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Norwich Bulletin - 1/3/2011

The Vizsla

I said I wasn’t going to do it and that my Dogo Argentino Daisy would be our last dog. But now that I am faced with my 14 year old dog’s health problems and I am retired, I realize that my husband and I want another dog. We knew we had to go with a puppy so she could be brought up with the cats. So we looked and we looked and we found what we think is the perfect dog for our home.

What would a breeder of Abyssinians want in a dog? We would want an old and ancient breed of course, similar to our cat breed. A short coat; and, if there was a dog with the same color and personality as our cats, it would be perfect. Enter, the Vizsla and Michelle Porfido.

Porfido, owner of Rhapsody Vizslas on Long Island, took a lot of time with us and we learned firsthand about these amazing dogs. Already a veteran dog show handler, this young woman in her early twenties greatly impressed me with her ethics and breeder practices. I wanted to find a responsible breeder who had my values and would teach me what I needed to know about this breed.

The first written reference to the Vizsla breed was recorded in 1357 by the Carmelite Friars on order of King Louis the Great. So the breed has been known since early Hungarian history. In fact, their ancestors were the trusted and favorite hunting dogs of the Magyar tribes who lived in the Carpathian Basin in the 10th century.

There are stone etchings over a thousand years old that show a tribal hunter with his falcon and his Vizla; much as the hieroglyphics from Ancient Egypt depict the Pharoahs with their Abyssinians.

The Vizsla survived a lot of wars from 1526 (The Turkish Occupation) up to and including World War II which only left about a dozen true type Vizslas alive in Hungary. But the breed has once again risen to prominence. The breed started arriving in the United States at the close of World War II by Frank Tallman and Emmett Scanlan. Sari and her two pups Tito and Shasta arrived in Kansas City in 1950. Ten years of a careful and selective breeding program, and the Vizsla obtained official recognition by the AKC in 1960.

So now that you know the history of the breed, exactly what is a Vizsla? It is a medium sized dog that is used for hunting and protection. They are lean, muscular dogs that have golden rust colored coats in different shading. They have a close-lying coat with no undercoat and are susceptible to the cold so they are not kennel dogs nor should they be left outside for long lengths of time.

They are self cleaning dogs and only need to be bathed infrequently and the really nice part is that they have very little noticeable “dog smell” about them. They are high energy, gentle-mannered, loyal, caring and highly affectionate. They form quick bonds with their owners. Often referred to as “Velcro” dogs, they thrive on human interaction and being part of the family.

They are quiet dogs, only barking if necessary and if they feel neglected or want something, they will cry. And I have basically just described the Abyssinian cat breed which makes the Vizla breed very appealing to me.

They are natural hunters and we do not hunt so we will need to use their excellent training ability and give them some jobs. They are great retrievers on land and in water, so there will be some vigorous games of fetch in our future. No dog should ever be trained harshly, but especially so with the Vizsla as they have sensitive temperaments and can be easily damaged if trained too harshly.

They thrive on attention, exercise and interaction, enjoying challenges and mental and physical stimulation. They want to be with their people all the time and will gladly sleep in bed with you. The only difference between a Vizsla and an Abyssinian in this case, is the size of your bed buddy.

Medium sized dogs, the females are about 45 pounds and the males can go up to 60 pounds. There life expectancy is 12 to 15 years and they have very few genetic problems. In some cases hip dysplasia and/or canine epilepsy exists but responsible breeders do not select dogs that have these problems for their breeding program.

The picture that I am sharing with you is actually a picture of the sire of my puppy to be. Now I just have to wait. To see more pictures or to learn more about the breed, log into

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