Feists have lots of energy, but around the home they aren’t likely to bounce off the walls—in fact, they are more than happy to cuddle on the couch. Easy to train and eager to please, Feists can help on the farm, in the field or in the yard. And if you have a rat problem, they will soon make it go away. They also love to play in the park and jog through the neighborhood.
Ideal Human Companions
- Outdoorsy types
- Families with older children
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What They Are Like to Live With
Feists get along great with children. They have gentle, adaptable personalities, and they know when to adjust the energy level. Their solid terrier genes can make them slightly territorial, but they are generally good with new people. However, they do have nose when it comes to intruders—they will bark and alert the family if they sense a threat.
Things You Should Know
Feists need at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, whether through walks, jogs through the neighborhood or hikes in the park. Being an intelligent working breed, they also like constructive games and tasks to keep their minds sharp. They will be happy living in an apartment as long as their daily exercise requirements are met.
A healthy Feist can live as long as 18 years. These are solid, healthy little dogs for the most part, but some can develop hip dysplasia and allergy problems. Their short coat is easy to manage. Just brush them every few days.
Feists (also called Mountain Fesists) originated in North America several hundred years ago, probably from crosses between English terriers and American Indian dogs. Today, Feists are still valued by hunters, farmers and families for their great tracking and pest-control abilities, not to mention their steady temperaments.
The Look of a Feist
Feists are small, compact and muscular dogs. They have slightly rounded heads, tapered muzzles, black noses and ears that stick up. They have strong necks and shoulders, deep chests, sturdy legs and tails that are set high. Feists have short, smooth coats that come in red brindle, red & white, black, black & tan, tricolor (black, tan & white) and blue & white. Overall, Feists have an alert and outgoing look.
Talk About Feists
Great with kids and squirrels
Feist dogs are good pets. They are very good with kids and make awesome squirrel dogs for hunters. They are very energetic and fun to get out and run around with. If you have the land for the dog to exercise, go for it.
~Someone with a Fiest, owner of a Feist
A really fine companion
I adopted a young brindle Feist from the local shelter. I cannot understand why anyone would give up this sweet, affectionate and intelligent dog. She was easily housebroken and loves long walks, greeting any and all whom she passes. I would advise that if you want a docile house pet, then this breed isn't for you. Mine needs her exercise but she is so well behaved.
~Ernest J., owner of a Feist
We love our Feist
We adopted our Feist from a high-kill rescue organization two years ago. We are so happy to have her as a part of our family. She is loving and very protective of us. She is very friendly with our neighbor's dogs, but is very aggressive toward other dogs she doesn't know. She was easy to train and super smart. Sometimes we think she understands English!
She definitely looks forward to her walk every day and is anxious until we get her outside. We benefited from an underground fence because after only having her a short while, she got into the neighbors trash and ended up in the emergency Vet. clinic...$1200 later she was OK! Definitely needs a fenced-in yard and supervision. But we couldn't imagine our family without her.
~Gabrielle O., owner of a Feist mix
Run Forrest, run!
As with many others we Adopted our Feistfrom a shelter as well. He was the last in his litter that was left. Even with him being a mixed breed his "Feist" instinct is very, very strong. This breed is very easy to train and nowhere near as hyper as a Jack Russell. Ours has bonded well with the family, is very laid back and well mannered. He is a squirrel dog and the best ever at being a snuggle buddy I feel very blessed that we were able to rescue Forrest and make him part of our family. He has truly been a blessing for us.
~Amy C., owner of a Mountain Fiest mix
Following her nose without thinking
Lucy showed up at work one day three years ago. We believe she was abused as a puppy, because she would not let anyone near her. She was afraid of "big" men and children of all ages, loud noises. After a few months, a couple of the guys "broke" her and now she hardly knows a stranger. She even thinks cats are her friends!
Lucy adopted me as her mom shortly after this and now lives with me. She is still afraid of children, thunderstorms, and being left alone for extended periods. She is also a snuggle buddy, and has a tendency to follow her nose without a thought of where it may lead. Everyone is always amazed at how quiet and friendly she is, and even those who are afraid of dogs will approach to pet her because she is just so lovable!
She is the Queen of Guilt Trips and I also believe she understands what I am saying as someone else has posted. I wish she could talk so I would know what I'm doing wrong and what she wants me to do to make her life everything she wants it to be. She never learned to play as a puppy, and I need to learn how to teach her so we can have more fun. She will cower and slink away whenever something is thrown in any direction. Rolling a ball across the floor will also draw out this behavior. I wish I had a bigger yard!
~Laura K., owner of a Feist
Not very good at catching mice
I have a Feist that I got to catch mice, but he showed no aptitude for it. He is still my "baby," though! He is very suspicious of strangers and doesn't take to people easily.
He is adorable -- he looks like a Chihuahua.
~Claire B, owner of a Feist
My little two-legged kangaroo
I recently adopted a year-old Feist, Lucky, who was born without his front legs. I call him my little kangaroo. That's how he looks jumping on the bed or couch, and when I take him for his walks in the grass.
When I first met him I felt sorry for him, but now I know there's no need -- he can do anything he wants to. He is such a joy! He has grown very protective of me and only barks if someone knocks on my door or hugs me -- he gets very jealous.
He also loves to cuddle under the covers and snuggle real close. That's why I named him Lucky -- not only is he lucky to have me, I'm very lucky to have him. He's a fantastic dog.
~Leisa C., owner of a Feist
I'm in love with this breed!!
I adopted Nitro, a Feist terrier mix, from the shelter. He loves to snuggle, whether you carry him or you're relaxing on the couch.
He gets along great with my neighbor's dog, Meaty, an English bulldog who's 10 times his size. He loves being outdoors and is high energy while out there, but once it's time to go in he's calm and loving.
I'm so pleased to have him in the family !! We couldn't have found a better dog.
~Jami A. , owner of a Feist Terrier mix