Feist dog type and Jack Russell difference, Family pet nature

feist dogPart one of this article describes many of the common features of the Feist dog. A great little hunter similar in look to a jack russell, but a TYPE of dog, not a single BREED. They are very high energy and TREE their target game, rather than running them to ground.

Because of the similarity of the Feist to the Jack Russell it is very instructive to see point by point what the actual differences are. The major complication her is that many jack russells you see are actually Fox Terrier Crosses. There are big differences in hunting style and shape of head etc, but one of the easier tells is often that the jack russell is a much smaller dog and its head is not as square at the front (long but rounder nose).

FEIST DOG V Jack Russell Characteristics table

Because the Feist is has often been mistaken for the smooth coat jack russell and most people know what a jack russell or at least jack russel X Fox terrier looks and acts like, it is often instructional to know the differences between these two breeds.

FEIST Hunting Dog Jack Russell Dog
COLOR BOTH Feist and Jack Russell are mainly white with spots or markings (to help hunters to not shoot them. Feist dogs color range is: red and white, blue and white, black and tan, red brindle, red, black, white, and tricolor with spots.


Predominantly white with black or brown spots.
Coat Softer and smoother than that of a rough-coated Jack Russell Smooth coated JR looks very similar to a feist coat.
Leg Legs are longer (particularly the mountain feist) Fox terrier crosses look can look closer to the feist dog.
Tail Tail shorter (or bob tail) Tail longer (unless docked)
Hunt behavior Silent on track until they corner prey Frantic barking in pursuit
Capture STYLE Prefer to Tree its prey, and are great tree climbers (particularly after squirrels) Prefer to go to ground, though also good tree climbers.
HUNT Aggression Many feists are motivated on the hunt, but wait for hunter when prey is cornered. Prefer to capture and Kill prey, with or without hunter
Life expectancy 10-13 years 14-18 years (smaller size give longevity)
HUNT TARGET Squirrel, opossum, raccoon, rats and rabbits, and to flush out game birds Rats, squirrel, rabbits. Also love hunting birds but not a primary function.
Larger Game Feist have been adapted for pack hunting of: bear, mountain lion large local southern US game. Jack Russells have a massive hunt heart, but small size can get them in dangerous situations if allowed to hunt large animals or snakes.


FEISTS as companion animals & behavior around the family.

Both Feists and jack russells are known to make great family pets, even those used for hunting. They can separate out their behavior around the children and other family dogs, but sometimes have issues with cats and non canine animals.

They are very alert, intelligent, tenacious, powerful dogs, proving a great watch dog with excellent guarding capabilities but all of this energy has to go somewhere if they are not used regularly for hunting.

The feist can be very protective of the children in its family, so beware around other children playing with your children when your feist is off lead.

And this is the shame when Feists are kept as pets and not socialised or trained to behave off lead. Not given regular walks to redirect energy, the feist suffers similar issues to jack russells and fox terriers kept as pets. They can develop anxieties and aggression towards other dogs.

Their amazing energy and hunt instinct means they don’t get bored, they just escape the house and yard. They can mark territory in the house and bark until they get what they want. They have centuries of breeding in them to find and get small prey, so it is natural that this instinct must have a healthy outlet, not suppression.

The high intelligence of the feist means they are easily trainable, but again high intelligence without stimulation can see energy directed where you may not want it to go.