Fiest Dog Breed Some Important Facts Even though Feist dogs have been around in the United States for hundreds of years, these little dogs aren’t widely known north of the Mason/Dixon Line. They were developed for one reason – to hunt. A feist is described as a small, noisy mongrel; a mixed breed dog with a spirited and feisty demeanor.

A feist (also spelled fice or fyce) dog can easily be misidentified as a Jack Russell, but there is a difference. Unlike the Jack Russell, feist dogs are of mixed heritage and are a type of dog, not a breed. However, they do resemble a terrier in temperament and appearance.

The United Kennel Club recognizes feists, but the American Kennel Club does not. Also known as Mountain Feist or Treeing Feist, these energetic dogs are found largely in the southern regions of the U.S., especially around the Ozark Mountain and Southern Appalachian regions where the American feist originated. At one time, feists were popular working dogs found on farms throughout the south.

Canines weren’t a luxury for poor workers and farmers; dogs had to do their share of work to justify the expense of feeding them. The feist is small terrier breed that include the Smooth Fox Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, and the now extinct White English Terrier. A feist is generally a small to medium sized terrier.

No one knows exactly when feist dogs began to come to America with their immigrant English owners. However, the first mention of a feist dog is found in 1770, in the diary of George Washington who mentions “a small foist looking yellow cur.” In the rural south areas, who work on Dog breeds developed American Feist Dogs with local small breeds who usually hunts different animals and most likely Native American village dogs to generate an interesting and exceptional small game tracking and hunting dog. Some breeders added Whippet for increased speed and agility, and Beagle to enhance the hunting and trailing abilities of the feist.

The main job of these dogs was and still is to hunt squirrel, opossum, raccoon, rats and rabbits, and to flush out game birds. Feists can work alone or in a pack. When hunting bear, mountain lion or other large game, hunters work their dogs in a pack. These canines utilize their excellent hearing, scenting ability and sight when on the hunt. Using their powerful hindquarters, feists will often climb a tree in pursuit of their prey.

The Rat Terrier is a top of the line rat catcher capable of treeing squirrels and raccoons, along with doing other chores around the home and farm. This AKC-recognized breed is an American feist. Teddy Roosevelt is credited with giving the breed its name. When Roosevelt moved into the White House, he discovered an infestation of rats. It didn’t take long for his feist dogs to eradicate the vermin. The President was impressed with his little terriers and bragged about how good they were catching rats. At the time, his dogs were commonly referred to as Fox Terriers, but when Roosevelt continued calling them his rat terriers, the name stuck.

feist ann marieFeist dogs are small and compact, longer than tall, generally weighing 30 pounds and under, and stand 10-18 inches at the withers. They are full of energy and love to romp outside. Daily exercise is a must, to give a feist a chance to burn off energy, get mental stimulation and satisfy his hunting desires. Inside, the affectionate dogs are happy to snuggle on the couch with you. They are very intelligent, have a strong desire to please their owner and are able to learn commands quickly, especially when you reward with a tasty CANIDAE dog treat.

As a family pet they are trustworthy, loyal and protective, and get along well with other dogs. Even though they are relatively small, a feist is not a good dog for a first time owner that isn’t prepared to provide the necessary mental and physical stimulation for one of these highly active dogs.


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