Mountain Feist

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
30,5 - 45,7
Weight (kg):
5,4 - 13,6
Life span (years):
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Download standard:
Pros Cons
  • excellent hunter
  • easy to groom
  • great watchdog
  • needs a considerable amount of daily exercises
  • wilful and stubborn
  • chases small animals


The Mountain Feist is a miniature but stocky and hardy hunting dog of American origin. This handsome breed specialises in tracking and killing squirrels although it can be used in hunting on other small game species such as rabbits and birds. It earned popularity among American hunters but remaines barely known outside its native country.

Photo: flickr

The true origin of the Mountain Feist is shrouded by a mystery. One of the earliest proven descriptions of its specimen can be met in the diary of George Washington (circa 1770) as long as in the works of William Faulkner and Abraham Lincoln. There are several contradictory suggestions as to how the breed was initially developed. The most supported theory proclaims that it appeared as the result of crossing European (most likely British) terriers with Native American hunting dogs.

Other dog’s experts strongly disagree with this presumption and insist that the Mountain Feist is no more than a type. This implies that individual dogs may have different predecessors as well as noticeably differ in physical characteristics. Actually non-pedigreed dogs, which shared only their excellent working abilities, were always greatly favoured by American hunters and herders. Thanks to fairly strict approach to selective breeding these canines were notable for their robustness and pliable demeanour.

In ancient times the term «feist» was applied in reference to a small, often boisterous dog. However the Mountain Feist wasn’t valued so much for its compact size as for its hunting prowess and unpretentiousness in maintenance. It was widely used by farmers in American rural South to hunt small game and keep their houses free of household rodents. Being an accomplished rabbit hunter this dog was also capable of tracking and retrieving raccoon, rabbits, and game birds.

The United Kennel Club (UKC) granted its full recognition to the Mountain Feist on February 1, 2015. Nowadays breeders still concentrate predominantly on performing skills of their dogs since most of the breed members remain either active or retired hunters. At the same time this small, lively and loyal dog slowly but steadily acquires more and more fanciers as a lovely family pet.


The Mountain Feist is an inquisitive and cheerful little dog with well-developed hunting drive. It is extremely fond of its people and prefers to keep them in view at all times. With its loyal and biddable nature it can successfully combine the role of a companion animal with the responsibilities of a squirrel hunter. This dog is usually on friendly terms with children it knows. At the same time it’s somewhat possessive so the child should be taught to decipher the dog’s mood. Some specimens of the Mountain Feist can also have short temper and won’t favour rude handling during playing.

On the whole the breed is accepting of unfamiliar people although it tends to act warily in the beginning. Be mindful that it is fairly vocal, which is typical for a hunting dog. This nasty habit can be controlled by timely obedience training but only to a certain extent. The Mountain Feist demonstrates strong desire to defend its territory as long as its family. Moreover its sonorous barking will reliably warn its master about the approach of a suspicious person. Being a decent watchdog it won’t become an effective guard dog because of its rather miniature size and lack of ferociousness.

The Mountain Feist is a pack-oriented breed so it commonly thrives in a multi-dog household. This dog prefers to take dominative position among other canines and its reckless bravery can get it into trouble. That’s why it must be led on a leash at all times while being walked. This breed shouldn’t be trusted around other species of animals including stray cats. However this dog will put up with co-existence with a household cat with which it has been brought up since its puppyhood.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:
• canine hip dysplasia;
• allergy.

The maintenance of the Mountain Feist won’t need any significant efforts from its master. Its short and shiny coat should be brushed only occasionally to keep it free of loose hair. The master should bath this dog as rarely as possible since aggressive cleanser can wash off natural skin oils.

Its nails need regular trimming, usually every two month. It’s also essential to thoroughly examine the dogs coat and ears for any dirt and external parasites after each and every hunting trip.

The training of the Mountain Feist is the task of an average difficulty. Thanks to its curious and acute mind it can learn highly sophisticated commands with reasonable amount of repetition. At the same time it’s not so easy to keep this dog focused on the task, as it tends to get bored really quickly.

Furthermore this dog can be quite headstrong so even food incentives won’t be able to turn its attention back to training. Screams or rude attitude will only worsen this situation so the Mountain Feist should be motivated to work exclusively with positive reinforcement.


The Mountain Feist possesses seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy and requires sizeable amount of intensive exercise. It should be taken on a daily walk of at least an hour long. Nonetheless this dog won’t feel itself fully happy if it doesn’t have a regular opportunity to play and roam in a securely enclosed area.

Of course hunting will be an ideal type of physical activity for this talented hunter. Remember that an under exercised dog will most probably become a hyper active, unruly and even unpredictably aggressive creature.