Vizsla Breed

Hungarian Vizsla vs German Shorthaired Pointer

Written By: Rachel

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Not sure of the difference between a Hungarian Vizsla vs German Shorthaired Pointer? Want to know whether a Vizsla or GSP is right for your lifestyle?

The Vizsla and German Shorthaired Pointer are both hunting dogs with a similar appearance and temperament. But there are differences between the two dog breeds worth knowing about.

So if you are weighing up the differences between a Vizsla vs GSP, read on. In this article we compare these two gundogs and highlight both the similarities and differences of the two breeds.


This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.


Hungarian Vizsla vs German Shorthaired Pointer

BreedVizslaGSP
GroupSportingSporting
AKC Popularity32nd9th
OriginHungaryGermany
HealthVery GoodGood
Lifespan12-14 years10-12 years
Prey DriveHighVery High
EnergyVery HighVery High
Family FriendlyYesYes

The Hungarian Vizsla and German Shorthaired Pointer dogs are both stunning and intelligent dogs with a distinct short coat and athletic slim build.

They have a similar history too, both bred in Europe as versatile hunting dogs who can point, flush and retrieve.

The Vizsla is an elegant and aristocratic dog with a loving and gentle temperament.

Bred to be a close working hunting dog, they are just as comfortable out in the field alongside their owner as they are curled up having a cuddle on the couch.

Famous for being a “velcro dog”, Vizslas are a sensitive dog who needs to be an integral part of the family.

German Shorthaired Pointers on the other hand are (perhaps unfairly) called the utilitarian version of the Vizsla.

Practical, more independent and with more stamina than Vizslas in the field, GSPs are more doggy dogs and perhaps less refined than the Vizsla in terms of appearance.

Both are very high energy dogs that are more of a lifestyle than a pet. They both need an active family who is available to spend time with them day to day.

But before you decide whether a German Shorthaired Pointer or Vizsla is best, you might want to understand a bit more about the two breeds based on the following areas:

  • Appearance
  • Temperament
  • Exercise Needs
  • Grooming
  • Trainability
  • Health
  • Suitability As A Family Dog

Let’s take a look at each of these areas in turn.

Hungarian vizsla running in field and German shorthaired pointer standing.

Vizsla vs GSP Appearance

AppearanceVizslaGSP
ColorGolden RustLiver, White, Black
CoatShortShort
SizeMediumMedium
Height (in)22-24 (male)
21-23 (female)
23-25 (male)
21-23 (female)
Weight (lb)55-60 (male)
44-55 (female)
55-70 (male)
45-60 (female)

The Hungarian Vizsla and German Shorthaired Pointer have a very similar appearance.

Both have an athletic, slim muscular body and a deep barrel chest. They both have gorgeous velvety floppy ears, a thin long tail (sometimes docked) and a short low maintenance coat.

The main difference between Vizsla and German Shorthaired Pointer dogs in terms of appearance is their size, color and coat.

Size

While both breeds are classified as medium sized dogs, German Shorthaired pointers are the larger of the two.

GSP males reach a maximum height of 25 inches and weight of 70 pounds compared to the Vizsla male at 24 inches and 60 pounds.

Color

Vizslas have a solid russet gold coat. There is some variation in the color, and some dogs have a small patch of white on the chest, but there is no other color vizsla than a version of russet gold.

In comparison, German Shorthaired Pointers come in a range of color variations.

The most common color is liver (brown) and white with some degree of roan, patching or ticking. Black GSPs are less common but are an acceptable color in Europe and now also in North America.

Coat

Vizslas have just a single short coat. When fed a healthy diet it can feel as soft as velvet. While Vizslas do shed, their short hair and lack of an undercoat mean the hair is often less noticeable than other dog breeds.

Whereas the German Shorthaired Pointer has a short coat and a dense undercoat. Their coat feels thicker and coarser than the Vizsla. And while their hair is short like the Vizsla, they tend to shed more thanks to the extra undercoat.

The undercoat also means GSPs tend to have more of a doggy smell than Vizslas. Don’t worry they are by no means a stinky dog! But German Pointers will have more of a smell than Vizslas who seem to have very little smell at all.

Two different colored GSPs standing next to each other.

German Shorthair vs Vizsla Temperament

TemperamentVizslaGSP
PersonalityGentle, loving, eager to pleaseFriendly, loyal, independent
IntelligenceVery SmartVery Smart
SensitivityVery sensitiveSensitive
AffectionateVery affectionateAffectionate
BarkingAverageAverage
Guard DogNoNo

Both the Hungarian Vizsla and German Shorthair are intelligent, friendly, loyal and affectionate dogs.

They are both playful, sociable and loving companion dogs who love nothing more than spending time with their humans. Both are house dogs who prefer to sleep inside and only tend to spend time outside if you are out with them.

Thanks to their bird dog breeding, both are mouthy breeds who like to have something in their mouths – whether it be a bird, a toy, ball or your hand!

The biggest difference between GSP and Vizsla in terms of temperament is the amount of emotional attention required.

Vizslas are more demanding velcro dogs. German Shorthaired Pointers tend to be more independent and outgoing.

Without doubt Vizslas are far more sensitive and needy of human attention. Most Vizslas want to be close to you all the time. Some people love this about them, others hate it.

So if you are thinking of owning a Vizsla, you need to want a dog that wants you.

GSPs on the other hand, while still needing more attention than other dog breeds, need it less than Vizslas. They are a little more independent.

While GSPs are really happy to be part of the family they don’t need to be right there with you, for every moment of every day!

Vizsla And German Shorthaired Pointer Exercise Needs

Exercise needs are another area where Vizslas and German Shorthaired Pointers share similar needs. Both dogs need at least 60-90 minutes of high intensity off leash exercise per day.

It is this need for daily high intensity exercise that is often heavily underestimated by prospective owners. A game of fetch in the yard or a long walk on the lead at the end of the day is not enough for these dogs.

Both are very high energy dogs thanks to their hunting bloodlines. Even dogs that are not being used by their owners to hunt need the opportunity to engage their natural instincts to smell, point and explore.

They both also need mental stimulation through scentwork, puzzles or games to burn mental energy that would traditionally be used to hunt in the field.

When they don’t get enough exercise it can result in destructive and annoying behaviors, which is often why Vizslas and GSPs end up in rescues.

You don’t need to hunt with your dog. But you do need to have the time every day to run, walk, play, hike or ride with your dog.

If you are busy caring for young kids, you have a busy job or an apartment in the city far from open spaces these dogs may not be the right choice.

German Shorthaired Pointer And Vizsla Grooming

GroomingVizslaGSP
SheddingLowMedium
MaintenanceLowLow
DroolingLowLow
NailsDarkDark
Doggy SmellLittle to noneSome

German Shorthaired Pointers and Vizslas are very similar in terms of grooming and the level of maintenance required.

A quick weekly brush is really all that is required to keep their coat in good condition.

Both also have fast growing dark nails that are difficult to cut as the quick is very hard to see.

The main difference between Vizslas and German Shorthaired Pointers is their coat.

While both have a short dense coat, the Vizsla has only a single coat, which is soft to the touch.

GSPs on the other hand have a short coarse coat plus a dense undercoat. Their coat feels thicker than a Vizslas and it will shed more too.

The advantage of the thicker coat and undercoat is they are better suited to colder climates than the Vizsla.

Vizslas still love to be out in the field in most weather conditions, but they do tend to feel the cold more than German Pointers do.

Hungarian vizsla sitting on hay bale and GSP sitting on grass.

German Shorthaired Pointer vs Vizsla Trainability

Both the Vizsla and German Shorthaired Pointer are highly intelligent dogs who are trainable, quick to learn, eager to please and obedient.

The German Short Hair Pointer is the more independent of the two breeds so may sometimes take more convincing when training.

It is fair to say both breeds require a good deal of training to become well mannered adults and benefit from regular training for mental stimulation.

Another similarity is they both have a high prey drive. They require socialization from an early age to teach them what is acceptable to chase (squirrels) and what is not (family cat).

The main difference in terms of trainability between the Vizsla vs German Shorthaired Pointers is the higher sensitivity of the Vizsla.

From a training perspective Vizslas don’t cope as well as GSPs with harsh training methods or language. Vizslas respond best with positive reinforcement and supportive training methods.

In comparison the GSP tends to be less emotional. And while positive reinforcement is always the preferred training method, they seem to cope better with more pressure in training and instruction.

vizsla and gsp hunting bids.

Vizsla vs German Short Haired Pointer Health

Both the Vizsla and German Pointer breeds are required to be tested for hip dysplasia and have an eye exam.

The VCA also strongly recommends Vizslas be tested for Autoimmune Thyroiditis, a type of thyroid disease which impacts metabolism and hormone balance.

In comparison, the GSP is also prone to some heart and eye conditions.

As a result there are additional required tests for the breed including a cardiac exam, elbow displasia, and cone degeneration, which is a group of rare eye disorders that affect the retina.

Overall both dog breeds are generally healthy, with Vizslas enjoying a slightly longer average lifespan compared to the GSP.

GSP vs Vizsla As A Family Dog

A well trained Hungarian Vizsla or German Shorthaired Pointer can be a loving family companion dog and amazing company.

Vizslas in particular with their sociable and playful nature are wonderful companions to kids and adults alike. They can even get along with the family cat.

German Short Haired Pointers are similarly affectionate, good with other dogs and kid-friendly.

Some breeders and breed enthusiasts believe Vizslas and GSPs should only be used for their breed purpose, as hunting dogs.

However, many non-hunting vizsla owning families can attest to their suitability as a loving family pet for active families.

Neither breed are easy dogs but they are unique and utterly rewarding to own.

Which Is The Right Dog For You?

As you can tell from this comparison of Vizslas vs German Shorthaired Pointers, they have many similarities in appearance, temperament, energy and suitability for families.

It really comes down to which breed you prefer the look of, and whether you want a more (Vizsla) or less (GSP) velcro dog.

And if you are still undecided, here are some more Vizsla dog breed comparison guides for you:

Which dog breed do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!

More Vizsla Breed Guides

If you enjoyed this comparison of the German pointer vs vizsla, you may also like:

Or, browse all the vizsla breed guides here.

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About Rachel

Founder of It's a Vizsla, Rachel is a vizsla owner who loves to research and share practical tips to help other vizsla owners care for their fur babies. She loves getting outdoors and hanging out with her vizsla, Lottie.

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