Researching Vizsla Lines
How do you find out about Vizsla bloodlines and health?
To begin your search, visit the Vizsla Database. Just plug the dog's name into the search bar. Save/Print out the pedigrees so you know what dogs are in that line. Be aware that the titles and the health information are often out of date, but given the size of that database, it's amazing that it has as much information as it does. Few dog breeds have this amazing resource!
Look at the titles on the dogs in the line you are researching. You may need to look on the AKC's website to find out what the titles mean. You will often find that some lines are strong in hunt, while others have agility or obedience titles. CH and GCH are conformation titles and indicate excellent structure. All titles indicate a dog is trainable and works as a partner with its owner. If you are looking at dogs that have no titles, you should be concerned about whether those dogs should be bred since they have not been proven. I like to review the COI's in a line (coefficient of inbreeding). I prefer a low COI, of less than 10%, and closer to 5% is my preference. All Vizslas are somewhat inbred given that all are descendents of a small population of founding dogs. However, I find that high COI's in the 20% range or more are more likely to have health issues due to doubling up on limited genes, some of which are great, some of which are dangerous.
The next step is to look at the health records. A health database is found at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Go to the Quicksearch box and type in the dog's name. I have found spelling errors on their website, so if you can't find a dog, you might try typing in the name of that dog's mother or father. You will find links to their offspring if they have data in that database. The most important information is the OFA hips. They will be rated as Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor or mild dysplasia. You want a dog whose parents have Fair or better, although, preferably Excellent or Good. The rating is the letter in the middle of the test result - so, VZ-14127E25F-VPI is Zeta's OFA hip number. VZ is Vizsla, 14127 is her OFA number, E is Excellent, 25 is 25 months old when tested, F is female, VPI is Verified Permanently Identified. VPI means the dog was verified to be that dog - using a microchip, so no one was able to slip in a substitute dog for a fake hip test.
Every breed has specific "recommended" tests, and many breeders also test for additional health issues. Most, but not all test results are listed on the OFA's public site, so be sure to ask the breeder about additional tests such as thyroid, eye exams, Penn Hip results, von Willibrands, etc. Many times, people have tests done but they don't submit it or they don't check the box to have it automatically submitted. Look at the records for all the siblings, half-siblings, cousins, etc. You will see patterns of health in various lines. Please be aware that if you ask a breeder why they have not health tested, and the breeder says something like "I know my line is healthy so I don't need to test" - you should look elsewhere.
Another way to gather information is to research the kennels where your dogs come from - going back several generations. Many kennels are still actively breeding and have websites with photos of their dogs. This is what we breeders do when we search for studs for our girls. Studying lines is a lot of fun - Enjoy the journey!