Vizslas are intelligent and highly sensitive creatures that are often bred to be dual- or even triple-purpose dogs (show, field, and obedience). As household pets, Vizslas are loving, loyal, and highly affectionate, and form strong physical bonds with their owners. The Vizsla is one of the dog breeds that has earned the nickname "velcro dog" because of its need for proximity to its owner(s) and tendency to develop separation anxiety.
As with most dogs, the Vizsla's traits can have a positive side and a negative side. If you're thinking about acquiring a Vizsla, it's very important that you determine beforehand if he or she would be a good match for your (or your family's) lifestyle.
First and foremost, Vizsla dogs require much attention and exercise. This is not a dog that can be left in the apartment all day and then taken for a short walk. Vizlas need frequent interaction. Don't be surprised if you find your Vizsla watching you at any time of the day or night, including while you're sleeping or taking your morning shower. If left alone while you're at work, your Vizsla must be given a lot of time and affection both before you leave and after you get home.
As for exercise, remember that Vizslas originated as hunting dogs. They have a LOT of energy, and without adequate physical activity that energy will be diverted into nuisance behavior. Inadequate exercise can also lead to psychological problems or compulsive behavior. It's vital that a Vizsla be taken on a long walk (e.g. six miles) or run every day, and twice-a-day exercise is highly recommended. A fenced yard could also provide room to run, but keep your Vizsla's athletic ability in mind. It's not unheard of for a Vizsla to jump a six-foot fence.
Vizslas are ideal dogs for individuals and families that love to be active and outdoors. Roller bladers, hikers, runners, and swimmers will find Vizslas to be wonderful companions. Of course, hunting with Vizslas is an activity that dates as far back as the 9th century, and Vizslas are excellent dual-purpose dogs as well (see our Vizsla Hunting page for further details).
The American Kennel Club breed standard defines the ideal Vizsla as "a natural hunter endowed with a good nose and an above-average ability to take training. Lively, gentle-mannered, demonstrably affectionate and sensitive though fearless with a well-developed protective instinct." Indeed, a well-trained and properly cared for Vizsla is among the best animal companions a person can have. The close bond a Vizsla forms with its owner is sometimes demonstrated by the dog gently taking its owner's hand in its mouth (if you wish to discourage this behavior, give your Vizsla objects it can carry around in its mouth; it's one of the breed's lovable quirks). The highly tactile Vizsla will also regularly seek to sit in your lap. Their medium size and affectionate nature make Vizslas a good choice for families with children and/or other pets.
Because of its heightened sensitivity, motivation and persuasion should be used to modify a Vizsla's behavior rather than sternness. If your Vizsla is misbehaving, it could be that it was inadequately trained or socialized when it was young, or, more likely, it may be bored or frustrated due to a lack of attention and exercise. Examples of behavioral problems include nuisance barking, digging giant holes in the yard, stealing food, excessive jumping and hyperactivity (very common among Vizsla puppies), destructive chewing (including walls and furniture), and even self-mutilation (e.g. chewing or scratching itself excessively). However, such behavioral issues are worst-case examples, and a Vizsla that receives adequate attention and training should be happy and well behaved.
Vizslas can be timid if not properly socialized at a young age. Early socialization will also minimize your Vizsla's tendency to be startled by exposure to new people or situations. Like most pointers, Vizslas are independent minded, which can make them stubborn and easily distracted. It's important to establish yourself firmly yet gently as someone to whom they must listen.
If a Vizsla sounds like the sort of dog you would love, then it very likely would be. Give a Vizsla the time, affection, and exercise that it needs and you'll be rewarded with a loving, loyal pet that will bring much happiness and pleasure to you and your family.