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Alaskan Klee Kai

Nicole Cosgrove

The Alaskan Klee Kai is a small recently developed breed from the US created to look like a Husky but be smaller so more easier to keep as a companion dog. It is a spitz dog and has a life span of 12 to 16 years and was bred in the 1970s. Its name Klee Kai is Inuit for small dog. It is an energetic and smart dog and while it has some things in common with its larger look a likes, its temperament makes it far more suited to being a family dog as long as it gets the exercised it needs. It actually comes in three sizes, toy, miniature and standard.

The Briquet Griffon Vendeen at a Glance
Name Alaskan Klee Kai
Other names Klee Kai
Nicknames AKK, KK
Origin United States
Average size Small
Average weight 5 to 22 pounds
Average height 12 to 17 inches
Life span 12 and 16 years
Coat type Double, short, soft under and longer coarse outer
Hypoallergenic No
Color Red and white, black and white, grey and white, solid white
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Very good
Tolerance to heat Very good
Tolerance to cold Excellent – can even handle extreme cold
Shedding Moderate to heavy with heavy seasonal blow outs – will be hair around the home
Drooling Moderate – not especially prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Moderate – make sure it is well exercised and food is measured
Grooming/brushing Average to above average – brush twice or three times a week, then daily when having blowouts
Barking Occasional to frequent – mix of vocalizations and barking
Exercise needs Moderately active
Trainability Moderately easy to easy to train
Friendliness Good with socialization
Good first dog Moderate – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good but need socialization
Good with other dogs Moderate – socialization essential, supervision also needed
Good with other pets Moderate – socialization essential, has high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate – socialization essential and supervision needed
Good apartment dog Good but does best with a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Healthy breed but is new so long term issues unknown, may be thyroid issues, heart problems and patellar luxation
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $195 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $705 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $2,000
Rescue organizations Alaskan Klee Kai National Rescue, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported “

The Alaskan Klee Kai’s Beginnings

The Alaskan Klee Kai was developed in the 1970s and 1980s by Linda Spurlin in Wasilla, Alaska along with some of her family. Linda was traveling with her husband through Oklahoma to visit family when they saw and fell in love with a small mixed dog from a litter that had been an accidental mix of an Alaskan Husky and a smaller breed. They took the dog they called Curious back to Alaska and Linda decided she wanted to create a breed like this.

Interestingly her brother-in-law had also been working on the recreation of that accidental litter but when he could not find the answer he sold his work to Linda and they worked together. They were not able to work out what the small dog was that had mated with the Alaskan Husky but working through the seventies and into the late 1980s Spurlin eventually had some dogs that showed promise. She used Siberian and Alaskan Huskies as well as American Eskimo Dogs and Schipperke.

At this point she began to focus on breed standards for the breed that focused on its looks, health and temperament. After nearly 20 years she allowed other owners and breeders but if their dogs did not meet breed standards they had to agree to spaying or neutering. When Spurlin decided to step back she sold her dogs to Eileen Gregory a breeder who had also played a role in the breed’s early days. However Spurlin is still involved as an advisor.

New Lease on Life

In 1995 there was a period where for political reasons the breed was split into the Klee Kai and Alaskan Klee Kai but that was resolved in 2002. It has become a very popular companion dog for people who want a dog that looks like a Husky but is more suited to being a companion and easier to look after. The ARBA, American Rare Breed Association recognized them in 1995 and in 1997 it was recognized by the UKC. There are Alaskan Klee Kai fanciers now world wide and the breed is flourishing though it remains rare as its numbers are still low being a new breed. It has not been recognized yet by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Alaskan Klee Kai is a small dog, all three versions of it come in to the small range in fact. The toy variety stands 12 to 13 inches tall, the miniature stands 13 to 15 inches tall and the standard stands 15 to 17 inches tall. Weight ranges from 5 to 22 pounds. The back legs and front legs are straight and parallel. The body is longer by just a little than it is tall giving it a rectangular shape. It has a level topline and its chest is moderately broad. Its feet are oval shaped with thick pads and hair may need trimming between them. Dewclaws are removed and its neck is arched and medium length. The tail is furry carried in a loose curl either on its back or on either side of the body.

The coat is double and can be standard or full. The undercoat is soft and short and the outer is longer and more coarse. The coat offers protection against both extreme heat and cold. The common colors are black and white, grey and white, red and white and solid white though the latter is not accepted in the breed standard. On the face is also some kind of mask.

The head is wedge shaped in proportion and has a moderate stop and the skull is rounded. The muzzle tapers a little and the lips are tightly closed, black or liver in color and the teeth meet in a scissor bite. The nose is black or pink streaked or liver and the eyes are medium sized and almond shaped or oval. Eye rims are liver or black. The ears are erect and triangular shaped and large in size compared to the rest of its head. The tips of the ears are rounded and the ears are very mobile.

The Inner Alaskan Klee Kai


While the Klee Kai may look like the Siberian Husky but smaller, in fact there is quite a difference between them in terms of personality and behavior so do not presume if you are familiar with the larger breed, that you know what this one is like. The KK is wary and even sometimes skittish with strangers so socialization is essential and supervision and proper introductions are needed. It means it is an alert watchdog that will let you know if someone is trying to get in to the home. While it is standoffish with people it does not know, with its family it is affectionate and loving. In fact it can be demanding in its need for attention, it does not like to be left alone for long periods and it will want to be involved with family activities.

It does not bark a great deal but it does talk or make vocalization noises a fair amount. The Alaskan Klee Kai is a very intelligent and curious breed and it has a lot of energy so that would need to be kept in consideration. It is sweet, loyal and fairly sensitive so is best in homes where there is not a lot of tension, and with owners who will not raise their voice all the time. This is also a breed best for experienced owners.

Living with an Alaskan Klee Kai

What will training look like?

This is an intelligent dog and can do well at training as it also likes to please. It responds well to food rewards and treats and as long as you motivate and encourage it and use positive methods things should go well. It is sensitive so do not use harsh training methods or physically punish them. Experience will help of course but with the right approach it should be quick to pick up at least basic obedience and could go further. As well as starting training early also get socialization started young too. Introduce it to people, animals, situations, sounds and places so it learns how to respond to them.

How active is the Alaskan Klee Kai?

These are active and energetic dogs but being small means it should be easy enough for most types of owners to keep up with them and get them the physical activity and mental stimulation they need. When outside taking it for a walk keep it on a leash so it does not run after whatever gets its attention. With a heavy coat it does well in the cold but should be kept well hydrated in the warmer months. It can live in either rural or urban settings and can live in an apartment too as long as it gets enough outside time. If it is under exercised and not mentally stimulated it can become destructive, depressed and hard to live with. It should get a good 45 minutes a day in walks and play time and some safe off leash time a few times a week to run and explore. If it gets that it is happy to relax with you on the couch in front of the tv.

Caring for the Alaskan Klee Kai

Grooming needs

The Alaskan Klee Kai is a clean dog, it will groom itself, it does not like having wet feet and it does not tend to have bad breath or a strong dog smell. Its coat does shed though and that can become heavy during seasonal shedding times. Brush two to three times a week to keep up with loose hair and keep the hair free of tangles and debris and then every day when the shedding is heavy. Only give it a bath when it is needed so you do not strip the natural oils from its coat. It should not be shaved. On the occasional times when it does need a bath only ever use a mild and canine shampoo.

Other grooming needs include keeping its nails trimmed, its teeth and gums healthy and its ears infection free. The latter can be wiped clean with a damp cloth on a weekly basis, or use a dog cleanser, but do not push anything into the ears themselves. At the same time give them a check for infection, looking for signs like redness, sensitivity, bad odor and swelling. The nails should be clipped with care avoiding going too far down the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are. Cutting there will cause pain and bleeding. Its teeth should be brushed two to three times a week at least.

Feeding Time

The AKK will eat about 5/8 to 1 cup of a good to excellent quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. The amount changes depending on its size, age, metabolism, activity level and health. It also needs access to water which should be kept fresh as much as possible.

How is the Alaskan Klee Kai with children and other animals?

The Alaskan Klee Kai can be a great family dog with good socialization and especially when raised alongside other pets and children. It is energetic and will play with them and is affectionate towards them too. Make sure that children are taught how to properly touch and play nicely with the dog and to take care especially for the toy sized version. It does not like being mistreated or poorly handled and can nip so supervision with young children is a good idea. With other animals since it has a high prey drive it will chase non-canine pets like rabbits though some can learn to be better with socialization, not all can., With socialization and training it can learn to get along with other dogs.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The KK has a life span of 12 to 16 years and is fairly healthy. A few issues to be aware of include thyroid issues, FVII deficiency, patellar luxation, heart problems and Cryptorchidism.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports over the last 35 years of dog attacks against people in Canada and the US the KK cannot be found to be involved in any attacks. However it should be noted that while some dogs do tend to be more aggressive than others, all have the potential for it and could be drawn into something on an off day. With the good socialization, training, exercise and attention you can raise your dog in the right manner to lessen the chances of it having an off day.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Alaskan Klee Klai puppy will cost about $2000 from a decent and trustworthy breeder of pet quality dogs. However not all breeders are equally experienced or decent and care needs to be taken to avoid the puppy mills, disreputable breeds, pet stores and back yard breeders out there. If you want something of top quality for showing the cost of that puppy will be even more. Another option if you are not set on a purebred or even a puppy is to look at rescues for adoption. Fees tend to be around $50 to $400.

When you have your puppy or dog home you will need to have it examined by a vet, have blood tests done, dewormed, vaccinated, micro chipped and spayed or neutered. This will be an initial cost of about $260. Then there are things it will need like a crate, carrier, bowls, bedding, leash and collar. These costs come to about $120.

There are also annual costs to factor in to your considerations. Food and treats for a Klee Kai are going to be at least $75 a year. Basic medical needs like vaccinations, tick and flea prevention, pet insurance and check ups come to another $435 a year. Other costs like license, basic training, toys and other miscellaneous items needed are about $195 a year. This is an annual cost of $705 as a starting figure.


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The Alaskan Klee Kai is a small companion dog not a small sled pulling dog. It is for people who love the Husky look but want something more manageable. It is loyal and loving and energetic so is best with people who can still take out it out daily, though its needs are far easier to meet than larger huskies. It does shed but it is not a smelly dog and does take care of itself. It does have a high prey drive so is not best suited to homes with lots of other small non-canine pets. It is a very needy dog in terms of demanding a certain level of attention and care, and it can snap if children play too roughly with it.

Featured Image Credit: bon9, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.