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The Mountain Feist Dog (A Unique Breed !)

If squirrels had an arch-enemy in the animal kingdom, it would probably be the Mountain Feist dog. The pooch's skills in subduing squirrels, rabbits, birds, and other small varmints are so renowned, it tends to overshadow the fact that they're also sleek lookers. What else should you know about them?

A Most Unique “Breed”

On paper, the Mountain Feist is an unusual dog. It’s not recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club, but it’s definitely not one of those designer dogs that’s only hit the scene in the last couple of decades. Indeed, while nobody knows exactly when the dog came to the United States, it’s been around for quite some time.

To wit: One of George Washington’s diaries breaks down his experiences with Mountain Feists. Also, Abraham Lincoln references the breed in a poem he had written before the Civil War broke out. Other historic records point out the breed was used by the country's pioneers, who also used the dog's equally unique cousin, the Cur.

The fact that the Mountain Feist isn't recognized by the AKC is a bit irrelevant because this dog is quite the recognizable dog. This is a handsome, compact dog with a sturdy frame practically built for adventure. The breed's height ranges from 10 to 22 inches, and its weight ranges from 10 to 30 pounds.

The Mountain Feist’s dominant physical features include a rounded head, pointy tapered muzzle, perky ears, and a high resting tail. Their trunk is burly for a dog its size; their chest is deep, their legs are strong, and their neck and shoulders are quite muscular. The dog’s short, glossy coat helps to make the dog look practically aerodynamic.

You can find a Mountain Feist dog in a wide collection of color combos. Red and white, blue and white, black and tan, red and black, and red brindle and white are all hues that are on the table with this breed. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find a tricolor Mountain Feist dog with spots.

What’s the Personality of a Mountain Feist?

Mountain Feist Dog 2

The Mountain Feist is an adventurous dog that’s strongly motivated by the thrill of the hunt. Their uncanny knack for tracking down squirrels and other various critters and vermin makes them known as a squirrel dog in some circles. Indeed, if you have a critter problem in your backyard, this dog may be a strong ally.

It's not too surprising that the Mountain Feist has a strong prey drive. After all, the dog’s roots do trace back to the terrier family; a line of dog that’s famous for their ability to hunt down and flush out other beasts. However, it may be fair to say that this dog takes the terriers’ hunting instinct to the proverbial next level.

If you put these dogs into a hunting situation, they will become focused to the point of nearly being unwavering. While they’re famous for going after squirrels, they’re also handy in hunting small game and birds as well as quarrying larger vermin like raccoons.

Mountain Feists are also remarkably intelligent dogs that can communicate rather broadly with their owner while on a hunt. They know how to use their voice to bark, bay, and growl in manners that allow their masters to get a good bead on what they may be seeing. They also know how to use these skills to help protect the ones they love.

The ability to instinctively track down and flush out vermin make Mountain Fiests a valuable dog for hunters, but also for farmers. Their skill set can be put to use in driving out pests and critters that may otherwise damage crops or plants. If they can be counted on to guard crops, you can trust them to guard your garden lettuce.

Even though Mountain Feists are determined, if not ruthless, little hunters, they temper this streak by being gentle and flexible. Their self-awareness, capacity to read situations, and ability to situationally control their energy makes them a pretty solid dog around children. They can even get along with other pets if properly socialized.

While Mountain Feists are protective of their loved ones and have no issue sounding the alarm when a stranger calls, Mountain Feists are known to behave pretty gently around people outside the family units. With that being said, their terrier genes do give them a slight possessive streak, particularly when they’re in their hunting element.

A Quick Look at the Mountain Feist Dog in Action

If you own a Mountain Feist and live near the woods – or even live near a tree – you may want to get used to seeing your pooch take the position that this dog does in this video. As you’ll see, if this dog senses something that kicks their hunting instinct into gear, they’ll gladly indulge its presence.

What are the Exercise Needs of a Mountain Feist Dog?

As one may guess considering its hunting prowess, the Mountain Feist is an energetic dog that thrives on being active. Even if you’re not planning on hunting with the dog, you should expect to take your four-legged friend on a long walk or a jog every day. You should also set aside sufficient time for the dog to play and romp.

Even though the Mountain Feist craves activity, their size, and their adaptability makes them surprisingly terrific apartment dogs. Even though it’s a bonus if you have a large, enclosed yard that allows them to run around safely, it’s not needed as long as you’re finding plenty of ways for them to satisfy their need to play and burn off energy.

Because Mountain Feist dogs are smart, you also need to be prepared to engage them mentally. The dogs thrive on any kind of constructive games and tasks that require them to use the canine equivalent of logic. While hunting obviously stimulates the breed’s mind in this manner, activities that may simulate hunting like fetch will suffice.

Is Training a Mountain Feist Easy?

Mountain Feists are highly bright and are quick to learn, which makes them a little easier to train than others. The breed seems eager to please, too, which means they’ll have little issue responding to your command provided you train them in a consistent, positive manner.

While the Mountain Feist does have a solidly developed prey drive, that doesn’t mean that you get to slack off on training the dog for hunting scenarios. They could develop a bit of a stubborn streak when on the hunt, particularly if they don’t trust you as a confident leader. Firm, gentle, and consistent training in the field will nip this issue in the bud.

Are Mountain Feists Tough to Groom?

Because Mountain Feists are short-coated breeds, you won’t have to worry about a whole lot of elaborate grooming to keep the dog looking tip-top. Giving your dog a routine, casual brushing to get rid of dead hairs will be sufficient. If they get into too much mischief when they’re active, you may be bathing them a bit more than your average dog.

You'll also have to handle the usual periodic grooming and cleaning tactics that are part and parcel of dog ownership. This includes things like ear wiping, teeth brushing, and monitoring the length of the nails. While you may have to clip the nails, they may wear down naturally as they run and romp.

Health Issues and the Mountain Feist – Another Unknown Quantity

Perhaps no aspect of the Mountain Feist’s origin or history provides more convolution than their health. Although they’ve been around in the United States since the days of the Founding Fathers, there haven’t been any pinpointed health issues related to the breed.

What’s more, because there is no determination regarding what breeds the dog stems from – it’s still up in the air as to what terrier they may come from – owners can’t really use another parental breed as a point of reference. This even sets them apart from newfangled “designer dogs,” since we can at least trace the parental lineage of hybrids.

One thing that is known about Mountain Feists: They’ll be part of your life for a long time. The average Mountain Feist can live for up to 18 years old, giving them one of the longest lifespans of any beast in the canine world.

The Cost of a Mountain Feist

Initially, a Mountain Feist pup will set you back anywhere between $300 and $500. The range depends on various metrics such as breeder reputation, the look of the dog, and pooch popularity. Note that this figure doesn’t include the day-to-day costs of dog ownership, like shots, licensing, food, toys, and more.

The Hunter is Good for Your Heart

If you don’t have a nearby woodland to go hunting in or a backyard subject to the occasional unwanted visitor, don’t think that you can’t bring a Mountain Feist to your home. These sturdy, smart dogs can adapt to their surroundings easily. As long as you provide them with an outlet to expunge their energy, you’ll have a happy little doggie in your life.


Laura Harris

Dr. Laura Harris is our resident dog health expert. She started to fact-check dog health-related information for HerePup during her internship and contributes since then. Her expertise is in dog nutrition, senior dog care, especially critical care medicine and internal medicine.

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