It’s **your job** to bring out the best in your Vizsla (bird dog)

Crush Puppy playing one of her favorite games with Uncle Jetson, Grandma Suede, Brother Race, and Mama Trip. Photo taken by Rod Cope.

“I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

My eyes recently fell upon this quote.  The image to instantly pop into my mind’s eye was of my Crush Puppy, GCH Boulder’s N Fusion’s Heartbreaker CGC (almost an AKC Master Hunter with 4 MH passes to date).  She’s the most affectionate, human-obsessed Vizsla I’ve shared our home with.  There are positives and negatives that come with a dog like this.

Given my home is a “performance” one and my greatest passions are hunting and participating in AKC hunting tests and field trials, my “ideal” Vizsla is one with exceptional natural ability and is sound in structure/temperament/health.  The complete package would be *awesome*:

  • excellent nose
  • strong pointing instincts
  • strong bird desire
  • high drive
  • a soft mouth
  • natural retrieving instincts
  • innate understanding of ground cover/where to go to find birds
  • independence
  • boldness
  • confidence
  • intensity
  • the ability to recover, bounce back
  • the ability to forgive
  • biddable
  • intelligent
  • bonded to humans
  • soundness in structure, conforming to the breed standard
  • soundness in temperament
  • from a pedigree with generations of proven health

There.  I’ve just described my “perfect” Vizsla.  :-)  As a Vizsla breeder, I know what a tall order it is to produce such a dog.  I’m working on it but also understand it will take *time* and *patience* to build such a fabulous creature.  Then, should I be so lucky to actually produce this wonderfully talented and beautiful bird dog, the challenge would be to *consistently* produce such companions.  ;-)

To get there, we study other pedigrees, watch as many different dogs on the ground and in the show ring as possible.  And, we constantly evaluate our own breeding program (the combined Boulder’s N Fusion’s).  We evaluate the pups we’re putting on the ground for how they match the above list.  We look for strengths AND weakness.  We look for holes to improve upon, knowing *each* and *every* pup we produce and place in a home should be someone’s “perfect companion.”

Back to Crush.  Is she my “ideal” Vizsla?  No.  She isn’t (but, she would be the ideal to A LOT of other folks).   :-)   Mind you, there are *MANY* exceptional things about her.  Her qualities FAR outweigh the less-desirables.  I love her to bits and with much honesty as her co-breeder, I must look to how we hope to improve upon her as well as recognizing her strengths.  In addition to her absolute addiction to humans, she does have many of the qualities I listed above.  It’s my job to understand the ones she’s weaker in and *adjust* my expectations as well as my training and handling of her.  Just as the title of this post states, it’s **MY JOB** to bring out the best in her.  I know how much she loves hunting.  I know how strong her desire for birds is–it’s very powerful.  I know she has a very good nose and a natural retrieve.  The challenge is how her overwhelming worry about making mistakes could complicate her ability to learn.  She’s softer in temperament than I care for.  I would prefer a greater ability to “bounce back”, recover from corrections/training mistakes.  Some who have much experience in training Vizslas as well as other pointing breeds would say her worrying/softness is actually quite typical of the breed in general.  These critical pieces can be the differences between a very successful competitor and a “washout”.

With a little creativity…and a LOT of focus…

Crush is teaching me “one size” does not fit all.  I look back through our photos of her these past 3.5 years (from the time she came home at 8 weeks) and see a happy-go-lucky flower-child wanting to chase tweety birds and play with sticks.  I have to laugh at myself because back when I took all of those photos I was looking for determination, intensity, focus, crazy-out-of-control-high-drive.  She’s challenged me to reevaluate the training programs I implemented years ago and the level/accuracy of pressure we apply.  Because she isn’t as forgiving, she’s helped me hone in on consistency and to balance all training with calm, meaningful praise.  She does not require the repetition most of the others did.  She’s also reinforcing our rule to be *patient*.  To allow each individual dog to mature on their *own schedules*.  This is one the most difficult things for performance homes–to accept a dog needs time and back off.  Sometimes the “backing off” must happen in a major way–the industry often refers to this a “putting the dog away”, “letting him grow up.”  Other times the backing off is in little but meaningful ways.

And so,

“I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

as it applies to my Crush Puppy?  I see a remarkable little bird dog within her — and a competitor — and I’ll carve, shape, mold until I give her the ability to realize her genetics.  If I get it right, I’ll set her free to a lifetime of playing in the field with the passion of a true bird dog.

The frolicking child - 1.5 year old Crush playing with a retrieving dummy.

The frolicking child – 1.5 year old Crush playing with a retrieving dummy.

Airborne Crush

Crush Puppy catching air

Crush's Pretty Headpiece - such a sweet, soft expression

Crush’s Pretty Headpiece – such a sweet, soft expression

Silly puppy Crush - usual

Silly puppy Crush – playing…as usual

Written by Mel Reveles of  All content is original with the exception of key words/phrases as quoted and credited to the source.  I am proud to be a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Vizsla Club– “The Specialty Vizsla Club of Colorado” and a member of the Vizsla Club of America. I am also a participant in the American Kennel Club’s Breeder of Merit Program.

Note from the authors: We understand the use of “who” in reference to a dog is grammatically incorrect but we’re just not able to refer to dogs, our beloved companions” as “things”.  :-)

We are proud to be founding members of the Rocky Mountain Vizsla Club–”The Specialty Vizsla Club of Colorado”, and members of the Vizsla Club of America. We are also members of the American Kennel Club’s Breeder of Merit Program.

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