What Are Treeing Feist Dogs?

The treeing feist is a member of the terrier group of dog breeds.
The treeing feist is a member of the terrier group of dog breeds. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

The treeing feist dog is a breed of dog created specifically for hunting small animals, such as squirrels. Although the origins of the treeing feist dog are unknown, the animal is thought to have been bred specifically in the southern region of North America, according to the Complete Dogs Guide.


Treeing feist dogs are also known as mountain feists and are often found in southern American regions, such as the Ozark Mountains and southern Appalachian Mountains. The dog is thought to be a cross between a terrier and a hound. Writers such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington referred to treeing feist dogs.


The treeing feist is a lap dog, standing between 10 and 22 inches in height and weighing between 10 and 30 lbs. The breed characteristics include a medium length muzzle that tapers to a point with a partially rounded skull and small, dark eyes. The breed is often tri-colored with colored spots on the coat; acceptable colors for the treeing feist include red and white, black and tan, red brindle and white, and blue and white. The coat of the treeing feist is easy to care for because it is short and smooth, requiring only a brush to remove dead hair. Because of the size and appearance of the breed, the treeing feist is often confused with other dogs, including the Jack Russell and rat terrier.


As a working dog the treeing feist requires a large amount of exercise and play to remain healthy. When not taken on a hunt the breed requires daily long walks and jogs. A large, fenced yard can be substituted for long walks, to allow the feist to work off excess energy. The treeing feist is often trained to hunt squirrels, along with other small game animals such as rabbits and birds. The breed is capable of reducing pests found in yards and farms, such as raccoons and possums.

Types and Characteristics

Within the U.S. there are three sub-breeds of feist dogs bred; mountain feist, bench-legged feist and pencil-tail feist. The treeing feist is an inquisitive breed of dog that can be easily trained through gentle commands because of its eager-to-please temperament. The breed can be trained to work in the majority of outdoor environments, including farms, fields and residential yards. Although energetic and inquisitive, the treeing feist is loving and protective toward its owners or pack leader.

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