The Wirehaired Vizsla (WHV) is a Hungarian breed that descends directly from the smooth coated Vizsla and the German Wirehaired Pointer. When compared with many other breeds, this one is relatively young. The Wirehaired Vizsla traces its origins back to the mid-1930s, when Vasas Jozsef, a hunter and owner of the Csaba Vizsla kennel in the town of Hejocsaba, decided to develop a new breed. He was joined in his efforts by Gresznarik Lazslo, also an avid hunter who owned the de Selle kennel of German Wirehaired Pointers. With the guidance and approval of the Hungarian Vizsla Klub, the two men set about creating a breed that retained the distinctive color and characteristics of the Vizsla but added the heavier frame and protective coat of the German Wirehaired Pointer. They wanted a dog with superior pointing and retrieving skills that would excel both as a hunting partner in the extreme winter weather of upland Hungary and as a family companion.
Initially, these gentlemen bred two of Jozsef’s female Vizslas (“Csibi” and “Zsuzsi”) to a solid brown male German Wirehaired Pointer (“Astor von Pottatal”) belonging to Laszlo. A male from one of those litters was crossed with a female from the other, producing the first formally recognized Wirehaired Vizsla, a lovely bitch named “Dia de Selle.” Dedicated fanciers spent the next several decades perfecting the Wirehaired Vizsla’s dense rough coat, while at the same time preserving the hunting instincts and capabilities of its smooth coated cousin. Most of the early breeding initially took place in northern Hungary and in parts of what later became Slovakia. Hunters and breeders in Austria and elsewhere soon joined the effort.
The advent of World War II nearly brought about the extinction of both the smooth coated and Wirehaired Vizsla. Almost all breeding records were lost. Still, dedicated breeders throughout Eastern Europe steadfastly did what they could to preserve and continue refining the Wirehaired Vizsla. Other breeds probably were added to the mix during this period; the Irish Setter, Bloodhound, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and Pudelpointer have all been mentioned as possible contributors.
The Wirehaired Vizsla was officially recognized as an independent breed by the European Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1966. Wirehaired Vizsla’s were introduced to North America in the 1970s. Initially, they were referred to as “Uplanders,” because of the breed’s origins and in an attempt to distinguish it clearly from its smooth coated counterpart. In 1977, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) formally recognized the new breed, and the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) accepted it in 1986. In 2006, the United Kennel Club (UKC) followed suit. The American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the Wirehaired Vizsla into its Foundation Stock Service registry in 2008. The breed was approved to participate in all AKC Companion events (obedience, rally, agility) and Performance trials (hunting, tracking, field ) as of January 1, 2009, and it became eligible to compete in AKC conformation shows as a Sporting breed member of the Miscellaneous Class in January of 2011. The Wirehaired Vizsla has an AKC-adopted breed standard and an AKC-approved Parent Club, the Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America.
The Wirehaired Vizsla is generally considered to be a healthy breed, in part because of the hybrid vigor associated with the outcrossing of several different breeds so recently in its history. They have a fairly long life expectancy, averaging 12 to 15 years. Reported health concerns in this breed, although not necessarily common or hereditary, may include Addison’s Disease (hyperadrenocorticism), Cushing’s Disease (hypoadrenocorticism), hypothyroidism, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, metabolic muscle disease, canine stress syndrome/malignant hyperthermia, epilepsy, sebaceous adenitis, atopy (allergies), ear infections (otitis), reproductive disorders (infertility), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), corneal dystrophy and juvenile/developmental cataracts.