Wirehaired Vizsla Laying in Grass
Wirehaired Vizsla Head in Grass and Hay
Wirehaired Vizsla Laying Outdoors
Wirehaired Vizsla Side Profile
Wirehaired Vizsla Sitting in Grass
Wirehaired Vizsla Running in Grass
The Wirehaired Vizsla is an all-around hunting dog with tracking and retrieving abilities. He’s bred to work in fields, woodlands and water. The Wirehair is a cousin to the Vizsla, but they are distinct breeds and are registered separately.First and foremost, the Wirehaired Vizsla is known for being an efficient hunting dog, but that doesn’t preclude him from being a fine family companion as well — if he’s placed with an active family who will give him the training, exercise and attention he craves.

This is a versatile dog who can potentially compete in many types of activities. You can find him not only in the field, hunting fur or feather and even working in tandem with a falcon, but also in agility or obedience rings, doing tracking or dock diving, or bringing joy as a therapy dog. Like to hike or backpack? Healthy Wirehaired Vizslas can do well negotiating rough terrain and weather conditions. It’s not unusual to find a Wirehaired Vizsla who excels in multiple activities.

When he’s properly socialized and trained, the Wirehaired Vizsla is usually gentle with children. He is also likely to get along with other dogs and possibly with cats, especially if he is raised with them.

Before getting a Wirehaired Vizsla, meet one or more in person, ideally in a home setting. Interview breeders thoroughly to make sure your lifestyle matches the Wirehair’s activity needs. This is a highly people-oriented dog who enjoys using his mind and his body. Choose him only if you can give him the attention and interaction he needs, or you will end up with a bored, unhappy and destructive dog.   

Quick Facts

  • The Wirehaired Vizsla is a little larger and heavier boned than the Vizsla.
  • The Wirehaired Vizsla has a coarse, wiry coat with bushy eyebrows and a beard. The facial hair is referred to as “furnishings.”

The History of Wirehaired Vizslas

Although the Vizsla’s history is said to go back many centuries, the Wirehaired Vizsla is a relatively recent development. He was developed in Hungary — the homeland of the Vizsla — in the 1930s by hunters and falconers who sought a sturdy dog with a tough, wiry coat that could be somewhat protective against the rough field conditions and harsh winter weather found in northern Hungary. They submitted a plan for creating such a dog to the Hungarian Vizsla Klub.

After much controversy, the plan was approved, on the condition that the Vizsla’s inherent qualities and distinctive golden-rust coat color would be preserved. The primary difference would be the coat’s length and texture, which would be long and wiry. To create the new breed, smooth Vizslas were crossed with a German Wirehaired Pointer, Pudelpointer, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Irish Setter and possibly a Bloodhound. 

The Wirehaired Vizsla was recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale in 1966. Wirehaired Vizslas were first imported to the United States in the early 1970s and have gradually achieved more recognition here. The Canadian Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1978, and the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association recognized him in 1986. The Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America was formed in 2003. In 2006, the United Kennel Club recognized the breed as the Hungarian Wire-Haired Vizsla.

The breed entered the American Kennel Club’s Sporting Group in 2013. Only a few hundred exist in North America, so it is still a rare breed.  

Wirehaired Vizsla Temperament and Personality

His tendency toward easygoing adaptability generally makes the Wirehaired Vizsla a good family companion. In the home, he’s meant to be calm, gentle and loyal. He’s typically outgoing and friendly with family members, but he often chooses a single person to be his favorite. Strangers may see his more aloof side, and strangers with ill intent will discover that he’s highly protective of his people and property.

Enjoy the Wirehaired Vizsla’s clever nature. It will balance out the annoyance you may feel at his tendency to be stubborn.

This dog is a sensitive soul who responds best to firm, fair handling with plenty of positive reinforcement. Harsh discipline is counterproductive and can ruin what should be a self-confident dog who’s eager to learn. Give him lots of praise and affection, and avoid using a loud, angry voice. You will find that he learns quickly and has an excellent memory, especially when it comes to finding birds.

Start training your Wirehaired Vizsla the day you bring him home or, before you know it, he will have you trained. He is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like the one for kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limiting exposure to other dogs and public places until the puppy series of vaccinations (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) has been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until his puppy vaccinations are completed.

Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see their puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality.

The perfect Wirehaired Vizsla doesn’t spring fully formed from the whelping box. He’s a product of his background and breeding. Look for one whose parents have nice personalities and one who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.    

What You Need to Know About Wirehaired Vizsla Health

The Wirehaired Vizsla is a generally healthy breed with a potential life span of 12 to 14 years. That said, he has some health issues of which you should be aware.

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on her puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Health problems seen in Wirehaired Vizslas include hip dysplasia, eye disease and cancer. Responsible breeders have their dogs’ eyes examined by a board-certified ophthalmologist and their hips evaluated before breeding them. Eye problems seen in the breed include progressive retinal atrophy, an eye disease that causes blindness; glaucoma; persistent pupillary membranes; ectropion (eyelids sag outward) and entropion (eyelids roll inward); and distichiasis (abnormal inward growth of eyelashes).

Health certifications your pup’s parents should have: 

  • Hip evaluation, with results registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)
  • An eye exam by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist, with results registered with OFA
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in many cases the dogs can still live good lives. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.

If a breeder tells you she doesn’t need to do those tests because she’s never had problems in her lines or because her dogs have been vet checked, or if she gives any other excuses for skimping on the genetic testing of dogs, walk away immediately.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common canine health problems: obesity. Keeping a Wirehaired Vizsla at an appropriate weight is one of the easier ways to protect his overall health..    

The Basics of Wirehaired Vizsla Grooming

The Wirehaired Vizsla has a dense, wiry double coat that is approximately 1 inch long. The lower legs, belly and chest are covered with hair that is shorter, softer and thinner.

Keep the breed’s wiry coat natural. There’s little need for stripping, and the coat should not be clipped. Brush your dog occasionally, and bathe him as needed. If he starts looking a little too shaggy, you can strip the furnishings (eyebrows and beard) to give them a more tidy appearance.

The breed sheds little. You shouldn’t find yourself wearing your Wirehaired Vizsla’s coat or wiping hair off your hand after you pet him.

The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every three to four weeks or as needed, and brush the teeth often — with a vet-approved pet toothpaste — for good overall health and fresh breath.    

Finding a Wirehaired Vizsla

Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.

Choosing a Wirehaired Vizsla Breeder

Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.

Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with, and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes to avoid those problems.

Start your search with the Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America. It should be able to refer you to breeders in the United States or Canada. This is a rare breed, so expect to wait a while before a puppy is available.

Look for a breeder who is active in her national breed club and a local club, too, if possible. She should regularly participate with her dogs in some form of organized canine activities, such as conformation showing, obedience or other dog sports, or therapy dog programs. She should sell her puppies with written contracts guaranteeing she will take the dogs back if at any time during their lives the owners cannot keep them.

Ask the breeder to provide you with documentation that your prospective puppy’s parents were cleared for health problems in the breed and have results registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC).

Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from a website that offers to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It could save you money and frustration in the long run.

Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.

Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store or another source, don’t forget the adage “let the buyer beware.” Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100 percent guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals) and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization or other reliable source for healthy puppies. 

And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Wirehaired Vizsla might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult Wirehaired Vizsla, if one is available, may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. You can find adult dogs to adopt through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home.

If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.

Adopting a Dog From a Wirehaired Vizsla Rescue or Shelter

Bear in mind that the Wirehaired Vizsla is a rare breed and few are available in this country. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group. If you want to search, however, here’s how to get started.

1. Use the Web

Sites like Petfinder and adoptapet.com can have you searching for a Wirehaired Vizsla in your area in no time. The sites allow you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Wirehaired Vizslas available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area.

Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.

2. Reach Out to Local Experts

Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Wirehaired Vizsla. That includes vets, dog walkers and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.

3. Talk to Breed Rescues

Most people who love Wirehaired Vizslas love all Wirehaired Vizslas. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Wirehaired Vizsla is a rare breed in North America, so few dogs are available through rescue, but breeders and breed clubs work to place dogs when they are in need of new homes.

The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They may also offer opportunities to foster a dog if you are an experienced dog owner.

4. Key Questions to Ask

You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. Those include:

  • What is his energy level?
  • How is he around other animals?
  • How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
  • What is his personality like?
  • What is his age?
  • Is he housetrained?
  • Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
  • Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Wirehaired Vizsla, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopter’s Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Puppy or adult, breeder purchase or adoption, take your Wirehaired Vizsla to your veterinarian soon after acquiring him. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.