Alaskan Klee Kai are often confused for Siberian Husky puppies.
However, these little dogs are a breed in their own right after originating in Alaska in the 1970s.
Alaskan Klee Kai were bred to be companion dogs rather than Siberian Huskies, who are considered a working breed.
While the American Kennel Club include Siberian Huskies in their working group, they haven’t granted Alaskan Klee Kai status.
The American Rare Breeds Association and United Kennel Club do recognise Alaskan Klee Kai (often abbreivated to Klee Kai or AKK) as a breed.
In this article, we’re going to look at Alaskan Klee Kai vs Siberian Husky, including their history, size, appearance and personality.
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What is Alaskan Klee Kai?
Alaskan Klee Kai were started in the 1970s in Alaska. An American named Linda Spurlin came across an undersized husky during a visit to family in Colorado. Spurlin ended up adopting the dog called Curiosity, who was the result of breeding between an Alaskan Husky and a small dog.
Motivated by the attention Curiosity received back in Alaska, Spurlin set about trying to recreate her celebrity canine.
She lists Alaskan Husky as the foundation of her Alaskan Klee Kai breed: “the Alaskan Husky is a mixture of the best, and so was the creation of the Alaskan Klee Kai”. Spurlin used Siberian Husky, American Eskimo Dog and Schipperke to refine her Alaskan Klee Kai.
Initially reluctant to commercially breed these dogs, Spurlin sold her first Alaskan Klee Kai in 1987.
In her own words, she created Alaskan Klee Kai to be “a beloved little companion dog” but it wasn’t long before these dogs were being shown in competition.
The Alaskan Klee Kai has received full recognition by the Federation of International Canines, the American Rare Breed Association, Canine Rarity Shows and United Kennel Club. However, the American Kennel Club haven’t granted AKK status yet.
What is Siberian Husky?
While the Alaskan Klee Kai is a relatively new breed of dogs, the Siberian Husky’s history can be traced back to the Chukchi people in the north eastern region of Russia. They played a significant role in the lives of these indigenous people given their ability to travel great distances thanks to their awesome endurance.
These Siberian dogs didn’t make their way to the United States until the turn of the 20th century. They were used as sled dogs during the gold rush in 1908 as they went up against the versatile Alaskan Husky.
The breed achieved international notoriety for their vital role in the “Race For Life” in 1928 when 20 mushers and 150 sled dogs travelled 674 miles over five-and-a-half days to bring medicine to diphtheria serum to Nomum. The lead dog for the final leg, Balto, has a statue in New York City to recognise his achievements.
The AKC rate these dogs as the 12th most popular in the USA (as of 2019).
Alaskan Klee Kai vs Siberian Husky
So we know now that Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies are two different breeds, even though Spurlin used some of these Russian dogs to develop her companion-sized pups.
In order to get a better understanding of the differences between these two dogs, we need to look at the different physical attributes.
Alaskan Klee Kai size
Alaskan Klee Kai come in three different sizes: standard, miniature and toy.
The United Kennel Club write on their website:
“Alaskan Klee Kai remain a small to medium-sized dog. Height is measured from the withers to the ground. An Alaskan Klee Kai should not appear heavy or too thin. Weight should be proportionate to height.”
Standard are usually between 15 and 17 inches in height, while they can weigh up to 20 pounds. AKK over the listed size and weight are considered oversize (or a breed fault).
Miniature range from 13 to 15 inches tall, while they weigh between 10 to 20 pounds. Toy-sized Alaskan Klee Kai can grow to a height of up to 13 inches and can weight around 10 pounds.
Siberian Husky size
The AKC describes the Siberian Husky as a medium-sized dog.
Males will be between 21 and 24 inches (53 and 61 cm) tall. They should weigh around 45 and 60 pounds (20 and 27 kg).
Females are slightly smaller at 20 to 22 inches (51 to 56 cm) tall and weigh a little less between 35 to 50 pounds (16 to 23 kg).
Alaskan Klee Kai appearance
Alaskan Klee Kai come in three main color patterns: black and white, grey and white and red and white.
There are subcategories within these colors and the UKC write that “all coat colors acceptable provided that the facial mask is distinct and clearly visible and there is a contrasting
lighter color on the dog’s throat, chest, breeches, feet, legs and unders”.
AKK can have eyes in any color, although blue, brown and green tend to be most common. Alaskan Klee Kai can have bi-eyes (two different color eyes) or parti-eye (one eye with two different colors). They should be almond-shaped with black rims. Liver color rims are acceptable in red and white Klee Kai.
Their coat should be “well furred” to give the appearance of a sled dog like Alaskan Husky or Siberian Husky. They should have bushy tails.
Siberian Husky appearance
Siberian Huskies are most commonly found with four main colors: black and white, copper/red and white, grey and white, sage and white and all-white.
According to the AKC breed standard, they should have blue or brown eyes, one of each or parti-eye like Alaskan Klee Kai.
Siberian Huskies should have a well furred coat but it shouldn’t grow so long that you’re unable to tell the body shape of the dog.
Alaskan Klee Kai vs Siberian Huskies: Similarities
Escape artists: Both Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies have earned reputations for being escape artists. If you decide one of these breeds is right for you, you’ll need to make sure your garden or backyard is securely fenced. If there’s a way out, they’ll inevitably find it.
Poor recall: Just like the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Klee Kai have a high prey drive. That means these dogs will easily roam off the leash and get distracted by a small animal to chase. Their recall isn’t great, so it’s recommended that you keep both breeds on the leash.
Shed a lot: Given both of these types of dogs have double coats, it should be no surprise they’re big shedders. They’re outer coat will shed throughout the year, but the inner coat will blow out twice a year at the change of the seasons.
Alaskan Klee Kai vs Siberian Huskies: Differences
Alaskan Klee Kai shy/Siberian Huskies social: Alaskan Klee Kai can sometimes be shy around strangers so they need a lot of socialisation from a young age to get them used to meeting new people. Siberian Huskies, on the other hand, are a social breed that do well around people they don’t know.
Watch dogs/guard dogs: As medium-sized dogs, Siberian Huskies can make good guard dogs given their appearance and size could be enough to put off unwanted visitors. Alaskan Klee Kai are too small to act as guard dogs but they’re very alert so can make good watch dogs.
Alaskan Klee Kai more trainable than Siberian Huskies: Alaskan Klee Kai are smart dog that are eager to please and can be food motivated. While some members of the breed can be stubborn, training from an early age can help their development. Siberian Huskies are usually recommended for experienced dog owners with a lot of patience as they can be aloof, easily distracted and stubborn.
Alaskan Klee Kai price
Alaskan Klee Kai usually cost between $1500 and $3000 depending on each individual breeder. AKK pups could cost more depending on their coat color, eye color or size. Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America can provide information about respected breeders in the USA.
Siberian Husky price
Given Siberian Huskies are more common than Alaskan Klee Kai, it’s no surprise they’re a little cheaper. You should expect to pay between $800 and $1000 for a Siberian Husky puppy. The price could vary depending on their color, too. You could also consider contacting a rescue organization such as Husky House to rehome a husky that needs a forever home.
Anything else to consider?
While Alaskan Klee Kai are often confused for Siberian Husky puppies, they can also be mistakenly described as Mini Huskies.
Mini Huskies are Siberian Huskies that have been purposefully bred to be smaller in size (although it can happen inadvertently too).
So there you have it, Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies are two different breeds of dog.
While Siberian Huskies were used to create the AKK, the United Kennel Club recognise them as a breed of their own.
With some similarities in terms of color, there is a big difference in size. They share some of the same personality traits but differ in many ways too.