Alaskan Klee Kai are a breed that continue to grow in popularity.
The breed was started by Linda Spurlin in Alaska in the early 1970s before she made her unique dogs available to the public in the late 1980s.
Celebrities such as singer Miley Cyrus, actress Sophie Turner and football coach Bill Belicheck have put the breed in the spotlight over the past few years.
Alaskan Klee Kai were bred to be companion-sized versions of the Alaskan Husky.
However, these little dogs come with their unique set of challenges, including poor recall and separation anxiety.
We spoke to Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America president Alicia Bieder to learn more about Alaskan Klee Kai and tackle some commonly asked questions about the breed.
1) What is an Alaskan Klee Kai?
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a companion sized dog often referred to as a smaller version of their northern ancestors, the Alaskan Husky. While they do have many northern breed traits, they are a very unique breed with individual quirks and temperaments.
2) What is the origin of Alaskan Klee Kai?
The Alaskan Klee Kai was developed in Alaska by Linda Spurlin and her family in the early 1970s through late 1980s. The Spurlins carefully selected dogs who met their high standards for appearance and soundness. In 1988, they made the Alaskan Klee Kai available to others. Mrs. Spurlin originally called her new breed the Klee Kai, but in 1995 it was changed to Alaskan Klee Kai to denote their place of origin.
3) Are Alaskan Klee Kai purebred ?
They are purebred, which means, you can only get an Alaskan Klee Kai by breeding two Alaskan Klee Kai together. There is a massive misrepresentation in social media and on many websites that there a several breeds put together to “make up an Alaskan Klee Kai.” This belief does a disservice to the creator and the many breeders that have been selectively breeding for the last 30 years. The breed has been breeding true for over 15 generations.
4) What colors are Alaskan Klee Kai?
Coat colors in shades of black, gray or red are acceptable provided that the facial mask is distinct and clearly visible, and there is a contrasting lighter color on the bottom half of the dogs face, throat, chest, breeches, feet, legs and underside.
5) What is size of Alaskan Klee Kai?
It is intended that the Alaskan Klee Kai remain a small to medium-sized dog. Height is measured from the withers to the ground. Weight should be proportionate to height and bone structure, appearing neither too heavy nor too thin.
Toy Variety: Up to and including 13 inches.
Miniature Variety: Over 13 inches and up to and including 15 inches.
Standard Variety: Over 15 inches up to and including 17 inches.
It should be noted that we no longer gauge an Alaskan Klee Kai’s size by weight although many stay in the 15lb-20b range.
6) When do Alaskan Klee Kai stop growing?
Klee Kai seem to reach adult height by one year of age but often their bone structure continues to mature until approximately age two.
7) Do Alaskan Klee Kai shed?
YES! There is a running joke amongst owners that AKK shed twice per year. The first time is January-June and the second time is July-December. While this is indeed typical, different coat types shed in various ways. Additionally Klee Kai may “blow coat” during seasonal changes.
8)Are Alaskan Klee Kai hypoallergenic?
9) How often do Alaskan Klee Kai need grooming?
This answer is very dependent on coat type. Some AKK need brushing weekly, some may only need it while blowing their coats. In a show ring, the breed is presented in a completely natural condition except that trimming of hair between the pads and around the feet to present a neater appearance is permissible. Alaskan Klee Kai do not tend to hold a dirty smell like many dogs and can get by with minimal bathing. Proper ear and nail care is a must, just like with any breed.
10) Do Alaskan Klee Kai talk?
These little dogs have quite a lot to say. They talk, they sass, they howl, they bark, and they “pity whine” to get their point across.
11) Are Alaskan Klee Kai good pets?
Alaskan Klee Kai are great pets for the right type of dog owner. They are not for the faint of heart and will require dedication to proper training and socialization from a young age. They have specific quirks that are sometimes hard to manage (like separation anxiety and poor recall) so the breed should be researched and well understood before adoption.
12) Are Alaskan Klee Kai good with cats?
Just like with any breed, this really depends on the individual dog and the training it had during puppyhood. Some Klee Kai have a high prey drive, some do not.
13) Do Alaskan Klee Kai have health issues?
The genetic health of this breed should be watched and managed carefully. Alaskan Klee Kai are currently enrolled in the CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) program. The following tests are necessary for an AKK to earn it’s CHIC certificate: Autoimmune thyroiditis, Patellar luxation, Cardiac Evaluation and Eye examination by a boarded ACVO ophthalmologist. We do encourage breeders to do a blood panel for this breed that includes CBC & Chemistries, which determine healthy numbers regarding the liver and kidney health of their dogs and a Thyroid profile. Due to patella luxation issues in the smaller breeds, this should also be part of the annual exam, as well as a cardiac exam. We still have some FVII carriers (blood clotting disorder) in the breed but they have been mostly eliminated through the years by attrition but we continue to test when an FVII carrier produces pups so we are aware and take precautions regarding who we pick as breeding partners.
14) What is Alaskan Klee Kai life expectancy?
Approximately 15-18 years.
15) How many Alaskan Klee Kai are there?
AKKAOA recently obtained full count records from UKC stating how many Klee Kai puppies have been registered (litter and permanently) annually since they were recognized in 1996. Per the report, UKC has litter registered less than 10,000 puppies total! The number of litters has increased steadily over the last 22 years, however, up until 2007 less than 400 puppies were born per year. Still less than 1000 puppies were born even last year (2018).
16) Can Alaskan Klee Kai live in hot weather?
Yes, they can be comfortable in any climate. Their coats protect them from both the hot and the cold which is why it is important to NEVER shave them. While they can withstand any reasonable temperature, they are creatures of comfort and if their human is hot, they are likely hot too.
17) Are there Alaskan Klee Kai rescue?
Since the breed is highly protected there are few surrendered to rescue, however, the Alaskan Klee Kai National Rescue is a fantastic resource for helping Klee Kai in need.
18) How many Alaskan Klee Kai breeders?
There are approximately 50 AKKAOA breeders worldwide. Most are located in the USA. AKKAOA breeders have all agreed to follow a Code of Ethics that describe good breeding habits. The club believes it is important to be accountable for producing healthy, purebred dogs in a clean and safe environment.