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Mountain Feist Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 14, 2024 by Dogster Team

Mountain Feist Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Although its exact origins are unknown, the Mountain Feist was first bred in the 17th century in the Ozark Mountain regions of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. It’s a small to medium-sized canine developed to hunt small game like squirrels, birds, and raccoons.

Sometimes mistaken for a Cur or Jack Russel terrier, the Mountain Feist is a feisty, energetic dog that loves to run and chase game. They make excellent hunting partners and family pets with the proper obedience training.

Breed Overview


14 to 18 inches


12 to 30 pounds


13 to 18 years


White, black, silver, brindle, cream, sable, blue, red, fawn, gray, light brown, sable

Suitable for:

Families, singles, hunters


Energetic, smart, vocal

Mountain Feists require a significant amount of exercise every day, and they’re not suited for small apartments or homes without a large backyard. The dogs are not overly aggressive towards humans, but they’re very protective of their human family, and they’re not afraid to bark repeatedly to alert their loved ones of danger.

Enrolling a Mountain Feist puppy in obedience training can help it adapt to family life and its new environment.

Mountain 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.

Dogster divider_v2_NEW_MAY_24_Mountain Feist Puppies

Although Mountain Feists are not as common as other more popular breeds, you can find most of the registered breeders in the southern United States. Because of their history of hunting game, you’re likely to find Mountain Feist breeders who also offer hunting courses and obedience training. When you’re searching for breeders, check their qualifications carefully to ensure they run a sanitary facility and work closely with a veterinarian.

Mountain Feists are remarkable animals that love interacting with humans and will create strong bonds with their families. If you’re considering having a Mountain Feist, make sure you have enough time to dedicate to your pup since they require a lot of time commitment to have regular exercise and entertainment.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Mountain Feist 🧠

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Mountain Feists are excellent family dogs if they’re trained and raised correctly. The dogs are always on high alert, and they excel at guarding their loved ones and property. For large families living in a small space, Mountain Feists aren’t the best choice. They need plenty of room to run around and require frequent walks.

They behave well around young children, and unlike other small breeds, they generally understand that younger humans require a lighter touch during playtime. However, Mountain Feists are powerful, muscular creatures. Beneath their small stature lurks a hunting machine that can beat you in a race when you have a substantial head start.

Toddlers should not be left with a new dog by themselves. A Mountain Feist is unlikely to attack a child unprovoked, but an untrained dog that becomes irritated from a child’s pinching or hitting may snap at the child in defense.

Training a Mountain Feist when it’s young will help it develop a calmer demeanor. Also, a puppy should be exposed to as many people and pets as possible to improve the dog’s social skills. Introducing the dog to neighbors and friends can convince the dog that some strangers are not a threat. If you plan on taking the canine with you on trips, be sure to familiarize the dog with car trips while it’s young.

Mountain Feists are famous for their barking fits, but a dog that’s accustomed to your vehicle is calmer and may resist barking at every car or cyclist.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

With their hunting blood still flowing in their veins, Mountain Feists have an accelerated prey drive. They will go after any animal that enters their territory. However, if you raise another dog or cat with a Mountain Feist puppy, the dog will grow to love the other animals and consider them part of its family.

Because they’re protective and a little stubborn, a Mountain Feist will compete with other dogs for dominance, but that mainly involves harmless roughhousing and barking matches.

Dogs and cats get along with Mountain Feists, but other pets like birds or rodents are another matter. Mountain Feists are genetically inclined to dislike and kill rodents. If your child brings home a Guinea pig or hamster, the dog will consider the rodents to be food rather than family.

divider-multiprintThings to Know When Owning a Mountain Feist:

Food & Diet Requirements

Mountain Feists are active creatures that burn through more calories than most small-breed canines. Without the proper diet and exercise, the dogs can become unhappy, aggressive, and obese. The correct portion of food depends on the dog’s age and weight, but typically, Mountain Feists require one to two cups of kibble in the morning and the same portion at night.

Although many dog food brands claim to be all-natural, read the ingredients to make sure the claims are valid.

Avoid brands that include soy or corn flour as one of the main ingredients. Although they’re natural substances and not technically harmful, they do not benefit the dog’s health. Look for brands that use lean meats as their primary ingredients, and research the food online to examine nutritional facts, customer comments, and the company’s reputation.

Dog food producers are part of an enormous industry, but thorough research can help you identify the most reputable brands.


Mountain Feists require more exercise than most small dogs, and they need daily play sessions in addition to their routine walks. The dogs enjoy hunting more than any activity, but they need a yard to burn out their energy if you cannot take them hunting. A dog obstacle course set up in the backyard can keep them physically fit and mentally balanced. Although they’re small, they can run at astonishing speeds and leap like antelopes.

Keeping them well-behaved indoors isn’t a problem if they’ve received enough exercise. They bond closely with their families, and they’re very vocal if they feel they’re being neglected or ignored. If you forget to play catch with your Mountain Feist on a lazy afternoon, the dog will likely grab a ball and drop it at your feet.


Mountain Feists are intelligent, and they learn new tricks quickly. However, a new dog owner may not have the skills or patience to train the dog without professional assistance. Although they’re smart, they can be stubborn during training. Because of their remarkable prey drive, they can become distracted if they see a squirrel wandering in the yard.

Enrolling the dog in obedience training is the best way to help it adjust to your home. Because of the dog’s high energy level, you must remain confident and authoritative during training. Mountain Feists can be possessive of their territory and even their toys, so it’s important to correct unruly behavior as soon as it occurs. Offering treats and vocal compliments when the dog performs well can help the animal learn quickly.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming requirements are minimal with a Mountain Feist, but the dog still needs to be brushed once a week to remove loose fur. They shed most of their fur in the fall and spring, but they shed much less than other breeds. If the canines hunt frequently, their coats need to be inspected after every hunt. Fleas and ticks are abundant in most hunting areas, and you should run your hands through the dog’s coat to locate any unwanted visitors.

The flea and tick treatments and pills are highly effective in repelling insects, and your vet can give you the correct dosage for a Mountain Feist. Although you may think that the dogs need more baths because of their activity level, you should only bathe the animal when it’s filthy or infested with pests. Cleaning the dog too much can deplete its natural oils and lead to a dry, unhealthy coat.

The dog’s ears should be inspected weekly and carefully cleaned to prevent infections. Your vet can also show you the correct way to brush your dog’s teeth and clip its nails. Human toothbrushes and pastes are not designed for canines, and you should only use products engineered for dogs.

Health and Conditions

With the correct diet and exercise, Mountain Feists can live up to 18 years. They’re not susceptible to many serious health conditions, but they can contract infections from fleas and ticks if they spend time on hunting grounds and other rural areas.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Ear infections
Serious Conditions
  • Hip
  • Elbow dysplasia


Male vs Female

There’s not a noticeable difference between the temperament of male and female Mountain Feists. Both sexes are affectionate, playful, and intelligent. The female is a bit shorter than the male, but that’s the primary difference.

Like most breeds, Mountain Feists are better behaved if they’re fixed at a young age. Aggression and destructiveness can become issues if the animals are not spayed or neutered.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Mountain Feist

1. They’re also known as Squirrel Dogs, Mountain Terriers, and Rat Terriers.

The dogs love hunting rodents, and they’re well known for their squirrel and rat-hunting skills. If you have rats on your property, a Mountain Feist can thin out their numbers quickly. Some Feist owners brag that they never have to call pest control because of their loyal hunting dogs.

2. The name Feist is derived from the term fysting—meaning “breaking wind”.

Some people assume that the dog’s name was developed from the word “feisty,” but “feisty” was actually created after “Feist.” However, any Mountain Feist owner knows that “feisty” is an accurate way to describe the breed.

3. Mountain Feists hunt game by chasing the small animals up a tree.

Unlike hunting dogs like Terriers and Dachshunds that burrow underground, Mountain Feists chase their prey to a tree and wait patiently for their owner to kill the animal.


With a robust hereditary drive to hunt, Mountain Feists are happiest when they’re chasing small animals up a tree, but the dogs are excellent family pets whether you hunt or not. They bond with trusted humans and stay ready to defend your home and loved ones. Mountain Feists are thrilled to play games with their owners, and with a steady supply of energy, some dogs are capable of wearing out their owners before they’re finished playing.

Training your Mountain Feists is vital for keeping the dog well-behaved around strangers and kids, but eventually, the canine will accept new humans as friends and gladly encourage a game of catch or tug of war. As long as you provide the proper diet and physical activities, you’ll enjoy several happy years with your little muscular canine.

Featured Image Credit: Kyler Mitchell, Shutterstock

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