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The Rise of the Hungarian Vizsla

10/03/2013 22:06 GMT | Updated 10/05/2013 10:12 BST

The Hungarian Vizsla has risen in popularity in the UK in recent years. If you are lucky enough to meet one, it is easy to see why. A wonderful affectionate temperament combined with startling good looks, the Vizsla is an ancient and noble breed that received recognition centuries ago. Research by Jeno Dus, World authority on the breed and director of the Vizsla Club of Hungary, suggests that Vizslas ancient ancestors first arrived in Hungary in 8th Century with the nomadic Magyar tribesman and warlords who invaded from Eastern Europe from China. Dogs were essential to the survival of these tribesmen, and the ancient Vizsla proved himself loyal and indispensable, combining the qualities in the hunting field of a spaniel, a pointer and a retriever. This is why the Vizsla is known as an HPR. The Vizsla was able to point birds, wild boar, deer and giant hare. He could flush the game and wait on command, while the tribesmen used nets and falcons. The Vizsla provided indispensable help in finding food.

The first recorded evidence of the breed can be seen in 10th century tribal art. A Magyar tribesman is depicted standing with his falcon and his vizsla.

The Vizsla's home country is now and has been for centuries, the low lying Danube Valley and brad Hungarian plain where the grey partridge thrive on the grain bin of Europe.

The breed is again mentioned in 1375 "Illustrated Vienna Chronicle". Published under the instruction of Hungarian King Louis the Great (1342-1382), a chapter on falconry includes a picture of a vizsla. There is a wealth of other evidence in private collections that confirm the Vizslas noble ancestry and its history throughout the Middle Ages is confirmed in letters written in the 15th and 16th Centuries which are now in the National Archives in Hungary.

The word Vizsla, according to the Hungarian Etymological dictionary by G. Bordi, is first seen in the year 1350 as the name of a village on the Danube indicating that Vizslas may have been found in the surrounding area. It means "dog" and it is documented in the Berstence Glossary which was compiled at the end of the 14th Century. It is supposed to have come from the oldest layer of the Hungarian language, from a root -Vis- which means "to search."

As nobility and landowners began to emerge, highly prizing their beloved historic Vizslas, the breed was fiercely protected. The Vizsla was known as a "Gift of Kings" and breeding was restricted to the Nobility of the Greater Hungarian Kingdom, which included Hungary and Czechoslovakia prior to World War I. The gift of a "Royal Golden Vizsla" was a highly unusual event, saved for only the most highly deserving people, such as the Queens of Italy and Spain, and Princess Iolanda di Savia, daughter of the King of Italy. The Vizsla bears the official title of the "National Pointer of Hungary" and the breed is protected by the Magyar Ebtenycstok Orsagos Egyesulete, whose aim is to maintain the high standards of the breed.

The Vizsla has several specific breed-marks, apart from the characteristic rusty-gold coat, that have never been found in any other breed of pointer. The Vizsla was an established and recorded breed at least 300 years before the Nobles of the Courts of Weimar developed the Weimaraner in the early 1800's, and before the first English Pointers were introduced into the Hungary in 1880. They are very courageous dogs and have been used to hunt partridge, pheasant, ducks, geese, rabbits, wolf, bear, deer, and boar. Their pattern is to skim the ground carefully with their nose and pick up the faintest scent, following it to it's source. They have a wonderfully soft mouth which does not damage the game. Their wonderful nose has even been successfully used for tracking people.

The Vizsla has throughout history been a family dog, with its affectionate and personable nature; it has widely been considered as much a family member as children. It has noted throughout history that despite his status as a hunting dog, the Vizsla should live with the human family indoors, if everyone is to get the best out of the relationship. An extremely loyal and affection dog, the vizsla is often happier in the company of his owner than among other dogs.

The Vizsla is show stopping beautiful and owners will tell you how regular an event it is to be stopped when out and about, and asked about their beautiful dogs. Though there are wirehaired versions, the standard is the shorthaired rusty-golden coat. The poise of the vizsla is unique in its nobility and beauty, yet balanced and well proportioned. This breed has incredible stamina, robustness, versatility to all environments, icy water, heat, rough thicket and planes (though they may need an extra coat in some conditions), they are very bright, trainable and keen to please provided they understand the instruction The vizsla is a fast mover, but the action is graceful and elegant.

The Vizsla breed has survived the Turkish Occupation, the Hungarian Civil Wars, World Wars I and II, and the Russian Occupation. During this time the breed was bought to the brink of extinction a few times, but was built up using dogs that had been smuggled out of the country by breed enthusiasts, This saw the spreading of the Vizsla to other parts of the world, with the arrival of the Vizsla to England in 1953. As late as World War II the Vizsla still enjoyed protection in selective breeding, as only the remnants of the aristocracy and the large estate owners were permitted by custom to breed, so the breed is still extremely pure.

The Great Galfrid Gaspar, born in quarantine, is behind many of the UK's import pedigrees, other key names are "Russetmantle" and "Abbeystag". The breed is increasing in popularity as a family pet, in fact, i've got my dear Gonz lying on the sofa beside me.

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