10 Facts You Should Know About Feist Dogs (with Pictures)

Taylor A Ritz Ever heard of a Feist Dog? These small to medium mixed-breed dogs are descended from terriers, which were brought to the southeastern part of the United States in the 17th century. They were used as ratters and all-around hunting dogs. Feist Dogs are a general type, rather than a breed, of dog.

1. Where Does the Feist Dog Come From?

The Feist Dog is most likely descended from terriers brought to the U.S. by working-class immigrants, such as English miners, mixed with dogs from Native Americans. Terrier breeds that likely contributed to the Feist Dog include the Manchester Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, and the now-extinct English White Terrier. All of these terrier breeds were used as ratters, a trait they successfully passed on to the Feist Dog. Other breeds that may have contributed their genetics to the Feist Dog are Greyhounds, Whippets, and Beagles. The first two added speed to the Feist Dog while the Beagle provided increased hunting ability.

2. What Does a Feist Dog Look Like?

Feist dogs are characterized by short coats, long legs, and ears set high on the head. They are bred for hunting, not showing, so you’ll find little consistency in their appearance. Feist dogs are identified more by their hunting style and size than by their physical presentation. Their coats are short and low-shedding, appearing in a wide variety of colors. Coat colors can present in combinations of black, tan, blue, white, red, and brindle. They are not hypoallergenic. 


3. How Big Is a Feist Dog?

Feist dogs are small to medium-sized, between 10 and 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 15 to 30 pounds.

4. How Does A Feist Dog Hunt?

Feist Dogs hunt above ground to chase small prey; they are most well-known for hunting squirrels. Unlike hounds, Feist Dogs track their prey silently until they tree their intended target. Unlike other ratters, Feist Dogs do not usually kill or retrieve their prey; instead, they rely on their eyes, ears, and nose to locate the animal, then trap them in a tree. Once they have “treed” their quarry, the Feist Dog will bark loudly while circling the tree, much like a coonhound does. Once the prey is treed, Feist Dogs expect their human partners to come to finish the hunt with a well-placed bullet.

5. Is The Feist Dog Feisty?

The word feisty was actually derived from the Feist Dog’s name. Feisty means “energetic, belligerent, especially if small.” (Source) This is an apt description of the dog type. Their usefulness as hunting dogs lent to the creation of an energetic, independent dog breed capable of pursuing prey while hunters stood back. In addition to being energetic, this dog is fearless, which is a necessary trait for a hunting dog. They are also intelligent and learn to follow commands quickly. The Feist Dog is friendly and dependable, taking their role at their owner’s side very seriously. Feist Dogs are loving and not aggressive by nature. These dogs love to spend time outdoors with their people and usually get along with all human members of the family, including children.

6. What Are the Exercise Requirements For a Feist Dog?

Despite their small size, Feist Dogs absolutely require regular exercise to be happy and healthy. Their hunting lineage has lent them to high levels of energy and endurance that must be spent daily. A long, brisk walk or play session in the yard, twice a day, is paramount to burn off the excess energy your Feist Dog has and to keep him or her fit and healthy. You’ll find that a well-exercised dog tends to be a well-behaved dog. Dogs that do not get adequate exercise will grow bored. They might also resort to undesirable and destructive activities, like chewing on your couch cushions.

7. How Long Can A Feist Dog Live?

As with any dog, Feist Dogs can experience health issues, but mixed-breed dogs such as these tend to have fewer problems than purebred individuals. Here are a few health concerns Feist Dogs may be more prone to:
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Allergies
Overall, Feist Dogs are quite healthy mutts, with a life expectancy of as long as 18 years!

8. How Often Do You Groom a Feist Dog?

A Feist Dog’s coat is short and smooth. They can be brushed periodically to keep shedding down. Bathe as needed, or whenever your Feist Dog comes home from a hike covered in dirt.

9. Notable Types of Feist Dogs

Differentiating types of Feist Dogs is a topic of some debate among breeders and Feist aficionados. Some say they can be characterized by their size, and others by where they are bred. Still, others claim there is no physical difference between the types at all. Here are a few differences according to the United Kennel Club between the two types of Feist Dog the club recognizes.

Treeing Feist

Mountain Feist

Year RecognizedThe Treeing Feist was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998.The Mountain Feist was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 2015.
FeetRound and well-arched.Small and compact, slightly oval in shape.
EarsShort to medium length, erect or button ears acceptable.Ears must be V-shaped, erect or slightly tipped.
  Other Feist types include Barger Stock Feist, Buckley Mountain Feist, Charlie Feist, Kemmer Feist, Denmark Feist, Thornburg Feist, Mullins Feist, and many more.

10. Do Feist Dogs Make Good Pets For a Family?

A Feist Dog is incredibly sweet and loving. They bond quite strongly with their human companions but also require a large amount of exercise for their smaller stature. They get along with all other members of the household. The Feist Dog makes an excellent, energetic, loving companion for an active individual or family.

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Taylor Ritz

Taylor has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. She is a former zookeeper and animal trainer. She has her own dog, Dobby, with whom she has bicycled across the U.S. and thru-hiked the Long Trail.

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