Zsuzsa Füzesi:

The work of the vizsla


It is well-known that the vizsla is a hunting dog; more precisely an „all round / HPR hunting dog”, that is a useful helper of its handler in all the „above ground” types of hunting.

Because of its excellent characteristics and versatility, it is successful in great many other areas of life and dog sport.

About the work of the all round hunting dog

„Hound is the hunter without a dog”, say the old and the saying is true. (It is in fact impossible to translate, the meaning is: the hunter is (nearly) nothing without its dog). It is not accidental, that man, with his vestigial sense organs, needs the help of the dog and technology to be efficient in hunting. Anyone who is familiar with the behaviour of game knows exactly that it is squatting in its hiding place so that one may even step on it while searching; but the „antenna-nosed” dog finds and indicates even the game hiding professionally.

                Let’s start at the beginning. The work of the hunting dog is divided into two basic phases. The first is the work done before shooting, the second is the work after shooting, that is the collection of the shot game.

Work before shooting is very diverse. It depends on what kind of game we wish to prey. In the case of hunting for small game, the task of the dog is to search the chosen area through to the smallest detail and indicate from far away the presence of any game to the hunter. This is the so-called „hunting in the field” according to the jargon of vizsla trials. The good vizsla – following the scents spreading in the air, depending on the circumstances (e. g. temperature, humidity, strength of wind, terrain conditions) – may sense and indicate to its handler the presence of the game from even 150 metres, and point it when reaching appropriate distance. When the game stirs – jumps out or flies up – the task of the hunter is to decide quickly and precisely if shooting is possible or not. Meanwhile, the vizsla must stay in place and leave the part of preying to the hunter.

If the hunter has shot the game, the task of the dog is to collect it by all means. This is already the second phase of vizsla-work, the work after shooting. If the properly shot game stays within the range of shooting, it is easy for the dog to find, retrieve and – sitting – present it to the master. In these cases, the vizsla works with so-called air-scent, that is it searches perceiving the scents spreading in the air.

The situation is different with wounded game. In this case, our vizsla follows the tracks of the fleeing game, until it manages to „catch” and properly retrieve it to its handler. Often, tracking might go on for hundreds of metres. In this case, the vizsla searches for and follows the scents remaining on the ground and vegetation, with technical term, it works with ground-scent. In vizsla trials, this is the so-called „drag-work”.

                With a vizsla that works well, there cannot be missed or lost game. This is not only a question of economy; sportsmanship also requires not leaving the shot game to its fate.

                In the case of hunting big game, a good dog should never disturb the hunter during stalking or while on watch. During stalking it walks stealthily behind its handler, advances without noise following his movements. If the hunter is on a raised hide, his vizsla sits beside or under the hide, and stays there under all circumstances, it does not move. (At trials this is the task called „behaviour in shooting post”.) If the dog spots the game sooner than the hunter (armed with all the accomplishments of technology), then it indicates the game’s whereabouts by looking towards it in silence. During stalking, a situation might arise when the dog cannot follow the hunter. At these times, the hunter orders the dog to „stay down” in a safe place where it waits for him, without leaving its place.

However, after shooting the vizsla often has to work again: it has to follow the blood-track of the wounded big-game. In general, Hungarian vizslas also work efficiently on tracks 3-12 hours old; on tracks older than this only very good (and well-trained) dogs are of use. (Originally, this is the task of blood-hounds.)

In hunting water-game, a good vizsla is an almost indispensable help! A really good hunting dog has to solve the following tasks during duck hunting:

  • finding ducks fallen to the ground, using air-scent or tracking

  • finding ducks fallen on open water with air-scent (if the dog sees the fall of the duck its task is a simple „deep-water retrieve”)

  • finding wounded duck which usually falls or descends to open water and from there flees to the reeds. Now the dog has to follow the swimming trail of the bird, the so-called waterspoor.

  • it has to find ducks fallen into the reeds with the systematic searching through of the reeds, since scents do not spread as far in the thick as on open terrain.

  • it has to search through the reeds along the water-bank and rouse the ducks hiding their, so that the hunter may shoot (strictly observing the rules of hunter-ethics).

 The characteristics of the work of THE WIRECOATED HUNGARIAN VIZSLA are almost completely identical to those of its short-haired cousin. Hunting in thick reeds or forest, the more heavily built, robust wirecoated ones with their coats giving greater protection, are definitely more persevering and less vulnerable. They tolerate cold and consequently cold water more. However in the heat of the summer they are quicker to look for the relieving  shade of bushes and point the game hiding in the field less willingly.

The so-called  „All-round vizsla trials” evolved in Central-Europe (leaning on Moravian and German traditions) to „simulate” these practical hunting situations, tasks and to measure the dogs performance in them comparatively. (A trial is All-round if the dog has to perform in all types of above-ground hunting work, that is in field, forest and water alike.) Field and water trials are of relatively new origins, having been established in Hungary in the last twenty years; these suit especially the personality of the Hungarian Vizsla and present day Hungarian hunting reality. Here the field and water phases of the utility trial are present.

The following characteristics are needed in order to perform the hunting tasks of the utility hunting dog on a high level:

Good temperament

Trainability, intelligence

Excellent scenting ability and its use

Strong tendency to point, figurative pointing

Good retrieving skills

Fine but firm hold of the retrieved object (apport)

Great passion for hunting

Good control and contact

Good tracking ability

Keenness of water

Balanced, confident behaviour

These are the abilities we expect from a Hungarian vizsla.