Feist

Canis lupus

Last updated: June 10, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

The word feisty derived from this type of dog.



Feist Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Feist Conservation Status

Feist Locations

Feist Locations

Feist Facts

Fun Fact
The word feisty derived from this type of dog.
Temperament
Fearless, spirited, and friendly
Diet
Omnivore

Feist Physical Characteristics

Colour
  • Brown
  • White
Skin Type
Hair
Lifespan
15 – 18 years
Weight
30 lbs

Feist Images

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It’s thought that the word feisty was derived from the Feist’s excitable temperament.

The Feist is a small hunting dog that arose in the American south at some point in the 18th century. The name of the species probably derives from the obsolete word fice or fyst, which means to break wind. This dog has an uncertain origin, but there are a few different theories for how it was first bred. One theory is that it descended from the Smooth Fox Terrier and the now extinct English White Terrier. Some of these dogs may have then been crossed with the Greyhound, Whippet, or Beagle. The Feist in turn gave rise to new breeds like the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier and the Rat Terrier.

The original purpose of the Feist was to hunt small animals like squirrels or rodents on the ground. Since the Feist is still used for this purpose, it has none of the strict physical standards of a show dog. Apart from its strong and athletic body and the wedge-shaped head, there is otherwise little consistency in the ears, tails, and other physical characteristics of this breed. The coat is usually quite short, but the exact combination of white and brown markings can vary from one dog to the next.

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Experts of this breed recognize a few different types, including the mountain Feist and treeing Feist. There’s still some debate about what characteristics separate them, but the main difference is that treeing Feists, as the name implies, will try to trap its prey up a tree while barking almost non-stop to alert its owner. The mountain and treeing Feists can be further sub-divided into many other different types, depending on the preferences of the breeder. None of the Feists are currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, but certain individual types like the mountain Feist are recognized by the United Kennel Club and other organizations.

3 pros and cons of owning a Feist

Pros! Cons!
Friendly and Loyal
The Feist is an excellent companion.
Strong Hunting Instincts
Unless you intend to use your dog for catching prey, the Feist might exhibit undesirable hunting instincts.
Energetic and Playful
The Feist is a great choice for highly active and engaged owners.
Strong Hunting Instincts
Unless you intend to use your dog for catching prey, the Feist might exhibit undesirable hunting instincts.
Intelligent
This dog has an active and roaming mind; it picks up on human commands very quickly.
Strong-Minded
While some owners may want a strong, independent-minded dog, this isn’t always desirable in every situation.
Beautiful Feist dog standing under a tree on autumn leaves.
Beautiful Feist dog standing under a tree on autumn leaves.

Feist Size and Weight

The Feist has a small, compact, and muscular body. Males and females are similar in size.

Height (Male) 10 to 18 inches
Height (Female) 10 to 18 inches
Weight (Male) 12 to 30 pounds
Weight (Female) 12 to 30 pounds

Feist Common Health Issues

The Feist is a good choice for owners who want a healthy and long-lived breed. The average lifespan is about 13 years (and potentially up to 18 years in the right circumstances). But like any dog, it has the tendency to suffer from a few health conditions.

Allergies are perhaps the most common problem owners should be aware of; if your dog appears to have itchy skin, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing, then you should try to isolate and then eliminate the cause of the allergy. Other problems are more serious.

Health and Entertainment for your Feist

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Hip or elbow dysplasia, in which the socket can become partially or fully dislocated, is a developmental disorder that affects small dogs in particular; though uncommon, it can lead to pain, arthritis, and some lameness.

Patellar luxation is a similar condition that affects the kneecap; it too can lead to lifelong problems. Cancer is also a leading cause of death in this breed.

One of the best things you can do to prevent health problems from arising in the first place is to always buy from a high-quality breeder; try to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills. You should also have regular checkups at the vet. In summation, these are the most common problems with a Feist:

  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Hip or Elbow Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation

Feist Temperament

The Feist has a spirited, fearless, and friendly personality. It has the ability to form a close and lasting bond with its owner. Since it was originally bred for the rugged rural life, the Feist is probably best suited for farmers or outdoor types. But there’s also no reason why these adaptable dogs can’t grow accustomed to urban and suburban environments, provided you’re able to give it enough exercise. As long as it has enough mental and physical stimulation, the Feist knows how to settle down and relax. But otherwise, it might become anxious and start exhibiting some destructive behavior. It’s also probably not well-suited for homes with smaller pets like cats and rodents.

How to Take Care of the Feist

Owners should ideally have some experience or knowledge of how to handle some of this dog’s peculiarities and instincts, but this isn’t strictly required. Many aspects of the Feist’s care should be relatively straightforward and easy to handle. If you have any other questions or concerns about your dog’s care, then you should talk with your veterinarian.

Feist Food and Diet

Depending on your dog’s size, age, and activity level, the Feist probably needs an average of 1.5 cups of dog food per day, give or take a little bit. While any type of dog food should suffice, owners should make sure it contains enough protein to support a healthy and active lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to divide up meals into multiple times per day.

Feist Maintenance and Grooming

The Feist has a very short, lightly shedding (though not hypoallergenic) coat that should be relatively easy to care for. It will need to be brushed a few times a week in order to remove loose fur and prevent matting. Owners should also trim the nails, check the ears, and brush the teeth on a regular basis. Bathing should only be done when the coat becomes particularly dirty.

Feist Training

The Feist is an intelligent dog with an open and agreeable disposition. They can learn a large number of commands and behaviors without too much effort. But owners should be aware that these dogs do have a mind of their own. Teaching it to obey the particular rules of the house may require a bit of time and patience. Verbal encouragement and positive training methods, combined with a firm hand and strong leadership, will work best on this breed. Owners should try to keep training sessions relatively short and interesting. Mix things up with new techniques and commands often. If you need some assistance, then you might want to contact a professional trainer in your area.

Feist Exercise

The Feist requires at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day. Walks, jogs, and hikes should work well to dispel its excess energy; mix this in with plenty of games, toys, and even some agility challenges. Since the Feist has a very strong prey drive, it may not be a good idea to let this dog off the leash unless you want it to chase after animals.

Feist Puppies

Before bringing home a new puppy, make sure you have everything you need, including a collar, a leash, a bowl, and a crate if you plan to use one. Follow up with your vet immediately to get your dog properly tested, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. Feist puppies should begin proper training and socialization as early as possible in order to become well-behaved adults. Doggie daycare is also a good option if you need to give your dog something to do during the day.

Cute Feist puppy sitting in a baby rocker.
Cute Feist puppy sitting in a baby rocker.

Feists and Children

While Feists should have a natural tenderness toward children, they will learn to behave best if they’re raised as a puppy in a family home. Because this dog can be a little possessive of toys and does not enjoy rough handling, older children who understand how to handle this type of dog should respond best to them.

Dogs Similar to the Feist

The Feist belongs to a group of small hunting and ratting dogs that resemble a terrier.

  • Jack Russell Terrier – The Feist looks so similar to the Jack Russell that they’re sometimes mistaken for each other. Both of these small hunting dogs have a predominantly white coat with brown and sometimes black markings. They also share the same fearless personality and energetic lust for fun and adventure.
  • Smooth Fox Terrier – Dating back as early as the 18th century, this was the quintessential breed of English fox hunters. It is characterized by long legs, a narrow, V-shaped head, and a flat white coat with black or tan markings.
  • Rat Terrier – Originally bred to be an all-around farm dog, the rat terrier would catch rodents, guard the henhouse, and keep watch out for intruders. Today, they are primarily used as a family companion. The smooth and shiny coat has a variety of different pied patterns covering the body.

Famous Feists

Over the centuries, the Feist has been mentioned in the writings of Abraham Lincoln, William Faulkner, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Theodore Roosevelt also went on hunting trips with a Feist named Skip and helped popularize the entire breed.

If you’re still searching for a good dog name, then you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Charlie
  • Gunner
  • Roxy
  • Trig
  • Skip
  • Lara
  • Hunter
  • Lady
  • Lucy
  • Daisy
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Feist FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a Feist dog?

The Feist is a small hunting or farm dog that shares many characteristics in common with the terrier group. The dog is known for its surprisingly fearless behavior and athletic build, considering its small size.

Do Feist dogs make good pets?

Yes, the Feist makes a great companion. Even if you don’t plan to let it hunt other animals, its playful and friendly personality should endear to all kinds of people. But daily outdoor exercise is an absolute necessity with this breed; make sure it receives enough activity to satisfy its daily needs.

Do Feist dogs bark?

Feists have a tendency to bark a lot when they become excited, especially when there’s a stranger or intruder nearby. They actually make for surprisingly good watchdogs (though not necessarily guard dogs).

Are Feist dogs mean?

The Feist is very warm and friendly around people of all ages, but it may take them a little time to open up to strangers.

Do Feist dogs shed a lot?

The Feist is not known for a lot of shedding, but the coat is not hypoallergenic. People with allergies may still have problems with this breed.

Sources
  1. Dogster, Available here: https://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/feist-dog-breed
  2. K9 Web, Available here: https://www.k9web.com/breeds/feist-dog/
  3. Pet Keen, Available here: https://petkeen.com/mountain-feist/

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