Wire-haired Vizsla is a rare sight in the shooting field in Britain but a farmers wife from Norfolk
is keen to
working breed here. Tessa Gates
met the owner of Shannamaya Margaretta of Greenwire, the first of the breed to win
a field trial
A PAIR of dogs bound barking, but unmenacing, into the kitchen at Green Farm, Thompson, Norfolk. Shannamaya Margaretta of Greenwire, or Morar as she is called at home, and her pup Dram, are inquisitive but wary. They are also rather unusual, for they are Hungarian Wire-haired Vizslas and only 53 of the breed are registered in this country.
"Morar has made her own little bit of history by becoming the first Wire-haired Vizsla to be placed in a field trial. She won a novice stake held at the Merton Shoot, Norfolk, at the end of November," says proud owner, Jean Robertson. Jean also owns Morars litter brother, Mischi, and a stud dog, Simi.
The breed was developed in 1930 in Hungary by gamekeepers, who wanted a good working dog with a more serviceable coat than smooth-haired Vizslas. German wire-haired pointer was introduced and the result is a more robust animal with a larger frame than the smooth coat. The coats, which are in tones of sandy yellow/russet, have different qualities of wire with the hair shorter on the head and legs.
"The coat to look for is one that is really wiry and flat against the skin," says Jean, who finds the dogs thoroughly enjoy water work.
Her own involvement with the breed began at the 1991 Country Landowners Association Game Fair. "I just fell in love with them, although my husband wasnt keen. There were two that had been brought in from Hungary and I asked their owners to let me know when a litter was due. A year later they told me the pups had arrived and that is how I came to own Morar," explains Jean, whose husband Brian farms 243ha (600 acres) of sugar beet and cereals in partnership with his brother Ian.
Jean doesnt shoot but enjoys watching dogs work and was keen that Morar should be trained to do what she was bred for – to hunt, point and retrieve.
"I really enjoyed training her; we seemed to click. I did it with the help of books and videos and training classes. It takes a good 18 months and this breed learns quickly but are sensitive and shouldnt be treated roughly."
Jean was so taken with Morar that a year later she bought her litter brother Mischi, who is also proving very good in the field.
"I started to think about breeding from Morar but with only one suitable dog in the country, who already had two litters to his credit, I felt I should look into importing a dog."
Finding a good working strain and getting a dog out of Hungary was not easy and it was certainly expensive. Through a contact in Holland, Jean found out about a litter born to a Hungarian dam from a Dutch stud and after six months of letter writing, Kecel Hatsagi Simi was delivered to Holland where Jean and her husband went to view him.
"I saw him blind-retrieve, so knew he was a worker," she recalls. "He was six-months-old when we picked him up and he had to go into quarantine."
"Having witnessed quarantine, it has made me feel there must be a better way of doing things. I have no criticism of the kennel care but dogs are kept in a cage and a run for six months so they dont develop muscle. Simi was very thin when he came out."
Seven pups were the result of a successful mating between Simi and Morar. "She had five bitches but most people seemed to want dogs. All of them were wire-haired although it cant be guaranteed that some litters wont throw a smooth pup."
The pups went quickly without even being advertised.
"I would like to breed Morar again, perhaps when she is five-years-old, but with such a small gene pool it has to be done carefully. I could sell a whole litter again this season but dont want to do that, I cant afford to bring another dog through quarantine at £176/month." says Jean, who finds the dogs like to be with their owner, are very loyal and dont readily take to strangers.
"I want to see the Hungarian Wire-haired Vizsla established as a working breed in this country, but it must be done properly," she emphasises.
Above: Morars win was a first for the breed and a first for her owner.
Below: Mischi and Morar are both effective workers on land and in water.
Jean with stud dog Kecel Hatsagi Simi. She would like to see Hungarian Wire-haired Vizslas established as a working breed here in Britain.
Left: Nine-month-old Dram (centre) is the only pup Jean kept from the litter of seven pups.