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The word feisty is thought to have come from Feist's excitable temperament.

The Feist breed is a small terrier that appeared in the southern United States sometime in the 18th century. The species' name may be derived from the obsolete word fice or fyst, meaning to break the wind. The dog's origin is unknown, but there are several different theories about how it was first bred. One theory is that it originated from the smooth fox terrier and the now extinct English white terrier. Some of these dogs may have subsequently been crossed with greyhounds, whippets or beagles. Feist in turn spawned new breeds such as the Teddy Roosevelt terrier and the Rat terrier.

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The original purpose of the Feist was to hunt small animals such as squirrels or rodents on the ground. Since the Feist is still used for this purpose, it does not have the strict physical standards of a show dog. Aside from the strong, muscular body and wedge-shaped head, there is little consistency in the breed's ears, tail, and other physical features. The coat is usually short, but the exact combination of white and tan markings may vary from one dog to another.

Experts on the breed recognize several different types, including mountain fest and tree fest. There's still some debate about their differences, but the main difference is that arboreal Feists, as their name suggests, will try to trap prey in trees while barking almost constantly to alert their owners. Mountain and tree Feists can be further subdivided into many other different types, depending on the breeder's preference. No breed of Feist is currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, but certain individual types such as the Mountain Feist are recognized by the United Kennel Club and other organizations.


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3 Pros and Cons of Owning Feist

advantage! shortcoming!
friendly and loyal
Feist is a great companion.
Strong Hunting Instincts <br>Unless you intend to use your dog to catch prey, the Feist may exhibit poor hunting instincts.
vibrant and playful
Feist is an excellent choice for highly active and dedicated homeowners.
Strong Hunting Instincts <br>Unless you intend to use your dog to catch prey, the Feist may exhibit poor hunting instincts.
Intelligent <br>This dog has an active and roaming mind; it takes human commands quickly. Strong Willed <br>While some owners may desire a strong, independent-minded dog, this is not always desirable in all situations.
Beautiful Feist dog stands under a tree among the autumn leaves.
Feist dogs take human commands very quickly.

© Atomic Feist / CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons – License


The Treeing Feist is the only breed recognized by the United Kennel Club, although there are 14 different Feist breeds to choose from. Here are just a few:

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Health and Recreation at Feist

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  • Barger Stock Spree
  • The Bench-Legged Feist is sometimes called the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
  • Buckley Fest
  • Charlie Fest
  • Denmark Fest
  • Gray's Mountain Orgy
  • Hunters Creek Carnival

size and weight

The Feist breed has a small, compact and muscular body. Males and females are similar in size.

height (male) 10 to 18 inches
height (female) 10 to 18 inches
weight (male) 12 to 30 lbs
weight (female) 12 to 30 lbs

common health problems

mountain festival sitting on the grass
Feists, like all dogs, should have regular check-ups at the veterinarian.

© Kyler Mitchell/Shutterstock.com

For owners who want a healthy and long-lived breed, the Fester breed is a good choice. The average lifespan is about 13 years (possibly as long as 18 under the right circumstances). But like any dog, it has a tendency to suffer from some health problems.

Allergies are probably the most common problem owners should be aware of; if your dog develops itchy skin, sneezing, coughing or wheezing, then you should try to isolate and eliminate the cause of the allergy. Other problems are more serious.

Hip or elbow dysplasia, in which the joint socket may become partially or completely dislocated, is a developmental disorder that particularly affects small dogs; although uncommon, it causes pain, arthritis, and some lameness.

Patellar luxation is a similar condition that affects the kneecap. It can also cause lifelong problems. Cancer is also a leading cause of death for the breed.

One of the best things you can do to prevent health problems in the first place is to always buy from a quality breeder; try to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills. You should also have regular checkups at your veterinarian. In summary, these are the most frequently asked questions about Feist:

  • Allergy
  • cancer
  • hip or elbow dysplasia
  • Patella luxation


The Feist breed has a lively, fearless and friendly personality. It has the ability to form a close and lasting bond with its owner. Since it was originally bred for rugged country life, the Feist is probably best suited for the farmer or outdoor type. But there's no reason these adaptable dogs can't adapt to urban and suburban environments, as long as you give them enough exercise. As long as there is enough mental and physical stimulation, Fest knows how to calm down and relax. But otherwise, it may become anxious and start exhibiting some destructive behaviors. It may also be less suitable for households with small pets such as cats and rodents.

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How to Care for a Feist

Ideally, the owner should have some experience or knowledge of how to deal with certain traits and instincts of this dog, but this is not strictly required. Many aspects of Feist's care should be relatively straightforward and manageable. If you have any other questions or concerns about your dog's care, then you should consult your veterinarian.

Best Feist Dog Food

Depending on your dog's size, age, and activity level, the Feist breed may require an average of 1.5 cups of dog food per day, give or less. While any type of dog food should suffice, owners should make sure it contains enough protein to support a healthy and active lifestyle. It's also a good idea to divide food into several meals each day.

Since Feist can be allergic, try to find a hypoallergenic dog food. If your Feist's stomach feels sick after eating, or his skin, paws or ears are irritated, it may be time to try a new food. Allergy-friendly dogs often help by eliminating ingredients that often irritate dogs.

Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dog Food with high-quality protein may be the right solution.

This grain-free formula says goodbye to wheat, corn and soy, as well as fillers, by-products and additives. Alleviating Feist's allergies is easier because you know exactly what it's eating. Packed with antioxidants, probiotics and vitamins to support your dog's health from head to toe, this food can help your Feist feel his best.

Canidae PURE is available on Chewy and Amazon.

best for allergies

Maintenance and Grooming

The Feist breed has a very short, slightly shedding coat (though not hypoallergenic) and should be relatively easy to care for. Brushing is required several times a week to remove loose fur and prevent matting. Owners should also trim their nails, check their ears, and brush their teeth regularly. Bathing should only be done if the coat has become particularly dirty.


Cute Mountain Fest playing in the garden.
Feists are intelligent dogs with a mind of their own and it may take some time and patience when teaching them to follow the rules.

© Mgray84/CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – Licensed

The Feist breed is an intelligent dog with an open and cheerful disposition. They can learn a large number of commands and behaviors without difficulty. But owners should be aware that these dogs do have a mind of their own. Teaching it to obey the specific rules of the house can take a little time and patience. Verbal encouragement and positive training methods, combined with a firm hand and strong leadership, work best with this breed. Owners should try to keep training sessions relatively short and interesting. New technologies are often confused with commands. If you need some help, then you may want to contact a professional trainer in your area.

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Feist needs at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day. Walks, jogs, and hikes should do a good job of dissipating excess energy; combine this with plenty of games, toys, and even some agility challenges. Due to Feist's strong desire to prey, it is best to keep this dog off leash unless you want it to chase animals.


Cute Feist puppy sitting in a baby rocker.
Feist puppies should be properly vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

©Blue Tick Sugar Image/Shutterstock.com

Before bringing home a new puppy, make sure you have everything you need, including a collar, leash, bowl, and crate (if you plan to use one). Follow up with your veterinarian immediately to have your dog properly tested, vaccinated, neutered or neutered. Feist puppies should start with proper training and socialization early on to become well-behaved adults. A puppy day care center is also a great option if you need something to keep your dog occupied during the day.

Feists and kids

While Feists should have a natural tenderness with children, they will learn to behave best if they are raised as puppies in the home. Because this breed of dog can be a little possessive of toys and dislikes rough handling, older children who understand how to handle this breed of dog should respond best to them.

Feist-like dogs

Feists belong to a group of small hounds and ratters that resemble terriers.

  • Jack Russell Terrier – The Feist looks so similar to the Jack Russell Terrier that they are sometimes mistaken for each other. Both small terriers have predominantly white coats with brown and sometimes black markings. They also share the same fearless personality and strong desire for fun and adventure.
  • Smooth Fox Terrier – Dating back to the 18th century, this is a typical British fox hunter breed. It is characterized by long legs, a narrow V-shaped head, and a flat white coat with black or tan markings.
  • Rat Terrier – Originally bred to be an all-around farm dog, the Rat Terrier hunts rodents, guards the chicken coop, and watches out for intruders. Today, they are mainly used as domestic companions. A smooth glossy coat with various piebald patterns covers the body.

The famous Feists

Feist has been mentioned over the centuries in the writings of Abraham Lincoln, William Faulkner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rollins. Theodore Roosevelt also took a Feist named Skip on hunting trips and helped popularize the breed as a whole.

If you're still looking for a good dog name, then you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Charlie
  • gunner
  • Roxy
  • trigger
  • jump over
  • laura
  • hunter
  • Miss
  • lucy
  • daisy

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The Feist is a small terrier or farm dog that shares many characteristics with the terrier. Considering its small size, this dog is known for its surprisingly fearless behavior and strong build.

Yes, Feist is a great companion. Even if you don't plan to let him hunt other animals, his playful and friendly disposition should endear him to all kinds of people. But with this breed, daily outdoor exercise is an absolute must; make sure he gets enough activity to meet his daily needs.

Feists tend to bark a lot when they become excited, especially when there are strangers or intruders nearby. They're actually pretty good watchdogs (though not necessarily watchdogs).

Festers are very warm and friendly with people of all ages, but it can take a little while for them to open up to strangers.

Feist isn't known for a lot of shedding, but the coat isn't hypoallergenic. People with allergies may still have issues with this breed.