Have you ever seen a Feist puppy? Perhaps you've never even heard of a Feist before. If this is the case, let us introduce you to these energetic terriers.
About Feist Terriers
If you live in North America, chances are the name Feist means little to you. Although these dogs aren't officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club does include this loose-knitted breed amongst its registry. The UKC recognizes both the Treeing Feist and the Mountain Feist.
Feists, also known as Mountain Feists or Treeing Feists, are small to medium-sized terriers that are believed to descend from the small dogs kept by England's working classes, especially miners and field workers. Breeders in the American south took an interest in these dogs and began breeding them for sporting companions
It's believed that the Feist has either contributed to or is composed of many terrier breeds, including the following.
- The extinct White English Terrier
- Rat Terriers
- Manchester Terriers
- Smooth Fox Terriers
- Jack Russell Terriers
Some lines of these dogs contain Beagle genes as well, ostensibly bred into the bloodline to impart stronger hunting characteristics. And here we come to the Feist's purpose: hunting. Feists are bred to go after small game animals. This includes ridding the property of unwanted vermin as well as assisting hunters in their sport. In fact Feists excel in squirrel hunting, so much so that it's not unusual to find your dog up a tree when their quarry is in sight. They are amazing climbers.
The modern Feist puppy looks very much like the better known Jack Russell Terrier, also there is no great uniformity amongst the breed. They have been bred for purpose rather than conformation. However, they are strongly built, compact dogs that are slightly longer than they are tall, although some specimens stand a little higher on leg. Their wedge-shaped heads are proportionate to their bodies, of medium length and slightly rounded. The ears may be held erect or slightly folded over. The eyes should be dark and relatively small.
Average size range:
- Weight: 10 to 25 pounds
- Height: 10 to 20 inches
The breed is fairly short coated and thereby easy to care for in that respect. Feists are generally low shedding dogs that only require a bit of brushing once a week. They have a short coat that is not hypoallergenic. Colors run the gamut and include:
- Black and tan
- Red and white
- Brindle and white
- Solid red
- Solid black
- Solid white
What's a Feist Puppy Like?
To put it bluntly, a Feist puppy is an adorable creature, but one that is not easily managed.
The typical Feist temperament is classic terrier; these dogs are unbelievably energetic while at the same time highly intelligent and equally strong willed. Throw in scrappy and you get the picture. A Feist puppy will stop at nothing to obtain the object of his interest once he focuses on it, and in most cases that all-important object will wind up chewed to shreds. For this reason alone, you must carefully dog-proof your house before you even consider bringing a Feist puppy home.
As previously stated Feists are excellent climbers. Once a Feist puppy becomes mobile, it's rather difficult to keep him on the ground. Considering the speed and agility with which these dogs move, it's not a far stretch of the imagination to believe they can fly. You really need to see one in action to comprehend these dogs' lack of limitations. Because Feists are dogs that can live up to 18 years, it's important to make sure you are ready to handle a high activity dog for their whole lifespan.
Training a Feist puppy is a challenge because these little fellows are born with minds of their own. They can be difficult to house train and require great diligence to keep them from marking your home and furniture.
A Feist's instinct to run presents its own challenges. These dogs do not relish being leashed or crated and instead prefer to go where they please. This might include running out the door you just opened to go squirrel chasing.
Exercise is as essential to the Feist as oxygen, and one of these dogs would never be truly happy being kept penned up in the house all day. Feists need plenty of room to run, as well as smooth, high fences if you have any hope of containing them. It should also be mentioned that this breed can be champion diggers when the mood strikes.
Finding a Feist Puppy
A Feist puppy should cost in the $300 to $500 range. You can find Feist breeders by visiting the Mountain Feist Squirrel Dog Kennel Directory online. Keep in mind that this directory specializes in breeders who produce dogs for hunting so these will be high energy dogs bred to work. You can also look for breeders via the United Kennel Club's Find a Breeder section of their website. When looking at breeders, make sure you ask to inspect their whelping area and kennels to be sure you're not dealing with a puppy mill.
Should You, or Shouldn't You?
Feists are best suited to very active and interested owners who can truly incorporate these fascinating yet challenging dogs into their lifestyle. These dogs are not your average house pets, and would rather be chasing squirrels and rabbits than sitting curled up in your lap. So, you really need to spend time with a breeder getting to know them before you decide you can handle a puppy and provide it with the kind of life it deserves.
And although these dogs can be loving by nature, in many cases they are a bit too high powered to make good companions for children. It takes strong training skills and a committed schedule to bring out the best qualities in these terriers, but if you have the time, know how and space to handle them, Feists make amazing companions who will willingly share your adventures.