your face, lap or wherever. They are only for dedicated dog owners. They must have attention, lots of it! Please do not get one unless you make it a priority in your life and don't mind it on top of you most of the time. But, if you want a lot of interaction with your dog, are very active and like to play, have plenty of room for it to romp around and are aware of it's sensitiveness- then consider one.

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  7. One more thing that I was not prepared for but both my girls do this... They will both growl at you if you try to move them while they are sleeping/resting, esp if you startle them. If you insist on moving them after they growl, they will bite! Yes. It threw me off but that is the only issue that I was shocked by with regards to this breed. SO, if you have a young child who startles or moves a vizsla while it is sleeping, the child may get snapped at. Just my experience, but they do warn you first. They are the most gentle and loving of dogs to us at all times, unless we startle and/or move them in their sleep. Anyone else have this experience??

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  8. Hi!
    I´ve been reading your Vizsla blog for sometime! Great learning and content! I´m looking for a Vizsla puppy for this fall - and am in love with it´s energy and character. However I´ve one concern, when the puppy get´s older the Vizsla has to be left alone for 7-8 hours(indoors) 3 times a week. Based on your experience, is this even possible? Or is the Viszla simply a dog who can´t be left alone for that long? If you have time to email me, I would be happy to hear from you. All the best and thanks for sharing your blog, Kristoffer

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    1. I would say no. Of course, there may be some people who might do this, but for almost any breed...would you want to be left alone inside for 8 or 9 hrs alone? Maybe a dog walker could be arranged?

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  9. Thanks! Definitely not an ideal situation. Hopefully it will be possible to arrange a dog walker or bring her to work. I once had a setter who was fine with 8 hours 3-4 times a week. But she also got a lot of exercise before the hours alone. She never barfed or went "crazy " indoors. Maybe a Vizsla has more separation anxiety than a setter though!?. Best, Kris

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  10. Thank you so much for the information about the exercise schedule for Captain. I am thinking seriously about getting a puppy, but after having a very chill senior dog, I'm concerned about the dog's exercise needs and this was helpful. The one thing I've not been able to determine is if vizslas fetch? I'm thinking this could be one of my go to's for ensuring proper exercise in addition to walks/runs. Thanks again!

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    1. Depends on the V! Captain is not, but I know plenty who are. I think training them to fetch as a puppy helps. But be very aware, there's a HUGE difference between a Vizsla and a 16yo dog!

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  11. Hello, I’m 13 and am trying to convince my parents to get another dog. I want to sound responsible and know a lot of information before I try. I still haven’t found a perfect breed, but I think a Vizsla is a pretty good match. We have a medium sized back yard but have a large field near us. Both my brother and I play soccer, so we are away a couple nights away a week and a couple hours on saturday. I don’t think that this would be too much of a problem though because we can bring them too most fields where they can run around or take walks. I love to train dogs but I get frustratred sometimes when they are hard to train. My parents don’t really want to potty train another dog, but I am up to the responsibility, so do you think that I can do that with a little help? Right now we have a Bichon Frise and he loves other dogs, so I think that they could become good friends, but how well do Vizsla’s get along with other dogs? My dad works from home and my other dog is always there, so I don’t think they would get too lonely. Sorry if this was too many questions, but I would really like to get more info. Thanks :-)

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    1. Hi! Sounds like you have put a lot of thought into it and are really responsible! A Vizsla might be a good fit for your fam, but it does depend on your parents... no matter how much you take care of the dog, a lot of the responsibility will fall on them too, especially your dad, since he works from home. So they need to want a Vizsla too! The fact that your Dad works from home could be a great thing, since V's love to be around their owners. Your other dog could also be a great playmate for a Vizsla- almost all V's I have met are good around other dogs too, especially if they are raised with another dog and/or get lots of play time with other dogs as a puppy (socialization).
      The amount of exercise a Vizsla needs can really vary....I have met (one or two) Vizslas who are pretty tame, a bunch who are so completely high energy they seem like they never sit still, and most who just need good solid exercise (long walks, hikes, a run, dog park time, that sort of thing- minimum of an hour of real activity a day - not just an on-leash walk around the neighborhood). If a Vizsla isn't exercised enough, he/she can become anxious and high-strung, and may chew furniture, so exercise is key! The soccer field time, back yard, and walks could be enough if the dog can be off leash for at least part of that time, to really run. Also, I've noticed a difference between males and females- the females can often be more high-energy than males, so that's something to think about. On the other hand, males may be more prone to not doing as well around other dogs (although, we haven't had that problem, and I do think puppy socialization is a big part of that!)
      Ultimately it's a good idea to really talk it over with your fam and see if your parents are excited about having another dog. Vizslas are a great addition to a family! They are so incredibly sweet, loving, great cuddlers, and beautiful- but also a time commitment in terms of care, so it's good for everyone to be on board (or at least you and one of your parents!)
      If you have any questions in the future feel free to send me a message through the Facebook page. Happy to help, and best of luck!

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    2. PS- forgot to mention, Vizslas train very well, you just have to be consistent when they are a puppy. I recommend doing a puppy training class to really learn how to train your dog when they are young.

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  12. Hi,

    I was reading your blog and its very interesting. I have the following question for you. I currently own a female Sheltie and its more of an indoor dog. I have a boat so I go to the beach on the weekends and having a dog that enjoys the water is a most. Some activities that I do is swimming and running in the beach. My major concern is that I work everyday from 8am-6pm. From 8am there is no one in my house other than the Sheltie until my son gets home from school at 3pm. I have a medium size backyard. On the other hand, when I get home at 6pm I like to take a 2-5 mile run. We all love the dog companionship so having a dog that is always close to us is a most. I have spoken with other Vizlsa owners and they have told me that the Vizslas are well-behaved when they are inside the house.Do you think the Vizsla is a good fit for us? I that exercise enough?

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    1. A Vizsla puppy will most definitely not be able to go 8am-3pm without anyone there. As for the adult, Vizslas are a breed very tied to their owners, so I would think he/she would get lonely. It is good you have another dog, but I'd be concerned about the V getting loney and bored. They were bred to be outside & active, and that's a long stretch of time to be locked inside a house without any interaction. You can get more of a sense of how much we exercise our Vizsla on our running page. You could also consider a dog walker if you are very serious about getting a Vizsla.

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  13. Hi,

    I spoked with a dog trainer and he told me that if I exercise him in the morning (frisbee or fetch intensely) for 15 minutes he should be fine for the day while I am at work, and then when I come back exercise him again and I should have no problem with the Vizsla. Do you agree on that?

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    1. For an older Vizsla that might be ok, but if you are planning on getting a Vizsla puppy (<2yrs old), I personally do not think leaving him/her all day would work. For one thing, they would need potty breaks; for another, having a dog spend most of his day inside without any human interaction or training I think is setting up for behavior problems (anxiety, insecurity). That's my opinion; I'm sure others who deal more with other breeds may think differently, and of course every dog (even within a breed) is a little different, and there are certainly plenty of people who leave their dogs alone all day....but I think a good question to consider, is it the best life and care for the dog? In any case, good luck!

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  14. We just bought a Vizsla puppy at 9 weeks old. He seemed very energetic and happy with his siblings but as soon as we brought him home, he lost all of that. I guess that's normal with a home change but I'd expect him to still be jumping and running as a puppy should be. Also I've noticed that he's not the brightest puppy. For instance, he doesn't know how to use stairs. Even on his own. I try to help him with the leash too but he doesn't seem to get the point. Not sure if it's because he's still young or what but it gets frustrating at times. Also he tends to hide behind the couch a lot. I've never been firm with him so I'm not sure why he likes to hide. He seems to be kind of a whimp. Disappointing really. I've had him for almost 3 weeks now and he's still not very bright. Maybe it's because I'm impatient with him but still, I'd like to see change. I'm not sure if he's the right breed for me or maybe I'm just not ready to own a puppy just yet. I'd love feedback. Thank you!

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    1. This is a little hard to read bc I'm not hearing a lot of love & understanding...which are key aspects of taking care of any puppy. Try to keep in mind your puppy is essentially a baby still figuring our the world, and he was just taken from his family & everything he knows. Trying to train a puppy can definitely be very frustrating & tiring, so you are not alone there! But make sure you are focusing on positive reinforcement! Give treats whenever he does something right, or even close to right. Remember that if you yell at him, you will only be contributing to making him more scared & avoidant. They learn from us & we shape who they are...so if you are negative, your puppy will grow into a scared, reactive dog- which often means anxious and prone to aggressive outbursts. Try signing up for a puppy training class with positive reinforcement methods. And if you truly don't see yourself wanting this big commitment, please think about finding your puppy a happy home with another family. Best of luck to you and the pup!!

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  15. Hi, Love your blog! We are getting our Vizsla in August and can hardly wait! Are you in the San Diego area? I'm in north county between Rancho Bernardo and Del Mar and would love a vet referral if you know of one who is knowledgeable with Vizlas.
    Thank you!
    C

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    1. Enjoy your pup! We are up north a bit- in the Bay Area!

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  16. Hi - we are British but live in France and have a lovely female Vizsla called Jazz. She has been with us since a puppy and is now nearly 11 years old. We walk with her every day for about an hour each day and she has the freedom of an enclosed garden of about two acres. She has been typically energetic, intelligent, loving and loyal - as well as being a great member of the family. Recently however - this summer - which has been hot at times, she has seemed reluctant to go on our daily walk and when she has come along with us she tries to take short cuts to get back home. Otherwise, she has a good appetite, is healthy and plays in the garden with us as normal. We have friends who also have Vizslas and when they came to visit us Jazz charged around with the other two Vizslas as normal. So, we would value anyone's thoughts on this puzzling behaviour - is it just her age? Thanks, in advance - Sandy, Gordon and Jazz Ewing

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