Alaskan Klee Kai are a relatively unknown breed that have increased in popularity in recent years, partly thanks to some famous owners of these wonderful dogs.
As an owner of two Alaskan Klee Kai called Copper and Skye (@lifewithkleekai), I’ve done extensive research on the breed and I hope to provide an overview of the breed as well as some of my insights.
Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner, musician Joe Jonas and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick are just three celebrities who own Alaskan Klee Kai.
Often confused for Alaskan or Siberian Husky puppies, Pomskies and even Husky-Chihuahua mixes, the Alaskan Klee Kai breed originated in Alaska in the 1970s.
They come in three different sizes ranging from toy to standard and have a variety of different coat and eye colours to make them stand out.
While these dogs, often dubbed Mini Huskies, may be relatively small in size, they require a lot of attention and exercise given their ancestors are sled dogs.
Alaskan Klee Kai puppies don’t come cheap and like any young dog, they require a lot of training and socialisation to get the best out of this unique breed.
In this article, we’re going to take a close look at the Alaskan Klee Kai breed. We’re going to break up the Klee Kai feature into the following sections:
We’ll hear from Yasmin (@lifewithkleekai), Baylee (@myloveonpaws), Koda (@meetkodapup) and Kira (@kirathealaskankleekai).
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An Introduction To Alaskan Klee Kai
Alaskan Klee Kai remain quite rare given the breed is relatively new. These dogs originated in Alaska, United States in the 1970s.
They bear a resemblance and some of the traits of Siberian Huskies but come in a more manageable package. While they’re relatively small compared to larger sled dogs, Alaskan Klee Kai have big personalities and are highly intelligent.
They come in three sizes: standard, miniature and toy. Alaskan Klee Kai can vary in weight, from 10lbs to 40lbs.
These stunning dogs have three different coat colours: black and white, grey and white, and red and white. The breed has two predominant eye colours, blue and brown, but bi-eyed is not uncommon for Alaskan Klee Kai.
These dogs have reasonably high energy levels so require regular exercise, while their minds need to be stimulated given they’re highly intelligent and enjoy interactions with their owners.
A Brief History Of Alaskan Klee Kai
The Alaskan Klee Kai breed originated in Alaska in the 1970s thanks to creator Linda Spurlin. While many liken this miniature breed to the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Klee Kai are actually ancestors of the Alaskan Husky. Spurlin added a “small dose” of Siberian Husky and used some smaller dogs to develop her original batch of Alaskan Klee Kai. The name is a nod to their Alaskan heritage. Spurlin writes on the Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America’s website that she “derived the name Klee Kai from the Inuit words meaning ‘little dog’. Spurlin, dubbed the developer of the Alaskan Klee Kai, didn’t release her mini huskies to the general public until 1988 when she teamed up with a breeder in Colorado.
While Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies were working dogs, Alaskan Klee Kai were originally bred to be companion dogs. However, it wasn’t long before the breed started to feature in dog shows after Alaskan Klee Kai was officially recognized by the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) in 1995 and by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1997.
What Breeds Were Used To Create Alaskan Klee Kai?
As mentioned above, Alaskan Klee Kai’s direct relatives are Alaskan Husky. However, the breed’s creator Spurlin used a number of other dogs to fine tune their appearance and size. Alaskan Klee Kai feature a small amount of Siberian Husky, which is a breed that originated in Russia and differ slightly to their Alaskan Husky cousins. Spurlin used a small Belgian breed called Schipperke to reduce the size of the Klee Kai, while the breed does contain American Eskimo Dog. There have been over 15 generations of UKC registered Alaskan Klee Kai. The only way to create an Alaskan Klee Kai is breeding two Alaskan Klee Kai.
Alaskan Klee Kai Size And Weight
Alaskan Klee Kai come in three different sizes: standard, miniature and toy.
The breed’s standard size are over 15 inches and up to 17 inches, while they can weigh up to 20 pounds. Miniature Alaskan Klee Kai are over 13 inches and up to 15 inches, usually weighing between 14 to 20 pounds. The toy size are up to 13 inches and can weigh as little as 10 pounds. Alaskan Klee Kai that exceed 17 inches are generally considered oversize.
Most Alaskan Klee Kai puppies weigh less than 10 pounds at the six-month mark and can go through an awkward phase where their legs are long and skinny, but haven’t gained a lot of weight. They will fill out and become less skinny. The breed generally stop growing in height when they reach one.
Alaskan Klee Kai Colors
Generally, Alaskan Klee Kai have three main colurs. The breed can come in black and white, grey and white and red and white.
Black and white Alaskan Klee Kai are sometimes described as jet black/stark black and white or dilute black/salt and pepper black and white.
Grey and white Alaskan Klee Kai can be called either dark/wolf grey and white or light/silver and white.
Alaskan Klee Kai that are red and white can appear in a color that is dark red and white or a cinnamon red and white.
Let’s take a look at what the Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America’s website says about these dogs.
Mostly they [Klee Kai] are being born black and white, grey and white, a few red and white, occasionally white (from the American Eskimos) and darks (from the Schipperke). We do not have a lot of pups going oversized (over 17 ½”), but there are still some.
Like Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, the Alaskan Klee Kai have a double coat – an inner coat and outer coat. They will shed their inner coat twice a year, which requires frequent brushing to dislodge loose dog hair.
The breed have a variety of eye colors. You can get blue or brown eyed Alaskan Klee Kai, while some will have mesmerising bi-eyes or a parti-eye.
The Alaskan Klee Kai have a mask on their face, which coupled with their blue, brown or bi-eyes, gives them their dramatic and striking look, similar to Alaskan and Siberian Huskies.
Alaskan Klee Kai have a tail that curls over, usually flopping towards the left or right.
Alaskan Klee Kai Temperament
Alaskan Klee Kai are highly intelligent like their larger cousins. Given their intelligence, they can be easily trained and make good watch dogs, alerting their owners to movement or noises outside their home. These miniature dogs are good at agility training given their athletic frames, impressive IQ and high energy levels.
However, their intelligence also requires that Alaskan Klee Kai are well trained to prevent these dogs from outsmarting their owners. They are known to develop a sense of humour and even play tricks on their humans!
They tend to be very curious, which makes them a genuine flight risk. Alaskan Klee Kai can be prey driven and will chase small animals and vermin if allowed to roam off the leash. Some breeders will recommend avoid walking these dogs off leash to protect their safety. Indeed, they are often described as escape artists. It is recommended that you only allowed Alaskan Klee Kai off the leash within a fenced area. They are also considered expert climbers and diggers. Having said that, some Klee Kai owners have successfully trained their dogs in recall.
Given Spurlin started the breed as companion dogs, Alaskan Klee Kai quickly become attached to their owners. They will rarely stray from their side. The AKKAOA’s website says:
They became part of the pack unit. They prefer to be with their caregiver, wherever that may be.
Unlike Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, they tend to be quite shy and skittish around strangers, so Klee Kai need to be socialised from a young age to get them accustomed to meeting different people and different situations.
It is advisable that Klee Kai pups attend socialisation classes to become familiar with other dogs, while it’s a good idea to introduce your AKK to as many people throughout their lives to improve and maintain their social skills. Indeed, they will warm up and become very loving once their trust is earned, making them good therapy dogs.
Are Alaskan Klee Kai Smart Dogs?
Alaskan Klee Kai tend to be pretty smart dogs that can be quick to outsmart their owners. It’s a good idea to train your Alaskan Klee Kai from a young age to ensure they learn basic commands.
Kouki the Alaskan Klee Kai provided us with an insight into the high IQ of the breed.
AKK are very very smart. They’re easy to train when it comes to tricks, but they do everything on their own terms. This makes obedience training difficult. It took us a very long time to get him trained to how he is now, and we still struggle with a few things.
Are Alaskan Klee Kai Easy To Train?
Alaskan Klee Kai can be quite challenging to train because they’re independent thinkers who can have a stubborn streak. In my experience owning two Alaskan Klee Kai, I’ve found recall training challenging. These mini huskies can have a high prey drive, which means recall training is important.
Yasmin found that Copper and Skye have been challenging to train in some ways.
Yes and no. Klee Kai are SMART. Skye was fully potty trained within less than two weeks of bringing her home – Copper took a little longer but all in all, we have our breeder to thank for that. She has raised so many AKKs and really knows the breed inside out and was able to give us some great tips. Apart from being smart, Alaskan Klee Kai can also be incredibly stubborn. Skye is stubborn, and she is also NOT food motivated. That combination is lethal when it comes to training because there are a lot of days where you feel like you aren’t making any progress. But one thing we’ve learned with her is that consistency is key, and eventually you will get there. Copper, on the other hand, is food motivated, so it makes training a little easier but all in all, I’d say this breed requires a lot of time and consistency when it comes to training. I wouldn’t recommend them to a first time dog owner.
Baylee’s mom gave us an insight into her recall training.
Her recall is only good when she’s on a long leash. But as soon as she’s totally off leash, it’s pretty bad. The worst is when she escapes on her own, so when she runs out of the door or jumps out of the car without permission. In these moments, she’s like a wild animal, she doesn’t listen to any commands, she runs away as soon as you get near her, it’s nearly impossible to catch her.
Kira is pretty good at listening to commands.
She’s doing pretty well but she’s a puppy, so we still have our times when she is a naughty girl. She amazes us with her strategizing and lighting-quick moves to get what she wants. At least she has the courtesy to hide her stash in the same usual places. “LEAVE IT” is something she hears a lot, as is “COME,” especially when in our large backyard. With a high-prey drive and lots of bunnies and lizards to catch, “COME” is something we are still working on. Especially since “COME FOR ICE CREAM” is very effective but not very healthy.
Do Alaskan Klee Kai Howl?
While the breed don’t tend to bark, they will alert their owner to visitors, which makes them good watchdogs. Alaskan Klee Kai are known for their “woo-hoo” noise, which indicates the dog is relaxed and comfortable. These adorable dogs regularly talk back to their owners, once again indicating their intelligence and ability to learn. Like their Spitz relatives, Alaskan Klee Kai do howl but generally aren’t excessively noisy.
Alaskan Klee Kai Health
Alaskan Klee Kai are pretty healthy dogs, having been in existence since the 1970s. The breed is free of genetic defects, although experts believe that as a new breed, it could take time for such issues to come to light.
Male puppies can potentially suffer from cryptorchidism, which is the failure of testicles to move into scrotum, but this is a harmless condition and is only an issue when it comes to breeding.
Another quirk of the breed is that some Klee Kai dogs can retain their puppy teeth, which becomes a problem when the adult teeth emerge. However, this issue can be resolved when the dog is neutered or spayed.
Of course, as with all puppies, it is recommended that your dog follows a vaccination schedule to protect against diseases, such as the deadly Parvovirus.
Alaskan Klee Kai Exercise?
The simple answer is yes. Alaskan Klee Kai are high energy dogs, which is unsurprising given their relation to sled dogs.
As a result, they require moderate to high exercise to prevent these dogs from becoming bored and destructive. They like to play fetch and enjoy long hikes and walks.
If left unsupervised in a backyard, Klee Kai will dig up plants or plan their escape over or under the fence.
If a Mini Husky isn’t getting enough exercise, it won’t be afraid to tell you, either through its actions or talking. Alaskan Klee Kai are suited to agility training given their intelligence and energy levels. The AKKAOA’s website recommends:
They are extremely smart. You will find Alaskan Klee Kai succeeding not only in the conformation ring, but in performance events as well, like Obedience, Agility, Rally-O, Nosework and Weight Pull. They excel in dog sports, like Nose Work and Barn Hunt, two of the newest activities where you find Alaskan Klee Kai getting involved.
Klee Kai will generally live to at least 10, while they have been known to live as long as 15 or 20 years.
Baylee’s mom provided hellobark.com readers with an insight into their exercise regimen.
She’s a super calm dog when we’re at home, so far I’ve never experienced her require any exercise, as long as we’re inside she’s sleeping all day. On a normal week day we’re outside for about one and a half hour, but of course there are also days on which our walkies are only about 30 minutes. But I don’t really think she has any problems with that. On the other hand, she can run the whole day without getting tired. So we love to do long hikes on the weekends.
Do Alaskan Klee Kai Suffer From Separation Anxiety?
While Alaskan Klee Kai are loyal companion dogs, many do suffer from separation anxiety. According to Wikipedia, this is defined as “a condition in which a dog exhibits distress and behavior problems when separated from its handler”. Alaskan Klee Kai can suffer from varying degrees of separation anxiety. This can manifest itself as excessive barking, relentless crying, screaming or even urinating.
If Alaskan Klee Kai are placed in their crate during this period of separation, they have been known to chew their dog bed to shreds, rip up blankets or destroy clothing. Naturally, seeing your dog in such a distressed state can be disturbing for owners, while separation anxiety can also become a problem for those who have neighbours in close proximity. We recommend talking to your vet or an experienced dog trainer on ways to tackle separation anxiety with your Alaskan Klee Kai.
Baylee has suffered with some separation anxiety issues in the past.
Yeah she does. When I got her I immediately started to train to leave her alone and it worked really well. But as I’m still living with my parents, there’s someone at home most of the time so she doesn’t really have any routine of being alone at home. Somehow it’s kind of okay for her to be alone at home when my parents are the ones who leave her alone. But when I’m the last one who’s leaving the house, she’s whining and howling all of the time.
Kira is another Alaskan Klee Kai who has struggled with separation anxiety.
From day one, Kira showed anxiety over a variety of things despite coming from a wonderful breeder who works hard with her pups. At first, we couldn’t leave the room let alone the house without major stress. Now, she happily spends time alone in other rooms of the house (easier to get into stuff without mom watching), but she still becomes very upset when I leave the house. Given her anxious nature, our concerns for her safety, lots of available family members to watch her, and a home under renovation, Kira is rarely left alone. And since she’s so well-behaved and welcome almost everywhere, it’s been too easy to take her with us. But I know it needs to change for her sake, and ours, so we’re working on it.
Proving that all Alaskan Klee Kai are different, Koda has never suffered from this chronic canine condition.
Everything I hear from other AKK owners is that yes, they do suffer with separation anxiety. But we never experienced that with Koda – even as young as eight weeks old when we left her in her crate for short trial runs. We believe this is because her breeder prides himself on crate training his pups right away.
Alaskan Klee Kai Price
Alaskan Klee Kai can cost between $1500 and $3000 from reputable breeders. The price of an Alaskan Klee Kai can depend on their coat colour or their eye colour. It is best to avoid generic websites such as Craiglist and Puppyfinder.com if you have a genuine interest in buying a Klee Kai.
We recommend visiting the AKKAOA’s website and checking out the list of 50 breeders who have signed up to the organisation’s code of ethics.
Most reputable UKC breeders will have waitlists of varying lengths due to demand. The breeder will usually ask potential buyers to fill out a lengthy questionnaire before being placed on the waitlist.
There are many hidden costs when it comes to owning an Alaskan Klee Kai, as with any puppy. Firstly, there is transportation if you’re unable to collect your puppy from the breeder. Naturally, Klee Kai will require their full schedule of vaccinations to protect against potential diseases.
Alaskan Klee Kai can have sensitive stomachs, so nausea and diarrhea is not uncommon when you switch your Klee Kai to a new diet for the first time. The breed can also be fussy eaters, which can make feeding these dogs a new diet a challenge.
Of course, like humans, dogs require a complete and balanced to give them the possible chance of a healthy and long life. Check out our recommendations in terms of dog food.
RELATED: The eight best dog food delivery companies
Alaskan Klee Kai Breeders
If you’re looking for an Alaskan Klee Kai breeder, you should consult with AKKAOA.org. The organization list the Alaskan Klee Kai breeders who have signed up their code of ethics, so they’re working to achieve the breed standard as well as happy and healthy pups.
Brenda Tobin, the founder of Nordic Mini Husky, had some advice for dog lovers searching for an Alaskan Klee Kai puppy.
A lot of people are getting scammed. They find out how much an Alaskan Klee Kai cost and they’ll go find one for $1200 or less. The chances are the dog isn’t purebred so you don’t know what the puppy will look like when full grown. You want to get a purebred papered puppy because then you know what your puppy will look like when fully grown, it is in the breed standards. Even if it’s a Klee Kai, if the people who bought the dog never got the papers, they don’t know how closely related they are [to other Klee Kai they may already have]. When you get them from those people, I feel they’re more about the money then caring for the health and well being of the dog and the breed. You also usually end up getting a dog that has a lot of health problems – too. It makes me really sad.
Alaskan Klee Kai can be highly sensitive to pain.
Other potential costs include dog food, pet insurance, grooming, vet trips and much more. You can check out the best pet insurance options in the USA and the UK.
Do Klee Kai Make Good Family Pets?
Given they are significantly smaller than their Alaskan Husky and Siberian Husky relatives, Alaskan Klee Kai make great family pets for those with limited space in a small house or an apartment. However, they will require a lot of exercise to keep their minds stimulated and to burn some of their energy. Alaskan Klee Kai love to receive attention from humans who they trust. They do best with other small pets and young children when introduced as puppies. As mentioned above, Alaskan Klee Kai are cautious and skittish around strangers. Therefore, it is vital to socialise Alaskan Klee Kai as much as possible to help them become great family pets.
Kira is a treasured family pet so her mom was in a good position to answer this question for us.
Alaskan Klee Kai are very loving and their playful nature makes them excellent with families. Their energy matches most kids! Their smaller size makes accidental harm to young children less likely. We’ve seen Kira behave very gently with young children despite having none in our family. If their high energy level scares someone choosing a family pet, I would say that I’ve noticed the AKK to be extremely adaptable to their owner’s lifestyle. Some get tons of attention and exercise all day, everyday. Others get less during the weekdays, and then lots on the weekends. All seem happy.
Koda is another example of an Alaskan Klee Kai who has thrived in a family setting.
It’s true when people say Klee Kai are more like cats than dogs. They set their own agenda, or at least try to. They don’t bark, but they definitely speak. And if they’re feeling really passionate about something, they howl. They’re not exactly guard dogs. Koda barely bats an eye at new people entering our home. They’re fast learners and relatively clean. And you can’t help but fall in love with them!
Do Alaskan Klee Kai Get Along With Other Dogs?
Every member of the Alaskan Klee Kai breed is different. So you’ll find some Klee Kai are who sociable with other dogs, but other AKK will be dog reactive or lack social skills. My Alaskan Klee Kai are still a little dog reactive. Having said that, it’s possible to work on socializing your Klee Kai. It’s a good idea to do so from a young age.
Koda is an example of a Klee Kai who overcame some socialization issues.
Koda is great about letting strangers pet her or other dogs come up to sniff her, but she wasn’t always that way. When she was younger, she was extremely uncomfortable with socializing. We went out of our way to expose her to social environments, including Puppy Play sessions at the pet store, to get her to come out of her shell. At first, she would cower in the corner and shake. Now, she initiates the play!
However, Yasmin provided an insight from the perspective of owning Klee Kai who are dog reactive.
I think this is different based on every dog. AKK are very pack oriented. Both of our dogs are very vocal in general, and they get even more vocal when excited. As you can imagine, their excitement levels sky rocket when they see other dogs. Both Skye and Copper one-on-one with other dogs are great. They play wonderfully and get along with other dogs if they are all off leash or on leash together. That last part is key. They do better with other dogs when they are on their own – this is mostly because Copper has been attacked by bigger dogs a few of times, so when we walk them together, Skye tries to protect him from everything. This is something that we’ve been working on – we’re really trying to build Copper’s confidence and let Skye know that it’s our job to protect them both, not hers.
Do Alaskan Klee Kai Shed?
If the thought of getting the vacuum out daily to hoover up dog hair is a daunting prospect, Alaskan Klee Kai probably aren’t the breed for you. This breed shed a lot, with both an inner and outer coat. The inner coat blows out twice a year, which can be particularly challenging for their owners. Even though these dogs are small, they shed a lot, so be prepared to use a lint roller and a vacuum on a regular basis. However, this issue can be easily remedied if attentive owners brush their Alaskan Klee Kai’s fur.
Famous Alaskan Klee Kai Owners
As owners of Alaskan Klee Kai will attest to, this breed gets a lot of attention, whether you’re going for a hike, a trip downtown or even to the vet.
Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner and her husband Joe Jonas are the most famous Alaskan Klee Kai owners. The celebrity power couple own two Mini Husky dogs called Porky Basquiat and Waldo Picasso.
What can Alaskan Klee Kai owners tell us about the breed?
We welcomed Skye to her forever home in September 2017 before her little brother Copper arrived in March 2018. Skye, who is black and white, didn’t take long to become firm friends with her new red and white sibling. They’re inseparable. We’ve learned that Klee Kai are boisterous when it comes to play time, as well as being quite loud, but we think it’s all part of their charm. Copper and Skye love to go for long hikes in excess of six miles. We have struggled with a couple of issues, namely separation anxiety, but we found leaving the television on, buying a dog camera and even using an oil diffuser have all helped to ease this problem. Overall, we couldn’t be happier with our Alaskan Klee Kai and probably have found our breed for life!
Alaskan Klee Kai Adoption
If you are interested in adopting an Alaskan Klee Kai rather than purchase a puppy, you should contact the Alaskan Klee Kai National Rescue or Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America.
Do Alaskan Klee Kai Make Good Pets?
Brenda of Nordic Mini Husky had some advice for people considering an Alaskan Klee Kai as a pet.
Socialize early on! Take your puppy every where. Expose them to everything you can think of: travel, shopping, air travel, friends homes, car rides and concerts. Whatever you can think of take them there in the first two months of getting your puppy. I don’t agree with putting puppies in a crate unless they’re by your bed at night because it creates more severe separation anxiety. I like them to be loose in the living room and have a few potty boxes because it’ll help with their separation anxiety. Don’t baby them! I think one of the biggest problems is that people baby their Klee Kai and it ends up leading to some poor behavior. Love your Klee Kai but have boundaries plus make them do things they might not want to. Klee Kai are so smart – you only have to correct them once or twice. A lot of Klee Kai problems tend to diminish or disappear when you get a second dog.
Are Alaskan Klee Kai Good Dogs For First-Time Dog Owners?
Yasmin has a word of warning for first-time dog owners.
They are a breed that flourish from someone with previous experience in owning and training a dog. However, if you are a first-time dog owner looking to get a Klee Kai, I would recommend meeting them in person first. The Alaskan Klee Kai community is a social one and regularly hold meet ups in different countries – feel free to message the organizer as I’m sure they’d be happy for you to tag along. If you meet them and really want to get one, invest in a really good trainer from the beginning.
Baylee the Alaskan Klee Kai gave us an insight into what it’s like to own one of these mini huskies.
You always get all of the attention when you’re around people. Everywhere you hear “Is this a husky puppy?”, “Oh look, a mini husky!”, “Look at her eyes!”, “Oh she’s still so small, but she’ll grow a lot!”, “How old is she?”, “She need a lot of exercise right?” and so on…
According to Baylee’s mom, experience with cats can also help if you’re thinking about a Klee Kai as a pet.
If you want to get an Alaskan Klee Kai, you’ll need a lot of patience. I also think experience with cats can be more helpful, than experience with dogs. Baylee definitely is really cat like, and no will to please at all.
Kira’s mom had some advice for potential Alaskan Klee Kai owners – too.
I’d say get a Roomba if they weren’t so expensive. AKK shed a lot and in our experience, the fur doesn’t just blow a few times a year. Also, knowing that the AKK can be prone to shyness, make sure to put in the time to socialize a lot. And lastly, if you’re extremely introverted but still plan to get an AKK, be prepared for lots of unwanted attention. Maybe, a less attractive dog?
Alaskan Klee Kai make great pets. They’re quick learners, eager to please but do require discipline and training to become the great family pets that they can be. A Klee Kai’s high energy drive means regular exercise is necessary, whether it be long walks or trips to the dog park. They are a fundamentally cautious and inquisitive breed, so socialisation is a requirement from a young age to ensure the dogs don’t become shy and skittish. Alaskan Klee Kai make perfect companion pets and great watchdogs if you’re willing to put the work in.