Let's start with simply understanding why you should care about about a pup's healthy, proven, well-cared for pedigree. A common misperception is that the frequently used term "from Champion bloodlines" in advertisements by irresponsible people who breed dogs means the pup they're selling is from a nurtured pedigree (it usually isn't!). Another common misperception is that a proven pedigree is just a list of a bunch of fancy show dogs. You've decided all you want is a pet (the most important job for any dog!) so why do you care if your pup has a pedigree complete with dogs proven in a variety of venues such as conformation (CH), field tests (FC, AFC), or hunt tests (JH, SH, MH)? You don't want to do any of that stuff with your Vizsla--you just want a companion to take on hikes, play fetch with, take mountain biking, etc., and that will live a long life. You should care because you want a Vizsla that is healthy, easy to train, of sound temperament, of sound structure, and pretty to look at (instead of one of those crazy, spooky, neurotic Vizslas!). These are the very reasons you're attracted to the breed in the first place. You saw someone out with their Vizsla and thought, "Wow! That's a pretty dog." Then, perhaps you took the time to pet the dog and found you liked her/his personality too. The dog had a jovial, happy, energetic way.
Sadly, because of irresponsible people who should not be breeding dogs, not all Vizslas are "created" equal. This is why you want your Vizsla pup to come from a nurtured pedigree. If the pup comes from a pedigree filled with proven dogs, it should be of higher quality. BE PREPARED to pay more for a well-bred Vizsla! This is because responsible breeders take the time/money/energy/care to compete with their dogs. In turn, they breed only those they believe will make positive contributions...thus doing their part to strengthen and improve the breed overall. They also breed much less often and are NOT the ones making lots of money breeding. The ones who are making lots of money breeding dogs are the the puppy-millers and high-volume producers. They put very little time and resources into the dogs they breed and they usually breed a lot. Always ask a breeder how many litters they produce per year (of all the breeds the have!) then do the math for yourself. It will quickly become clear they've learned how to supplement their incomes by breeding without regard to the overall betterment of the breed or interest in fostering lifelong relationships with those they sell their pups to. Maintaining these relationships allows a responsible breeder to track the long term health, temperaments, natural abilities, etc of the pups they've produced which, in turn, allows them to improve their breeding program (thus, improving the breed overall).
Now to confuse you even more, we're going to address the backyard breeders and why you shouldn't get a Vizsla from them. These are often inexperienced people who have a couple of dogs from unproven pedigrees. They decide to dabble in "breeding" without understanding the health issues that could arise because they have no knowledge of the pedigrees of the dogs they plan to breed. In addition, they don't know how to raise a well-socialized litter or how to screen for homes that understand the dedication one must have to raise a Vizsla. Backyard breeders often mean well, they just don't understand the work and resources that should go into a breeding. Nor do they prove their dogs in any venues to determine if the dog's have genes that will positively impact the breed overall. Backyard breeders do just as much damage to the breed's long term health because they often produce dogs with health problems or place them in homes that aren't prepared for Vizsla. These "breeders" lose contact with the homes and when things go wrong with the dog, it gets dumped at a shelter or turned over to rescue. Please go to the Lawrence County Humane Society Abuse and Adoption Center to read "Traits of a Responsible Breeder vs. a Backyard 'Breeder'".
You also need to keep in mind that you are NOT buying an appliance when you "buy" a dog. You shouldn't be shopping around for the cheapest deal you can find. That isn't how getting a well-bred dog works. The "cheapest" pup you find will consistently come from an irresponsible "breeder" who hasn't taken care of their dogs the way a responsible breeder takes care of their dogs. Nor have they spent the money to test the dogs they breed for genetic diseases (such as hip dysplasia) or to prove they meet the breed standard/have basic hunting instincts by testing them in various events (getting titles on them). Likewise, a lot of irresponsible people who breed dogs have done enough homework to know how much responsible breeders are selling their pups for. Many of the irresponsible ones will price their pups similar to the prices of a responsible breeder BUT they haven't spent resources doing the additional health tests (and often none at all!) or entering their dogs in competitions to prove they are structurally correct and have natural hunting instincts a Vizsla should have. Pups that come from irresponsible "breeders"
are the ones to end up in shelters or rescue organizations. Go to the Boulder Vizslas website for a comprehensive list of questions to ask a breeder when searching for your pup.
The "pretty dog" test is an easy one to do yourself. Go to a local dog show and watch the Vizslas competing (search the Onfrio Dog Show website for a show near you). Overall, you'll see a group of very attractive dogs. Then go to a high-volume breeder or a backyard breeder and look at the dogs they're breeding. You should see some very obvious differences. This is not to be read as a snotty, arrogant or mean-spirited comment. The point is that the dogs competing in shows are working toward their conformation championships and will be good examples of the Vizsla breed standard. Not only will these dogs look like a Vizsla should, but they are structurally sound as well. This is critical because this means these dogs will hold up to the active lifestyles Vizslas should be living. A poorly built dog will break down or endure more injuries from the constant, physical stress of the things most companion dogs do like hiking, running, and swimming.
But, as we all know--looks aren't everything! Please go to our "Why Health Tests Are Important" page to learn more...
How to Decipher a Pedigree
First, check out Trip's (CH Boulder's N Fusion's Power Trip SH) pedigree.
Notice the number of titles on both sides of her fifth generation pedigree (you should also notice some of the same dogs on both sides of the pedigree because this was a carefully planned line breeding). There are a total of 187 titles compromised of:
BISS (Best In Specialty Show)CH (AKC Conformation Champion)JH (AKC Junior Hunter)CD (AKC Obedience Companion Dog)RE (AKC Rally Excellent)MH (AKC Master Hunter)
ROM (Vizsla Club of America Registry of Merit)
SH (AKC Senior Hunter)HOF (Vizsla Club of America Hall of Fame)
CDX (AKC Companion Dog Excellent)
TD (AKC Tracking Dog)
DC (AKC Dual Champion)AFC (AKC Amateur Field Champion)
VC (AKC Versatile Companion Dog)
BIS (AKC Best In Show)
NSTRA (National Shoot To Retrieve Association Champion)
UD (AKC Utility Dog)
Canadian Conformation Champion
This is an excellent example of a nurtured pedigree. Go the AKC's website to learn about each of these titles. The dogs in Trip's pedigree have been proven in a variety of venues including: conformation, hunt tests, field trials, obedience, and rally. Through the five generations you can see the dogs in this pedigree have made positive contributions to the Vizsla breed overall. Feel free to print Trip's pedigree and use it as a reference when researching the pedigree of a pup you're considering.
Please consider adopting a rescue Vizsla from one of the following groups:
Colorado/Wyoming Vizsla Rescue Group
Utah/Idaho Vizsla Rescue
Show Me Vizsla Rescue
Vizsla Club of America rescue (list of regional coordinators)
Go to http://www.puppymillrescue.com/ and http://www.stoppuppymills.org/ to learn more about the horrors of puppy mills.