The Wirehaired Vizsla is one of the youngest European breeds, having only been created in the 1930’s. By that time, Hungarian sportsmen had begun to desire a dog which was similar to their beloved Vizsla, but more capable of working in cold climates and retrieving birds from icy water. The Wirehaired Vizsla is also known as the Hungarian Wirehaired Pointing Dog, the Hungarian Wirehaired Pointer, and the Drotzoru Magyar Vizsla.
In order to create a Vizsla capable of working in cold climates and retrieving birds from icy water Vasas Jozsef, owner of the Csaba Vizsla Kennel in northern Hungary decided to implement a breeding program to create just such a dog. Initially he was met with grudging acceptance and skepticism from other Vizsla breeders. He chose to partner with Gresznarik Laszlo, owner of the De Salle Kennel, and a highly regarded breeder of German Wirehaired Pointers. His kennel was located in what is now the nation of Slovakia.
Vasas Jozsef selected two female Vizslas, named Zsuzsi and Csibi. Zsuzsi was selected because her sire’s offspring were known to have longer coats. Laszlo selected a male German Wirehaired Pointer named Astor Von Postat. This dog was selected because he possessed a solid liver colored coat. Zsuzsi and Csibi’s offspring were interbred and the finest resulting dog was named Dia De Selle. Dia De Selle became the first Wirehaired Vizsla to be exhibited. This dog and her siblings exhibited the beautiful coat color of the Vizsla, but also some of the thick bones and head of the German Wirehaired Pointer. Her coat was also deemed to be neither thick nor long enough. However, many Hungarian breeders were sufficiently impressed that they began their own Wirehaired Vizsla breeding programs.
These early Hungarian breeders worked throughout the interwar years and even into World War II. It is known that they primarily used the longest coated Vizslas and German Wirehaired Pointers in their efforts, although some evidence suggests that they may have used Pudelpointers, Irish Setters, and Bloodhounds as well. World War II nearly brought about the extinction of the Wirehaired Vizsla, but Vasas Jozsef and other breeders continued their work, even after their kennels were nationalized by the Hungarian Communist Party. By 1966, the breed was officially recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). However, the Wirehaired Vizsla took longer to catch on than most fanciers had anticipated. The breed was developing admirers among sportsmen, but at a slow rate. The first Wirehaired Vizsla to arrive in North America was imported by a Manitoba sportsman by the name of Wesley Basler in the early 1970’s.
An American by the name of Charles Newman brought the first Wirehaired Vizslas to America in the early 1970’s, shortly after Wesley Basler began importing them to Canada. Newman called his dog’s Uplanders, in order to distinguish them from the rapidly multiplying Vizsla. However, Newman’s efforts to establish the breed in this country failed, largely as a result of other fanciers attempting to improve his dogs by crossing them with other breeds making them unregisterable. However, a few other American and Canadian fanciers continued to import the breed from Europe. The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) became the first transatlantic canine organization to recognize the Wirehaired Vizsla, doing so in 1986. Although only 181 Wirehaired Vizslas were registered with the NAVHDA in 2003, in that year the Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America (WHVCA) was founded.
With an organized club to promote the breed, numbers began to increase more rapidly and by 2006, there were over 350 Wirehaired Vizslas registered with the NAVHDA. In that year, a few breeders applied to the United Kennel Club (UKC) on their own behalf for recognition. The UKC is one of two major kennel clubs in the United States, alongside the American Kennel Club (AKC). The UKC focuses primarily on working dogs, although in recent years has also become a champion of rare breeds. The UKC granted full recognition to the Wirehaired Vizsla in 2006 as the Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla. In 2007, the WHVCA applied for membership with the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, which is designed to monitor the development of a breed until it is sufficiently popular in the United States to gain full recognition. In 2008, this application was accepted and the Wirehaired Vizsla became eligible to compete in AKC performance events in 2009. On January 1st, 2011, the Wirehaired Vizsla was moved from the Foundation Stock Service to the Miscellaneous Class. Although it is unclear when it will happen, the next step for the Wirehaired Vizsla will be full recognition with the AKC.
Although making gains, the Wirehaired Vizsla remains a very rare breed, both in the United States and abroad. Although it is impossible to get exact counts, it is estimated that the global population of this breed is between 2500 and 3000 animals, of which around 400 to 450 live in the United States. The Wirehaired Vizsla was created primarily as a working dog, and most breed members alive today are either working or retired gundogs. However, this breed is becoming increasingly popular as a companion animal, especially for those looking for a unique pet.
The Wirehaired Vizsla is generally similar in appearance to its ancestor, but is somewhat larger and bulkier and with a wiry coat. This breed is also a medium-sized dog. AKC standards call for males to be between 23 and 25 inches tall at the shoulder and for females to be between 21½ and 23 inches tall at the should. UKC standards call for males to stand between 22¾ and 25¼ inches tall at the shoulder and for females to stand between 21¼ and 23¾ inches tall at the shoulders. Breed standards do not give ideal weights for this breed, but most males weight between 45 and 65 pounds and most females weigh between 40 and 55 pounds.
This breed is generally quite thin, but not typically to the extent of the Smooth-Coated Vizsla. The slightly longer hair of this dog makes it look slightly thicker than it actually is. This breed is one of the most athletic of all dogs, and is very lithe and muscular in appearance. Although generally well-proportioned, this breed is slightly longer than it is tall. This breed has a generally short tail, which tapers towards the tip. In many instances, the dog’s tail is docked by roughly a quarter in length. Both docked and undocked Vizslas typically carry their tails high and upright.
The face of a Wirehaired Vizsla is quite refined, but to a noticeably lesser extent that is the case with the smooth-coated dog. Although breeders wanted to maintain the slimmer head of the Vizsla, this dog’s head and face do tend to be slightly wider and thicker than that breed. This breed has a longish muzzle that ends bluntly. This breed has lips that fully cover the jaws but are never pendulous. The hair on the face gives this breed a grizzled appearance, but not quite that of having a mustache. The eyes are slightly oval and medium size. Eye color should be a brown that corresponds to the color of the coat although darker eyes are preferred. The ears of this breed are quite long, but not quite as long as those of the Smooth-Coated Vizsla. These ears hang down low and close to the head.
The coat for which this breed gets its name is short, dense, and wiry. This coat was designed to give this dog as much protection from the elements and injuries as possible. Unlike the Smooth-Coated Vizsla, this breed does have a dense, softer undercoat. Although longer than that of the Vizsla, the Wirehaired Vizsla’s coat should still only be between ¾ and 1¼ inches in length. The chest, belly, and lower portions of the legs are covered with slightly shorter, thinner, and softer hair than the rest of the dog. The hair on the head and ears is also slightly shorter and darker in color, but not any thinner or softer. One of the primary goals of early Wirehaired Vizsla breeders was to maintain the coat color of the Vizsla breed, a goal at which they succeeded to a great extent. These breed comes in several shades of gold from russet to dark sandy. The body is uniform in color although the head and especially the ears are typically slightly darker. Wirehaired Vizslas tend to be lighter in color than Smooth-Coated Vizslas.
Although the Wirehaired Vizsla may be somewhat more of work oriented breed, both breeds of Vizsla are very similar in terms of temperament. For more information on the temperament of the Wirehaired Vizsla please see the main Vizsla article.
The Wirehaired Vizsla has mildly greater grooming requirements than the Smooth-Coated variety. These dogs need to have their coats groomed slightly more frequently, and this process takes slightly longer. Wirehaired Vizslas may need their coats stripped from time to time, in the same manner as most terriers. While owners can learn this process themselves, most choose to have it professionally done, especially as it only needs to be done a few times every year. These dogs need to have their ears regularly cleaned to avoid dirt and grime from building up inside of them. As is the case with all breeds, Wirehaired Vizslas need their nails trimmed, their teeth brushed, and an occasional bath.
This breed is regarded as an average shedder which will leave some hair on carpets, furniture, and clothes but not an excessive amount. There is not a great deal of information on the shedding habits of this breed as it is quite rare, and almost all breed members are primarily working dogs.
The Wirehaired Vizsla is not considered an unhealthy breed, but this dog has a comparatively small gene-pool and a number of genetically inherited conditions have found their way into breeding lines. However, it is very difficult to determine how serious any of these problems actually are because of the rarity of this breed. More Labrador Retriever puppies are registered in the United States every month than there are Wirehaired Vizslas in the entire world. This means that a disease which impacts even one Wirehaired Vizsla would appear to impact this breed at a greater rate than if that disease impacted dozens of members of more common dogs.
Some of the most common problems which impact Wirehaired Vizslas are entropion and ectropion. Entropion occurs when the eyelid grows inwards. This causes eye irritation when the eyelids brush up against the eyes. Ectropion occurs when the eyelids grow outwards. This lets dust and other debris collect in the eyes, also resulting in irritation. Both entropion and ectropion are correctible, but both require expensive and potentially dangerous surgery.
As is the case with the Vizsla, it is highly desirable to have Wirehaired Vizslas tested by the OFA and CERF. This is especially important for this breed as it is known to be plagued by eye and joint problems.
A list of Health problems which are known to be of concern to this breed would have to include: