HISTORY OF THE VIZSLA
Vizsla Canada has available an Archive CD with pictures, history and materials
from our archives on the Vizsla in Canada. Great resource for Vizsla owners on the breeds' picture history
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The Vizsla breed lays a strong claim to being one of the oldest documented sporting dogs in the world. The Magyar tribes which wandered the Russian Steppes and lived in the Carpathian basin during the eighth century, were known to hunt extensively when not breeding cattle. An anonymous scribe of Hungarian King Adelbert III (1235 - 1270) wrote about the history and wanderings of the Magyars, including their use of the yellow pointing dogs called the "Vizsla". Early illustrations of this dog appear in chronicles written by the Carmelite Friars in 1357. Other Hungarian documented references to the Vizsla appear in the 1500s.
There is little doubt that the basic Vizsla was crossbred throughout the centuries with other breeds, including hounds. The Magyars apparently always took such crosses back to the basic Vizsla because hound noses are black and the true Vizsla nose is brown or flesh coloured. Even today, the resemblance of the Vizsla is closer to the lighter wild dogs of the Russian Steppes in colour and quality of coat.
The Vizslas were companion dogs of the early warlords and barons and kings. Their blood was preserved pure for centuries by the land owning aristocracy and held in high esteem by their owners.
The Vizsla has survived the Turkish occupation, the Hungarian Civil Wars, World Wars I and II, and the Russian occupancy. Late in the 19th century, the Vizsla suffered a decline and during the Second World War, came close to becoming extinct. In 1945, when the Russian occupation forces invaded Hungary, many of the wealthy aristocrats were forced to flee their beloved land. Several were able to smuggle their Vizslas and pedigree records out of the country. These owners fled to various parts of Europe and North America with their dogs and from this small, remaining Vizsla stock are descended our present day dogs. Some of these Hungarians came to Canada and the United States in the early 1950's and brought their dogs with them.
2008 was an anniversary year for the Vizsla breeds in Canada.
This marked 50 years of recognition by the Canadian Kennel Club for the Smooth Vizsla, and 30 years for the Wirehaired Vizsla.
THE SMOOTH VIZSLA
In Canada, the first three Vizslas were brought in by Mr. Ben Jones of St. Catharines, Ontario in 1955. A sportsman from Hamilton, Ontario, Ed McCoy, had one of the first Vizslas, Gay V Schloss Loosdorf, registered in the Field Dog Stud Book in 1953. His activity in the field generated interest in the Vizsla and solidly established it in south-western Ontario. It was a gentleman from Quebec named A.G. Gerle (Puszta Kennels Reg'd), however, who successfully had the breed recognized by the CKC in 1958, an event which pre-dates American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition. Mr. Gerle's dogs,Agres Z Povazia (male) and Lyska Z Tattier (female), imported from Czechoslovakia, were the first two Vizslas to be shown as a recognized breed in North America on April 27, 1958 at the Ladies Kennel Club Show in Montreal, Quebec under Judge Robert McCandless of New York, NY. Mr. Gerle's Vizsla, CH. Agres Z Povazia, became the first Vizsla to take Best of Breed and was also the first Canadian show champion on record. CH Lyska Z Tattier became the second bench champion on record.
Only one Canadian bred/owned dog has ever taken the prestigious Best of Breed at a Vizsla Club of America national specialty show: Can./Am. CH. Count Jonish Mignotte, owned by Elizabeth Mignotte of Exeter, Ontario in 1967.
Canadians have been quite active in field training and competitions. The first dog of any breed to acquire the CKC's Field Dog Excellent title was a Vizsla, CH. Cin Cillis Sasha FDX, owned by Ray Rowan from Ontario. This dog was also the first Vizsla in Canada to earn a prize rating in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association's Utility Field Test.
The first Vizsla to earn a Companion Dog (CD) title was Kedves V Hunt bred by Joan Hunt, and owned by Magaret H. Meminger. Her title was earned by her owners in 1961.
The first Vizsla to earn the title of Agility Trial Champion of Canada (ATCHC) is Rusty Betyar, "Jake" owned by Barbara Anderson of Vernon, BC. The title was earned in 1999.
First Vizsla imported to USA was out of Austria couple of years later than first Vizsla in Canada. Her name was Sari (see picture above). For more history on Vizslas in America, please visit VCA website
THE WIREHAIRED VIZSLA
A Manitoba couple, Wes and Dorothy Basler, played a pivotal role in establishing the wire-haired Vizsla in Canada. They imported and bred wire-hairs for several years under their kennel name of "Gamefinder". Wes' involvement with the Wirehairs didn't last very long however, as we learn from some correspondence between Wes and Sandor Arany of Thornhill, ON approximately 18 years ago. Sandor, who is Hungarian, has imported several Wirehairs from Hungary over the decades and bred a few litters and so Wes was interested in contacting Sandor. From these letters, we learn something about Wes and his start with Vizslas.
"It was around 1964 that during my vacation we made a trip to Minnesota, and out of interest in these brown dogs that were being written up in the sporting magazines, we made a visit to a town called Grey Eagle, where we met an ex-sailor who was breeding the Vizsla who took us just outside of town to an old farm barn and opened the door. About 20 Vizslas came out with tails wagging and pleased to see us. Before we left, the lot of us had made up our minds to get some of these, and the next spring we went down again and came back with 2 pups [from Frank Engstom]. We had our first litter in 1966, and have kept that up ever since, except last year and perhaps this year. " Wes was 7 months away from his 80th birthday when he wrote this.
In his other letter to Sandor, he wrote, "Along the way I was contacted by an American Vizsla breeder who had several wirehairs and finally came to an arrangement for me to take the dogs and try to get them recognized in Canada (our rules at that time were for 5 or 6 dogs only). I got a male and female, bred them and applied to the CKC for recognition and registration. While waiting, I raised two more litters, found homes for them and then gave up and returned the parents to my friend in the USA. My first litter was born 30 May, 1972, 2nd on 10 Oct. 1973 and the last 30 July 1974. By that time I was ....completely fed up."
Wes' discouragement was due to the fact that it took six years to register the wirehairs with the CKC and few people were interested in them, making them hard to sell. "I practically gave them away", is what he wrote. In contrast, the Baslers bred and raised over 200 smooth coats. One of them, CH Gamefinder Igezo Ispan, a male, was # 3 Vizsla (1975) in Conformation. "Bo" was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Tom Schollie of Winnipeg, MB and shown by their daughter Debbie.
Today, the Smooth Vizsla enjoys far greater popularity in Canada than the Wirehaired, but interest in the Wirehaired is slowly increasing.
Versatile Vizsla, Marion Coffman, Alpine Publications Inc., Loveland , CO, 1991
The Vizsla, B.C. Boggs, Glenbrier Publishing Co., Jackson, Ohio, 1982
Your Vizsla, J.X. Strauz & J. Cunningham, Delinger Books, Fairfax, Virginia, 1973.
Canadian Kennel Club records, "Official Section", Dogs in Canada magazine