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Kemmer Feist Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by Dogster Team

Parents of Kemmer Feist

Kemmer Feist Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More

If you’ve never heard of the Kemmer Feist, you’re not alone. There are several different varieties of Feist dogs, including the Kemmer Feist. These are small to medium-sized American dogs that were bred by Robert Kemmer of Tennessee, who used the Mountain Feist, the Fox Terrier, and the Mountain Cur to create what we know to be the Kemmer Feist. Feist dogs were bred to be small and feisty hunting dogs for small prey. Kemmers were developed for their strong scenting abilities. They are considered tree dogs, whose instincts are to drive small prey up into a tree and ensure that it stays there until the hunter arrives.

Breed Overview


12–18 inches


14–30 pounds


10–15 years


Tricolor, bicolor, brown, black, white, cream

Suitable for:

Active families, house with a yard


Intelligent, devoted, affectionate, playful, friendly, energetic

These dogs can look similar to the Rat Terrier, with long muzzles and floppy triangular ears. They have short coats that are typically tricolor with black, brown, and white or bicolor in brown and white, but they can also be a yellowish or cream color.

Kemmer Feist Characteristics

Kemmer Feist Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


Kemmer Feist Puppies

Kemmer Feists are not easy to find. Start by finding ethical breeders near you and do your research to make sure they have good breeding practices and they take care of their dogs. Always ask to visit the facilities before making any payment and make sure you’re able to meet the puppy’s parents. This will give you an idea of the traits and temperament your pup can have.

You can also think about adoption. But keep in mind that you will probably end up adopting an adult dog instead of a puppy. That said, you’d bring home the best pet and life experience, and you’ll give a dog a chance at a better life.

These dogs are quite an active, energetic, and healthy breed. They have a good lifespan and are moderately easy to train. They are known to be friendly and social dogs.

Image Credit: Left-Marry Kolesnik, Shutterstock | Right- Piqsels

Temperament & Intelligence of the Kemmer Feist

Kemmer Feists are excellent hunting dogs that also make wonderful companions for the entire family. They are loving and loyal dogs that enjoy spending time with their families, and they tend to get along well with most people. While they are active dogs, they are also considered calmer than most other terriers.

These dogs have high intelligence and are social and friendly with strangers. This also means they don’t necessarily make good watchdogs. Due to their social natures, they don’t do well when left alone for too long, so you should consider another dog to keep them company if you are away from home often.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?🏡

Kemmer Feists are great family dogs! Their playful natures make them great companions for children of all ages. However, always teach your children to be respectful and gentle with all dogs. The younger the child, the more supervision there should always be.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽

As long as they’re well-socialized with other animals, Kemmer Feists do get along well with other pets. They get along best with other dogs, and care should be taken with smaller animals because their hunting instincts give them a high prey drive.divider-dog

Things to Know When Owning a Kemmer Feist

Food & Diet Requirements🦴

When shopping for food for Kemmers, start by purchasing high-quality dog food that is designed for your dog’s current activity level, size, and age. Typically, 1–2 cups of kibble every day should be sufficient, but look at the guidelines on your dog’s food bag for further instructions. Speak to your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or health.


Kemmer Feists are active dogs that usually prefer something to do. They love being outdoors, so be prepared to take these dogs for long walks and hikes. Be sure to play games with them, and provide them with appropriate dog toys. They will become destructive if bored, and while they can adjust to living in an apartment, they would do better in a house with a yard.


Training Kemmer Feists is relatively easy as long as you train with positive reinforcement methods. Their high intelligence enables them to pick up tricks easily, and they tend to be quite eager to please their owners.

Grooming ✂️

Kemmer Feists have short, smooth coats that are easy to groom. Just a quick brushing once or twice a week should be sufficient, and they need a bath (only with a good dog shampoo) when absolutely necessary (usually no more than once a month).

You should trim your Kemmer’s nails every 3 to 4 weeks, brush their teeth two to three times a week, and clean their floppy ears at least once a week.

Health and Conditions❤️

Kemmer Feists are a healthy breed that can live for around 13 or 14 years, but they have been known to live for up to 18 years! They don’t have many serious issues, but you should be aware of their potential health conditions.

Male vs. Female

Typically, male dogs tend to be a little bigger than females, so you might expect the same with Kemmer Feists. These dogs tend to weigh 14 to 30 pounds and are about 12 to 18 inches in height, so you might see males on the higher end of these ranges and females closer to the lower end.

You can also consider surgery for your dog if you don’t plan on breeding them. Having female dogs spayed is a more complicated operation than neutering males, so it will cost more and take longer for the females to recover. It can help with certain behavioral issues (such as aggression and running away) and might help prevent serious health conditions in the future.

Other differences between males and females aren’t that significant in the long run. If you’ve heard that there can be distinctions in temperament, this is usually incorrect. What truly contributes to a dog’s personality is how they have been trained and socialized as puppies and how they have been treated in their adult lives.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Kemmer Feist

1. Feist dogs are well-loved Southern dogs.

American author William Faulkner and President Lincoln wrote about these small hunting dogs. They were also well-loved by President Roosevelt and George Washington.

2. These dogs are often confused with Jack Russells and Rat Terriers.

While Kemmer Feists might resemble the Jack Russell or the Rat Terrier, they’re their own unique breed. Be sure to teach your vet about them because these dogs are not a well-known breed. Kemmers tend to have long legs, short tails, and a calm disposition.

3. There are two different kinds of Feists.

The Feist breed originated through the mixing of various other breeds, but it is thought that there are two different types of Feist dogs: the Mountain Feist (of which the Kemmer belongs) and the Treeing Feist.


Final Thoughts

Finding a Kemmer Feist might be a bit of a challenge. You can try speaking to breeders of any of the Feist breeds for advice on where to specifically find one. You can also post your interest in these dogs on social media. Most breeders of Feist dogs tend to be in the Southern states in the U.S., so look at joining message boards about Southern hunting dogs, especially those based in Tennessee because that’s where they originated.

Also, don’t forget about adoption. There are breed-specific adoption groups out there, like Feist Rescue, that might have the occasional Kemmer puppy available.

This breed is an adorable and loving dog that would love to spend time with a new family. So, if you’re looking for an energetic but small dog that enjoys the outdoors, maybe the Kemmer Feist is the perfect dog for you.

Featured Image Credit: Left – Smooth Fox Terrier, No-longer-here, Pixabay, Right – Mountain Fiest, Kyler Mitchell, Shutterstock

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