These hunting dogs, also known as Hungarian pointers after the country from which they hail, are exuberant and particularly people-focused. Vizslas aren’t one of the more traditional assistance dog breeds, but their use as guide dogs has been increasing considerably in recent years.
As lightly built, medium-sized dogs, they aren’t cut out for the most physically demanding service dog work that larger, more commonly trained breeds like Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and German shepherds can perform. However, they’re strong and speedy enough to help with retrieving, carrying, and other physical tasks.
Vizslas are energetic dogs who crave exercise and the outdoors, so they’re best suited to individuals who are able to provide somewhat active days with daily trips outside. There’s a lot more to mull over when deciding on the best assistance dog breed to partner with, though, including what help you need, various aspects of your living situation, what type of dog personality you pair well with, and more.
If you think a vizsla might be a good service dog partner for you or your loved one, read the breed overview below for some additional guidance and insights.
Why Vizslas Make Good Assistance Dogs
Clever, energetic, and enthusiastic, vizslas learn tasks efficiently and carry them out reliably. In fact, their slightly boisterous temperament benefits greatly from the type of training and discipline instilled in assistance dogs.
This breed bonds strongly with humans—including children—and remains devoted and attentive to those with whom bonds form. Vizslas are eager to please and love to be constantly around people and involved in whatever’s going on, so they settle quite happily into the service dog lifestyle.
As a hunting rather than herding breed, vizslas lack the guard dog-type protective instincts that make some dogs wary around strangers. These dogs are generally content, well behaved, and friendly around unfamiliar people and animals, so they are able to focus on and carry out their responsibilities in public.
Vizslas are noted for their keen senses, with their sense of smell considered impressive even by canine standards. They notice everything all around them, and this is a significant part of why they’re becoming so popular as guide dogs.
Vizsla Physical Characteristics
A medium-sized breed, vizslas average about 2 feet tall and 55 pounds. They have short, smooth, dense coats of a golden brown to rusty hue. The coats hold up fairly well to the elements, which is always nice for service dogs that must go outside frequently regardless of weather conditions. Their frames are slight, built for speed, agility, and endurance, but these dogs are still hardy and strong.
While energetic and enthusiastic, vizslas are also gentle. They often exhibit their devotion by sticking close and following people around, always wanting to be a part of things and always hoping for some acknowledgment and affection. They switch between outdoor and indoor modes well, provided they’re getting enough mental stimulation and exercise on a daily basis.
As a breed, vizslas do have a mischievous streak that can prompt some chewing, digging, food stealing, and general goofiness. Strong training, such as that provided for guide dogs, can effectively mellow these tendencies out, though; and again, adequate physical and mental activity goes a long way toward promoting good behavior.
Vizsla Care and Health
Along with the need for activity, vizslas do best when they have a good deal of space in their living environment and frequent access to the outdoors, including the ability to stretch their legs on long walks and leash-free runs. They do shed noticeably, but their short coats are low maintenance, typically needing nothing more than an occasional brushing to remove dead hairs and keep it shiny.
The expected lifespan for a vizsla is 12 to 14 years with proper care and annual veterinary wellness appointments. Dermatitis conditions, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and hemophilia are particular health concerns with this breed.
Here’s some more information about important considerations when choosing an assistance dog breed. Also, you have plenty of options besides a vizsla. Here’s additional info about common service dog breeds.
As mentioned, vizslas are known for their especially acute sense of smell; check out these amazing facts about the canine olfactory sense.
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