Treeing Feist: A Remarkable Dog Breed in the USA

The Treeing Feist, also known as the Feist breed, is a remarkable hunting dog breed that excels in squirrel hunting and small game hunting. These energetic and versatile hunting dogs are known for their exceptional treeing abilities, meaning they can chase game up into trees and indicate to the hunter which tree the game has climbed. With their intelligence and smart hunting instincts, Treeing Feists are highly valued for their skills in the field.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Treeing Feist is a remarkable dog breed bred for hunting small game.
  • They excel in squirrel hunting and have exceptional treeing abilities.
  • Treeing Feists are energetic and versatile hunting dogs.
  • They possess intelligence and smart hunting instincts.
  • The breed is highly valued for their skills in the field.

The History of Treeing Feist

The Treeing Feist has a fascinating history that can be traced back to the 19th century in the Southeastern United States. Originally developed in the mountainous regions of the country, these dogs were bred to be small, agile, and tenacious hunting companions. Their primary role was to hunt small game, such as squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and rabbits. The breed’s development was greatly influenced by the Appalachian breeders, who selected black Feists and bred them for their treeing, ‘ringing,’ and retrieving abilities.

The Treeing Feist became an integral part of the settlers’ lives in the Southeast, as they relied on these dogs to help them hunt for food and protect their homesteads from pests. The breed’s natural instincts and skills made them invaluable hunting partners. Over time, the Treeing Feist gained recognition for its exceptional hunting abilities and spread beyond the mountains, becoming a favored breed among hunters in different regions of the country.

“The breed’s development was greatly influenced by the Appalachian breeders, who selected black Feists and bred them for their treeing, ‘ringing,’ and retrieving abilities.”

Today, the Treeing Feist continues to be a beloved hunting dog, known for its agility, intelligence, and drive. The breed’s rich history in the United States is a testament to its exceptional qualities and its enduring popularity among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

The History of Treeing Feist

Time Period Significant Events
19th century Development of the Treeing Feist breed in the Southeastern United States
Appalachian Breeders Played a significant role in breeding and refining the Treeing Feist breed
Settlement in the Southeast Treeing Feists became integral to the survival and livelihood of settlers
Spread of the Breed Treeing Feists gained popularity among hunters in different regions of the country

The Rescue and Preservation Efforts

In the 20th century, the Treeing Feist breed faced the threat of extinction, prompting dedicated individuals to form organizations aimed at rescuing and preserving these remarkable dogs. The Mountain Feist Association was established in 1984, followed by the American Treeing Feist Association in 1985. Joining the cause in 1986, the Mountain Feist Breeder’s Club played a vital role in safeguarding the breed. In 1992, the Mountain Treeing Feist Organization was formed, followed by the establishment of the Traditional Treeing Feist Club in 1999. These organizations have been instrumental in the preservation and continued success of the Treeing Feist breed.

Recognizing the importance of preserving the breed, the United Kennel Club officially recognized the Treeing Feist as a distinct breed in 1998. In 2015, the Mountain Feist was also recognized as a separate breed by the United Kennel Club. The efforts of these organizations and the recognition by the United Kennel Club have ensured that the Treeing Feist breed has a secure future and a designated place in the world of hunting dogs.

The dedication and commitment of breeders, enthusiasts, and organizations have been instrumental in the rescue and preservation of the Treeing Feist breed. Their efforts have not only prevented the breed from extinction but also helped promote and showcase the exceptional abilities of these small hunting dogs. Thanks to the collective work of these individuals and organizations, the Treeing Feist breed continues to thrive and make its mark as one of the most versatile and treasured hunting companions in the United States.

The History of Treeing Feist Organizations

Organization Established
Mountain Feist Association 1984
American Treeing Feist Association 1985
Mountain Feist Breeder’s Club 1986
Mountain Treeing Feist Organization 1992
Traditional Treeing Feist Club 1999

Description and Physical Traits

The Treeing Feist is a small and active dog breed known for its versatile hunting abilities. These small hunting dogs have a short and dense coat that can come in a variety of colors and patterns. From solid black to spotted or brindle, the Treeing Feist’s coat adds to its unique appearance.

According to the United Kennel Club breed standards, the Treeing Feist is of moderate size, with males typically standing between 12 and 18 inches (30-46 cm) tall, and weighing between 12 and 30 pounds (5.4-13.6 kg). Females share similar height and weight ranges. Despite their small size, these dogs possess a robust and muscular build, enabling them to tackle challenging terrain while hunting.

treeing feist

Feist Variety Physical Traits Behavioral Traits
Appalachian Feist Slightly larger build, muscular body Excellent treeing abilities, agility, endurance
Other Varieties Varies (depending on strain and breeder) Varies (depending on strain and breeder)

Treeing Feist in the Terrier Group

The Treeing Feist belongs to the Terrier Group, a classification for breeds primarily bred for hunting and working purposes. While the Feist shares some characteristics with terriers, such as their hunting instincts and tenacity, it is important to recognize that they are a distinct breed with unique traits of their own. As part of the Terrier Group, Treeing Feists are recognized for their versatility as hunting dogs and their ability to excel in small game hunting.

Like other terrier breeds, Treeing Feists are known for their working abilities and their determination in the field. Their high energy levels and intelligence make them exceptional hunting partners, able to track and chase game with precision. They possess a natural instinct for hunting and have the drive to pursue and capture small game. These qualities, combined with their agility and endurance, allow them to thrive in a variety of hunting scenarios.

While their classification within the Terrier Group highlights their working dog status, Treeing Feists are also valued for their versatility. They can adapt to different hunting styles and environments, whether it’s hunting in dense forests or open fields. Their small size and agility enable them to navigate through various terrains, making them suitable for a range of hunting situations. Additionally, their intelligence and trainability make them ideal for participating in other dog sports and activities, such as agility trials or flyball competitions.

Table: Terrier Breeds in the Terrier Group

Breed Origin Main Characteristics
Airedale Terrier England Large, versatile, intelligent
Boston Terrier United States Small, friendly, adaptable
Cairn Terrier Scotland Tough, fearless, independent
Fox Terrier England Active, playful, alert

Treeing Feist and the United States Origins

The Treeing Feist breed has deep-rooted origins in the United States, particularly in the Southeastern region. Bred in areas such as the Ozarks and Appalachian Mountains, these dogs were integral to the survival and livelihood of early settlers. They played a crucial role in hunting for food and protecting homesteads from pests.

The rugged landscapes and dense forests of the Southeastern United States provided the perfect environment for the development of the Treeing Feist’s hunting prowess. With their agility, intelligence, and natural instincts, these dogs excelled at tracking and pursuing small game, such as squirrels and rabbits.

Through generations of selective breeding and the expertise of Appalachian breeders, the Treeing Feist became a beloved and highly valued breed in the region. Their remarkable hunting abilities and adaptability to various terrains solidified their place in American history as true hunting dogs.

Treeing Feist and the United States Origins

Treeing Feist Breed Standards

The Treeing Feist breed is governed by specific standards set by the United Kennel Club (UKC). These standards outline the desired physical traits and characteristics that define the breed. Adhering to these standards ensures consistency and integrity within the Treeing Feist breed.

The breed standards specify the ideal height, weight, and overall appearance of a Treeing Feist. According to the UKC, males should typically stand between 12 and 18 inches tall, while females have similar height ranges. The weight ranges for both males and females fall between 12 and 30 pounds.

Breed Standard Male Female
Height 12-18 inches 12-18 inches
Weight 12-30 pounds 12-30 pounds

The Treeing Feist breed standards also cover other physical traits such as coat type and color. Treeing Feists have a short, dense coat that can come in various colors and patterns. The breed standards emphasize the importance of maintaining the breed’s distinct appearance while allowing for some variation within the breed.

Treeing Feist breeders and judges play a crucial role in upholding these standards. Their expertise and dedication ensure that the breed remains true to its working dog heritage while also allowing for the preservation of desirable traits and the improvement of overall breed quality.

Treeing Feist Temperament and Training

When it comes to the temperament of the Treeing Feist, there are a few key characteristics that define this remarkable breed. First and foremost, Treeing Feists are known for their high energy levels and their innate hunting instincts. They are incredibly energetic dogs that thrive on physical activity and mental stimulation. Whether it’s chasing after squirrels or engaging in challenging training exercises, these intelligent dogs require regular exercise to channel their energy appropriately.

Treeing Feists are highly trainable dogs that respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. With consistent praise and rewards, they quickly learn new commands and behaviors. Training should begin at an early age, with a focus on socialization to ensure that they grow into well-behaved and well-adjusted dogs. Early socialization also helps them develop confidence and comfort around other animals and people.

It’s important to note that the Treeing Feist’s hunting instincts may be strong, so training should also include appropriate commands and boundaries for hunting behaviors. This will ensure that their natural instincts are channeled in a safe and controlled manner. The intelligence and trainability of Treeing Feists make them highly versatile dogs that can excel in various activities such as obedience, agility, and even search and rescue work.

Overall, Treeing Feists make fantastic companions and working dogs for those who understand their energetic nature and are willing to provide them with the exercise, mental stimulation, and training they require. With the right training and socialization, these intelligent and trainable dogs can be a joy to have in any active household.

Training Tips for Treeing Feists:

  • Use positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, and rewards, to motivate and encourage good behavior.
  • Start training and socialization from a young age to ensure they grow into well-behaved dogs.
  • Provide regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them physically and mentally satisfied.
  • Set boundaries and commands specifically for hunting behaviors to channel their instincts safely.
  • Enroll them in obedience or agility classes to further enhance their training and socialization skills.

In conclusion, the Treeing Feist’s temperament and trainability make them ideal hunting dogs and loyal companions for those who can provide them with the exercise, mental stimulation, and positive reinforcement training they need. Their high energy levels and intelligence make them excel in various activities, and their affectionate and loyal nature ensures a strong bond with their families.

Treeing Feist as Companions

The Treeing Feist, known for its exceptional hunting abilities, also makes a wonderful companion for active households. With their loyal and affectionate nature, Treeing Feists form strong bonds with their families and thrive in environments where they can participate in outdoor activities. As energetic dogs, they require regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Treeing Feists are well-suited for families that enjoy outdoor adventures such as hiking, jogging, or playing fetch in the park. These small hunting dogs have a high energy level and excel in activities that tap into their natural instincts. They are agile and love to explore their surroundings, making them ideal companions for those who enjoy an active lifestyle.

While Treeing Feists can be loving and devoted family dogs, it’s important to note that their hunting instincts may not make them suitable for all households. They have a strong prey drive and may not coexist well with smaller animals or pets. Early socialization and training can help mitigate any potential issues and ensure that Treeing Feists are well-behaved around other animals and people.

Treeing Feist as Companions

Benefits of Owning a Treeing Feist as a Companion:

  • Loyal and affectionate nature;
  • Thrives in active households;
  • Enjoys outdoor activities;
  • Forms strong family bonds;
  • Excels in mentally and physically stimulating tasks.

Responsible Ownership of Treeing Feist

Owning a Treeing Feist comes with the responsibility of providing for their specific needs. These energetic and intelligent dogs require regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Daily walks, playtime, and opportunities to engage in their natural hunting behaviors are essential for their well-being. It is important to note that a Treeing Feist may not be suitable for all households due to their high energy levels and natural hunting instincts.

Proper socialization is crucial for a Treeing Feist to ensure they are comfortable and well-behaved around other animals and people. Early socialization from a young age helps them develop into confident and well-adjusted dogs. Positive reinforcement training methods are highly effective with Treeing Feists, as they respond well to praise, rewards, and consistency. Training exercises should challenge their problem-solving skills and provide mental stimulation.

Responsible ownership also entails providing a safe and loving environment for your Treeing Feist. Regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and check-ups, is necessary to keep them healthy. A nutritious diet appropriate for their size and activity level is essential. By fulfilling these responsibilities, you can ensure that your Treeing Feist is a happy and well-adjusted member of your family.

Responsibilities of Treeing Feist Ownership
Regular exercise to meet their energy needs
Proper socialization for confident behavior
Positive reinforcement training methods
Providing a safe and loving environment
Regular veterinary care and a nutritious diet

By being a responsible owner, you can ensure that your Treeing Feist lives a fulfilling and happy life. Remember to engage them in activities that allow them to use their natural instincts and provide plenty of love and attention. With proper care and responsible ownership, your Treeing Feist can be a beloved companion for years to come.

Treeing Feist in Competitive Events

The Treeing Feist, with its exceptional hunting abilities and natural agility, has made a name for itself in the world of competitive events. These dogs thrive in various competitions that showcase their skills and athleticism. One popular choice for Treeing Feist owners is participating in hunting trials, where the dogs can demonstrate their innate hunting instincts and treeing abilities.

Agility competitions are another avenue where Treeing Feists can excel. With their high energy levels and nimble bodies, they navigate through obstacle courses with speed and precision. Their natural agility and quick reflexes make them well-suited for this fast-paced sport. Additionally, Treeing Feists can also participate in flyball competitions, where they race against other dogs in a relay race. Their speed and drive to chase and retrieve objects make them valuable assets to these teams.

“The Treeing Feist’s intelligence, energy, and natural hunting instincts make them excellent contenders in competitive events. These dogs have a strong drive to perform and impress, and their participation in events not only showcases their abilities but also strengthens the bond between the dog and their handler.”

Competitive events offer Treeing Feist owners the opportunity to connect with other dog enthusiasts and showcase the versatility of this remarkable breed. Whether it’s in hunting trials, agility competitions, or flyball races, these events provide mental and physical stimulation for Treeing Feists and allow them to thrive in a competitive environment.

Treeing Feist in Competitive Events

Treeing Feist in Hunting Trials

In hunting trials, Treeing Feists demonstrate their natural abilities to track and tree game. These events simulate real hunting situations, allowing the dogs to showcase their skills in locating and indicating the presence of game. Judges evaluate the dogs based on their scenting abilities, tracking skills, and treeing proficiency. Treeing Feists’ instinctual drive and intelligence make them formidable participants in these hunting trials.

Treeing Feist in Agility Competitions

Treeing Feists’ agility and athleticism shine in agility competitions. These events are designed to test a dog’s ability to navigate through various obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, and weave poles within a set time frame. Treeing Feists’ natural agility, speed, and agility make them well-suited for this sport. Handlers guide their dogs through the course, and judges evaluate them based on speed, accuracy, and agility.

Treeing Feist in Flyball Races

Flyball races are team-based competitions where dogs race against each other in a relay race, retrieving balls from a box and running back to their handlers. Treeing Feists’ speed, endurance, and drive to chase and retrieve objects make them valuable members of flyball teams. Their natural athleticism and competitive spirit make them exciting contenders in these high-energy races.

Treeing Feist as Working Dogs Today

Treeing Feists have maintained their status as working dogs in modern-day applications, showcasing their exceptional hunting skills and versatility. These small hunting dogs excel in small game hunting, making them valuable assets for hunters in various settings. Their agility, intelligence, and drive allow them to navigate challenging terrains and track game with remarkable precision.

One of the modern-day applications where Treeing Feists thrive is in organized hunting competitions and trials. These events provide the perfect platform for these dogs to showcase their natural instincts and abilities. From squirrel hunting competitions to field trials, Treeing Feists consistently demonstrate their exceptional treeing skills, speed, and agility, earning recognition as top contenders in these events.

Treeing Feists are highly respected for their ability to locate and tree game, displaying incredible focus and determination. Their keen senses and relentless drive make them formidable working dogs in the field.

Furthermore, Treeing Feists have found success in other areas beyond hunting. Their high energy levels and intelligence make them well-suited for activities such as search and rescue, agility, and even obedience competitions. These dogs are eager to learn and please their owners, making them highly trainable in a variety of disciplines.

Working Dog Applications Key Characteristics
Hunting Exceptional tracking and treeing abilities
Search and Rescue High energy levels, intelligence, and ability to navigate challenging terrains
Agility Agility, speed, and overall athleticism
Obedience Trainability and eagerness to please

As working dogs, Treeing Feists continue to prove their worth in various modern-day applications. Their natural instincts, intelligence, and loyalty make them exceptional companions to hunters and handlers in the field, as well as in other working environments where their remarkable skills and dedication are valued.


In conclusion, the Treeing Feist is an extraordinary breed of hunting dogs renowned for their versatility and loyalty. These small but mighty dogs have a rich history in the United States, specifically in the Southeastern region. They were developed to excel in small game hunting, particularly squirrel hunting, and their exceptional treeing abilities make them invaluable to hunters.

With their intelligence, energy, and drive, Treeing Feists are well-suited for the demands of small game hunting. Their natural instinct to track and pursue game, combined with their agility and tenacity, sets them apart as remarkable hunting companions. Moreover, their affectionate and loyal nature makes them cherished members of the family, forming strong bonds with their human companions.

Whether in the field or as treasured companions, Treeing Feists embody the qualities of a versatile and loyal dog breed. Their exceptional hunting abilities and unwavering loyalty make them a breed that has left a lasting impact on American history. Today, they continue to thrive as both working dogs and beloved pets, showcasing their remarkable skills and companionship in various settings.

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