feist dog

Have you ever seen a feist dog? You may have never heard of a feist before. If this is the case, learn more about these energetic and adorable terriers.

About feist terriers

If you live in North America, the name feist probably means little to you. Although these dogs are not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club does include this cute breed on their registry.

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Feists, Mountain Feists, or Treeing Feists as they are commonly known are small to medium-sized terriers believed to be descended from small dogs breed by the working classes of England, especially miners and field workers. Breeders in the southern United States became interested in these dogs and began breeding them for sports companions.

The feist is believed to have contributed to and / or is comprised of many terrier breeds, including the following.

  • The extinct English white terrier.
  • Rat terriers
  • Manchester terriers
  • Smooth fox terriers
  • Jack russell terriers


Some lines of these dogs also contain the beagle genetic heritage, apparently reproduced in the bloodline to impart stronger hunting characteristics. And here we come to the purpose of the feist: hunting.

Feists are bred to go after small game animals. This includes getting rid of unwanted parasites that inhabit the property as well as assisting hunters in their sport. In fact, feists excel at squirrel hunting, so much so that it is not uncommon to find your dog up in a tree when there is prey to catch. They are amazing climbers.

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The modern feist dog looks a lot like the better known Jack Russell terrier, and there is no great uniformity between the breed either. They have been raised for purpose, rather than appearance or conformation.

However, they are compact and strongly built dogs, which are slightly longer than they are tall, although some specimens are slightly higher than their legs. Their wedge-shaped heads are proportional in size to their bodies, of medium length and slightly rounded. The ears can be held erect or slightly bent. The eyes should be dark and relatively small. Medium size range:

  • Weight: 10 to 25 pounds (5 to 12 kilos)
  • Height: 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 cm)

The breed is fairly short-haired and therefore easy to care for in that regard. Colors span the entire gamut and include:

  • Black and tan
  • Red and white
  • Mottled and white
  • Tricolor
  • Solid red
  • Solid black
  • Solid white

How is a feist dog?

To put it bluntly, a feist pup is an adorable creature, but it is not easy to handle. The typical feist temperament is like the classic terrier; These dogs are incredibly energetic, while at the same time being highly intelligent and equally strong-willed. Imagine a little brawler and you will be on the right track. A feist dog will stop at nothing to get his object of interest once he zeroes in on it, and in most cases, that all-important object will end up being chewed to pieces. For this reason alone, you should fully adapt your home for any eventuality before even considering bringing home a feist dog.

Which brings us back to a point previously made. Feists are excellent climbers. Once a feist dog becomes mobile, it is quite difficult to keep him still on the ground. Considering the speed and agility with which these dogs move, it is not a great effort to imagine that they could even fly. You really need to see one in action to fully understand these dogs lack of limitations.

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Feist dog: training

Training a feist dog is challenging because these little ones are born with minds of their own. Due to their Terrier lineage, they can be difficult to train and require a lot of attention and great diligence on the part of the owner to prevent them from marking your entire home and furniture.

The Feist instinct for running presents its own challenges. These dogs don’t enjoy being tied up or caged, preferring to go where they please. This could include running out the door you just opened to chase squirrels.

Feist dog: Exercise

Exercise is as essential to the feist as oxygen, and one of these dogs would never be really happy keeping him locked up in the house all day. Feists need plenty of room to run around, as well as soft, tall fences if you have any hope of being able to contain them. It should also be mentioned that this breed can be a champion in digging when the right mood strikes them.

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Should you or shouldn’t you have one of these guys?

Feists are best suited to very active and interested owners of their puppies who can really incorporate these fascinating yet challenging dogs into their lifestyle. These dogs are not your normal pets, and they would rather chase squirrels and rabbits than sit on your lap. So, you really would need to spend time with a breeder to get to know them before deciding that you can handle a dog and provide him with the kind of life he deserves.

And although these dogs can be very affectionate by nature, in many cases they are too energetic to be good companions with children. Strong training skills and a committed program are required to bring out the best qualities of these Terriers, but if you have the time, knowledge and space to handle them, Feists are incredible companions who will willingly share all your adventures.

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