MAGYAR VIZSLA CLUB OF AMERICA-VIZSLA CLUB OF AMERICA
By Marion Coffman
VIZSLA NEWS May/June 2000
After several delays and postponements, a representative group of vizsla owners gathered at the Hotel Fort Des Moines in Iowa on January 16, 1954. The meeting was to decide the future of the vizsla breed in America. Those owners had a single objective, to protect and improve the vizsla so the breed might become one of America’s truly respected and loved companion gun dogs. Great emphasis was placed on the work that had been accomplished in the previous two years by Frank Tallman, Charles Hunt, and other early importers who had corresponded with the American Kennel Club and the American Field with regards to recognizing the breed.
At that meeting Jack Hatfield was elected president, Harry Holt vice-president, Charles Hunt secretary, and Roy Hawkinson treasurer. The Board of Directors included Frank Tallman, Roger Greco, Roy Hawkinson, Charles Hunt, C Hayward, Sylvia Chatfield, Harry Holt, James Garr, Dr Ivan Osborne, William Olson and Jack Hatfield.
At this same meeting Charles Hunt reported on his correspondence with John Neff, Executive Secretary of the American Kennel Club. The AKC was aware of the growth and American interest in the vizsla and intended to consider recognition. However, recognition, was dependent upon the careful and judicious development of the club and the breed. AKC wanted to know about the distribution of vizslas around the country, what responsibilities the club would assume, how the club would conduct its affairs and discharge duties, the care breeders would take in breeding, and how the club would publicize the breed.
With recognition by the American Field and resgistration in the Field Dog Stud Book (AF) closer at hand than AKC recognition, word spread throughout the country regarding the import requirements. They included a three-generation pedigree certified by a foreign clubs, plus a written description and picture of each entrant. The FDSB required imports without certified pedigrees to have a sworn statement with a list of as many sires and dams as possible that were believed to be true and accurate.
By then most of the importers knew the problems they faced in getting certified information on their vizslas. Many pedigrees were lost as people fled their native Hungary with their dogs. Owners remembered the call names but not the registered names on their dogs’ pedigrees. Some requests for information were answered, but many were not for fear of the political ramifications. In spite of the difficulties, the strong determination of American vizsla owners paid off when ten months later the club had progressed from obscurity to recognition and the breed was accepted for registration in the American Field FDSB.
That lead the way to charter membership in the National German Pointing Dog Association. The German Pointing Dog Breed club was formed to establish field trial rules and regulations under which all breeders could compete in official regional and national trials. The club’s breeds included the German Shorthair Pointer, Weimaraner and the drathaar. The vizsla was also accepted when officially recognized by American Field.
At that time the Magyar Vizsla Club of America was the only vizsla club in existence worldwide. It became responsible for researching, finding and preserving all historical documents for future generations. The vizsla then had to prove itself as an extraordinary dog to keep the interest and faith of newspaper writers and the public.
The club great from those original 16 interested men and women who met in Des Moines to an amazing 85 members only 14 months later, with new applications arriving daily. Inquires poured in from around the country as interest in the breed grew and new vizsla owners who wanted to learn as much as possible about the breed they had come to love.
A few breed fanciers of a virtually unknown breed helped an unknown, fledgling club to become an organization that was international in character and activity.
The voluntary agreement of vizsla owners and breeders to protect the breed from exploitation and romantic publicity had been acclaimed as sensible and sporting. It was particularly gratifying to lean that the breed and the Magyar Vizsla Club was earning respect for its self-imposed ethics. The early breeder’s creed was as follows:
“As sponsors of a new breed in America, we assume the obligation to produce better puppies, strengthen present national bird sense and pointing ability, develop stronger, healthier, bolder dogs, improve conformation, retain the affectionate, friendly disposition that makes the vizsla distinctly different.
As returning servicemen and refugees came into America with their vizslas, new bonds of friendship were forged with people from different lands and languages, from Hungary to Italy, Japan and Turkey. Word slowly spread about the potentially great Magyar vizsla as their new owners shared their common love and mutual interest in the breed.
The field trial was the natural forum for the breed to debut and prove its ability to a cynical public, but the vizsla also drew a lot of interest at American Kennel Clubs shows where they were showing in the Miscellaneous group.
The Magyar Vizsla Club of America’s aim was to attain AKC recognition for the breed, and to that end club secretary, Charles Hunt, continued to correspond regularly with the AKC. Mr Hunt’s endless efforts were largely credited when the breed was finally given that sought after recognition.
By June 1958, there were approximately 650 vizslas already registered with the FDSB, the chief registry for the pointing breeds. Mr Hunt sent out applications to those members requesting information and pictures for the purpose of establishing a stud dog book for the Magyar Vizsla Club, which the AKC needed to confirm pedigrees on foundation stock.
During the prior year, previously non-existent channels of communication began to open up and it was possible to correspond with people in Hungary. Mr Hunt was able to complete and verify some of the pedigrees for registration purposes.
Some of the missing pieces actually fell into place as new litters were registered. Relatives were then documented in another littermate’s pedigree. Finally the early imports that originally had less than the required three-generation pedigree were being completed.
Even with this progress, there were setbacks. The Hungarian Kennel Club offices had moved several times, and their records were disorganized. During the next two years, the Magyar Vizsla Club still had less than the 500 vizsla completed pedigrees required by AKC along with changes made to the Standard.
The club had been guided by the authoritative Hungarian Standard which endeavored to perpetuate the natural hunting instinct, the affectionate and protective disposition, the strength, intelligence and beauty which was the proud heritage of the Vizsla.
The most notable change in the standard was the size. Dogs 22-23 inches was changed to 22 to 24 inches. Bitches were changed to read 21 to 23 inches. The reason for this change centered around the belief that American bred puppies were sturdier and taller than the European products due to our food and care. Even so, club members agreed that the breed should be kept small, although oversize was not considered to be a major fault.
By November 1960 the first phase of registration was nearing its end. The club only needed 28 more applications to officially register the vizsla with the AKC.
The vizsla was described by promoters and enthusiasts for newspaper articles as highly desirable in the field because it was smaller than most hunting breeds yet had all of the endurance and ability as that of the larger field dogs. This of course was a far cry from the opinion of the early field trainers who said the vizsla would never be able to prove itself in the field, as it did not have the ranging ability or the endurance of the other pointing breeds.
On November 25, 1960 the vizsla was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club as its 115th breed.