What is the Mountain Feist Dog?

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Mountain Feist DogHailing from the southern Appalachian Mountains, Mountain Feists are small to medium size dogs known for their intelligent and spirited nature. These American hunting dogs are known as the ultimate squirrel dog because they’re highly adept at chasing small game like raccoons and squirrels up trees. With their boundless energy, and keen senses, the Mountain Feist Dog is a determined and invaluable partner for hunters everywhere; here’s everything you need to know about them.  

What is the Mountain Feist Dog? 

Also known as the Feist Dog or American Treeing Feist, the Mountain Feist is a small dog that originates from the southern United States. They are small, compact, and muscular dogs with a short coat that comes in a wide range of colors. Their sharp hunting instincts and acute senses allow them to excel in tracking and treeing, making them the top choice for both hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. 

While Mountain Feist Dogs were initially the same dogs as Treeing Feists, both dogs are now categorized as separate breeds by the United Kennel Club. Feist breeds are characterized by their intelligence, which means it can be easy to train them and they’re great for dog sports. Their overall body size allows them to adapt to both urban and rural environments that have made them a great addition to all kinds of families looking for devoted companion animals.          

History of the Mountain Feist 

The term “feist” refers to any kind of small and noisy dog; over time, they’ve been bred to become low-maintenance dogs that can assist with squirrel hunting above ground. Native to the Ozark Mountains in the American South, the Mountain Feist is often referred to as the “last true hunting dogs” and is the result of crosses over many generations. While they’ve been around since the 17th century, their popularity has only grown in the last decade. 

These dogs are rumored to have been owned by some of the first presidents including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who wrote about them. Moreover, they were also referenced by author William Faulkner in one of his works — this means that these dogs have been around longer than any Rat Terrier, making them a pioneer of the breed! Today, there are different kinds of feists that have become refined but because they’re not an accepted breed in the American Kennel Club, they don’t currently have a breed standard.  

Mountain Feist Appearance

As mentioned, the Mountain Feist is a small to medium sized breed that’s active and agile enough to climb up trees and have bodies that are slightly longer than they are tall. No matter the size of the individual dog, they will come with good, strong legs that allow them to move swiftly along rough terrain. They come with a blocky and broad skull, a strong muzzle, and a moderate stop — they come with a straight, long tail set as a natural extension of the topline.  

In general, they can grow between 10 to 22 inches tall, and weigh around 10 to 30 pounds; their smooth coat comes in a wide range of colors such as white, black, tricolor, and brindle. While they may have a similar appearance to the Jack Russell Terrier and share similar hunting behavior to the Treeing Walker Coonhound, they are completely different dog breeds. 

Mountain Feist Temperament 

This working dog comes with a lively demeanor which means it’s always ready for exploration and adventure. As a man’s best friend, this dog is less aggressive compared to other terriers; this loving dog can form a strong bond with their families but they will need a lot of exercises and stimulation to stop them from getting bored. Moreover, because of their high prey drive, they will try to chase and kill small animals, so remember this when they go outside. 

As such, it’s important to remember this when you introduce them to other animals in your home; they shouldn’t be added inside houses with mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, or hamsters. Apart from being great family and hunting dogs, Mountain Feists can make good watchdogs as well since they’re wary of strangers. While they are affectionate, they can also be stubborn so giving them early socialization and training can help to bring out the best from these dogs. 

Mountain Feist Care

The Mountian Feist is a high energy dog and they want to be active at all times; they will need to go out on walks every day and will want to play outside with their favorite humans. Their stubborn streaks and high prey drive can make it hard to train them but it’s imperative that they’re kept on a leash or a safe and enclosed area. Don’t forget that because this is a small treeing dog, you will see it climbing trees in pursuit of squirrels every now and then.  


This type of dog will need a diet specifically formulated for small to medium breeds with higher energy levels. Much like with any dog, their needs will change as they transition from puppyhood to into adulthood and even during their senior years. These active dogs will need plenty of dog food to keep them energized and ready for their daily routine. 

They will need around 400 calories of high-quality dog food specifically formulated for such an active breed. Still, because they’re susceptible to bloat, it’s best to feed these smaller dogs controlled portions, around 2 small meals per day should be enough. Because puppies come with smaller stomachs compared to adults, it’s crucial that you feed them around 3 to 4 smaller meals per day until they reach 6 months of age. 

While Mountain Feists are a healthy breed, looking for dog food that offers robust nutrition to support their active and happy life. Ingredients such as glucosamine can help to improve mobile joints while antioxidants and omegas can fortify the skin, fur, and immune systems. However, if you’re still unsure what to feed your pup, speak to your vet about their recommendations for your dog’s age, energy, weight, and health.


While Mountain Feists were varied back then, they have a more specific set of traits today as a result of generations of cross-breeding with a specific blend of dogs. Now they have short hair and smooth coats that come in a variety of colors like tan, cream, white, gray, silver, blue, sable, pied, brindle, fawn, and Isabella. Luckily these dogs are low-maintenance and will shed moderately throughout the year and they won’t need haircuts. 

They shouldn’t be bathed too much since they can come with sensitive skin, so give them showers as needed or when they get too dirty from playing. Occasionally brushing them to remove loose hair is helpful; these dogs prefer cold weather but be sure to give them a jacket to protect them from the elements. When the weather is hot, make sure they have access to fresh water — heavy panting can be a sign of dehydration or heat stroke so make sure to bring them inside the house when it gets too hot outside. 

Check your dog’s nails every two weeks to see how long they are; if they constantly click on your floors, it’s time to go to the groomer to have them trimmed. It’s also important to look at your dog’s ears weekly to check for irritation or redness and to clean them using cotton and a little ear solution. Finally, be sure to brush their teeth 2 to 3 times a week to ensure they maintain good dental health.  


Because they’re such energetic dogs, your Mountain Feist will need more exercise compared to most dogs of its size and they will need daily playtime outside of their routine walks. They will enjoy the hunt more than any other activity but they’ll need a yard if you need to burn their energy without being outdoors. Setting up a dog obstacle course in your backyard can help to keep them sharp and physically fit.  

While they prefer to exercise for several hours a day, make sure that you give them a minimum of 1 hour per day; if not, they can become destructive with all their pent-up energy. Luckily, keeping them well-behaved won’t be a problem if they’re given enough exercise. However, if they feel neglected, they can be very vocal and will likely grab a ball and drop it at your feet if you don’t play enough with them. 


These dogs may find it difficult to train since they’re always so full of energy, but they will embrace it when they understand what training is for. They’re more than happy to please their owners and will likely surprise you with their high intelligence. Things will start rocky at first because they will struggle to focus but you’ll soon discover that they will catch on quickly with advanced tricks. 

They have such high intelligence and energy levels, and when combined with their natural athleticism, they can be a great choice for agility training. This type of training can help to make them more calm and content in the evening to wind down. Just make sure that you keep their prey drive in check — because of the challenges that come with these dogs, they’re not the best for first-time owners who may have a hard time training them.   

Mountain Feist Health Problems

When given a balanced diet, an active lifestyle, and proper care, these dogs can be expected to live anywhere between 12 to 14 years of age. While this can be the average for many dogs, there are a few exceptions to this; smaller dogs will tend to come with a longer lifespan compared to their bigger counterparts. Luckily, Mountain Feists are quite healthy since they descended from many healthy dogs.

However, they can still be prone to different health issues, which you need to keep in mind as you consider adding one of these pups to your family. Such health concerns include the following: 

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Allergic dermatitis 
  • Food allergies
  • Obesity
  • Patellar luxation
  • Eye problems

Adding new dogs to the family can be hard, and their maintenance requirements should be at the top of your priority list. Be sure to speak to your vet about your dog’s dietary and exercise needs to ensure that they’re healthy at all times. It’s also important to take them on regular veterinary check-ups to stay on top of any medical concerns and catch any problems before they worsen. 

Mountain Feists with Other Pets and Children

Because the Mountain Feist comes with such an interesting blend of traits and characteristics, they can be very friendly and loving to their families but also has a high prey drive. Generally, they can get along well with young children; thankfully, their sturdy and muscular body makes a big difference, so they’re not so fragile. Moreover, they’re not as aggressive as other terriers, so that’s another check for these good dogs but it’s still important to supervise playtime with kids. 

It’s always good to teach your kids the proper way of touching and approaching dogs, so be sure to keep an eye on them to prevent ear or tail pulling as well as biting from either party. No matter how well-behaved your dog is, it’s never good to leave them with kids and smaller animals unsupervised. Because they have such a strong prey drive, they shouldn’t share a house with smaller animals, but they will do well with bigger dogs since they enjoy socializing.   

Finding Your Mountain Feist

Purchasing one of these alert dogs from a breeder around your area may cost around $200 to $600. But because this breed isn’t as common as others, you may not find any of them near you; you might be able to find a Mountain Feist or a mixed breed up for adoption through your local rescue organization. Most of the time, going in this direction will be much more affordable compared to purchasing one from a breeder. 

Purchasing a Mountain Feist

If you’re truly set on getting a Mountain Feist Dog, the best option is to prioritize adopting from your local shelter or rescue organization. But if you decide to make a purchase, be sure to do your research and look for a reputable breeder. It’s up to you to ensure that your breeder follows ethical practices while prioritizing their well-being. 

A good breeder will also prioritize the temperament of their dogs, conduct all the necessary health screenings, and give their puppies a safe and nurturing environment. Doing this will make sure that your puppy comes from a healthy and happy facility that discourages unethical breeding practices. During the first year of owning one of these dogs, you may need to spend around $1,000 to $1,500, which will include all the supplies, food, training, and veterinary care they need. 

Their next years won’t cost as much since all their initial vaccinations and purchases will have been done. As mentioned, it can be hard to find rescues specifically for these dogs but you can always look through your local shelter, or you may look into rescues that cater to all kinds of canines. When given quality care, your Mountain Feist should live a long and happy life with you as their favorite human.  


As one of the most robust dog breeds in the world, the Mountain Feist isn’t just a small hunting dog, but it also serves as a wonderful family pet that can go on all kinds of adventures with you. Forming strong bonds with their owners, they will be eager to please once they understand the concept of training, but they can be a challenge for novice owners so they will need your patience. With lots of energy, a muscular body, and high intelligence, these dogs can be the perfect addition to active families and will spend many years in your care.