Mountain Feist

12-30 lbs
United States
American Feist, Mountain Terrier
Often confused for the Treeing Feist, the Mountain Feist is actually considered a separate breed by the United Kennel Club, although the two do possess a considerable amount of shared characteristics in both looks and personality. Mountain Feists are a historic breed, the descendants of various terriers and scent hounds that were bred in the American South. The aim of early breeding efforts was to produce a low-maintenance dog that would be able to hunt, rat, and tree to help farmers and ranchers control the vermin population. But even though they have been tireless in their duty throughout the years, their high-spirited nature has also helped them make a considerable transition into that of companions, as their high adaptability and great overall temperament make them a preferred selection for a wide variety of families. They may be a smaller breed, but they most certainly have the potential for big personalities and high aspirations if kept as a working dog as well, making them a great, friendly, and reliable breed all-around.
Hunting, Treeing, Companion
Date of Origin
17th Century
Terriers, Scent Hounds

Mountain Feist Health

Average Size
Male Mountain Feist size stats
Height: 12-18 inches Weight: 12-30 lbs
Female Mountain Feist size stats
Height: 12-18 inches Weight: 12-30 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Allergies
Occasional Diagnoses
  • None – generally a healthy small dog
Occasional Tests
  • X-Rays
  • Physical Examination
  • Allergy Tests

Mountain Feist Breed History

Feist-type dogs have long been a staple in the American South, yet there is limited documented history of them, largely because of the widespread illiteracy that existed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. However, great figures throughout time have made notes of these dogs, often referred to in the past as "fice" or "fyce" dogs at the time, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Faulkner, who all referred to characteristics that have transcended time along with their name. This type of reference leads many to believe they were long established even before the first true written accounts, possibly as early as the 17th century. What does seem to be widely accepted is that, like the Curs of antiquity, Feists were largely bred to be a utility breed, able to help farmers and ranchers control rodent populations and hunt small game like rabbits and squirrels without creating excess maintenance in a field already overwhelmed with responsibility. The rest of their history is largely unknown, besides the fact that they were likely created by breeding European Terriers with native and imported scent hounds, the results showing in their excessive variety of colors and patterns, along with their two different types of ear structures. Although their relative the Treeing Feist was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998, the Mountain Feist was not recognized until 2015. Today, they are still often used for treeing squirrels and are still considered one of the most effective breeds for doing so, but have grown in popularity enough that they are just as often used as companion animals, if not more so.

Mountain Feist Breed Appearance

Mountain Feists are small to medium size dogs, standing 12 to 18 inches at the withers are rarely weighing north of 30 pounds. Because of their general build and sometimes similar coat colors and patterns, they are often confused for Jack Russell Terriers and other breeds of the type but are easy to spot for a seasoned expert thanks to a few key traits. Their heads are proportionate to their overall body size and are relatively long and somewhat narrow. Their skull is slightly longer than their muzzle and split by a well-defined stop, the pair also running parallel in look and the latter being capped by a black or self-colored nose. Their eyes are round and range from dark brown to amber while their ears, unlike a Treeing Feist, must be erect or tipped but not button. Their necks are clean and muscular, seamlessly descending into similarly well-muscled shoulders, which are well laid-back, and a straight top line. Their forelegs are strong and straight, separated by a surprisingly wide and deep chest for their overall size which descends into a moderate belly tuck. Their hind legs are parallel from behind and are well-angulated from the side, sporting a fair amount of muscle in the thigh. Their tails may be docked or natural, and if the latter, are relatively long and tapered, being held either out straight or with a slight curve. Their coats are short, smooth, and dense and come in every color and pattern combination.
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Mountain Feist eyes
amber Mountain Feist eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Mountain Feist nose
brown Mountain Feist nose
Coat Color Possibilities
brindle Mountain Feist coat
sable Mountain Feist coat
pied Mountain Feist coat
white Mountain Feist coat
silver Mountain Feist coat
blue Mountain Feist coat
fawn Mountain Feist coat
isabella Mountain Feist coat
cream Mountain Feist coat
red Mountain Feist coat
brown Mountain Feist coat
gray Mountain Feist coat
black Mountain Feist coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Mountain Feist straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Mountain Feist Breed Maintenance

Mountain Feists are an extremely low maintenance breed and were bred to be that way so the farmers and ranchers that owned them would have little more responsibility to deal with above and beyond their already overwhelming duties. Therefore, these dogs take only a very occasional brushing with a firm bristle or slicker brush once or twice a week at most to keep their coats clean and free of dirt and loose hair. Bathing is rarely necessary unless they get into something particularly foul smelling or dirty and they otherwise self-maintain quite well. Their nails should be monitored and trimmed when necessary and their teeth should be brushed once a week to help them maintain good oral health.
Brushes for Mountain Feist
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Mountain Feist requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Mountain Feist Temperament

Mountains Feists are most well-known for their lively, high-spirited attitudes and their affectionate, playful personalities. They form strong bonds with their families and love to get attention, going so far as trying to initiate playtime at a moment's notice if they feel so inclined. They are an intelligent and curious breed which undoubtedly helps to fuel their hunting/treeing abilities, but it can also be problematic at times, making training a bit of an uphill battle, especially in the early stages. Because of it, they generally need an experienced trainer who knows how to maintain consistency, patience, and firmness to get the best out of them. Because they were often raised by families and sometimes kept in numbers throughout their history, they are usually inherently good with children and other dogs, although socialization is highly encouraged to keep them at their best behavior. Their trim, athletic build, penchant for chasing, and overall energy levels means they also need a good amount of exercise on a daily basis and may otherwise become bored and frustrated and therefore potentially destructive, so they do need to be with an active family who is able to provide ample activity time. Outside of that, however, their widespread use over the years has allowed them to be a versatile breed, so as long as their exercise requirements are met, they generally do well in just about any size or type or home and/or family.

Mountain Feist Activity Requirements

Mountain Feists are considered a medium to high energy level breed and therefore need a considerable amount of daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy. As a treeing/hunting breed, they love to chase, so if they are regularly used for hunting, will likely be settled after the day's hunt. If they are kept solely as a companion, however, they will need somewhere around 60 minutes of activity a day. Although they will learn to walk/run/jog on a leash and many enjoy doing so, they are happiest with an open space to run. Because of their frequent and intense drive to follow their noses and chase potential prey, it is recommended that they are only let off leash in fenced areas unless remarkably well-trained. For owners who may be less mobile (or, let's face it, tired out from trying to tire them out), throwing a ball to chase is a great way to stimulate both their mind and body, combining to exhaust them that much quicker.
Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes

Mountain Feist Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
1 cups
Daily Cost
$0.60 - $0.80
Monthly Cost
$15.00 - $20.00

Mountain Feist Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Mountain Feist size stats at six months
Height: 12 inches Weight: 16 lbs
Female Mountain Feist size stats at six months
Height: 12 inches Weight: 16 lbs
12 Months
Male Mountain Feist size stats at 12 months
Height: 16 inches Weight: 19 lbs
Female Mountain Feist size stats at 12 months
Height: 16 inches Weight: 19 lbs
18 Months
Male Mountain Feist size stats at 18 months
Height: 15 inches Weight: 21 lbs
Female Mountain Feist size stats at 18 months
Height: 15 inches Weight: 21 lbs

Mountain Feist Owner Experiences

2 Years
2 People
House & Yard
P'Nut is loving and protective. He has been my comedic relief since I got him. He loves to play ball and tug of war. He doesn't like raised voices and loves to play with kitties and other dogs. He talks to me all day long. He says I love you when he wants to go play. He will even argue with me. I love my baby. He's the best.
2 months, 3 weeks ago
11 Months
3 People
House & Yard
only animal i have ever loved...she can speak...says i love mama...and i love you...she is so smart and funny..she knows she is too
7 months, 2 weeks ago
6 Months
2 People
Play keep away
This is my 1st M. F. she is always surprising me with her daily actions. Turbo will watch tv with me then we'll play chase or tug of war. She is learning commands in German, Russian, & Spanish. We've had Turbo for a month and are working on potty training, it's been rough going but we're getting there. She was the runt of the litter, and free from friends. We're thrilled to be her mom, and dad!
10 months ago
Peaches and Creme ...I have 2
1 Year
2 People
House & Yard
I never thought I could become attached to anything like I am with these two. I love them. I did hire a professional trainer for them and the best investment.
11 months, 2 weeks ago
5 Months
2 People
Previous owner says he was born with his back legs deformed. He walks and runs some and does not seem to be in pain. He follows me everywhere and cowers around other people. Hard to potty train.
11 months, 3 weeks ago
6 Years
5 People
House & Yard
He is usually in his cage and likes staying in his crate ??? But he enjoys going on walks and runs. He is our first mountain feist, but we love him.
1 year ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd