The adventure-loving, yet noble Vizsla has been around since at least the 10th century. Originally bred to be a loving member of the family and a versatile hunting dog, excelling at both pointing and retrieving, this affectionate, active breed is still quite popular today.
The beautiful Vizsla is famous for high energy levels and an intense desire to be by the side of those he loves. Known to be gentle with children, Vizslas are a great fit with active, energetic families who not only don’t mind but want their dog tagging along wherever they go.
Do Vizslas have any health issues? The Vizsla is a generally healthy breed. Like all breeds, they can suffer from a variety of issues and health concerns. Tests and screenings for the most common and problematic diseases are available and are employed by the most responsible breeders.
If you are considering bringing a Vizsla into your life, it is prudent to learn all about the breed’s quirks, temperament, energy levels, and yes, health issues first. Knowing what to expect with a Vizsla can help you to make a well-educated decision as to whether or not the breed is right for you.
Fortunately, there are many resources out there. With a variety of health screening tests in place, you’ll be off to an excellent start. Read more to see what’s available.
Top Vizsla Health Resources: VCA, CHIC, and OFA
- VCA: Vizsla Club of America
- CHIC: Canine Health Information Center – Provides health test and screening information
- OFA: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals – Certified health tests
The Vizsla Club of America (VCA), the American Kennel Club (AKC) parent organization of the breed, provides a wealth of information and resources to members and requires that breeding dogs be tested and screened for a number of genetic defects in an attempt to control and limit the various genetic diseases that appear in the breed.
The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is a database of breed-specific health information sponsored by AKC/Canine Health Foundation (CHF) and The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). According to CHIC, their mission is, “to provide a source of health information for owners, breeders, and scientists to assist in breeding healthy dogs.”
To assist breeders in reducing the occurrence of inherited diseases through informed breeding decisions and to provide valuable information to potential buyers who are actively searching for responsible breeders, CHIC provides a list of breed-specific, recommended health screening tests.
The VCA requires that breeding dogs receive tests that screen for hip, eye, and thyroid disorders, though a number of optional tests are also highly recommended. A DNA number is also required for all registered dogs. An important stipulation states that only dogs free from hereditary defects such as hip dysplasia should be bred.
It is worth mentioning that even if a dog has been issued a CHIC number and all required tests have been performed, that does not necessarily indicate a clean bill of health. It only means that the testing requirements have been met and the results have been made available to the public.
Additional Recommended Tests
In addition to the required screenings, the VCA and CHIC also recommend a congenital cardiac exam performed by a specialist, an advanced cardiac exam, and an OFA evaluation for elbow dysplasia. Elbow dysplasia is an inherited condition caused by abnormalities of the elbow joint and can lead to pain, lameness, progressive arthritis, and ultimately loss of function.
An OFA evaluation for sebaceous adenitis, an inherited disease affecting the skin, is also highly recommended. Signs of this condition include alopecia (hair loss), scaling of the skin, secondary skin infections, bad odors, and lesions.
Von Willebrand’s disease, a form of hemophilia which affect canines, is another recommended test. This condition is the most common bleeding disorder and can affect humans as well. It is caused by a deficiency of the von Willebrand factor, a protein that is necessary for the proper clotting of platelets.
Tests can also be performed to screen for patellar luxation, which causes the kneecap to slip out of place, and a PennHip evaluation, which is another test for hip dysplasia.
Health Certifications And Clearances
When speaking to a Vizsla breeder about purchasing a puppy, be sure to inquire about certain health certifications. The ability to produce these certifications shows that the breeder is truly passionate about Vizslas and is conscientiously working hard to help eliminate genetic conditions from the breed.
Ask to see the following health certificates:
- Documentation from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) declaring the dogs to be free from eye disorders.
- Documentation from OFA stating that the dogs are free of hip dysplasia.
- University of Pennsylvania hip certification (PennHip).
- OFA certification of cardiac health.
- OFA certification of elbow health.
- American Temperament Test Society certification.
The more health certificates available, the better. Also, find out how many OFA certified dogs are in the pup’s lineage. Again, the more, the better. A high number indicates that the breeder has only bred healthy dogs for generations and your puppy has a good chance of never developing genetic disorders.
Common Conditions to Be Aware of
There are several other conditions that are common to the Vizsla breed. Many Vizslas will go through life without experiencing any ailments at all, but some, especially those that are the result of poor breeding practices, tend to be more prone to developing certain conditions.
Both allergies and arthritis routinely occur in Vizslas. Eye disorders such as cataracts, glaucoma, distichiasis (extra eyelashes that grow abnormally), and entropion (inversion of part of the eyelid which can irritate or scratch the eye) can also show up in the breed.
Disorders of the blood such as hemolytic anemia and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia can also occur in Vizslas. Hypothyroidism, epilepsy, and cancer are possible with the breed as well.
The long list of technical terms and scary names may sound intimidating, but remember, these conditions are only possible, not necessarily probable.
All dog breeds, not just Vizslas, have certain conditions that they are prone to. Vizsla owners should not live in fear, anxiously awaiting an imminent health crisis, but rather simply be aware that there are certain conditions that may arise in some – not all – individuals.
What Is the Lifespan of Vizslas? What Affects Their Lifespan?
The average life expectancy for a Vizsla is between 12 and 14 years. Of course, some individuals will surpass 14 years, and sadly, some will not make it to their 12th birthday. Providing the best possible care will increase their chances of living to a ripe old age while still enjoying a high quality of life. Be sure your Vizsla receives:
- plenty of physical activity in order to remain healthy and fit.
- high-quality dog food, preferably with meat as the first ingredient.
- routine grooming.
- regular check-ups with a veterinarian.
- scheduled shots, vaccinations, and preventative medications (like heartworm pills).
- lots of love and attention!
On the flip side, not receiving adequate exercise, nutrient-rich food, proper grooming, regular visits to the veterinarian for check-ups and vaccinations, and enough affection can actually lower the lifespan of the dog and at the very least, contribute to poor quality of life.
When do Vizsla puppies get their shots/vaccinations?
Some vaccines are area specific, but most puppies will need their core vaccines administered every 2 – 4 weeks from the age of 6 weeks until 16 weeks old. Another round will be needed once between months 12 – 16 and then again every 1 – 2 years.
When can you spay or neuter a Vizsla?
While many veterinarians recommend spaying and or neutering between the ages of 6 – 9 months, numerous studies indicate that the likelihood of developing certain diseases and behavior disorders rises dramatically when sterilization occurs before the age of 2 years (source).
A Brief Review
While there are health issues, primarily genetic, that are common, the Vizsla is a generally healthy breed. There are many tests and screening procedures available that are designed to identify diseases and disorders in an effort to reach the goal of reducing the frequency that they occur until they are eliminated altogether.
Purchasing a Vizsla puppy from a reputable, responsible breeder who routinely tests for the most common disorders will greatly increase your chance of obtaining a healthy, issue-free dog. Please do not let the possible health conditions deter you from enjoying one of the most affectionate and loyal breeds of all time.