Coat and Color of the Wirehaired Vizsla | The quotes that follow are from the AKC Official Breed Standard of the Wirehaired Vizsla:
Coat and Color of the Wirehaired Vizsla – “COAT: The Wirehaired Vizsla’s coat makes this breed unique. Close lying, a length of approximately 1 inch, the dense wiry coat should not hide the outline of the body. Functionally the coat should protect against weather and injury with a dense undercoat and wiry outer coat. The lower legs and underside of the chest and belly are covered with shorter, softer, thinner coat. Coat on the head and ears is close fitting and shorter. Pronounced eyebrows highlight the stop. Expression is enhanced not only by eyebrows, but also by a strong, harsh beard, approximately 1 inch in length, formed from both sides of the muzzle. On both sides of the neck the coat forms V shaped brushes. Lacking undercoat or coat brushes of the back of the front legs should be penalized, as is any deviation in coat texture or excessive length of coat. The Wirehaired Vizsla should be exhibited almost in his natural state, nothing more in the way of stripping being needed than a tidying up. A clipped coat is faulty.”
The Wirehaired Vizsla is a double-coated breed, the main purpose of the coat is for protection. The top coat should be dense and coarse, tight-fitting, and relatively short—approximately 1 inch. The dense undercoat is a must, not only for protection from harsh weather and underbrush, but it is water-repellent for the cold water retrieves of ducks and geese.
The origin of the breed was a quest to have the hunt and character of the Vizsla in a sturdier wire-coated dog. In Hungary, the winters are very harsh (along with difficult terrain). The hunters wanted a coat that would repel burrs and water alike, one that could keep the dog warm with a thick undercoat, but a coat that did not hide the outline of the body. This has been quite a challenge for breeders across the board. With the Wirehaired Vizsla being a fairly “new” breed, originating in the 1930s, and the fact that the Wirehaired Vizsla is ever so slowly rising in popularity, the gene pool has not been one to get consistency in coat—for most.
The Wirehaired Vizsla standard states that lacking undercoat or brushes of the back of the front legs should be penalized. There has been many a discussion on what is meant by brushes on the back of the front legs. These brushes are formed when thick/harsh coat that is growing in the opposite direction meet, forming a hard, brush-like appearance. This is indicative of a correct coat as far as texture is concerned. On the other hand, if the back of the front legs has softer/longer coat that is more like feathering than brushes, this shows that the coat is softer than what we are striving for. This can also be said of the facial furnishings. A dog with pronounced eyebrows and a strong, harsh beard approximately 1 inch long usually has a body coat to match; harsh and relatively short.
A clipped coat is faulty. To maintain a correct wire coat in the Wirehaired Vizsla, stripping the dead coat out by hand will keep the coat healthy. Over-grooming the Wirehaired Vizsla can be detrimental to the texture of the coat, which can take away the essence of what the coat is for. The coat is what makes this breed unique. By stripping away most of the coat for the show ring, the judges cannot tell if this is the correct double coat or the true texture. The Wirehaired Vizsla is to be exhibited almost in his natural state. Tidying up the coat for the show ring is no more than stripping out the dead coat; taking off the excess hair from the feet, which is what you do before hunting them to prevent burrs from getting stuck to and in the pads, and cleaning up the dog’s “private” area for sanitary reasons. If your Wirehaired Vizsla has a coat that is ready to go into the ring with only this amount of grooming, then you have a Wirehaired Vizsla with the correct coat.
Coat and Color of the Wirehaired Vizsla – “COLOR: Golden rust in varying shades. Red, brown or yellow colors are faulty. The ears may be slightly darker than the body; otherwise the coat color is uniform. White on the forechest or throat, not more than 2 inches in diameter, as well as white on the toes is permissible and common. Solid white extending above the toes or white anywhere else on the dog except the forechest and throat is a disqualification. White due to aging or scars from hunting is not to be faulted. The Wirehaired Vizsla is self-colored, with the color of the eyes, eye-rims, lips, nose and toenails blending with the color of the coat.”
A Quote from a Long-Time Wirehaired Vizsla Devotee:
“I would say, in terms of color, what is most striking & important in their self-color is that the rusty gold, or golden rust, in various shades of light/dark, is that they are the color of autumn fields, they blend in the tall grasses of the puszta (treeless plains of Hungary) or the prairies of North America, as well as woodlands & marshes. I think their coloring is unique in that regard. No other hunting breed blends in as well as the Wirehaired Vizsla. Imagine the view that a pheasant under cover has of a WV pointing it! Just those mesmerizing eyes in the grass or bushes! Talk about camouflage.”
The varying shades are from a russet gold to a honey gold. The gold in the strands of hair keep the coat from looking like a solid color. The faulty colors of red, brown or yellow can come from the dogs that were integrated in the early pedigrees. The Irish Setter (red), Pudelpointer (brown), and the yellow are still a matter of discussion.
To have a solid white patch of coat on the forechest or throat that is more than 2 inches in diameter is a disqualification, as is solid white above the toes or white anywhere else on the body. There is a difference in a solid white and white roaning, which is a mixture of the coat color with white. This is a cosmetic fault in the breed. As the inheritance of white spots has multiple factors, both the solid white and the roaning white are to be bred away from. I have seen pictures of Wirehaired Vizslas recently with a full white chest and some with a white stripe down the throat. Although it is a disqualifying fault that does not inhibit the hunting quality of the Wirehaired Vizsla, this is a fault that takes away from breed type.
With the Wirehaired Vizsla, as in the name, the coat is of utmost importance; not only to separate the breed from others, but for the main purpose of protection. As breeders, we still have work ahead to develop better coat quality. With the new DNA testing available for coat types/textures, we now have more tools in the toolbox to help us in this quest.