Pet Advisor Blog

Feist – Dog Breed Guide

Breed summary

Size: Small
Weight: 10 - 30 pounds
Height: 10 to 18 inches
Longevity: 0
Bark Tendency: High
Aggression: Low
Compatibility to other pets: High


The Feist is a pure American dog breed and was developed across rural America. It is the result of crossing cur-type dogs, a larger treeing dog that is also native to the United States and various terrier-type breeds.

The Feist is a small to medium-sized hunting breed. In addition, these dogs are very active and energetic but also curious and very eager to please. Therefore, they make perfect companion dogs.

Official Name

American Treeing Feist
Barger Stock Feist
Bench-legged Feist
Buckley Mountain Feist
Charlie Feist
Kemmer Feist
Mountain Feist
Mullins Feist
Pencil-tail Feist
Rat Terrier

Breeds outside of the United States:
Denmark Feist
Treeing Feist


Family / Group:

Recognized By

Continental Kennel Club
National Kennel Club
United Kennel Club


Generally, they are small dogs developed in the rural States of the United States of America.  They are the smaller and lighter version of the Cur breed which is also native to the US. These dog breeds were created to be treeing dogs, a term used by American huntsmen that describes a dog who can force the prey to be trapped on trees and hold them until the hunter comes.

Dog historians and fanciers of these dogs believe that they are descendants of the various Terrier breeds from Europe. They were brought to the US by immigrants during the colonization of the New World. The crosses between various terriers were made and include the Smooth Fox Terrier, Manchester terrier, and the English Terrier. Through the years, lines of Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, and Beagles were put into the mix. Finally, Cur lineages were also put into the Feist bloodlines.


They are very agile and swift dogs with a famous flowing gait. They are high spirited but very lovable treeing dogs that can hunt using their sight, scent and hearing all at the same time. In addition, these are tough little terriers that are capable of silently trailing their prey. Also, they are very alert dogs that are compact and muscular even for their size.

Feist dogs have a strong drive to please their masters. They are moderately active, very sociable and impressively loyal. Overall Feist dogs are affectionate, loving and they enjoy the companionship of their master and family.

Bred For

The Feist dog was developed to be pure hunting dogs and fine-tuned to specialize in treeing and hunting varieties of small to large game types of animals. They were not intended to be shod dog breeds.


Feist dogs are natural treeing dogs that will thrive in rural or suburban areas. However, they can adapt to indoor spaces if well trained. To sum up, an ideal living environment for these dogs will be a suburban house with a big yard where they can consume their energy and run freely.


Most Feist breeds require minimal to no grooming attention. This breed has a short, dense yet smooth coat. Therefore, brushing them once a week will remove dead hair and help maintain their coat healthy. In addition, bathing often can dry their skin and ruin their coat.


These are highly trainable dogs due to their high intelligence and natural drive to please their masters. Therefore, training should be a breeze.

However, as for any dog, early age socialization and training will help them become mentally healthy and happy grown-up dogs.


This is one of America’s healthiest natively bred dogs. However, they can suffer from hip dysplasia and allergies.


These dogs live for the hunt. Unlike other hunting dog breeds, they have moderate activity levels and do not require vigorous outdoor activities. In other words, these are dogs that can stay indoors 24/7 but still stay mentally fit and sharp when they go outdoors to hunt. However, every day short walks or running sessions are more than welcome.