Buying an Alaskan Klee Kai – or any dog for that matter – can be a daunting process.
Alaskan Klee Kai were created by an American lady called Linda Spurlin in the 1970s but she didn’t make her dogs available to the public until the late 1980s.
The United Kennel Club recognised Alaskan Klee Kai as a pure breed in 1997. The northern breed are not mixed with other husky-type dogs in spite of what you might read online.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of misinformation about Alaskan Klee Kai that could mislead or scam buyers into purchasing a mixed dog rather than an AKK.
We spoke to the president of the Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America, Alicia Bieder, to learn more about what potential adopters need to know before starting the process of buying an Alaskan Klee Kai.
1) What is a good starting point to learn more about Alaskan Klee Kai?
The AKKAOA website has a lot of great information. There is a lot of information on various websites but you’ve got to be careful as it may or may not be accurate or it could be outdated. You may even find contradictory information since this is a newer breed. Reach out to owners and breeders. Unethical dog breeders that intentionally mix dog breeds may tell you immediately they’ve got Alaskan Klee Kai and they “made it” by mixing smaller husky type dogs. It could Shiba Inu, Pomeranian or American Eskimo or a even just a smaller sized Husky. That’s a big red flag! Alaskan Klee Kai are not mixed dogs. They’re a pure breed. You can only get an Alaskan Klee Kai by mating an Alaskan Klee Kai with an Alaskan Klee Kai.
2) When were Alaskan Klee Kai recognised by UKC?
The UKC recognised the pure breed in 1997. We’ve had over 15 generations of purebred Alaskan Klee Kai on file with the UKC. Anyone considering, purchasing or looking at the breed should know it’s a pure breed according to the United Kennel Club pedigree and there should be nothing else mixed in.
3) What are the best resources apart from the AKKAOA website?
The club breeder websites are great resources. You can find good breeder websites from the AKKAOA online directory. There are plenty of more generic websites that you can look at as well. The article on Wikipedia is a little bit outdated. The current owners of the breed that you can find on Facebook, Instagram or social media sites are your best bet for getting first hand information about the breed.
The public Alaskan Klee Kai group (on Facebook) is great but there are some people who have purchased dogs that think they’re AKK and they’re not. There’s a lot of misrepresentations in general about the breed because it’s so new, there’s not the history that you’d have for say a German Shepherd, Labrador or Poodle.
People think anything that looks like a northern breed or husky-type small dog is an Alaskan Klee Kai – and it’s not. A lot of people pay a tremendous amount of money for a mixed dog, often times more than a Klee Kai should cost.
4) How much should an Alaskan Klee Kai cost?
I would say the medium price is probably around $2500 but you will find dogs anywhere from $1800 to $3000. That’s pretty average. Cost is often based on the breeder’s cost of health testing, travel to and participating in dogs shows, stud fees, etc. Since litter sizes are typically small – only 2-3 puppies, an emergency medical procedure such as a c-section could easily make the cost of breeding much more than ever could be recouped by selling puppies. For anywhere outside of the USA, you may have increased costs. Import and export is more expensive and it’s often based on supply and demand.
5) How do you know if you’re getting a fair price?
As long as you’re purchasing a UKC registered dog, you know that you’re not getting scammed. It doesn’t matter what the price is. Some breeders charge more for certain physical traits, some don’t. I personally haven’t seen a reputable breeder charge less than $1800 or more than $3000 for a puppy.
6) How many Alaskan Klee Kai breeders are there?
We know of approximately 100 breeders worldwide. However, only about 50 of those breeders have agreed to follow the AKKAOA code of ethics. I’ll share that our entire conversation is based on my very biased opinion that breeders should be held accountable to a code of ethics. When breeders do not follow a code of ethics, there are a plethora of problems that can occur, including no accountability for overall breeding programs, habits, goals, health testing, or even purity of the breed. We have a code of ethics listed on our website which I think is essential for people to read and understand before they go out and look for a breeder.
7) Why have only 50 breeders signed up to the code of ethics?
I’m not sure why a good breeder wouldn’t want to be part of the AKKAOA breeders club. It’s a club that has to be joined so there’s indeed a nominal cost. The club is run by volunteers and by nature, humans have opinions, and breeders can be very passionate so it’s possible that there may be disagreements about what is best for the future of the breed or general personality conflicts. However, it’s my opinion that a desire to protect and promote the welfare of the breed and meet the goals and objectives set forth by the club as a whole should really supersede any personality conflicts.
I shared that there were 50 breeders worldwide that have agreed to follow the code of ethics. I’m not saying that breeders that aren’t part of the AKKAOA should be considered unethical. That’s not what I’m saying at all. If they’re not AKKAOA breeder you should just find out what/who they are accountable to and perhaps quiz them about the code of ethics to see if they follow them.
8) What type of questions should potential owners be asking non-registered AKKAOA breeders?
Are they breeding UKC registered dogs? Do they participate in UKC shows? What are their breeding goals? It should be to improve upon each generation, not to just make cute puppies. Do they work with other breeders to improve genetic diversity? Do they agree with the creator’s original vision for the breed? Did they get their dogs from reputable breeders? How do they ensure that their dogs don’t end up in shelters? Do they offer health guarantees? Are they doing health and genetic screens and which ones?
There are specific health conditions in the breed. If breeders aren’t checking for those health problems, you could potentially be adopting a puppy that has a genetic defect that could have been avoided by careful breeding. For example, Factor 7 is a blood clotting disease. Good breeders should check their breeding dogs for Factor 7 so they know they’re creating dogs that aren’t affected. If a breeder has two parent dogs that are carriers of this disease, they could produce an affected puppy that could bleed out when getting spayed or neutered. That’s something which is 100% avoidable by doing the health screens.
9) Will Alaskan Klee Kai breeders ask you to fill out an application form?
Most of the good breeders have a very lengthy application that has to be filled out prior to being approved for adoption. It will tell breeders about the environment where the puppy will live. Some breeders will do a phone interview after the application form is submitted. Some breeders may even want to do a video interview.
I ask if an owner has a fence for their backyard because I know Klee Kai like to exercise and run. If a backyard isn’t fenced it, they may not get proper exercise. If someone is living in a condo or townhouse and they don’t have a fenced in backyard, I’ll ask them if they’re prepared to take their dogs on walks at least two or three times a day. You have to be able to give that dog physical stimulation. I ask beyond the purchase price if they’re willing and able to spend the funds necessary to take care of the dog.
In the first year of a puppy’s life, you may spend a $1000 or more on training, vet care, preventative medicine, toys. There’s boarding if you need to go out of town. There are a lot of expenses involved with having a dog that some people don’t consider before adopting. Overall, the goal is to make sure a new puppy owner is really screened with the best of the ability of the breeder to ensure a loving and safe environment for the dog and the lifetime of the dog.
10) What questions should potential owners ask breeders?
It’s important for owners to ask about what health tests have been done on the parents. Even ask for proof of those health tests. Do they do CHIC certification and how often? Ask for proof of registration with UKC. They should ask about the parents’ overall temperament. What’s their personality like? Do they like people? Do they like dogs? What environment are the parents kept in? Are they in a home or a kennel? How much human interaction do they have? Information about the dog’s lifestyle.
A potential adopter or buyer should ask about health guarantees and health warranties. It should be spelled out in a contract so there is a legal resource that explains what is expected. The adopter or buyer should ask about what the breeder recommends for food, grooming, play and training. They should also ask about how previous litters have turned out and not shy away from asking the breeder for references!
11) Is microchipping important?
In both situations, for the breeder and the purchaser, microchipping is really important. An adopter should ask if the breeder microchips their dogs. If the dog gets lost, how do we figure out who the dog belongs to? For me and my dogs, everyone single puppy that leaves my house is microchipped before it goes to its new home. I allow my puppy owner to register the microchip in their name, but by contract, I’m listed as the second contact.
If my puppy owner is on vacation and their puppy gets out because the dog walker accidentally lets them out, and then animal control takes it, they find the microchip and get the contact information for the owner but they can’t answer so they call me, you better believe I’ll be making a plan to get that dog. The dogs produced from my breeding program are my responsibility for the entire lifetime of the dog. I want to know the puppy owners feel the same way about their dog. If their dog escapes, they should be willing to move heaven [and earth] to get that dog home safe and make sure it will never end up abandoned or in a shelter.
12) How do you know if you’re dealing with a potential scam?
The number one way to tell if you’re encountering a scam is through that UKC registration. Most dogs that are sold on general websites or in a pet shop don’t have UKC registration. You should walk way immediately! The UKC registration information should be available in the contract for purchasing the dog. You can also look up health tests by UKC registration on the OFA website – that’s one way to know the dogs are truly health tested and UKC registered. You can ask for a copy of the pedigree. It has the UKC seal on it, you’re good.
I would find it hard to believe anyone who is breeding UKC registered dogs would not be forthcoming with UKC registration information. In contrast, anyone who is not breeding UKC dogs will have a very quick excuse as to why. Scammers or puppy mills might tell you Alaskan Klee Kai aren’t recognised as a pure breed – but they are. Or they could tell you they’re registered with a different registry. There are companies that will provide registry for any dog that you want to register. I say ‘dog’ but you could probably register a duck and call it a dog – they’d never know the difference. There is a lot of fake registries online where you can key in some generic information and pay for a nice printed certificate to be mailed out.
13) Where can you find a list of Alaskan Klee Kai breeders?
The AKKAOA website has a “Find a Breeder” directory. People interested in getting on a waitlist or purchasing a puppy can contact breeders directly. Fill out the application, get on their waitlist. There are only about 50 on that list. I can only vouch for those people because they’ve signed a code of ethics. If someone hasn’t signed a code of ethics, they may be breeding purebred dogs but perhaps they don’t want to be publicly be held accountable for their programs or maybe they just don’t want to be part of the club.
There is a Facebook group called ‘Available Alaskan Klee Kai dogs and puppies”. It’s a public group and breeders from all around the world will post puppies that are available in that group. In order for a breeder to post in the group, the dog has to be UKC registered. They’ve got to list the registration information on the group post. It is a public Facebook group but has nothing to do with AKKAOA so I can’t vouch for every breeder who posts there. That’s the only place people can go to find puppies available right now that are guaranteed to be UKC registered outside of getting on a specific breeder’s wait list.
14) What would be the key messaging you’d like AKK owners on Instagram to get across to potential buyers?
The very first thing you’ll see if you visit the AKKAOA website is if you’re looking to for an Alaskan Klee Kai, please buy a registered one. Paperwork may not be important to someone buying a puppy, but what it represents is incredibly important. That is the thing I’d recommend AKK owners [on Instagram] have in their back pocket [when asked about where to get an AKK]. We ask they support the efforts of good ethical breeders by telling potential buyers to purchase a purebred dog. Point them in the direction of the breeder list on AKKAOA website and the Facebook group with a list of puppies.
15) Finally, can anyone join AKKAOA?
Any AKK pet owner or anyone who is interested and likes the breed are welcome to join AKKAOA. You don’t have to own a Klee Kai. AKKAOA is just a breed club that is engaged in promoting the welfare of the breed and educating the public. It’s only $25 a year for an individual member. There are some nice benefits you can get for becoming a member too. Everyone that joins the club gets a membership packet and inside is a lot of information. There’s also a leash that you can put on your dog that says, “I’m an Alaskan Klee Kai”. When you’re out walking and you get asked what kind of dog is that, you can just show them. You also get a subscription to an email newsletter that we do every other month. It has great information in it about the breed and events that are coming up. It’s a great community! The members care about the breed and work together to see it advanced in a manner that is appreciated and admired.