Vizsla Body Length vs Height
For endurance galloping, a square body is an advantage. At a gallop, the rear legs must lift the front and having a relatively short body makes this easier – thus contributing to endurance. At a trot, a square body is a disadvantage since there is more potential for interference between the front and rear feet. The best endurance trotting breeds (Dalmatians, for example) have a body length 10-20% longer than their height.
The CKC standard says Vizslas should have a “length to height ratio of approximately 1:1.” This proportion definitely puts the Vizsla into the endurance galloping category. Both the AKC and FCI standards require the breed to be slightly longer than tall. Since Vizslas do perform some work at a trot, this would improve trotting efficiency but would sacrifice some endurance at a gallop.
Vizsla Legginess Ratio
Up to a point, longer legs allow longer strides, hence greater speed. For the fastest dogs, racing greyhounds, the optimum leg length is about 30% longer than chest depth. When leg length equals depth of chest (as in trotting dogs), galloping speed is slower. Leg length that is about 20% longer than chest depth allows a combination of speed while still maintaining endurance at a gallop. Though the CKC standard does not refer to this proportion, it would seem to be the most efficient for a Vizsla. This is supported by the FCI Vizsla standard: “depth of brisket slightly less than half the height at the withers”. Interestingly, the UK standard specifies that the distance from the withers to lowest part of the chest should equal distance from the chest to the ground – the proportions of an endurance trotting dog!
Vizsla Angulation – What is Balanced?
The description of angulation in Vizsla breed standards is riddled with measures of angles and bones without giving reference points for how these are to be determined. The development of technology to x-ray dogs stacked and moving has revealed that some features described in breed standards are physical impossibilities. Other descriptions use wording such as “moderate” but give no guidelines, leaving their true meaning open to interpretation.
Without getting into detailed measurements, what is important is how the front and rear assemblies work together to allow a dog to perform its function. Brown defines this balanced angulation, as “Whatever angulation is needed for the function of the breed during locomotion.” But, he adds, “balanced” does not mean equal!
For endurance trotting dogs, front and rear angulation are “balanced” when the angle at the point of the shoulder is similar to the angle at the stifle, and the angle at the elbow is close to the angle at the hock joint. Breeds whose function requires them to gallop are “balanced” when they have more angulation in the rear than in front. However, this can be carried to extremes in Vizslas when too much rear angulation decreases endurance.
The following table summarizes the features of dogs whose function requires them to excel at various gaits and some of the ways that trotting style is affected. To keep the working abilities of our Vizslas, the qualities of an endurance galloping dog should be maintained along with physical fitness, health and the desire to hunt. While some of these qualities cannot be assessed in the show ring, it is possible to choose to promote Vizslas as endurance galloping dogs rather than allow our breed to become flashy trotters that win because they are competing in a venue called the “show” ring.
Brown, Curtis M., 1986, Dog Locomotion and Gait Analysis, Hoflin Publishing Ltd., Wheat Ridge, CO.
Cole, Robert W., 2004, An Eye For A Dog, Illustrated Guide to Judging Purebred Dogs,
Dogwise Publishing, Wenatchee, WA.
International Magyar Vizsla Conference, October 13-17, 1999. Presentations translated by I.
Horvath (Canada) and Zsüzsa Fuzesa (Hungary).
* Fédération Cynologique Internationale – the World Canine Organization founded in 1911 has over 80 member countries worldwide (including Hungary) and sanctions world championships in conformation, obedience, agility, field trials and other events.