Small, smart, and energetic, the Alaskan Klee Kai is a relatively new breed that looks like a smaller version of the Siberian Husky. Even the name “Klee Kai” comes from an Inuit term meaning “small dog.”
While Alaskan Klee Kais may resemble larger Husky breeds, they have some key differences, especially when it comes to temperament, that distinguish it from its ancestor working class dogs of the north. This breed is more suited to the life of a companion; although, the Alaskan Klee Kai shares the high energy of the Husky and demands plenty of exercise.
They also tend to be shy around strangers and are prone to expressing their emotions with whines and barks. An inexperienced pet parent would find it difficult to take on the challenge of caring for an Alaskan Klee Kai. But for an adopter who keeps up with training and physical activity, this breed is sweet, loyal, and happy to shower loved ones with affection.
See below for full list of dog breed traits and facts about Alaskan Klee Kais!
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Companion DogsHeight:13 to 17 inchesWeight:10 to 15 poundsLife Span:12 to 16 years
More About This Breed
Unlike the Alaskan and Siberian Huskies they are descended from, Alaskan Klee Kais are meant to be companion dogs, rather than working animals that pull sleds. While they look similar to Huskies, Alaskan Klee Kais have some obvious differences in temperament, including their wariness of strangers. While they don’t care for unfamiliar faces, they are very loving family dogs, and their constant vigilance makes them good watchdogs. Alaskan Klee Kais adore attention from their humans and are eager to please, which makes them highly trainable. Though they are a relatively new breed that is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, they are recognized by several other kennel clubs, and many breed standards have been established. That said, there is still variation among dogs within the breed, and some breeders are working to change less desirable temperament traits, such as skittishness. Alaskan Klee Kais are not bred by many, so they still remain a fairly rare breed throughout the world.
- The words “Klee Kai” come from an Inuit term meaning “small dog,” which is appropriate for this breed that is a smaller version of its Husky ancestors.
- The breed hails from Alaska where it was developed in the 1970s and 1980s to be a companion dog, rather than a working sled dog.
- Although it is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, Alaskan Klee Kais are a recognized breed in the United Kennel Club and the American Rare Breed Association among others.
- Solid white Alaskan Klee Kais do exist, but breed standards do not include this coat color.
- Although they can shed a lot, Alaskan Klee Kais do not require much grooming and mostly take care of themselves.
- Because they are skittish around strangers, these dogs require early socialization training that should last for the rest of their lives if they are to be friendly to unfamiliar faces.
- The high prey drive of the Alaskan Klee Kai may make them ill suited for homes with other small pets such as cats, rabbits, hamsters, etc. Though they love their human families, small children that are not taught how to interact with dogs may inadvertently hurt Alaskan Klee Kais during play or provoke them to nip or snap.
The Alaskan Klee Kai hails from Wasilla, Alaska where it was developed by a woman named Linda S. Spurlin and her family. She wanted to create a smaller type of Husky that could serve as a companion dog after she saw a small version of a Siberian Husky in Oklahoma, so when she returned to Alaska, she got to work creating the dog that we recognize as the Alaskan Klee Kai today. Unlike some breeders who wish to create smaller breeds, Spurlin did not breed dogs that suffered from dwarfism. Instead, she bred Siberian and Alaskan Huskies with breeds like the Schipperke and Alaskan Eskimo Dog to reduce the size of the puppies. About ten years after unveiling the Alaskan Klee Kai to the public, Spurlin retired from breeding, though other breeders continue to produce theses dogs. Still, they are few in number, and the breed remains rare. As a newer breed, the Alaskan Klee Kai has not been recognized by some kennel clubs, including the American Kennel Club, as a purebred dog, though the breed has been recognized by the American Rare Breed Association since 1995 and the United Kennel Club since 1997.
The Alaskan Klee Kai comes in toy, miniature, and standard sizes, though there isn’t much difference between these sizes. Toy Alaskan Klee Kais are up to 13 inches tall, while miniatures are 13 to 15 inches in height, and standards are 15 to 17 inches. Most Alaskan Klee Kais are between 10 and 15 pounds, though there can be some as small as 5 pounds or as large as 22 pounds.
Alaskan Klee Kais are intelligent, energetic, and loving to their families. They don’t much care for strangers and require lifelong socialization training if they are to be friendly to new people. Their wariness of new faces does, however, make them excellent watchdogs.
When it comes to training, Alaskan Klee Kais are quick to pick up on basic commands and may even find themselves at the top of the class. They are eager to please and highly food motivated, and they are more than capable of taking on agility training, which can help burn off some of their high energy throughout the day. Once they have at least a good, long walk and a healthy play session, they’re usually happy to spend the rest of the day being couch potatoes, but neglect their exercise needs, and they may become bored, anxious, and destructive. Be careful on walks, as these dogs have a high prey drive that may cause them to bolt if they see wildlife.
Alaskan Klee Kais love to be the centers of attention in their families, but they will also be vocal when their needs are not being met. Though they do not tend to be overly mouthy and are generally quieter than their Husky forbears, they will bark and whine to express their displeasure, and they can be sensitive.
The Alaskan Klee Kai is considered to be quite a healthy breed with few genetic problems. However, owners should be aware that the breed is predisposed to certain conditions that they should keep an eye out for, including luxating patella, thyroid disease, heart conditions, liver shunts, factor VII deficiency, and cataracts. They may also keep their baby teeth, which can cause problems when adult teeth grow in. They may need to have these teeth removed.
When it comes to Alaskan Klee Kai care, it is very important to make sure their exercise needs are met, as they may become high strung and anxious if they do not have an outlet to burn off energy. Like any dog breed, they require regular teeth brushings, nail clippings, and ear cleanings. You should ask your veterinarian about your dog’s specific needs.
Alaskan Klee Kais are high energy dogs that need a diet that will fuel them throughout the day. Although their energetic nature makes their potential for weight gain fairly low, they need to maintain appropriate nutrition to stay healthy. You should consult your veterinarian or a professional nutritionist for insight on how to meet your Alaskan Klee Kais individual dietary needs.
Coat Color And Grooming
There are three coat colors recognized as breed standards for the Alaskan Klee Kai. These include red and white, black and white, or gray and white, though solid white Alaskan Klee Kais have also been seen. These coats can be standard or full-coat. Both are double coats, meaning there is a short, soft undercoat and a longer, coarser outer coat that protect dogs from extreme weather.
Unlike many other breeds, Alaskan Klee Kais do not usually develop a dog odor, and they generally like to groom themselves, so they may not need to bathe as frequently as some other dogs. They will likely need regular brushing during the seasons in which their coats blow out, which happens before summer and winter. During this time, they tend to shed profusely, while they only shed moderately the rest of the year.
Children And Other Pets
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a dedicated family dog that loves its humans, even children. However, they are small dogs, and children that are very young are not always taught how to interact with animals. They may injure or provoke Alaskan Klee Kais to nip. Children should always be supervised when playing with dogs, and the Alaskan Klee Kai is no exception to that rule.
Alaskan Klee Kais are usually good with other dogs, especially if they have been socialized early on, though they have a high prey drive. This makes them ill suited for homes that have smaller pets unless they are specifically trained to live with them.
If you wish to rescue or adopt an Alaskan Klee Kai, you should check out Alaskan Klee Kai National Rescue, a group that takes in Alaskan Klee Kais and provides them with foster homes, training, and veterinary care while they wait for forever homes.