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Mountain Feist

Mountain Feist Featured Image

Height: 10-18 inches
Weight: 15-30 pounds
Lifespan: 13-17 years
Colors: All colors and patterns with the exception of Albino
Suitable for: Active families, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, experienced dog handlers, rural living
Not suitable for: Apartment living, first-time dog handlers, families with young or rowdy children
Temperament: Intelligent, active, bold, courageous, determined, reserved with strangers, devoted
Activity Level: High (requires multiple hours of exercise and training a day)

There are many breeds today that have come from the same ancestral dog “breeds”, especially in the United States. Similar to the way curs have helped shape some modern dog breeds today, Mountain Feists have done the same. Hailing from the Ozarks and the Appalachian Mountains, these determined tracking dogs have a long history going back to the original pioneers and settlers. Agile, intelligent, and vocally expressive, Mountain Feists can be ideal companions for active people that have the time for them. Let’s take a closer look at this historic breed to see if this breed is right for you:

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Mountain Feist Puppies – Before You Buy…


What’s the Price of Mountain Feist Puppies?

Mountain Feists have a huge price range, selling for anywhere between $500 and $3,500. Premium Mountain Feist puppies will be on the expensive side, especially if they have strong bloodlines. The average price for Mountain Feists is around $1,000, which is comparable to other similar breeds.

The price range is so wide due to reputable breeders competing with backyard breeding, which can easily result in poor genes and low prices. It’s crucial to purchase a Mountain Feist from a reputable breeder since they’re bred selectively and carefully to prevent medical and behavioral issues due to irresponsible breeding.

How to Find a Reputable Mountain Feist Breeder

Finding a breeder for a Mountain Feist is easy but finding a professional and responsible Mountain Feist breeder can be challenging. The first place to start is by searching online for any local Feist breeders, then reaching out to the highest-rated breeders. Another place to ask is at hunting businesses and supply stores since many hunters go out to the field with a gun dog. Dog breed shows and dog training conventions are other places to find professional breeders, but this method may take longer to find a local breeder. Social media like Facebook can be a great resource for breeding, as well as advice for your new Mountain Feist puppy. Reputable breeders are often recommended through their clients, especially through social media groups and pages.

Reputable Mountain Feist breeders will have:

  • Clean facilities that you should be able to visit
  • Documents and papers of each pup and the parents
  • Years of experience with this specific breed
  • An understanding of canine genetics
  • Answers to any questions you may have

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3 Little-Known Facts About Mountain Feist

1. Mountain Feists are not recognized by the AKC.

Although they’re the foundation of some popular breeds, Mountain Feists are not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). They are fully recognized by other kennel associations, including the National Kennel Club (NKC) and the United Kingdom Kennel Club (UKC).

2. Mountain Feists are mistaken for Rat Terriers or Jack Russel Terriers.

Mountain Feists look remarkably similar to Rat Terriers and Jack Russel Terriers, often being mistaken for one of them. This is because many Terriers brought over by the English Settlers helped create the Mountain Feists, giving them the classic Terrier look.

3. Mountain Feists are expert tree climbers.

Mountain Feists have gripping claws perfectly designed to climb trees, giving them the edge over almost all other dog breeds. They can easily latch onto trees and their strong back legs help them climb, making them expert climbers. Mountain Feists do well with hiking because of their tree-climbing skills.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Mountain Feists

Mountain Feist dogs are bright and active dogs with high levels of intelligence, making them great hunting dogs as well as companions. Known for their strong prey drive and ability to chase small quarry up a tree, Mountain Feists are bold and determined when their focus is fixated on their target. While this can be great for hunters and farmers, it can be difficult for families and inexperienced dog handlers to deal with.

Although they were originally bred for hunting, Mountain Feists are sensitive and affectionate dogs that need near-constant human interaction. Playful and energetic enough to keep up with children, they make excellent family dogs if their exercise needs are met. However, even though they’re happy-go-lucky with their families, Mountain Feists are often wary and reserved with strangers. Early socialization, specifically with people, is a must with this breed to prevent people-based aggression issues.

Mountain Feists are still working dogs, which means their energy levels will be high. They must be given time to play and bond with their handlers, so they’re not suitable for apartments or families that are gone for long periods of time throughout the day. These dogs do well with hiking and outdoor enthusiasts, active families, and dog handlers that have the time and patience for these smart, companionable canines.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?

Yes, but only for families with older, calmer children. Because of their small stature, Mountain Feists are not suitable for households with little or rambunctious children. However, they can be excellent dogs for active families with older and more reserved children.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Yes, most Mountain Feists can get along with other dogs with early socialization. Some wariness of strange and unfamiliar dogs may be present, but dog aggression isn’t common.

Mountain Feists can be fine with cats, but their strong instinct to chase may be too tempting. For households with small animals, we do not recommend Mountain Feists as they were originally bred to chase small quarry.

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Things to Know When Owning a Mountain Feist:

Food & Diet Requirements

Mountain Feists are active dogs with high energy levels, so their diets need to support them and give them nutrients to hunt and play on a daily basis. Their diets should have at least 20% crude protein from lean meat sources, with two or more sources of fats and carbohydrates. We recommend a high-quality dry dog kibble that is designed for small breeds or working dogs, which will also help keep their teeth clean.


Exercising your Mountain Feist is extremely important to keep them healthy, happy, and free from boredom. They will take out their energy on your house and belongings, otherwise. At a minimum, you should expect your Feist to need a few long walks (around 1-2 mile) and hour or more of playtime and training.

Mountain Feists are physically fit and athletic, despite their small size. They are quite versatile and can excel in canine sports like agility and tracking trials, creating an inseparable bond between you and your Feist. They also do well with outdoor activities like hiking but should be kept on-leash to prevent wanderlust.

Along with physical exercise, Mountain Feists greatly benefit from mental stimulation and “thinking” games. There are plenty of activities that you can do with your Feist to keep their senses and minds sharp, as well as toys that provide critical thinking. The Trixie Strategy Puzzle Game is a great toy to encourage your Feist to solve the puzzle for treats.

mountain feist
Image Credit: Kyler Mitchell, Shutterstock


Training is an essential part of owning a dog, but this is especially true for working and hunting dogs. Mountain Feists are strong-willed dogs that will take over the household if they don’t have a confident leader to follow, so it’s crucial to start training right away to build that trust.

Positive reinforcement training methods with treat-based rewards are often recommended but hunting dogs like Mountain Feists tend to need additional training tools for reliable recall. If you’re new to handling dogs of this energy level, a professional dog trainer is highly recommended.

Group puppy classes are a good start for obedience, while also socializing your puppy early with animals and people. In addition to obedience classes, Mountain Feists can be trained for tracking and treeing. For field trials and other more complex training, we recommend finding a specialist in these areas to further your dog’s abilities.

Grooming ✂️

Mountain Feists have shorthaired coats in a single layer, so grooming should be a breeze. Brushing out their coats with a curry comb is a great way to reduce shedding and encourage natural oil production, leaving their coats soft and shiny. You can bathe your Mountain Feist once a month or less, but their skin is prone to drying out from too many baths. Your Feist’s nails will also need to be trimmed on an as-needed basis, which will depend on their daily exercise and activity level. Lastly, consider a dog toothbrush and toothpaste that is approved for dogs since they’re are prone to decay and other dental issues.

Health and Conditions

Mountain Feists have been carefully and selectively bred, known for being a healthy breed. They have long lifespans and few conditions they’re prone to, often living between 12 to 15 years. It’s best to consult your veterinarian if your dog is acting abnormal or showing symptoms of serious conditions, especially with older dogs. Diet and exercise will also help improve your Mountain Feist’s lifespan. Here are the most common conditions that Mountain Feists are prone to:

Minor Conditions
  • Ear Infections
  • Dry Skin
Serious Conditions
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Bloat/Gastric Dilatation


Except for the chance of bloat and the possibility of Hip Dysplasia, Mountain Feists are sturdy and healthy dogs. Hip Dysplasia can be expensive to treat and will gradually get worse as they age, so it’s important to financially prepare ahead of time. Bloat and Gastric Dilatation are serious conditions that usually result in emergency surgeries, which can cost well over $4,000. It’s important to start saving for any future health conditions before buying your Mountain Feist, should an emergency arise.

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Male vs Female

Mountain Feist males and females are similar in demeanor and trainability, so there’s no reason to choose one or the other except out of preference. Some people swear by male dogs while others insist female dogs are easier to handle, but each individual dog is different. Aside from a slight size difference, the choice is simply a personal and family preference.

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Final Thoughts

Mountain Feist dogs are fast and smart hunters, yet their playfulness shouldn’t be overlooked. They’re great dogs for the right families, but their exercise and training needs may be too much for the average household. They’re excellent companions for rural lifestyles and adventurous individuals. Mountain Feists are loyal dogs to their families and regard strangers with suspicion, having a natural watchdog ability. If you’re looking for a loyal hunting dog and you have the time for their energy levels, the Mountain Feist can be a great companion.

Featured Image Credit: Kyler Mitchell, Shutterstock