Photographs by Natalie Siebers
Vizslas are famous for their beautiful rust-colored coats. They are medium-sized dogs, with males topping out at about 25 inches at the withers and weighing about 60 pounds; the females are a bit smaller.
They are affectionate, eager-to-please, “Velcro-dogs,” forming tight relationships with their owners. Vizsla owner Mark Davila says:
“If you’re looking for a personal stalker, the Vizsla is for you! Similar to Weimaraners and German Shorthaired Pointers, Vizslas are happiest when in the company of their humans. Unlike some companion breeds that identify a single member of the family-pack as their preferred human, the Vizsla is more likely to identify all family members as theirs, and hence do best with families who would welcome that attachment style.”
They are not super common in New York City. The NYC Department of Licensing says there are currently 877 Vizslas registered with the city.
Smart and Energetic
Vizslas are also very smart and energetic, a recipe for trouble if you don’t have the time and resources to keep them engaged and well-exercised. According to the American Kennel Club, you should schedule at least thirty minutes of rigorous activity daily: “most Vizslas need opportunities to run hard off-leash on a regular basis.” You will also need to keep them occupied mentally. They do better if you socialize them early and involve them in consistent, positive training.
Do Vizslas Make Good City Dogs?
If you can keep your Vizsla occupied and exercised, then it just might be a good Urban Dog for you. My friend Rob Caldwell says that his partner, Shaun, had two Vizslas — Ruby and Lily — while living in a New York City apartment. Rob says they took the dogs for regular runs along the West Side Highway and that they never had any problems with either of them.
The writers of It’s a Vizsla Thing said “yes,” with some qualifications, when asked if Vizslas make good apartment dogs:
“We lived in a 750 square-foot apartment the first two years we had Captain; it’s not about the size of YOUR living area, necessarily, but the resources you have around you, how active you are, and how often you get outside… if you have access to a large field or running space, and can get out there multiple times a day, that’s all you really need.“
I think this assessment has value. We raised two Weimaraners, a similar, but even more energetic breed, in apartments. Our dogs considered the apartment their den and the environment outside our building as the place to play and do their business. We made sure they had plenty of exercise outside and neither dog gave us trouble at home.
DogTime gives Vizslas only one star (out of five, five being the best) when it comes to suitability for apartment living. On a similar scale, VetStreet gives them two out of five stars.
Do Vizslas Bark a Lot?
I found mixed information about Vizslas and barking.
UC Davis researchers Benjamin and Lynette Hart devised a system of ranking breeds along a line of thirteen different attributes. A score of one means that the dog in question was unlikely to exhibit a particular trait, a ten means that the dog had a high probability of demonstrating that quality.
In terms of barking at inappropriate times, Vizlsas get a three rating. That means they probably won’t bark when you don’t want them to. The Harts also score them very low on watchdog barking.
VetStreet ranks them in the middle of dog breeds for barking. And DogTime and Trending Breeds say the breed has a propensity for barking. According to Trending Breed: “The breed tends to be very vocal, using barks, whines, moans, howls, and grunts to communicate. Excessive barking, however, typically indicates an unhappy or improperly trained dog and should be addressed immediately.”
Click here for more about Vizslas and barking and here for more on Urban Dog’s take on barking.
Are Vizslas Easily Trained?
It is important to train your city dog. You don’t want your pooch to misbehave in your building’s common areas. The good news is that you can easily teach your Vizsla. They have a strong willingness to learn, and a desire to please their owners.
Vizslas score in the top twenty-five of brightest dogs when it comes to understanding new commands. They obey first commands about 85% of the time according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes fewer than five repetitions for them to learn new commands. The Harts agree, saying Vizslas are very easily trained.
In terms of house-training, Rob and Shaun say Vizslas are quick learners.
How are Vizslas with Strangers, Children, and other Animals?
VetStreet ranks Vizslas in the middle of all breeds when it comes to friendliness toward strangers, children, and other dogs. The Harts say Vizslas are not likely to snap at children and have low aggression toward other dogs.
In addition, Vizslas are fairly even-keeled dogs. In terms of “excitability” and “destructiveness” the Harts write that the breed scores in the lower range on their scale of one to ten.
Do Vizslas Require a lot of Exercise?
Vizslas are pretty energetic dogs. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They can be pretty rambunctious when they are young. If you are seriously considering getting a one as your Urban Dog, keep this in mind. An under-exercised and under-stimulated dog is never a good thing.
Taking Care of Your Vizsla
Vizslas do not require excessive grooming. You should give them an occasional brush with a rubber grooming brush, bathe them every now and then, keep the toenails short, and check the ears frequently. As with all dogs, dental care is important. Keep your Vizsla’s and any dog’s teeth clean.
Vizslas are a fairly healthy breed. They usually live to be twelve to fourteen years old. Check out the American Kennel Club’s article on Vizsla health for more. And here’s the Vizsla Club of America’s statement on Vizsla health.
The Bottom Line
So, are Vizslas good apartment dogs? Yes, it’s Urban Dog’s position that most dogs can be good apartment dogs if the owner has the resources to care for the dog’s needs. As we’ve said over and over in this article, Vizslas need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise. They also thrive when in their owner’s company. If you can’t fill those needs you might want to consider another type of dog.
For tips on how to find a pet-friendly apartment in New York and other cities read Urban Dog’s guide. Bigger dogs pose a particular challenge, but don’t worry, you can find places that accept large breed dogs.
And just because you can never look at too many puppy pics, here is one last one!
For more pictures by Natalie Siebers, visit her website.