VIZSLA HISTORY �
By Bernard C. Boggs
Possible unpublished article by bcb;
Source: One of the many items from The Boggs Collection
At some time or other everyone wants to know about their ancestry or that of their dogs. History of people has been recorded better than that of dogs, but there are fragments which when pieced together provide some insight as to when and where our beloved Vizslas came from many centuries ago.
It was no accident that thousands and thousands of Magyar tribesmen crossed the Carpathian Mountains enmass in eastern Europe at the Pass of Verecke under Chief Arpad. This was a carefully planned and engineered mass migration from somewhere beyond the steppes of Asia. Their move was based on extensive scouting into the area beforehand and with the knowledge that they could settle there peacefully. They brought all their animals of which one was a breed of dog which we like to believe is the ORIGINAL Vizsla. They hunted game for food of which game birds were held in high favor. These were probably caught and killed by various methods of which falcons and nets are believed to have been used most successfully. Their bird dog would need to point, or lay down to hold game immobile for short periods of time.
The Magyars were very intelligent people as evidenced by how they bred, cared for and managed their animals. When and how nobility with class distinctions began, or class ownership, is not too important, but what is important is that the nobility held their Vizslas in high esteem and controlled ownership until World War II. After World War II, Vizslas finally were able to leave Hungary and countries which bordered it. It was a fallout of resettlement where dire or starvation conditions existed. Dogs and horses were more likely to be eaten than kept for sport or pleasure.
Because of these things, the Vizsla became a permanent resident of the United States, England and many other countries throughout the world. By chance Emmet Scanlan remembered his friends Frank and Jane Tallman were dog lovers and eventually became what they then believed to be the first USA owners of Vizslas in October 1950. Their first was Sari (pronounced Chari) and her two puppies, and later they imported Rex, and they showed them in the Miscellaneous Class at the Heart of America Kennel Club in Kansas City in February 1951 and the rest is current history.
The Vizsla did not survive down through the centuries from 896AD until WW II 100 percent pure. Dog owners never worked that way or there would not be so many individual breeds. People have always thought they could make something better from what they have. After firearms came into use it is claimed that they were bred back to Transylvanian Pointers every tenth generation. What that dog looked like is unknown, but supposedly this was done to improve the Vizsla � new blood. (dlb: The every 10th generation bred to a Pointer is most likely a myth. Pointers weren�t introduced to Hungary until 1880. Vizslas were crossbred ad nauseum to other breeds until thirty-five years later there were only about a dozen mostly purebred Vizslas by 1915. Even after the 1920 Reconstruction Pointers couldn�t have been used every ten generations. There were barely ten generations between WWI & WWII. The studbooks closed in 1938/39. If one carefully reads the three original 1918 Breed Standards, it is clear that outside of partbred Vizslas with various breed ancestors, there was little crossbreeding to any breed, but the yellow Pointer after 1920.)
Miklos Farkashazi, secretary of the Hungarian Vizsla Club, said: �I feel it may be worthwhile to take into account and study the modernization of Standard that we have effected in Hungary on two occasions in the last fifteen years, in the interest of advancing the breed. Our goal was to strictly exclude from breed, dogs that were too big, too long legged, with very light coloured eyes, heads not well formed, too dark in colour, with a too heavy or too light (aerial) bone structure or bad carriage.� (New Zealand Kennel Gazette, October 1986)
The early dogs which came here were somewhat less than ideal. Rex was as big as a Great Dane according to Jane Tallman. With one swoop of his tail he could clear the table. It is also apparent that the early imports by such people as Dr. I.S. Osborn, William A. Olsen, Roy W. Hawkinson, Charles Hunt and others were far from perfect specimens. Dr. Osborn was instrumental in bringing the hip dysplasia problem to Vizsla owners� attention. In 1965 a veterinarian from the University of Minnesota gave a talk to the Vizsla Club of America at a Membership Meeting about hip dysplasia and from that came the program for hip x-rays by the University of Minnesota which is now done by The Orthopedic Foundation of America. Between 1966 to 1973 it showed 15.2 percent and from 1974 to 1984 it was 10.1 percent. These figures would be much higher if every x-rayed dog had its film submitted for evaluation.
In the natural progression of competition in any breed there will be FIRSTS and RECORDS in many different categories � first field champion, dual champion, show champion, obedience title or champion, group placement, group winner, best in show winner, dogs and bitches with the most winning get, top ten listings, most wins, etc. These may or may not indicate a superior dog or trainer, but they are important to most dog owners. And, every dog benefits when it is taken out of the crate and worked at whatever his owner chooses. Dog ownership should be exciting and fulfilling because it is the greatest relationship available in our society outside of marriage and family. FIRSTS can measure milestones and progress in a breed, but most are personal accomplishments with no real contribution to breed development and improvement on a scientific basis. The dogs are pets reflecting their owners interests and finances.
Yet, each and every activity in some small way IS history.
(dlb: And today, you are making history, history that will be examined as closely as we examine our ancestors).