Mountain Feist Dog Breed Information Guide 

An ancient, all American dog, the Mountain Feist is a staple in the American South. Mentioned by name by Abraham Lincoln and George Washinton, the Feist is a scent hound worth learning about.

However, because the Mountain Feist is not recognized by the American Kennel Club and is thus not widely known by many novice dog enthusiasts, there is still a lot to learn about this incredibly intelligent, family-oriented hunting dog.

Join us today as we learn about the Mountain Feist and find out if this clever, outgoing, and affectionate purebred would be the right addition to your family.


The Mountain Feist At A Glance

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The Mountain Feist is a versatile working dog who is also commonly known as an American Feist or Mountain Terrier.

Also known as the Treeing Feist, the American Feist, the American Treeing Feist, and the Mountain Terrier, the Mountain Feist is a one of a kind dog with a unique history.

The Mountain Feist hails from the Southern United States and was a staple in our history as a ratting and hunting dog. Mild-mannered, friendly and focused, the Mountain Feist makes a wonderful companion for active families and those with young children.

He gets along well with other dogs, though the Mountain Feist has a strong hunting instinct and prey drive. There are three different versions of Feist dogs, including the Mountain Feist, the Pencil-Tail Feist, and the Bench-Legged Feist.

High-energy and quite fast, the Mountain Feist is an excellent small game hunter and was invaluable to avid huntsmen in the early south, especially due to his unique ability to climb trees.

Small and agile, the Mountain Feist is recognized by the American Canine Association, the American Treeing Feist Association, the American Pet Registry, the Dog Registry of America, and the United Kennel Club.

Where Does The Mountain Feist Come From?

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Feists were used as ratting terriers, helping to rid areas of vermin.

It is believed that the Mountain Feist existed in America as early as the 17th century, long before the introduction of the better known Rat Terriers. Though official written records of the American Feist have yet to be found confirming this, the Feist dog is described by a number of important historical characters including Arbraham Licon, William Faulkner, and George Washington. For this reason, the Mountain Feist is widely regarded as the original ratting dog, though he was a versatile hunting dog for small game as well.

The American Feist is a scent hound bred for his compact, athletic body, tenacious nature, and incredible nose.

He was utilized mostly by farmers as a versatile hunting and ratting dog, helping remove rodents from fields, which protected crops and livestock. He was also employed to hunt small game like rabbits and squirrels. Mountain Feists are particularly talented treeing dogs, which is why many small game hunters still employ them to this day.

Along with being an incredible hunter, the Mountain Feist has also made a name for himself as being an affectionate, family-friendly companion. His compact size makes him the ideal traveling canine, and he enjoys learning new tricks.

However, in spite of his popularity and a growing fanbase, there is still a lot many people don’t know about the Mountain Feist, like the fact he was not recognized by the United Kennel Club until 2015 and still has yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.

What Does The Mountain Feist Look Like?

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Mountain feist dogs come in a variety of colors and coat patterns.

Have you seen a Mountain Feist? You likely have but just didn’t realize it. These dogs look an awful lot like Rat Terriers and Jack Russels, with their square muzzles, compac bodies, pointed ears and diverse coat coloring.

Let’s take a look at their basic characteristics below.

Mountain Feist Height: 10 – 22 Inches

Mountain Feist Weight: 10 – 30 Pounds

Mountain Feist Coat Color: Black, red, white, tri color, red and white, black and tan, blue and white, red brindle, and spotted

Coat Types: Short, smooth, shedding

Hypoallergenic Coat: No

Overview of The Mountain Feist’s Appearance:

The Mountain Feist may look like many other popular dog breeds we know and love, but there is no mistaking this spirited little hunting dog once you know him. His personality sets him apart, as do his unique talents for treeing and hunting.

His body is proportionate and delicate, with a lean yet muscular frame that helps him to climb trees and run quickly through fields and dense underbrush. His ears are pointed and erect, and his tail can be long or docked. The Mountain Feist also comes in a variety of color combinations, which can further help him blend with many of his other terrier counterparts.

Still, you can tell a true Mountain Feist by looking at his face. His ears are pointed and his muzzle is square. Mountain Feist dogs also stand taller than their Jack Russel counterparts.

Their most defining feature is perhaps their personality. While the Mountain Feist is a terrier breed, he is much more mild-mannered. He gets along well with most people and other dogs, and doesn’t seem to be as bossy.

Let’s learn more.

What Are The Mountain Feist Temperament And Personality Traits Like?

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Mountain Feist dogs have a terrier-like temperament.

We’ve already touched a bit on the Mountain Feist’s personality traits, and you may have been surprised to learn that this terrier breed is not so terrier in temperament. While most terriers are known for their proud, commanding, and somewhat aloof dispositions, the Mountain Feist is the opposite. They are people-dogs through and through and enjoy being with their families.

They get along well with most everyone, (except for small rodents and game), and are especially fond of children. Easily loveable, very playful, and highly entertaining, the Mountain Feist is a low-maintenance, energetic dog who does well with active families and young singles.

He enjoys being outside and partaking in any outdoor activity including hiking, jogging, camping, or road tripping. Just remember that the Mountain Feist does have a high prey drive and can be prone to taking off after smaller animals.

This can put him in harm’s way when on walks, so be sure to never walk your Mountain Feist without a leash and harness.

What Are The Exercise Requirements For A Mountain Feist?

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Mountain feist dogs require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Temperamentally, the Mountain Feist is rather low maintenance. However, this is a high-energy dog who requires routine exercise each and every day to stay happy and healthy. A working breed at heart, the Mountain Feist requires free outdoor playtime and will do best in homes with securely fenced in backyards where he can run and play.

He will also require routine walks at least once a day, (but sometimes twice), and lots of indoor activities like games of tug of war and fetch to keep him mentally stimulated.

The Mountain Feist was bred to hunt, and he can’t kick this instinct. You can help keep him from becoming bored and frustrated by tapping into these instincts with games like puzzle toys, frisbee and fetch.

If left to his own devices for too long with little to keep him busy, the Mountain Feist can become bored and destructive. He may also be prone to suffering from anxiety and depression.

Help alleviate these potential issues using mental stimulation and plenty of exercise, and refrain from leaving your Mountain Feist alone for more than five hours at a time.

How Do You Properly Train and Socialize A Mountain Feist?

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Mountain feist dogs require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

All dogs require a certain amount of training and socialization in order for them to grow up happy and healthy. This is especially true for working and hunting dogs like the Mountain Feist.

Though outgoing and not aggressive, they should still be introduced to a number of people, places, sights and sounds at an early age to ensure they grow up happy, healthy and well-rounded.

If you are raising your Mountain Feist around children, we suggest teaching children how to respectfully interact with the family dog to ensure everyone is getting along safely and happily. It is also a good idea to supervise young children with your Mountain Feist.

Training is just as important as socialization. You can begin training your Mountain Feist from the moment you get him, which should be no younger than seven or eight weeks if he is a puppy.

Mountain Feist dogs learn quickly, but they can become bored if their training sessions are not kept interesting and game-like. Try to keep training sessions short and use lots of positive reinforcement like treats and praise.

Avoid using harsh punishments to correct your Mountain Feist during training, as this could cause him to shut down and even hurt the bond that is being created between the two of you.

Instead, be patient and consistent, and reward your Mountain Feist for jobs well done. Once you have your training down, you’ll find that training a Mountain Feist is quite enjoyable.

These clever, eager to please dogs will surprise you with their ability to pick up cues and tricks. One of the most important cues we suggest you teach your Mountain Feist is going to be a solid recall.

Remember, this is a dog with a very high prey drive, so ensuring he knows when to come to you is going to be important in case he ever gets out of his yard or off of his leash.

The Mountain Feist Grooming Requirements

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The Mountain Feist grooming needs are moderate.

Mountain Feist dogs are relatively low maintenance and easy to groom, although if you’re looking for a dog that doesn’t shed, don’t look here. These guys shed year around and shed heaviest during the shedding season which is in spring and fall. During shedding season, your Mountain Feist may need to be groomed a few times a week to collect loose hair and reduce doggy odor.

However, for the most part the Mountain Feist only needs to be brushed one or two times a week. Because his coat is weather resistant, he only needs bathing once every couple of months unless he gets particularly dirty.

Along with occasional bathing and brushing, the Mountain Feist should have his ears checked and cleaned regularly to keep them free of waxy buildup, moisture and debris. Doing this will help keep ear infections and other problems at bay.

His nails should also be trimmed often to keep them from cracking or splitting during play, and his teeth should be brushed at least once a day using a quality dog toothbrush and toothpaste.

What Is the Average Lifespan Of A Mountain Feist And Do They Have Any Serious Health Issues?

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Like all dogs, the Mountain Feist can suffer from some genetic health issues.

The Mountain Feist is known for his vitality and health. He is a long-lived dog as well, with a lifespan of 10 – 15 years, though he can live longer under the right conditions.

Still, like all dogs, the Mountain Feist can be prone to a number of serious genetic health issues that any potential owner should be aware of.

The Mountain Feist’s Most Common Health Issues Include:

What You Need To Know About Bloat and The Mountain Feist

Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), Bloat is a serious and often life-threatening condition that can come on suddenly. It is common in deep chested dogs, but has also been found to affect the smaller, more agile Mountain Feist.

Bloat occurs when air fills the stomach, which causes it to flip. This cuts off blood flow to the lower part of the body, also affecting other organs like the spleen and pancreas. Bloat requires immediate emergency care from a veterinary professional, so it’s important to understand and watch for the symptoms of this frightening disease.

Some of the most common symptoms of bloat include panting, pacing, obvious pain, extended or hard abdomen, unproductive vomiting or retching, excessive drooling, and collapse.

Bloat can occur suddenly, but it is often brought on when a dog eats too quickly, eats too much, or eats or drinks immediately following intense play or exercise. To combat bloat, it’s best to ensure you monitor your dog and keep him from eating or drinking immediately after a long walk or outside playtime.

We also suggest investing in a puzzle feeder to help slow your Mountain Feist down when eating.

You can help combat some of the other above health issues in your Mountain Feist by following the below tips for each category.


All dogs require a healthy diet, and the Mountain Feist is no different. A quality dog food specified for your Mountain Feist’s age, weight and activity level will help not only reduce his chances of dealing with bloat, but it will also help enhance his immune system and quality of life.

The best dog food for your Mountain Feist will be a dog food that is rich in real animal protein, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and water.

Steer clear of dog foods that are made with additives and byproducts or that include soy, wheat or corn in their ingredients.


Exercising your Mountain Feist is key to his overall health and happiness. This is a dog who thrives when running and chasing, and as a bred working dog he will appreciate going on long walks or jogs with you, or even playing games like fetch or frisby in the yard.


Keeping up with proper grooming not only helps keep your Mountain Feist looking his best, but it also gives you the opportunity to keep a close eye on his body for any lumps or bumps, cuts, abrasions, sores or wounds.

Routine Vet Visits

Last but not least, try and keep up with routine vet visits. Most veterinarians recommend that dogs under the age of seven visit the vet for annual checkups at least once a year. Older dogs should schedule routine visits once every six months.

Preventative care for your Mountain Feist can help you save money in the long run as it can catch illnesses or problems in your Mountain Feist while they are still treatable, or before they become too serious.

What Are Some Pros And Cons Of Owning A Mountain Feist?

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Mountain Feists are smaller dogs but they have a lot of energy.

Although the Mountain Feist does make a wonderful dog for the right owner, that doesn’t mean he is the right dog for every family. Like all dogs, there are some pros and cons that come with owning a Mountain Feist that you should consider before investing in one.

Pros To Owning A Mountain Feist:

  • They are very affectionate
  • Mountain Feist dogs get along well with children and other dogs
  • They enjoy people and are family-oriented
  • They are low maintenance
  • Mountain Feist dogs are generally healthy purebreds
  • They are playful and energetic
  • Mountain Feist dogs are trainable and eager to please
  • They are compact in size and make excellent traveling companions

Cons To Owning A Mountain Feist:

  • Mountain Feist dogs are very high energy
  • They can be overwhelming for families with busy schedules
  • They require consistent exercise and mental stimulation
  • Mountain Feist dogs can be prone to destructive behaviors if left to their own devices
  • They can become very bonded with their people may suffer from separation anxiety
  • They have a high prey drive
  • Mountain Feist dogs are able to climb trees and are therefore little escape artists

What Is The Ideal Home Type For A Mountain Feist?

Pic 10 a mountain feist on a trail
The Mountain Feist is an ideal dog for owners who understand terrier dogs.

Because of their high energy level and their unique ability to climb trees, the Mountain Fiest does best in homes with large, securely fenced backyards (with no trees near the perimeter) and owners who are active and committed.

More relaxed than many other terrier breeds, the Mountain Feist is still a hunting dog at heart, and he will require routine exercise and mental stimulation to keep him happy and healthy. This certainly isn’t a lap dog, and instead he is a companion who enjoys adventure, play time, and exercise.

The ideal home will be a home with a backyard, or at the very least a family with a flexible schedule that has time to commit to their Mountain Feist when it comes to training, exercise, socialization, and playtime.

Choosing A Mountain Feist Puppy Or Rescue – Tips On Finding The Healthiest Mountain Feist Possible

Pic 11 a mountain feist puppy
Going through a reputable breeder or shelter can help ensure you get a healthy puppy or rescue dog.

Although the Mountain Feist is an overall healthy breed, it’s still important to go through reputable sources when looking for a puppy or rescue dog. Avoid cutting corners or going through backyard breeders or unqualified online sellers in the hopes of finding a Mountain Feist puppy at a bargain price.

Luckily, Mountain Feist puppies are relatively affordable.

When going through a reputable breeder, most Mountain Feist puppies cost around $200 to $300. Look for a breeder who has a history with the Mountain Feist breed and who understands the importance of responsible breeding practices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and remember that most reputable breeders should be able to offer certificates proving their puppies have been health screened and cleared of any serious health issues.

If you prefer to go through a rescue, you’re in luck. There are many rescues throughout the United States that specialize in certain breeds. With some patience and research, you should be able to find a rescue or shelter near you that can unite you with the Mountain Feist of your dreams.

Most rescues charge a fraction of the cost of going through a breeder. Furthermore, many will offer you a free initial vet exam and may even have their dogs undergo behavioral testing before putting them up for adoption.

Best of all, you are helping a dog in need find a forever home while also opening up space in the shelter for another homeless dog.

The Top 5 Products Every Mountain Feist Owner Needs

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Investing in products specifically for your Mountain Feist will help you keep your dog happy and healthy.

Have you decided that the Mountain Feist is the right dog for you? If so, congratulations are in order. The Mountain Feist is sure to make a wonderful companion, and we would like to help you start off on the right foot with your new furry friend.

With that in mind, we have listed five of our favorite products just for the Mountain Feist and for Mountain Feist owners like you. Take a look!

Phoepet Reflective No Pull Dog Harness

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Exercise is incredibly important for all dogs, but especially for the active and clever Mountain Feist. It’s also important to make sure you walk your Mountain Feist on a quality leash and harness, especially considering he has such a high prey drive.

One of our favorite harnesses for dogs like the Mountain Feist is the above reflective no pull dog harness by PHOEPET. This dog harness is designed to reduce pulling and choking, while also ensuring it fits snuggy to keep dogs from escaping.

It includes both a front and back hook, so you have the option of redirecting your Mountain Feist when using a front clip harness if he unexpectedly darts after a smaller animal.

Blue Buffalo Life Protein Adult Dog Food

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The Mountain Feist can be prone to some serious gastrointestinal issues like bloat, so making sure he is on quality dog food can help keep him healthy and happy. A good diet will also help reduce skin allergies and promote a healthy coat.

We like Blue Buffalo Life Protein for the Mountain Feist breed because it is rich in real animal protein and made with quality ingredients. This dog food is free of any additives or fillers, and you have the option of choosing between different flavors and recipes.

For the Mountain Feist, we recommend the fish and brown rice recipe, as it is easier for dogs to digest when they suffer from food sensitivities.

Pet Neat Grooming Brush

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Although the Mountain Feist is a low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming, brushing him routinely with a de-shedding comb is still essential to keeping his skin and coat healthy. Routine brushing can also help collect loose hair and reduce doggy odor.

One of our favorite deshedding combs for more compact dogs like the Mountain Feist is the Pet Neat De-shedding Comb. It reduces shedding and loose hair by to 95% and helps keep your Mountain Feist’s undercoat healthy as well.

And that’s all, folks! Now it’s your turn. What do you think about the Mountain Feist? Should he be registered with the American Kennel Club by now?

Share your thoughts about the Mountain Feist with us in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

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