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Why the Hungarian wirehaired vizsla is becoming more and more popular

The breed is steadily gaining fans in the shooting field and vizslas also make good pets, says David Tomlinson

Popular gundog breeds Hungarian wirehaired vizsla

Hungarian wirehaired vizsla

I  first came across the Hungarian wirehaired vizsla (HWV) more than 16 years ago. The vizslas in question belonged to a reader who invited me to see them working. I was impressed and the owner said that his dogs had all the attributes of the familiar Hungarian vizsla, but their rough coats made them better suited to the British shooting field. He added that he also found them unusually biddable and easy to train. 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.

wirehaired vizsla

Its rough coat gives the wire-haired vizsla added protection in harsh conditions when in the field

Hungarian wirehaired vizsla – one of the newest gun dog breeds

Historically, the Hungarian wirehaired vizsla is one of the newest breeds of gundog: it was developed in the 1930s in Hungary by crossing smooth-haired vizslas with German wirehaired pointers (GWPs). The aim was to produce a shooting dog that combined the colour of the vizsla with the heavier coat and more substantial build of the GWP, making it better suited to working in harsh conditions. Development of the breed continued during World War II, with a number of Hungarian kennels becoming involved. It is thought that pudelpointer and Irish setter blood was introduced.

Today, though the breed remains relatively rare in its native Hungary, it has been enjoying growing popularity elsewhere in the world. The first HWV was shown at Crufts way back in 1980, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the first litter was whelped in the UK. The relaxing of Britain’s strict quarantine rules at the start of the new century made it much easier to bring dogs in from the Continent and this did much to boost the popularity of the HWV in this country.

A wirehaired vizsla taking part in a spring pointing test

A wirehaired vizsla taking part in a spring pointing test

Heath issues

No breed is perfect, and this includes the HWV. Years of selective breeding from a small stock base means that genetic diversity is poor, but despite this the overall health is relatively good, with allergies the most commonly reported health issue. There have also been a number of cases of hip dysplasia: the average hip score is a relatively high 11. Equally high is the price of puppies: expect to pay anything from £800 to £1,000.

There are two dedicated breed clubs: the Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla Association and the Hungarian Wire-haired Vizsla Club of Great Britain.

My most abiding memory of watching HWVs work is a five-year-old dog I met in Yorkshire, working in the beating line on a driven grouse day. He was a recent rescue dog from a pet home, but despite never having received any formal training, he worked diligently and steadily all day.

Hungarian wirehaired vizslas – key points

  • Lively, gentle and affection dogs who form close bonds with their owners, including children
  • Quiet, only barking when aroused
  • Sensitive temperament, so need handling gently during training
  • Excellent swimmers and will retrieve on land and in the water
  • Need 30 minutes to an hour of exercise off-lead daily
  • Highly intelligent