Q: I am currently looking to buy my first gundog and I am keen on Hungarian vizslas. Could you please give me some advice as to what I can expect from this breed and what kind of training I will have to give the dog?
A: The Hungarian vizsla is one of the hunt, point and retrieve (HPR) breeds and makes an excellent roughshooting and family companion when properly reared and trained.
Visit the Kennel Club and through the puppy sales register section you will be able to locate local breeders of Hungarian vizslas who have current litters available.
The basic obedience training for any young gundog, that is also to be a family companion, is very similar if harmony in the household is to be maintained .
Am I taking a risk having my working labrador as a house dog?
Every season I enjoy a day or two brushing — that’s Norfolk for beating — on a shoot where the gamekeeper, Tracie Rickman, is…
Training Hungarian vizslas
First and foremost, make sure you get a well-bred puppy from proven working stock. A puppy is to all intents and purposes a blank canvas, but if you have one that has some natural ability
1. Spaniels and the HPR breeds are predominately hunting machines and it is very important that right from an early age you start to condition the puppy to retrieve. It doesn’t matter what you use but just get the young dog used to carrying and fetching back to you.
2. As well as hunting, this breed group has to point game and hold the point until the handler or Gun commands them to flush. Many dogs will have a natural ability to point but others will have to be trained and this process should be done under controlled conditions, such as a pen containing both ground and feathered game.
3. To start with, the dog should be kept on the lead and walked up to a patch of cover containing game. It is helpful at this stage if the dog can’t see its quarry as this can help develop its scenting ability. Stay calm and verbally encourage the dog – this is where an experienced trainer can really help.
4. Next comes strengthening the dog’s point and developing steadiness. Again under controlled conditions walk the dog towards the quarry. As it comes on point, slip the lead off but keep a steadying hand on the back of the dog. This will give you direct feedback from the dog as you will be able to feel it tense up. It is a good lesson in learning about the dog’s body language.
5. Ultimately you are aiming to get your vizsla to a standard where you can confidently hunt it in a wide-open space and when it winds game it will come on and hold a solid point. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing your dog find game and as you walk up to it, gun in hand, it moves and flushes the bird out of range. In this case, practice does definitely make perfect.