The story of Mountain Feists is a bit confusing, as the term “feist” can refer to any type of noisy little dog. Over the centuries, they have been bred as low maintenance dogs to hunt small surface vermin.
Hailing from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma, Mountain Feists are sometimes called “the last real hunting dog.” They are believed to have been in the country since the 17th and 18th centuries, and although their numbers have been low over the centuries, they have grown in popularity over the past decade.
They are even said to belong to, or at least associated with, some of our early presidents: George Washington referred to “feists” in his diary, and Abraham Lincoln referred to them in a poem. They were indeed in the countryside before the other ratting terriers, making them pioneers in a way!
Back in the days of our founding fathers, the Mountain Feist might have looked a little different than they do today, but eventually the breed has refined itself with specific traits. Today, they’re often confused with the Mountain Curs, who have similar roles and appearances, but aren’t quite the same – the Mountain Feists being decidedly smaller, to begin with.
Although the physical characteristics have become more specific than in the past, the roles of Mountain Feists are largely the same: to hunt small animals outdoors. They are sometimes nicknamed as a class of “squirrel dogs”. Despite their honed hunting skills, they are very friendly, playful and loving dogs, and they also play a big role as a family dog, especially in environments where they can exert this high energy, such as homes and decently sized courses.