It would not be surprising to discover that the majority of people who read this article have never heard of a Feist Dog.
Once the pride of the pioneer movement, these hunting dogs were central to their way of life.
Previously, the word “Feist” meant any terrier type dog, especially those that were noisier.
However as fans began to produce specific lines for different purposes, specific breed types began to emerge.
What Is A Feist Dog?
A Feist dog was primarily used to hunt down predators as well as to chase down squirrels, rabbits, and other animals that could be eaten, and their pelts sold.
Although these canines chase their prey for miles, they would very rarely kill themselves, expecting their owners to shoot them.
They were first seen as far back as 1770, where George Washington wrote about them in his diary.
He described the canine he saw as a “Cur”, this was another old-fashioned word for a pooch of an unknown breed type.
Today, whilst the Cur is a similar breed type to the Feist, there are two major differences:
- The Cur is larger and has rounded floppy ears
- Feists are smaller with pointed, triangular ears
However, with the movement away from farming and traditional American homesteading, the number of Feist dogs have dwindled.
This was until recently, with the return to original values emerging in America, these canines are on the rise again.
With interest in this breed-type peaking, here are fourteen Feist dogs to know about.
The A to Z List Of Every Feist Dog
1. Barger Stock Feist
The Barger Stock, named after their breeder Bill Barger, is a small treeing Feist canine from Harriman, Tennessee.
These hunting companions are bred predominately to hunt squirrels and are known to be very low maintenance in regards to grooming, training and health.
Like all Feists, Barger Stocks are very intelligent and require a job to do. However, they are highly adaptable and consequently are not too worried about what that job is!
They are alert enough to make excellent watch dogs but are not aggressive enough to be guard dogs.
Outside of their working environment, they are a happy and friendly working pet, with a temperament similar to that of a Terrier!
Known to be excellent companions, these high activity canines excel in any environment.
2. Bench-Legged Feist
Sometimes called the “Teddy Roosevelt Terrier”, the Bench-Legged Feist dog has one of the better documented histories in the Feist breed-family.
Thought to be a descendant of a cross between a Rat Terrier and a Beagle.
Originally used to rid homes of vermin, the Bench-Legged is well known for its keen sense of smell.
Their friendly nature also made them an excellent pet for young children.
Under the name Teddy Roosevelt Terrier, this is the only Feist dog to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.
First registered within the Foundation Stock Service in 2016, as of July 2019 this canine was awarded full recognition in the Miscellaneous Group.
The Bench-Legged breed is noted for their clown like nature, and their constant desire to please their owners.
These friendly and social working pets are an excellent addition to any active family.
3. Buckley Feist
Similar to the Barger Stock, the Buckley Mountain was bred by Jack Buckley of Kentucky.
These canines are not recognized by any breed groups except the Buckley Registry.
This may be due to the fact that many kennel clubs consider the Buckley to be a sub-breed of the Mountain Feist.
Unlike other pooches in this list, they are very good with young children and even family pets too, not giving into their instinct to chase them up a tree!
The Buckley Mountain breed is a happy and friendly canine, totally devoted to their owners.
They are considered to be very healthy canines, with very few potentially health issues affecting them.
Buckleys also have very low grooming requirements, their short coat needs brushing once every week or so to remove mud.
4. Charlie Feist
First seen in the 1800s, he was known for providing companionship to travellers from the UK to the USA.
With his merry attitude, the Charlie breed is renowned for their loyalty and warmth.
Since then, his descendants have been known as the Charlie.
A very friendly dog, this breed believes that everyone is a friend to them. They also have one of the longer life expectancies in the Feist family, living around 15 years.
These pooches have a lower exercise requirement than some of their siblings, needing around 20 minutes of exercise daily.
Their highly adaptable nature, combined with lower exercise requirements, means they are well suited to city living.
But, they will benefit from having garden access to run around in, but can do well in a large apartment.
5. Denmark Feist
The Denmark, despite their confusing name, is actually a dog of American origin.
Descended from a Feist dog and brought by the Slade family in 1917, it was used to hunt boar, bobcats, and squirrels.
Overtime, the breed was refined and in 1984 the Denmark Treeing Feist was introduced to the world.
For a short period, this working pet was accepted by the United Kennel Club, however the decision was later revised as the breed was considered to be too similar to other breeds.
Denmark Treeing Feists stand between 15 and 18 inches tall and weigh between 25 and 30 lb.
The best way to describe this furry friend’s personality would be energetic and eager!
These canines love to be busy and are often considered to be fearless.
They are very intelligent, but often use their IQ to be a little stubborn, training requires both consistency and patience.
6. Gray’s Mountain Feist
First bred by Marcus Gray in 2005, this is a strain of Feist dog which was specifically bred to hunt.
Sometimes called Gray’s Mountain Squirrel Dogs. Unlike other siblings, this is a working canine and does not take well to family life.
A Gray’s Squirrel is best suited to an active home that regularly partakes in hunting. They do not do well with being bored and consequently a prospective owner must be prepared to keep them busy.
It is not uncommon to find this canine deep in the mountains, chasing a squirrel.
These hunting companions are so good at this, they are often seen competing at a professional level!
While all Feist-type dogs have a drive to chase rodents, this is really captured in the Gray’s Squirrel Dog.
7. Hunters Creek Feist
Bred by German and Irish immigrants, this breed truly captures the heart of the all-American Feist dog!
When bored, Hunters Creeks are known to be noisy and destructive! As a result, these active pups are best suited to homes where they will be worked.
Their desire to work means they bond strongly with their owner, making them eager to please.
This same drive means they are likely to chase anything small, be it a squirrel, house rabbit or even the cat… as a result, this breed should never be left unsupervised with anything small enough to chase.
Their intelligence makes them naturally inquisitive, making them a great match for anyone considering entering into canine sports such as: agility, flyball and obedience.
8. Kemmer Feist
The Kemmer is often mistaken for a Rat Terrier, although they are not related.
First bred by Robert Kemmer, they are are thought to be a mix of Fox Terriers, Mountain Curs and Feists.
They are small to medium sized canines, weighing between 14 to 20lb and standing between 12 and 15 inches tall.
These loyal dogs are devoted to their owners, they are at their happiest by their owner’s side and become rather upset when they are parted.
It is not unusual when owning a Kemmer to come home and find something has been chewed or an angry noise complaint from the neighbors!
Like all of the Feist dogs in this list, they are easy to groom. They need occasional brushing to remove loose fur and dirt from their coat, but beyond that they have no other grooming requirements.
They only need bathing when extremely dirty and they are naturally averse to ear and eye infections.
9. Mountain Feist
As with other pooches in our list, Mountain Feists look very similar to Jack Russell mixes.
While their specific origin is unknown, it is generally believed they were bred by the early pioneers in the 17th Century.
Friendly, and known for their social nature and busy attitude, they are great with young children, and unlike other terrier type breeds, are very rarely aggressive.
Their social nature means that they make great companions as well as active working pets too.
With a tricolor coat, they are often confused with Jack Russell Terriers, but these distinctive dogs are easy to spot when you know how.
Mountains have softer coats compared to the rough coat of the Jack Russell Terrier, they also have longer legs and shorter tails than their Jack Russell counterparts.
10. Mullins Feist
Mullins love the outdoors!
When not out on long walks or hikes, they can be found sunbathing or sniffing around the garden. These active pups are a great match for those who like to spend a great deal of time in the great outdoors.
First bred by Jody Mullins in 1970, these dogs are descendants of the Mountain Feist (above).
Mullins are specifically bred to remove vermin from properties, although this doesn’t stop them from chasing the occasional squirrel, or even the neighbor’s cat!
Unlike other siblings, they are not brindled, stand about 14 to 18 inches tall and are always yellow with black or white accents.
They have naturally long tails, but in most cases the Mullin’s tail is docked for working purposes.
11. Pencil-tail Feist
Not a lot is known about the elusive Pencil-tail.
It is thought that their ancestral roots can be traced back as far as a ratter in Spain, but there is little scientific evidence to support this.
Like all of the different Feist dog breeds we have shared, these ratters would have made their way to America where they would have become the Pencil-tail we know and love.
Despite their name, Pencil-Tails are sometimes born without tails!
The Pencil-tail is recognized by the Continental Kennel Club in their Terrier Group.
12. Rat Terrier
Previously called the Fox Terrier, this Feist dog rose to popularity due to Teddy Roosevelt.
Shortly after moving into the White House, President Roosevelt discovered a massive rat problem.
In an attempt to solve this, the President employed several canines, calling them Rat Terriers. It didn’t take long for the Feists to sort out his rodent problem! Sure enough, the name stuck.
Despite their misleading name, Rat Terriers are considered to be a Feist dog.
One of the smaller breeds, their breed standard dictates they should be between 10 and 13 inches tall.
Like other hunting companions, they have a pied coat, though this pied pattern can be pretty much any color.
Their distinguishing feature is their ever-present white markings.
These friendly canines are never aggressive towards other people, however they may show some hostility towards unfamiliar household pets.
One thing is certain with a Rat Terrier, your house will be vermin free thanks to this high energy pooch!
13. Thornburg Feist
Of all the canines on this list, perhaps the best dog for family life is the Thornburg.
Originally bred for hunting, these furry friends are now often found glued to their owner’s side.
Thornburg dogs love their families with an unwavering loyalty, and unlike some of the other breeds on this list are a great match with young children.
These little pets need around 30 minutes of exercise and are very adaptable. Because of this, it is not too uncommon to find a Thornburg in the city.
When given enough exercise and attention, these furry friends can thrive in a city environment.
This Feist dog is a good choice for a first-time owner who wants to try their hand with a working animal. As intelligent as the other breeds, Thornburgs have a less of a stubborn streak and more of a will to please.
14. Treeing Feist
Treeing Feists historically did exactly what their name sounds like, trap prey in trees! Treeing dogs mark a tree with a squirrel in it by standing at the bottom and barking relentlessly.
This noisy bark is still used to this day, only now it is used for exciting things like dinner, as opposed to a squirrel at the top of a tree.
The tradition of allowing these canines to hunt bigger game in packs, gives this Feist dog a strong pack mentality and the ability to get on well with other working pets.
This being said, they do not warm a quickly to unfamiliar dogs, so lots of early socialization is required.
Despite their lack of interest in other household pets, and unfamiliar dogs, they do get on very well with new people. They are known to be social and inquisitive, often being overtaken by curiosity.
There you have it, fourteen fantastic Feist dog breeds, each one as different as the next!
If you are looking for a family pet then you should consider the Bench-Legged, Charlie or Thornburg Feist.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a working or active companion, consider the Rat Terrier, Kemmer or Mullin Feist.
If you have one of these breeds at home, then leave us a comment below telling us your thoughts on the breed.