The Mountain Feist Dog Breed: Everything You Need to Know

The Mountain Feist is a small dog breed known for its high energy levels, intelligence, and loyal nature. Despite its small size, the Feist has a big personality and is a popular family pet and hunting dog.

In this article, we will provide you with everything you need to know about the Mountain Feist Dog Breed.

History and Origins of the Mountain Feist Dog Breed

The Mountain Feist Dog Breed has a rich history that dates back several hundred years. Its origins can be traced back to terriers and scent hounds brought to the southern parts of North America by immigrants.

The breed was developed to assist farmers with vermin control.  Because of its agility and watchdog skills, the Feist also protected the home from intruders.  

Early Beginnings of the Breed

The Mountain Feist Breed was developed from a variety of different dogs, including the now-extinct English White Terrier, Fox Terrier, and Manchester Terrier. These dogs were bred for their ability to hunt small game and vermin.

Over time, the breed evolved to be smaller, feistier, and more agile, becoming ideal for hunting and treeing in dense forests and rural terrains. Loyal and able to work independently, the Mountain Feist is still a valuable asset to any hunter.

The Role of Mountain Feists in American History

During the American Revolution, Mountain Feist dogs were used by soldiers to deliver messages and hunt for food. The breed was highly valued for its agility, intelligence, and loyalty.

As the country expanded westward, Mountain Feists became popular with pioneers and settlers. They were used for hunting and as watchdogs and were known for their ability to adapt to new environments and situations.

During the Civil War, Mountain Feists were used as messengers and to locate wounded soldiers on the battlefield. Their small size and agility made them ideal for navigating rough terrain and tight spaces.

Today, the Mountain Feist remains a popular companion and an excellent breed for hunting and treeing. 

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

The Mountain Feist is a small to medium breed with a muscular build. Despite the relatively small size, the dog has an athletic appearance that radiates speed and agility. 

Size and Weight

Mountain Feist dogs are typically between 10 and 18  inches tall at the shoulders and weigh between 10 and 30 pounds.

The muscular build gives the Feist a sturdy and athletic appearance. Due to their similar appearance and go-all-day stamina, Mountain Feists are often compared to Jack Russel Terriers and Rat Terriers.

Coat and Colors

The Mountain Feist has a short, smooth coat that can come in a variety of colors, including black, white, brown, brindle, etc. The coat color and pattern can vary widely – with some dogs having a solid color and others a mix of colors or a brindle pattern.

The coat is easy to maintain and does not require frequent grooming. Weekly brushing and occasional baths are more than enough to keep the skin healthy and the coat shiny.

Distinctive Features

The Mountain Feist has a broad chest and strong legs, which give it the ability to move quickly and easily over rough terrain. The breed also has a keen sense of smell and great hearing, which make it an excellent hunting dog.

Their ears are medium-sized and triangular in shape, standing erect on the head. The eyes of the Mountain Feist are typically dark brown and round, giving them a friendly and curious expression. The breed has a short tail that is held high and wags excitedly when they are happy or excited.

Personality and Temperament

Mountain Feists make great family pets. They are loyal and affectionate with their owners and love to play and snuggle. Feists are also alert and very protective of their human family members. 

Mountain Feists love kids of all ages with whom they are affectionate and playful. Because of their small size, you do not have to worry about Feists knocking children down during playtime. In addition to their hunting and family pet roles, Mountain Feists are also used as therapy dogs.

Their friendly and outgoing personalities make them a great choice for visiting hospitals and nursing homes, where they can bring joy and comfort to patients.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Mountain Feist is a highly active breed that requires plenty of exercise and stimulation to stay healthy and happy. It is a  great companion for active people who enjoy hiking, jogging, or other outdoor activities.

The Mountain Feist does not do well alone. The breed needs plenty of attention and exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. If you are considering a Mountain Feist, make sure your free time and lifestyle match this dog’s stamina. 

Intelligence and Trainability

The Mountain Feist is a highly intelligent breed that is easy to train. They are eager to learn and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. As quick learners, they excel in obedience training, agility, and other dog sports.

It is important to start training your Mountain Feist at a young age to ensure that they develop good habits and behaviors. With consistency and patience, your Mountain Feist will become a well-behaved and obedient companion.

Socialization and Compatibility with Other Animals

The Mountain Feist is a social dog that gets along well with people and is fond of children. While good with kids, Mountain Feists are not friendly with smaller pets. Bred to be hunters, they have a strong prey drive and are inclined to chase smaller pets. 

This can be avoided with early and proper socialization. If you have other pets in your home, it is important to introduce them to your Mountain Feist slowly and carefully. 

Health and Lifespan

The Mountain Feist is a long-lived and healthy breed. However, like all dogs, it is prone to certain health conditions, such as:  

  • Hip Dysplasia: Malformation of the hip joint resulting in joint damage, early arthritis, and poor mobility
  • Elbow Dysplasia: An orthopedic condition affecting the elbow that also results in joint damage, early onset arthritis, and impaired mobility
  • Dental Disease: Small breeds are susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup, which results in periodontal disease and even early teeth loss

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Preventative care is essential for keeping your Mountain Feist healthy and happy. This includes routine vaccinations, deworming treatments, and flea, tick, & heartworm preventives. 

Regular checkups with a veterinarian are also important for maintaining your Mountain Feist’s health. During these checkups, the vet will examine your dog from head to tail, looking for any signs of illness or injury. 

Expected Lifespan

The Mountain Feist has an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. This means that owning a Feist can provide you with many years of joy and companionship.

One of the keys to ensuring a long and healthy life for your Mountain Feist is providing them with plenty of exercises and mental stimulation. Healthy nutrition and regular veterinary care are also essential for well-being and longevity. 


The Mountain Feist Dog is a skilled vermin hunter and an affectionate companion dog. With its small size and adaptive nature, it is suitable for people with various living situations. 

However, do not be fooled by the size – Feist dogs love to exercise and are an excellent choice for active families that spend quality time outdoors. Even today, modern Feists are true to their proud Southern lineage.

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