Nordic Mini Husky is one of the leading Alaskan Klee Kai breeders in the USA.
Brenda Tobin runs Nordic Mini Husky from her two bases in southern California and southern Oregon.
Nordic Mini Husky have a thriving Facebook community where current owners regularly share their adorable photos with fellow Klee Kai parents.
My Alaskan Klee Kai Copper and Skye are also Nordic Mini Huskies.
I spoke to Brenda about her Alaskan Klee Kai / Nordic Mini Huskies to learn more about how she became a breeder, the care and effort that goes into raising puppies and her tips for Klee Kai owners.
Here are the different ways you can reach Nordic Mini Husky:
Where are you based in the USA?
I have two bases: Southern California and Southern Oregon. I’ve got three of my babies at my sisters and three of them at my sister’s best friend in southern California. My Mom is up here [in Oregon] with me a lot, but lives in southern California and she has three of my babies as well. The reason my babies are not with me is because they bonded with people in those families so I let them live there as the happiness of my doggies is the most important aspect of my breeding program. I passionately believe my dogs are pets first. If people ever want dogs in California, I just drive the puppies down when they’re eight weeks to go to their new families.
How did you first hear about Alaskan Klee Kai?
My ex always wanted a Bulldog and I knew that Bulldogs weren’t healthy through reading up on the American Kennel Club. So I started to do some research and I found out the United Kennel Club bred the dogs closer to what they used to be like in the early 21st century. They’ve got a lot less health problems. So that’s when I found out about the United Kennel Club. I understood they had a lot of rare breeds not recognised by American Kennel Club. I was bored one day at work and I looked up the UKC’s website. The Alaskan Klee Kai popped up and I thought ‘what the heck is that?!’. I opened it up and I had to have an Alaskan Klee Kai. I started my research that day and I had my first Alaskan Klee Kai [Kaleah] within a year.
Why did you decide to start breeding Alaskan Klee Kai?
I got Kaleah while I worked from home. I played with her all the time but I could never outplay her. By the time she made it to eight months old, I decided I had to get her a friend. So I went back to the breeder and I wanted a girl. She convinced me to get this boy [Jordan] because she loved him and she was going to keep the stud rights. It was the best thing she convinced me to do. I started to show the dogs and that’s where I really got hooked. I was convinced I could breed really nice dogs to take to the shows due to already having 20 years experience breeding Arabian Show Horses.
What are the personalities of Kaleah and Jordan like? Are they representative of the breed?
Kaleah was very representative of the breed when I first got her. She was so scared I’d have to move my bed to get her out from under it. I worked with her and now she loves people – but it took a while. Jordan just loved people period. I love Jordan. I’d have a billion Jordans. He’s easy going, he loves meeting strangers, he’s not aggressive to my other male dogs, and he gets along with everybody. After having him, I started to focus on breeding dogs with his type of personality.
What are pros and cons of being a breeder?
I love it [being a breeder]. I feel like that because I really have it down. I’ve got the system figured out. For the first few years, it was hard. As I added more girls to my breeding program, I’d have more litters. I used to use the potty pads – that was a pain in the butt! They’d always pee or poop on the edge of it. They’d drag it across the room, or play with it. I was worried they’d choke on the plastic and suffocate! When I picked up Apollo (Skye and Copper’s Dad) from Bette Cook (Huggable Huskies in Oregon), she told me about the litter box training. It was a learning curve to figure that out so they’d go in the litter box. It’s something you can hide if you don’t want them to go in the house. My dogs will poop in the litter box rather than going outside if given the choice. I do have to mention that breeding is really hard because there is a lot of heartache involved with puppies being born with issues that cause them not to live long. Or you will have a weak puppy born where you are up every two hours feeding to make sure they make it, which they don’t always. This is a con of breeding but I feel the love I get from my Klee Kai outweighs the times that my heart is broken.
Is it expensive being a breeder?
It’s extremely expensive. I go through a lot of litter that is very expensive. I feed organic dog food which is very expensive. They get daily treats and vitamins. They get a TON of doggie toys (though cardboard boxes are their favorite). My dogs go to the vet whenever they need it because I am over cautious about their health. If there’s one watery eye, I go to the vet. I health test my dogs, I do the deworming and vaccination. All the puppies go to the vet before they go home with their new families where they are checked nose to tail and issued a healthy puppy certificate. It’s not cheap but I love it!
I feel it’s important when raising puppies they’re raised in your home as a part of the family. So my mom dogs give birth in my bedroom in their crate. This is where they will stay for the first 4 weeks of the puppies’ lives so that I can keep a very close eye on them. So day one through five the moms only want to stay in the crate with their babies. After day five I take off the front door of the crate and put a chewy box with towels in front of the crate. This way the moms can get out of their crate but stay close to their babies. The box keeps the puppies inside. When the puppies are about 3 weeks old I replace the towels with litter to start the puppies training to go in litter boxes. I pick up the puppies all through out the day from day one so that they will not be afraid of people. At three, weeks the puppies are starting to play, growl and walk. At about four weeks, I move the puppies to a bigger area with litter boxes so they have room to play, exercise and they start to meet all the adult dogs through the playpen. I also start taking them out to play daily. At five weeks, they’ll spend a lot of time out of their home den area playing with the adults or any other litters. They still go back to their home area at night because the moms want them home so they can sleep with them. By seven weeks, the puppies all live, play and sleep together. The moms still check on them, play and maybe nurse them but pretty much they just sit up on the couch or bed watching over their babies.
Do you have tips for shy Alaskan Klee Kai?
I try to really socialise the puppies – I have a lot of people over and have puppy parties. I borrow my friends’ kids a lot so the puppies get use to being around a lot of activity, noise and the kids hold them. Some dogs are shy naturally but you can work with them to get them out of it. Sometimes they grow out of it. My recommendation is to boil chicken, dry it out, cut it into tiny pieces. You can hold your shy puppy in your arms, take him/her out in public for a week or two, don’t let anyone touch your puppy but ask everyone to give them a treat. After a week or two, get everyone to give them a treat and then pet their chin [not their head]. Once you’ve done that for a week or two, give them to anyone who will hold him and have them give your puppy a treat. I did that with Kaleah. Now if you sit down on the ground or anywhere in my house, she’ll claim your lap as her own!
How many emails do you get a day from people wanting a Klee Kai puppy?
I get around 5 emails a day – maybe more.
What is your advice to someone interested in a Klee Kai?
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.
What are the key things to remember about owning an Alaskan Klee Kai?
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.
Any other tips to help train Klee Kai?
You can spoil your dog but you have to have boundaries. One of my biggest tips is squirt bottles. You can cure almost all Klee Kai problems with a squirt bottle! You can add a little bit of vinegar to the water if you need to. I learned that because I had a big dog jumping on everybody, and no matter how many times I corrected her, she wouldn’t listen. I went to a trainer and they taught me to use the squirt bottle.
How many Nordic Mini Husky Klee Kai are there?
There are probably a couple hundred. I have been a breeder now for 11 years. So I have built up my program so that I have quite a few breeding dogs. I am okay with having as many Klee Kai as I do since all my dogs are house dogs. They all live in my home together as a big family. I raise my puppies in my home amongst all the adults. All my babies sleep on my bed, we go walking daily on my 50 acres. They enjoy lots of outdoor play time, including long runs on the quad. I make sure all my dogs get individual love time daily where I pet, kiss and play with them. In fact, sometimes I will wake up in the morning and just sit in bed for an hour or more loving on my babies.
How does it feel to see such a big Nordic Mini Husky community?
I am rather amazed and very humble at the size of the Nordic community. I have meet some of my best friends to date from them becoming new families for my puppies. In fact, I bought my current house with one of my best friends now whom we meet when he adopted his first Klee Kai from me. I love the closeness of the community plus they are so very willing to help one another with anything Klee Kai.
How far have you sent a Klee Kai puppy or how far have people come to your house to meet your Klee Kai?
I’d say from Europe. I’ve had people from Denmark and England. You’ve got to come and pick your dog up. I’ve sent two dogs to Australia but that’s for a breeder. If it’s a pet Klee Kai, then people have to come and collect from me.
Have you had any famous visitors to Nordic Mini Husky?
I don’t really know famous people by looks or names really (I cannot remember a name to save myself). I treat everyone the same and everyone who has come to get a puppy from me are just the nicest individuals. I’m sure I’ve had famous people pick up their dog because they ask me not to post them on the Nordic Mini Husky Facebook, YouTube or Instagram page. I end up Googling them and they turn out to be kind of famous. For me, it’s all about the home the new family is going to give one of my puppies.
What do you have planned next for Nordic Mini Husky?
I’m planning to start with a camera on the edge of the crate and you can watch the puppies grow up. So I’m figuring out the camera system right now. As they get older, you’ll see them running around the house. My puppy cam will run all day when I figure out how to do the streaming. I want to use a two camera system for the live streaming so trying to figure out which system to use. I am able to run the live cam all day because my puppies have free run of my house once they are old enough that the moms are okay with them commingling. I think I will turn off the cameras when they go to sleep. I’m also going to start posting all of the quad runs with the dogs as I just got a go pro.