Vizslas are beautiful dogs with intelligent, sensitive faces and sweet personalities. These dogs fall into the category of what many dog lovers call the “wash and wear” or “drip dry” dog breeds – those that need little if any real coat maintenance.
But ever since the rise of the so-called “hypoallergenic” dog breeds, there has been more of an emphasis on a mythical great divide between shedding and non-shedding dog breeds.
In truth, there is no such thing as a hypo-allergenic dog. All dogs shed. It is just how the hair is shed out that can make it seem like some dogs don’t shed and others do shed.
The Vizsla, like all dogs, does shed. But how much does the Vizsla shed? How often does shedding occur? What type of coat maintenance does a Vizsla need? Find out in this article.
Do Vizslas Shed?
Vizsla dogs do shed. These gun dogs are unusual in that they lack the undercoat of many working and sporting dog breeds. But they still shed lightly year-round.
In most cases, this doesn’t cause a lot of trouble for you, the owner. The one exception might be if you are one of those rare people who own a long-haired Vizsla. We will talk more about the long-haired coat type in a later section here.
Why Vizsla Shedding Is Worth It
This precious YouTube video not only showcases why any shedding you have to put up with from your Vizsla is worth it but also how smart the Vizsla breed truly is.
You may get some great ideas for new skills your Vizsla dog can learn from watching this video!
Learn About the Three Different Vizsla Dog Coat Types
According to the Australian Vizsla Health site, Vizslas can have three different coat types: short-haired, wire-haired, and long-haired.
However, only the short-haired and wire-haired coat types are recognized by official breed organizations and registries.
So now let’s take a closer look at the three different Vizsla coat types and what you need to know about each one.
Short-haired Vizsla dog coat type
The short-haired Vizsla dog coat type is by far the most common and most widely associated with this dog breed.
In fact, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only mentions this coat type in their official breed overview page. The breed standard specifically disqualifies the long-coat type.
It is worth noting that the wire-haired Vizsla dog is registered as an entirely separate breed in the AKC registry. The two breeds are noted to be close cousins, however.
Wire-haired Vizsla dog coat type
The wire-haired Vizsla coat type is much less common than the short, neat coat the breed is known for.
Not only are these dogs ranked at 167 out of 196 breeds in terms of popularity (compare this with 31 out of 196 for the short-coated Vizsla) but the two dogs are different in size and height as well.
Wire-haired Vizsla dogs do have the same characteristic rust-colored coat. But this is basically where the similarity ends.
You can really see the difference in the dog’s face – wire-haired Vizsla dogs have what breeders call “furnishings.” This term refers to the wire-haired Vizsla’s bushy eyebrows, beards, and mustaches.
And, as Pheasants Forever explains, wire-haired Vizsla dogs will have the multi-layer coat that is more characteristic of hunting and working dog breeds.
However, as Compass Wire-haired Vizslas breeder highlights, the coat is still unusual in that the outer layer of the coat is coarse and longer and it is the undercoat that is water-repellant.
(Typically with dogs that have double-layer working coats, it is the outer layer that is water-repellant and the under-layer closest to the skin that is thick, soft, and insulating.)
Long-haired Vizsla dog coat type
The long-haired Vizsla dog coat type is the rarest of all and is not recognized officially by any breed registries.
As the Australian Vizsla Health site explains, the genetics behind why a Vizsla dog might inherit a long hair coat get complicated quickly.
There is a gene that dictates coat length, another gene that controls coat texture, and still another gene that indicates curl. The Vizsla dog breed does not have this last gene at all.
So the gene that causes the wire-haired and long-haired coats to look wavy or curly is a variant of the gene that controls for texture, which also controls for the presence of furnishings (mustache, beard, eyebrows, et al).
The long hair gene is a recessive gene. This means a Vizsla puppy has to inherit the long hair gene from both parent dogs in order to express (grow) a long hair coat.
A long-haired Vizsla dog will likely have the same type of single-layer coat as will the short-haired smooth-coated Vizsla. This means slightly less shedding overall, but the long coat can make it look like your dog is shedding more.
Caring for a Shedding Vizsla Dog Coat
According to Vetstreet, the Vizsla really only needs a very basic level of coat care to keep the coat and skin healthy.
Depending on how tolerant you are of shed dog hair, you can get away with brushing your dog as little as once per week if that is all time allows for.
If you have a wire-haired or long-haired Vizsla, however, you may need to brush more frequently to keep tangles or mats from developing in the coat. These can cause skin irritation and lead to infection if not addressed quickly.
The news gets even better when it comes to bath time. Vizslas produce beneficial skin oils that help to nourish and condition the skin and coat. If you bath a Vizsla too often, this will deplete these oils and dry out the coat.
Four to five baths per year are generally all that a Vizsla dog will need (unless, of course, your dog insists on rolling in something very stinky).
Vizsla Health Issues That Can Impact Coat Shedding
There may be times when your Vizsla seems to be shedding more than you are used to. There are five main possible reasons for this, as we will discuss in this section.
1. Transition from puppy coat to adult dog coat
All dogs get two different coats in their lives: the puppy coat and the adult dog coat.
As this popular Vizsla dog owner forum points out, the Vizsla is a medium-sized breed and typically starts to shed out the puppy coat and grow in the adult dog coat around the age of five months.
This process can continue for some months as the puppy coat sheds out and the adult dog coat grows in.
Many Vizsla owners say that one of the big signs (besides the shedding) is that the coat color begins to darken from golden to the characteristic rust color these dogs are known for.
2. Seasonal shedding (especially with a wire-haired coat)
Dogs that have the traditional working dog or double-layer coat type will go through something called a “coat blow” when the seasons change.
Depending on the local climate, this can happen once or twice per year.
The coat blow primarily affects the soft, insulating undercoat – the layer designed to function as a warm winter coat during the winter season.
Only the wire-haired Vizsla typically has the under-layer, which does not function exactly as a typical undercoat in dogs usually works. Rather, its principal function is to keep the dog’s skin dry.
However, it still needs to shed out seasonally to retain its protective function.
So while you may see some increase in shedding seasonally as the weather changes, even the wire-haired Visla coat likely won’t ever go into a full-blown shed the way most working dogs will do.
The more likely scenario is that the coat will simply increase in shedding slightly around the changing of the seasons to make sure the hairs in both layers are fully ready to do their jobs well.
3. Dietary imbalance
If your Vizsla puppy or adult dog is eating a nutritionally imbalanced or inadequate canine diet, it can start to affect the health of the skin and coat.
There are so many ways to feed a dog today, from homemade dog food to raw (BARF) to commercial kibble. But any diet needs to be complete and balanced nutrition that is appropriate to the age, gender, weight, and life stage of your Vizsla dog.
One of the essential nutrients any complete and balanced diet should provide is a full complement of essential fatty acids that are vital to maintain coat health and help the skin produce beneficial conditioning oils.
When the coat starts to appear dull or dry, the color changes, shedding increases or dandruff develops, these can all be signs that there may be something missing from your dog’s diet. Itching and irritation and hot spots can also be warning signs.
Unfortunately, not all commercial dog diets are created equally. As the Truth About Pet Food website points out, just because a manufacturer says the food is complete and balanced doesn’t always mean it actually is!
Doing your own research into manufacturer claims and Vizsla dog owner experiences can help you identify if there have been known issues associated with the food brand you are giving your dog.
If you switch the food and the problem disappears, it could simply be that your dog wasn’t getting all the nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy coat.
4. Food allergies or sensitive stomach
Another related issue that can arise from certain foods is allergies or a sensitive stomach.
This is becoming more common in dogs today.
If you start to see an increase in shedding or other skin or coat issues, your dog may have food allergies or a sensitive stomach. Your veterinarian may want to try a limited ingredient diet (LID) or change foods to see if the coat shedding resolves on its own.
5. Emerging health issues that impact the skin and coat
According to the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) breed health database, there are two known heritable health issues that may cause additional shedding for Vizslas.
The best known and most common skin and coat health issue that a Vizsla dog can inherit is sebaceous adenitis.
As Veterinary Partner reviews, sebaceous adenitis is a condition that causes the sebaceous oil glands in a Vizsla’s skin to become inflamed.
Unfortunately, canine researchers have not yet figured out what causes sebaceous adenitis in dogs. But they do know it is a heritable disease that can be passed from affected parent dogs (breeding stock) to puppies.
The key to preventing sebaceous adenitis in a Vizsla is pre-testing the parent dogs to be sure they do not carry the gene for the disease.
Once a Vizsla starts showing signs of sebaceous adenitis, which typically begins with dandruff and pattern shedding, only a biopsy by your dog’s veterinarian can confirm the diagnosis.
This disease can cause widespread and patchy coat loss that can become permanent over time. Managing sebaceous adenitis is often a complex process and it has to be done over the dog’s lifetime.
Another known Vizsla health issue that may cause increases in shedding is autoimmune thyroiditis, which is another hereditary (genetic) issue.
As Whole Dog Journal highlights, with autoimmune thyroiditis, the dog’s immune system starts to attack the thyroid.
Autoimmune thyroiditis is a widespread health issue for many purebred dog breeds. Blood tests can help to confirm the diagnosis. Thyroid medication can help to ease hormonal imbalances that impact coat health, behavior, energy level, and other issues.
When In Doubt, Ask Your Canine Veterinarian
Dealing with unusual coat shedding patterns can be a difficult process, especially when you suspect dietary, genetic, or other health issues may be involved.
Your veterinarian can help you identify what to change to restore the health and beauty of your Vizsla’s coat.