Is a Vizsla right for us? - Hungarian Vizsla Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Is a Vizsla right for us?

We are a family of 4 with 2 girls aged 7 and 11. We have always been a pet free home. (My husband and I owned a dog from his childhood before kids.) The girls each own a pet chihuahua that lives at Grandma and Papa's. I am a teacher gone 5 days a week during the school year. My husband works 12 hour shifts and is usually home 1-2 days during the workweek.

We are looking for a loyal and obedient dog that can run with me and go mountain biking (up and down a mountain) with my husband as well as play for hours with our dog-loving children.

We are interested in the Vizsla because of it's ability to run and low maintenance grooming. The low odor is also VERY appealing.
After reading this forum for the past two weeks our fears include too much hyperactivity and the possibility of the dog being too distracted to stick by us when unleashed in the mountains. I've read about excessive barking, destroying furniture and being unable to walk "leashed" by kids or other joggers. I'm hoping these are problems that can be solved with good training.

I'm also interested in the golden retriever but the grooming and excessive illness (their forums are cluttered with sick dogs) keep me coming back to the V.

I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 11:24 AM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?

The key is that they were bred as hunting dogs and good Vizslas need to be engaged mentally and physically. Just running along side you is good but what "job" will your Vizsla have? These are smart dogs that get bored. Just like your children, a bored child is trouble looking for something to do.

Ask yourself if you are ready to make the commitment to a Vizsla that will live with you and your husband until your kids are 21 and 25 years old, through college, married and starting their own families.

My wife and I had to wait until our two daughters were married before we had the "right amount of time" to dedicate to these wonderful animals.

Good luck on your research. Go out and find a Vizsla club. Maybe tell us where you are from and another forum member can take you and your family along for a "walk and talk."

Personally, I'd like to see every Vizsla go to a hunting family where the dog can perform the task it was bred for. In the field hunting game is where the real Vizsla comes alive.

A Vizsla is a lifestyle more than a dog.


"I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life." - R. Reagan
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 11:43 AM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?

I think the best first dog for a family like yours would be a Labrador We are avid hikers and backpackers. I have had two labs, a collie, a golden and GSP. We now have a 48 pound 7 month old male vizsla for the same reasons you outlined.

I think that compared to the lab the GSP and Vizsla are much more time intensive to train and attention demanding.

You can relax at home with a lab. Sit around reading or take a nap.

Forget that with a vizsla, they have way more energy than a lab. Unless the kids are out playing with it. (You have that gong for you)

In obedience class the two young labs would calmly walk around the cones beside their owners ... Summit just wanted to eat the cones and would run to grab the next one. Everything else he excelled at.

He is doing very well with healing now but it has taken a LOT of work and many miles morning afternoon and night, every day.

I love labs and am thinking of adding one as a second dog next year. (Girl) IF I had to choose one breed though I would stick with the vizsla. I am hooked on them.

Vizslas do shed and can smell if they develop skin problems. Nothing like a golden though.

Just some food for thought.


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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 01:00 PM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?

Unlike ctracyverizon's experience, Tanner is the best behaved pup in obedience class. (Promise I'm not just saying that because he's mine!) That came right from the trainer herself, and there are a wide variety of breeds in our class, including a lab, who is stubborn to no end. Tanner walks (almost) perfectly beside me and has all the basics down. I really think it is all about consistency and practice. But you are interested in getting thorough opinion so here are some questions to ask yourself:

#1 Question: Can you get him/her excercised? We are talking a good 2+ hours a day. Don't just expect him to wear himself out either, glad to see you are interested in hiking with him

#2 Question: Will someone be available to let the pup out while you are at work? I noticed you are a teacher, so I would advise you to get your pup as soon as the schoolyear is over, so you can dedicate the first couple of months to your pup

The excessive barking and destroying you have heard most likely is coming from an under-excercised pup. I'm sure you've heard it before but I'll repeat it for you... a tired Vizsla is a happy Vizsla. Excercise is key, especially in training.

While V's are easy to groom, don't think for a second they are perfect health-wise. Do some searches through this forum, as they are little rascals when they are pups, they get into stuff ALL THE TIME, and will eat things they shouldn't, just like all puppies do.

Another suggestion: do a search on YouTube for Vizslas. Alot of great videos will come up and show you what these dogs are capable of, and what they require from us each and every day They are a joy to have around and certainly (as redbirddog always says) an addiction.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-19-2011, 01:46 PM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?

We researched the Vizsla for about a year and a half before we committed and got on a breeder list (part of the that research was also researching breeders, which I recommend you do!). Pippa is 6 and a half months old now and I can't imagine my life without her.

I am a teacher also and the best advice I can give is to have a plan for EVERYTHING. We passed on a litter in late Spring, so that we could take the puppy during July (when I am off for the year and home all day). When I am at work, we have 2 dog-walkers AND I spend my lunch break with her (I teach about 10 mins. away from my house). I leave right after school 3 days a week to get her out for another hour to an hour and a half before the sun sets. On the days I have to stay after, she spends the afternoon in daycare. In the morning, we pay a dog walker to take her out on an off-leash adventure. She gets 2+ hours of exercise everyday. We also do obedience training one evening a week. When Pippa was a puppy, we had a trainer come to the house to train us . On the weekends, we are out exploring the trails with her. EVERY. WEEKEND. So, as you can see, Vizslas are a TON of work and you need to be prepared for that.

That being said, having had other breeds before Pippa, I have NEVER loved or cared for a dog as much as I do her. She is truly a part of our family. Good luck in your search!

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2011, 12:52 PM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?


I kept thinking about your post this morning while out on the trails with Gracie (5 1/2 months old).

The line that struck me most was "as well as play for hours with our dog-loving children".

One of the most important things for you to understand going into this is that your girls will not be exercising the dog in any meaningful way. Unless your girls are accustomed to spending over an hour EVERY day (rain, snow, shine) hiking in the woods, that baseline need will need to be met by you or your husband.

My own kids are admittedly younger than yours -- they are 8, 6, and 4 -- but I think our experience will still be relevant to you. Pre-Vizsla, I thought of us as an active family that loved to spend time in the great outdoors (and by any reasonable measure we are). Still, I have found myself needing to be in the woods ALONE with Gracie every day while they are at school, because I cannot drag the kids out for an hour walk in all weather every day, especially as it gets colder here in MA. They do not have the stamina or the inclination.

We DO get outside all together with Gracie, and these outings have formed some of our best memories of our first fall with her...but the kids max out at one or two big walks per week. I don't push it because I want them to love the woods, not resent it because they were dragged kicking and screaming for the good of the dog.

A Vizsla NEEDS, NEEDS, NEEDS to spend off-leash in nature. Gracie is curled up on the sofa next to me as I type this message. She is a happy girl today, because she spent her morning racing down the trail, bounding across boulders, flying over the trunks of fallen trees...shooting through the underbrush, down to the riverbank, up over the crest of the hill...zooming out ahead of me and then zooming back to check in before zooming away again. She lives for this kind of activity.

For the past two weeks, we got to see what Gracie is like without spending adequate time in the woods. She developed an abscess under her jaw that required surgery, and our vet told us to keep her out of the woods while her stitches healed. We still played with her in the yard. We took her to an enclosed baseball field and threw a ball around every day. She. Was. Climbing. The. Walls. She. Was. Eating. Everything. In. Sight. Digging. Barking. Jumping. Aaaagh!

Playing in the park was absolutely NOT a substitute for doing what she loves.

Now...if Gracie does get her needed time off-leash in nature, then the time she spends with the kids is absolutely golden. They goof around in the yard, play with her toys, etc...but most wonderfully of all, they snuggle with her! And she is one happy Vizsla -- curled up on the sofa under a blanket on my oldest son's lap while he is reading, or sitting with my middle boy in front of the heat vent while he fiddles with his LEGOs, or sprawled out on a bed with my daughter rubbing her belly. It doesn't get any better, for Gracie, for my kids, or for me.

But plan on that nature time. Every day. Your V won't be happy without it (and then neither will you!).

I've never owned a lab, but my hunch from watching others is that

lab + ball + someone to throw it = happy dog
lab + kids to run, chase, and play with = happy dog

I don't think the same equations hold true for Vizslas. They need more. Giving it to them is good for your body, mind, and soul...once you figure out how to fit it into your day.

Hope that this message is helpful to you! Good luck!

Take care,
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2011, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?

Thanks for all the replies thus far. They have been very helpful. We are still considering, and yes we do not plan to bring home a pup until summer when the girls and I are home every day.

We plan to go visit some local Vizslas as we have never personally met one.

I love Victoria's post about giving time to your Vizsla being good for your body, mind, and soul. I currently frequent a nature path that is full of owners and their off leash dogs. I am usually the only non-dog owner out there for my mind, body, and soul. It would be great to have a companion, whatever the breed.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2011, 02:03 PM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?


I think the key for you in getting a Vizsla would be to pick (or have the breeder pick) one of the less active pups out of the litter. We picked a lower-activity-level, more submissive ("soft") puppy and while she will probably never have the hunting abilities of her siblings, she is perfect for us. Riley gets a good hour-long walk every day, plenty of off-leash playtime in the yard, and we go on 2-3 hour off-leash hikes on the weekends. I agree with everyone else who has said that play time with the kids is definitely not adequate exercise for a V. Riley does love playing with us and her toys, but that is no substitute for her walks and off-leash exercise. She literally goes nuts and will bounce off the walls (or the back of the couch) if she doesn't get a sufficient amount of exercise.

On the flip side, once she DOES have her exercise, she is the most snuggly, wonderful little buddy on the couch. Riley prefers to cuddle with her head on my neck/shoulder and she is SO warm! I just love V snuggles and I think they are so calming and therapeutic.

Check out Riley & Cooper's blog:

Riley - Born September 5th, 2011
Cooper - Born March 10th, 2012

"The dog represents all that is best in man." ~ Etienne Charlet
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-20-2011, 11:44 PM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?

I see several suggestions for labs. They are great dogs but they can be a bit crazy too. We had one who was quite active until she was about 6. And they SHED LIKE CRAZY - especially in the spring when they blow their coats.

Our vet has a Brittany Spaniel, she said they don't shed much, they don't stink & they are a good breed. You should check them out too.

We've had a wire haired dachshund for almost 12 years. He is calm (unless the doorbell rings), sweet, non-shedding but stinky unless you bathe him every 5-6 days. He is also totally stuck on me - that is a dachshund characteristic - they bond with one person. He's not a good family dog in that regard.

We decided (after a year of planning) to get a second dog so that we could have a family dog who loves everyone. So, we ended up getting a Sadie, our Vizsla.

We've had Sadie for almost 4 months now and she is absolutely incredible. She does require at least 1 to 2 full hours of play - either with a tennis ball, at our 34 acre farm on the weekends or at the dog park. If she gets that she is just fine.

She can be a bit mischievious, she is a picky eater and she is quite demanding when she wants something. So far that's the only things see that are not so desirable but you will get something with every breed.

Our situation is perfect for her. We work from home, we live in a good climate (Georgia) so we can go out a lot even in the Winter and we own lots of land where we take her running & hiking and hopefully swimming this spring in the ponds.

Getting a Visla is one of the best decisions we have ever made. She is the sweetest baby ever, loving, snuggly, so beautiful and very smart. She's sitting on the couch right now with her arms over the back of it watching my son in the kitchen. She is awesome.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-21-2011, 07:09 AM
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Re: Is a Vizsla right for us?

Another non smelly calm, non shed breed is the Shnauzer. My parents had two when I was younger. Great dogs!
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