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JUDGING THE WIREHAIRED VIZSLA
By Peg Roginski
B reeders, exhibitors and spectators will not envy the job of the judges when it comes to this breed. Th is being a fair- ly rare breed, as a judge, you won’t be seeing a large number of them at any one show for a while, and it will be di ffi cult to grasp the standard’s de fi nitions regarding the following speci fi c areas. When judging the Wirehaired Vizsla, the thought that they are a Vizsla with a wire coat needs to be the farthest thing from your mind. Just as the German Shorthair Pointer and a German Wire- haired Pointer are two distinct breeds, so are the Vizsla and the Wirehaired Vizsla. Photo courtesy of Lies van Essen, Netherlands.
Th e Wirehaired Vizsla originated back in the 1930’s from a combination of breeds. Th ey lost momentum, like so many Euro- pean breeds during the war, but have made a strong comeback overseas. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla was bred as an all-purpose hunting companion; their coats need to withstand the harsh terrain and the icy waters for hunting all fur and feather. We have seen in this breed that a correct coat, or just the wire coat without any undercoat may not develop until the dog is closer to 3-4 years old. While what looks like a good harsh coat with a lot of under- coat can in a few years have the undercoat grow longer and hide the wire coat. Th is is a challenge for both breeders and judges.
I am starting with the coat as it is what makes this breed unique from the Vizsla and the German Wirehaired Pointer, the two original breeds used in the formation of the Wirehaired Vizsla. Because there were a few other breeds used to bring in the versatility of the Wirehaired Vizsla, di ff erent coat textures and colors were also introduced into the gene pool. It is not uncommon to get the range of a pin coat to full wooly coats in the same litter. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla is to be self-col- ored just as the Vizsla but exhibit the hard, close laying wire coat coupled with a dense undercoat just as the German Wirehaired Pointers. One of the main di ff erences in the coat from the German Wirehaired
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“Winnie” Photo courtesy of Ed Felker.
Pointers is that the coat on the underbelly and legs are to be shorter, softer and thin- ner than the body coat. Also the beard and brows are not as pronounced, the beard being approximately 1 inch in length. Th is breed is also to be shown with minimal stripping, as close to its natural coat, never clipped! Lacking undercoat or coat brushes on the back of the front legs is to be penal- ized, as is any deviation in coat texture or excessive length. Th e ideal coat length is approximately 1 inch. Th e color of the coat can be varying shades of golden rust; my fi rst thought of this line in the standard was, what does
this mean? But after looking at the coats on some dogs I understand the golden part. When looking at the wire coat, one hair consists of two colors, thus giving it the “golden” hue. Th e shades vary from golden rust to a honey gold. Th e ears may be slightly darker in color than the coat on the body, otherwise the coat color is uniform. Red, brown or yellow colors are faulty. Th is being a self-colored breed, the eyes, eye-rims, lips, nose and toenails should blend with the color of the coat. Yellow eyes are a serious fault. Disquali- fi cations include partially or completely black nose, white extending above the toes
or white anywhere else on the dog except the fore chest or throat, which can only be 2 inches or less in any direction. Now let’s examine the rest of the dog. If my counting skills are up to par, then the words “medium” or “moderate” are in the standard fi fteen times. So to say that the Wirehaired Vizsla is a dog with no exaggerations would be the short story. Th e breed is of medium size with overall symmetry and balance. Th e ideal height of adults for males is 23-25 inches and females 21.5-23 inches. A disquali fi cation for size on males is over 26 inches or under 22 and for females over 24 inches or under
“...SHADES VARY FROM GOLDEN RUST TO A HONEY GOLD.”
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Photo courtesy of Laszlo Otvos.
Photo courtesy of Peg Roginski.
Photo courtesy of Doug Wall.
Task in the water. Photo courtesy of Kathy Lormis.
20.5. Th e body length from breastbone to point of hip should be slightly longer than height to the withers. Th ere should be suf- fi cient bone and substance for a hunting dog that goes through all kinds of terrain but still light enough to hunt all day. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla’s well-propor- tioned head exhibits medium size, slightly oval eyes with tight rims. Ears are set at a medium height with moderate length end- ing in a V shape. Th e skull is well muscled, moderate in length and slightly domed with a moderate stop that has a slight groove from stop to occiput. Th e muzzle is blunt, slightly shorter than half the length
of the head and parallel to skull. Th e nose is such an important part of a hunting breed so this should be wide with open nostrils. Th e bite should be scissor with an under or overshot bite being a disquali fi cation, as is having more than two missing teeth. Th is head of moderation should fi t well with their body of many moderations. Th e slightly arched, medium length neck should be in balance with the head and body. Th e moderately broad chest should be deep, well-muscled and set at the elbows. Th e moderately sprung ribs should be carried well back to a moderate tuck up. Th e topline is straight, well-muscled, fall-
ing into a slightly rounded, well-muscled croup, which is moderate in length. Th e tail is set just below the level of the croup and should be thick at the base. A docked tail should be docked by one-quarter of its length, and a natural tail should reach to the hock joint. Both tails should be carried level or slightly saber-like. Now, when it comes to the forequarters and hindquarters of the standard, moderate is not the wording used. Well angulated is the term for the shoulders and sti fl e for a good reason. If a dog is to hunt hard on land and water they need to have enough angu- lation so that their limbs can extend freely.
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Th e fronts and rears need to be in balance so that they are not trying to get out of the way of the other. And the back needs to be level and fi rm to ensure stability. As the standard states, “movement is powerful yet graceful with far reaching drive enabling the breed to hunt in all elements and cover any ter- rain encountered by the walking hunter.” Th e feet are cat like but slightly oval. Pas- terns are short and slightly sloping and front dewclaws are preferably removed but natu- ral dewclaws are not to be penalized. Rear dewclaws are a disquali fi cation. When approaching the Wirehaired Vizsla the expression should show their con fi dence, intelligence and sensitiv- ity. Th ey were bred to be a guardian of their homes as well as to bring home the meat. So aloofness is something you may encounter while judging this breed. But while at home they are very a ff ectionate and loyal companions. As of now, the Wirehaired Vizsla is get- ting a good start here in the United States. With the team work of dedicated breeders and judges that understand the purpose of the breed, I feel that this versatile, loyal hunting dog has a good future. For the valued collaboration in writ- ing this article, I would like to thank the chairperson of the Public Education Com- mittee, Deb Wall, members of the Judges Education Committee Mark Goodwein and Nancy Edmunds and the Chairper- son of the Judges Education Committee, Amanda Johnson, whom you can email with question, comments or information on our next judges education presentation at email@example.com.
“Dora’s first pheasant” Photo courtesy of Stephen Foster.
Photo courtesy of Lies van Essen, Netherlands.
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GETTING TO KNOW THE WIREHAIRED VIZSLA (GOT DRÓTSZÕRÛ MAGYAR VIZSLA?)
By Deb Wall
hat kind of dog is that? “A Wire- haired Vizsla,” we reply. R e a c t i o n s
harsh winters in the fi eld, forest and water. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla is a distin- guished, versatile hunting dog of medium size, bred for substance and a dense wire coat. Balanced in size and proportion, the Wirehaired Vizsla is robust and lean. Movement is powerful yet graceful with far reaching drive enabling the breed to hunt in all elements and cover any terrain encountered by the walking hunter. Th e breed possesses an excellent nose for hunt- ing and tracking feather and fur on land and in water, as well as a natural point and retrieve. Th e breed’s most distin- guishing features are its weather resistant dense wire coat and its facial furnishings, speci fi cally its beard and eyebrows. Natu- ral appearance is essential to breed type, therefore the Wirehaired Vizsla is to be shown with limited stripping and should not be penalized for being shown in work- ing condition: sinewy, well muscled, with honorable scars. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla is intelligent, loyal, sensitive and bidda- ble, but cannot tolerate harsh handling. Eager to learn, lively yet gentle, they are readily trainable for gun and falcon. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla is a tractable and a ff ectionate companion in the home. - AKC Standard of the Wirehaired Vizsla Once hunting and the sport of falconry were no longer limited to the nobility and a growing middle class was allowed access to the game in fi elds and forests, families were able to provide meat for the table and relied on the assistance of hunting dogs. While the nobility had kennels full of specialized breeds—pointers and set- ters, retrievers and hounds, the merchants, farmers and tradesmen of the new middle class had limited resources and they need- ed one dog, a versatile hunting companion
that could do it all. Th ey walked the fi elds and forests on foot, searching for game birds, waterfowl, and furred game large and small, assisted by the family dog which would locate, point, fl ush and retrieve the game to hand. At home, the hunting dog ful fi lled the role of pet and companion as well, playing with the children, being alert to the approach of strangers and keeping a watchful eye on the property, and sleeping with family members. Today, the Wirehaired Vizslas is still the ultimate de fi nition of a versatile hunt- ing dog. Whether a person likes to hunt upland birds, waterfowl or furred game from rabbits to deer, the Wirehaired Vizsla can locate, point and retrieve game on land and in water. It is as pro fi cient hunt- ing with a falconer as it is with someone who uses a shotgun or bow. It can track a bloodtrail to fi nd a wounded deer in the forest or the trail of a person lost in the wilderness. It will hunt down and kill rats and mice in the barn as well as any terrier. Cattails and acres of lily pads won’t deter a WV from swimming to fi nd and retrieve ducks or geese. It is not all just prey drive, there is a softer side to their versatility, too. Th is the other hallmark of the breed—their attach- ment to their people. Th ey hunt because we hunt, but they are very biddable, peo- ple-oriented and intuitive, making them an outstanding companion for many activities in addition to hunting. Th ey are wonderful therapy dogs and always seem to instinctively know what is needed when they make a therapy visit. Th ey love to learn, and though they can be cautious about new situations and experiences at fi rst, they are quick to catch on. Th ey are almost always at the head of the class from
range from “A what?” to “Oh, I’ve heard of those but have never seen one.” Th e owners of any rare breed of dog get used to hearing the same questions from people meeting our dogs for the fi rst time. Th ose of us who have Wirehaired Vizslas are no exception. But, no matter how often we are asked, we never get tired of telling people about our dogs. Th ey are not just dogs, after all. Th ey are members of our families, a special breed in many ways. Th e fi rst thing people notice about the Wirehaired Vizsla is its striking appear- ance and lively intelligent expression. It is uniformly self-colored in shades of golden rust, with nose, eyes and eye rims, and toenails all harmonious with the coat. Th e color described in Hungarian translates as “bread crust.” It is the ideal color to blend with and disappear in a fi eld of golden rus- set autumn grass and bushes. Th eir bright russet eyes (not brown, not yellow, but the same hue as the coat, ideally a shade or two darker) shine with intelligence and intu- itiveness, and are accentuated by bushy eyebrows. A small beard and moustaches complete the facial furnishings. It is not just their appearance that makes Wirehaired Vizslas so special. Ver- satility is one of the breed’s hallmarks. Multi-talented, it is the ultimate jack of all trades. Originating in Hungary, the Wire- haired Vizsla was developed by hunt- ers and falconers who desired a sturdy, versatile hunting dog able to withstand
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“We do not call them ‘Velcro ® dogs’ for nothing. THEY WANT TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM WITH THEIR PEOPLE AND RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THINGS.”
puppy kindergarten to obedience and do extremely well in Obedience and Rally competitions. Naturally athletic with lots of drive, they can also excel in Agility or Flyball. Th eir ultra-keen scenting abil- ity makes them a natural for Tracking and Scent Discrimination. Th ey are used for Search and Rescue in Europe and are beginning to make an appearance in SAR here in America. Th ey love the water, are strong swimmers and many take great delight in dock jumping. We even know some Wirehaired Vizslas that are expe- rienced canoeists and kayakers! Th ey are happy doing whatever their families like to do and just being a part of the family. Th ey also love cuddling up and being couch potatoes and sleeping with their people. Th e downside of the WV’s intelligence and bond with their people is that WV owners must be prepared to make their Wirehaired Vizsla a part of the family and give them plenty to do. It is not a breed that is content just hanging out in the back yard by itself all day, “being a dog” without the attention and interaction with the rest of the family. We do not call them “Vel- cro® dogs” for nothing. Th ey want to be in the same room with their people and right in the middle of things. Expect to go into the bathroom alone? Better shut the door, and just take it for granted that the dog will be waiting right there when the door is opened. In the fi eld, the Wirehaired Vizsla is a close working, methodical hunter, but not a “boot licker.” It doesn’t go running o ff into the next county, but works about 40-50 yards ahead and always knows where his hunting partner is. Mental exercise is as important for the WV as physical exercise and they need the interaction of learning with their owners. It is important to be able to set aside time every day for learning, whether it is tricks, yard games, obedience exercises or fi eld
work. But while training the Wirehaired Vizsla, it is very important not get car- ried away in repetitions or use any kind of harsh or sharp corrections. Th eir soft tem- perament can make them fold up and shut down under heavy hands or too intensive training. For a Wirehaired Vizsla, a verbal correction is as harsh as it ever needs to get and care should be taken to not use too sharp a tone of voice in making the correction. Th ey do not bounce back the way other breeds with harder tempera- ments do and can take a very long time to recover from anything they view as a bad experience. Th e key to success is to keep training fun and positive. In fi eld work, experience is the best teacher and some- times the sage advice for someone with a Wirehaired Vizsla is to quit training in the yard and just go hunt wild birds. With a soft voice and gentle hand in guiding a young puppy into a hunting dog, any- one with a Wirehaired Vizsla can have a skilled, versatile hunting companion for many years. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla has an average lifespan of 12-15 years. Although overall it is a relatively healthy breed, there are many diseases and conditions that can be found in practically every breed of dog and the WV is no exception. Screening for hip dysplasia and eye problems is recommended for all breeding dogs, and many breeders additionally test cardio, elbows, and thyroid. Probably the most common complaint is auto-immune related, most often allergies of some kind, but other auto-immune diseases have been noted as well. Allergies can be expressed as chronic ear infections, yeast infections, skin irritations or gastric upset/IBS and are sometimes relieved with a change in diet, particularly elimi- nating grains and glutens. Some kinds of cancer have been seen, but no particular
form of cancer is widespread or occurs with any frequency. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla has a small gene pool and care must be taken in breeding decisions to not create a genetic bottleneck with too many dogs too closely related to each other. Understanding the breed’s origins and history is an important key to fi guring out Wirehaired Vizsla pedigrees. Although the breed’swrittenhistory onlydates back to the 1930’s, the breed arose from the remains of the Austria Hungary Empire and survived through wars, changing political boundar- ies and decades of con fl ict in the region. Th e idea of hunters and falconers there was to create a breed with the traits and quali- ties of the Magyar (Hungarian) Vizsla, but sturdier, with more bone, and a dense wiry coat to protect from the elements. With the fall of the Empire, those involved in the breed’s earliest development ended up in di ff erent countries, Hungary, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. In 1943, Vasas Josef, who had the Csabai Vizsla kennel in Hun- gary, submitted an application to the Mag- yar Vizsla Klub, in which he outlined the ways to develop such a breed and asked the club to authorize their e ff orts and keep a registry of their foundation stock. It was a controversial proposal, but ultimately, the club approved with the recommen- dation to develop as many specimens as quickly possible and to exhibit them in shows and hunting competitions, with the club reserving the right to give future per- mission for more development only after examining the characteristics and abilities of those dogs. Vasas Josef was aided by Gresznarik Lazslo, from the De Selle kennel, who was greatly experienced in breeding German Wirehaired Pointers. Together, they crossed two Vizsla bitches with a solid brown Ger- man Wirehaired Pointer. Th e fi rst dogs
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with three-generation pedigrees ful fi lled the dream by inheriting the color and other characteristics of the Vizsla while at the same time passing along the somewhat heavier bone structure and wiry multi- layered coat of the German Wirehaired Pointer. Th e fi rst Wirehaired Vizsla to be shown was Dia De Selle, in 1943. By 1944, there were 60 dogs registered. But WWII brought the near extinction of both the Vizsla and the Wirehaired Vizsla in Hun- gary; dogs were killed and kennels were dis- persed or nationalized under the communist regime, while records and stud books were destroyed or lost. Because of the upheaval of the Second World War and the post- war years, the breed’s development in that period is di ffi cult to trace. We rely on anec- dotal information, hand-written pedigrees and oral history. We know that there were some outcrosses to other breeds in addition to GWP; Pudelpointers and Wirehaired Pointing Gri ff ons were certainly used, and possibly even a Bloodhound. A handwritten pedigree for one dog goes back, eleven gen- erations on the sire and ten generations on the dam, to an Irish Setter which was bred in a total of four times “for speed.” Eventually, after many ups and downs, the Wirehaired Vizsla was recognized by the FCI in 1966 as an independent Hun- garian breed, Drótsz ő r ű Magyarvizsla (Wirehaired Hungarian Vizsla) under Standard #239. With the fi rst imports to North America, the UK and Western Europe fromHungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1970s, the Wirehaired Vizsla began gaining popularity around the world. Although recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1977, the Wirehaired Vizsla remained unrecognized in Amer- ica as the result of a sort of “identity cri- sis.” Author and literary editor, Charles Newman discovered the breed in his vis- its to Hungary in the 1960s and imported
his fi rst Wirehaired Vizslas in 1973. But Newman called them “Uplanders” from their origins in the uplands of northern Hungary, believing the name would help distinguish the breed from its smooth cousin, the Vizsla. He formed a club in Virginia with the aim of gaining sup- port for “Uplanders” among American sportsmen and applied for recognition with the Field Dog Stud Book and the American Kennel Club. However, there were far too few in the country for rec- ognition and, because the breed was not recognized by that name anywhere else, AKC and FDSB refused to recognize the breed as the “Versatile Uplander.” Still relatively unknown in the US, the early e ff orts to promote Wirehaired Vizslas as “Uplanders” died out and few records remain of them. A handful of dedicated hunters in Can- ada and the U.S. persisted in their e ff orts to preserve the integrity of the purebred Wirehaired Vizsla through importing purebred registered European stock for their breeding programs and testing the dogs’ versatile hunting ability. NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Assoc.) tested the fi rst WV in 1974 and formally recognized the breed in 1986. Th e WV can be registered in the Field Dog Stud Book through NAVHDA. By 2003, a total of 181 WV, includ- ing those in Canada, had been registered in NAVHDA and the Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America was formed for the purpose of breed rescue and to develop a breed network in the US. By January 2006, over 350 Wirehaired Vizslas had been registered in NAVHDA and the WVCA organized its fi rst board of direc- tors. Also that year, the breed was recog- nized by the United Kennel Club as the Hungarian Wire-Haired Vizsla and the United HWV Association was founded.
Since then, the breed’s numbers have increased much faster. In 2007, the WVCA applied for the Wirehaired Vizsla to be admitted in AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (FSS) and was accepted, e ff ective Jan. 1, 2008. Th e WVCA began collecting pedigrees and applications for its fi rst packet of registra- tions. Th e breed became eligible to com- pete in AKC Companion and Performance Events on Jan. 1, 2009. Th e WVCA was named the AKC parent club in 2010, sanc- tioned to hold hunt tests and given per- mission by AKC to collect a second packet for registrations. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla and the WVCA have continued to grow together in AKC and the breed was admit- ted into the Miscellaneous Class on Jan 1, 2011. Although the UHWVA disbanded in 2012, many continue to show and com- pete in UKC events as well as AKC events and NAVHDA ability tests. Th ere are now over 330 Wirehaired Vizslas registered in AKC-FSS with three-generation pedigrees. Earlier this year, the WVCA applied to the AKC Board of Directors for the breed’s recognition in the Sporting Group and the AKC Board voted in favor of the request. It will be e ff ective July 2, 2014. Th e Wirehaired Vizsla has survived incredible challenges, from wars and near extinction to an American identity crisis. Th e breed keeps growing and improving, thanks to its wonderful qualities that win our love, admiration, and determination to preserve it. Although there are only several thousand —fi ve thousand at most, found worldwide, dedicated kennels and fanciers all over the world work together to protect and preserve our wonderful Wirehaired Vizslas. For more information about the Wire- haired Vizsla and the WVCA, visit http:// www.whvca.org.
“The Wirehaired Vizsla has survived incredible challenges, FROM WARS AND NEAR EXTINCTION TO AN AMERICAN IDENTITY CRISIS.”
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