Alaskan Klee Kai – Breed Guide (Size, Temperament, & More)

Klee kai breed guide collage thumbnail

Alaskan Klee Kais are some of the rarest dogs in the world. This unique breed looks much like a Siberian Husky, but it’s significantly smaller. There aren’t too many Alaskan Klee Kais in the world, but if you’re lucky enough to have one, then you’re in the right place.

Alaskan Klee Kais, also known as mini huskies or a smaller version of a Siberian husky, are one of the rarest breeds in the world. They weigh between 10 to 20 pounds and they typically range from 13 to 17 inches tall. These dogs are energetic, emotional, and protective of their owners.

Throughout this article, you’ll learn the following info about Alaskan Klee Kais:

  • History, temperament, and many other details about the breed
  • How you can train them for the best results
  • Numerous physical traits, including size, coat, and more

Breed History 

The Alaskan Klee Kai has been around for only about fifty years and has only been bought later on. The breed was created in the 1970s and 1980s in Wasilla, Alaska, by Linda Spurlin and her family. She reportedly saw a miniature Siberian Husky in Oklahoma once, fell in love with it, and decided to develop a new breed with a similar look. 

Unlike some breeders who breed dogs with dwarfism to create smaller breeds, Spurlin mixed healthy Alaskan and Siberian Huskies with smaller-sized American Eskimo and Schipperke dogs. She named the new breed Klee Kai, which stands for “small dog” in an Eskimo dialect.

Eventually, the breed was formally recognized by the American Rare Breed Association in 1995 and by the United Kennel Club in 1997. While the American Kennel Club (AKC) has not granted Klee Kais the status of purebred dogs yet, they may compete in AKC Companion events and take part in AKC Canine Partners programs. 

While Spurlin retired from breeding ten years after introducing the Alaskan Klee Kai to the public, other breeders have continued her efforts. Still, Klee Kais remain few in number, and the breed is considered a rare one. 

Physical Traits

Size

Male Klee Kais typically weigh between 12 and 20 lbs. (5.4–9 kg) and can reach up to 17 inches (43 cm) in height at withers. Females weigh around 10 to 18 lbs. (4.5–8.16 kg) and can be up to 13 inches (33.02 cm) tall. 

Alaskan Klee Kais have three sizes:

  • Standard Alaskan Klee Kai: 15-17.5 inches tall (38-43cm) and weigh 15-23 pounds (7-10kg), similar in size to a Cocker Spaniel
  • Miniature Alaskan Klee Kai: 13-15 inches tall (33-39cm) and weigh 10-15 pounds (4.3-7kg), similar in size to a Beagle
  • Toy Alaskan Klee Kai: under 13 inches (33cm) and weigh under 10 pounds (4.3kg), similar in size to a Pomeranian
Three sizes of Alaskan Klee Kai in collage

That being said, the average Klee Kai weighs between 10 and 15 lbs. (4.5–6.8 kg). However, you can find rare exceptions that are as small as 5 lbs. (2.26 kg) or as large as 22 lbs. (9.97 kg).

For all three sizes, the behavior and health concerns are similar. Smaller sizes are (of course) going to eat and exercise less than the larger sizes. Their ancestry in the Alaskan Husky makes this dog also relatively strong for its size.

Red and white alaskan klee kai standing on the rock

via Instagram: @meetkodapup


Keep that in mind if you are comparing the Klee Kai to "lap dogs" of similar heights because this one will likely have a bit more muscle mass on it.

When talking to breeders or purchasing Alaskan Klee Kai puppies you will want to be sure of the size category that the particular dog has been bred for. If the owner can't tell you then that's a warning sign that the dog might have come from a puppy farm and should be avoided.

Responsible breeders are trying to improve the breed, not make a buck because the breed is popular and in demand. 

Coat

Klee Kais has a medium-length coat. Like Huskies, these dogs have a double coat that consists of a soft, short undercoat and a longer, coarse outer layer. This protects them from extreme weather such as snow, rain, wind, and low temperatures.

Despite their thick coats, however, Klee Kais are not suited to living outdoors. 

Alaskan Klee Kais come in a variety of color combinations including:

  • Black and white
  • Gray and white
  • Red and white 
  • Wolf gray and white
  • All-white
Five different Alaskan Klee Kai coat colors  in collage

via Instagram: @alaskan_klee_kai ( privat kennel in Russia - 'Artsimpatiya' )

All-white is the only acceptable solid color, as long as the dog is not an albino. 

Furthermore, Klee Kai’s sport a distinctive pigmented marking on their face, commonly known as a “facemask.” This is a feature they share with their Siberian Husky cousins

Toy size Alaskan Klee Kai with blue eyes and tan facemask

via Instagram: @adventures_with_kleekai

Eyes

Like Huskies, Alaskan Klee Kais can have blue, yellow, or brown eyes. They’re also capable of having two different-colored eyes, such as one blue and one brown eye. While it’s a sought-after trait, it could be a sign of a birth defect. Nevertheless, it’s harmless and aesthetically appealing.

Four Alaskan Klee Kais with different eye colors collage

via Instagram: @alaskan_klee_kai

Energy Levels and Exercise Requirements

While this is definitely a high-activity and very energetic breed, it is not hyperactive.

 Klee Kais were bred to serve as indoor companion pets rather than working animals or sled dogs. As a result, they only need a moderate amount of exercise: generally, 20 to 40 minutes per day should do. 

After a vigorous play of fetch or a long walk, these dogs will be happy to spend the rest of the day lounging on your living room couch. That makes them an excellent choice for anyone looking for a relatively small and active dog that does not require large open spaces and a few hours of exercise daily. 

Playtime Needs

The energy and intelligence of Alaskan Klee Kais make them ideally suited for agility training. These dogs are quick to pick up new commands and skills. What’s more, they enjoy playing games, navigating physical obstacles, and reaching goals.

If possible, you should consider setting up a homemade agility course in your garden or backyard. This is a great way for your Klee Kai to burn off all that pent-up energy. Check out this video below for some expert tips and tricks on how to teach your dog basic agility skills and what the main types of obstacles are. 

If an agility course is not an option, make sure to take your Klee Kai on regular runs or hikes in addition to the daily walks.  The point here is to keep the dog active. If you neglect its exercise needs, it will likely become anxious and bored. It may even start destroying your home and furniture. 

two toy size Alaskan Klee Kais in the middle of messy apartment

via Instagram: @poppy_kleekai

Temperament 

Personality

The Alaskan Klee Kai is loyal, alert, highly intelligent, and easy to train. These dogs also have a great sense of humor and occasionally like to play tricks on their owners. All that makes them excellent watchdogs and entertaining companions. 

However, bear in mind that because they are so clever, Klee Kais can be quite the escape artists. If they are unhappy, bored, or simply curious, they have been known to escape through fences. This breed is also prone to running off when let off the leash, so make sure to keep them on a lead in open areas. We have some specific tips for off-leash training that you might want to consider before acquiring a Klee Kai. It’s also a good idea to invest in a canine GPS tracker and training collar such as this Mini E-collar by Dogtra Pathfinder.

Social and Attention Needs

Klee Kais may not require much exercise, but they do crave their owners’ attention. This breed is very affectionate and loving and needs plenty of interaction with people. Unfortunately, that also makes Klee Kais prone to separation anxiety. So they might not be an ideal choice if you travel a lot or work long hours outside your home. 

An important thing to consider is that this breed does not always rehome well due to the strong bonds it forms with its first owners. Therefore, you need to be 100 percent sure and committed before getting one.

Generally, Alaskan Klee Kais tolerate other dogs well. However, make sure to start socializing your dog from an early age to avoid potential issues in the future. 

Attitude Toward Strangers

Most Klee Kais accept strangers if introduced by the owner and socialized from an early age. However, unlike their Husky cousins, some Klee Kais tend to be suspicious of strangers. As this personality trait is considered undesirable, dogs that are people-shy are typically spayed or neutered.

Behavior Around Kids and Other Pets

Alaskan Klee Kais are hunters with a strong prey drive. That means no small pet will ever be safe around them. You should never leave your dog unattended around pet birds, reptiles, or rodents. What’s more, make sure to raise your Klee Kai together with cats if you also plan on having felines.

While Klee Kais make for great family dogs, due to their small size, they tend to be nervous around small children. Very young kids or children that have not been taught how to properly interact with animals may inadvertently injure or provoke dogs to nip.

Therefore, you should never leave children unsupervised around dogs, including Klee Kais. Don’t let their tiny size fool you. 

Two Alaskan Klee kais playing with each other on the grass

via Instagram:@poppy_kleekai

In addition, make sure to provide your Klee Kai with early and frequent socialization with strangers, children, canines, and other animals.  

Tendency to Bark

Considering that Alaskan Klee Kais descend from Huskies, it should come as no surprise that they can be overly sensitive and emotional. Again, much like Huskies, they love to whine, howl, and “talk back” to their owners. The good news is that at least they do not bark excessively. In fact, they rarely bark. Instead, they tend to make a distinctive “woo-woo” sound. You can listen to a great (and hilarious) example in this video below:

Training an Alaskan Klee Kai

Being a smaller dog you are most likely to find the Alaskan Klee Kai better for companionship, rather than as a working dog. This breed won't be mushing sleds along with you on board! However exercise is still required to maintain a healthy, happy puppy.

Their inquisitive temperament can work with you in obedience training. They will enjoy you taking lead and "showing them the way". You need to be the master, the alpha dog of the pack, and a Klee Kai will respect you. Use the training tips we have provided for Siberian Huskies and you will have great success training your Klee Kai too.

Training your pup should be done at an early age. Alaskan Klee Kais can be a bit stubborn and hard to train as they get older. Let’s break down the four main types of training below.

Potty Training

Alaskan Klee Kais want nothing more than to please their owners. If you make potty training a relaxed, reward-based training system, you’ll find success. Place potty pads close to the back food (or wherever you want them to go to the bathroom). They’ll get used to the sight of them and keep searching for the pad every time they have to go to the bathroom.

Slowly move the pads closer to the backyard and then remove them once they’re accustomed to using the yard as their bathroom. Again, you can use this procedure to bring them anywhere where they’re supposed to go. It takes about two to three weeks for maximum effectiveness.

Crate Training

Regardless of the breed, you should never use a crate as a punishment. If you do this, your dog will always fear their crate. Keep the enclosure full of toys, water, and food for them to enjoy. Consider installing a camera to watch and listen to how they react when you’re gone. Wait for a few minutes after getting home to let them out so they think it’s a normal process.

Leash Training and Walking

Walking a Klee Kai is an excellent way to get their energy released. They’re fairly active at a young age. Keep your pup at your side while you walk by using a short leash and an even pace. They’re very receptive learners, but take your time and let them smell the air, grass, and trees. Once they’re used to the process, they’ll be excited to go on longer walks.

Command Obedience

Their inquisitive temperament can work with you in obedience training. They will enjoy you taking lead and "showing them the way". You need to be the master, the alpha dog of the pack, and a Klee Kai will respect you. 

Use clickers, commands, and a stern voice when you’re training an Alaskan Klee Kai. Never yell or use physical force to cause fear or action. Treats and a calm response are always the best way to command obedience. Keep your Klee Kai out of the bed and ensure that you eat before them so they know that you’re in charge of the relationship. 

Use the training tips we have provided for Siberian Huskies and you will have great success training your Klee Kai too.

Health and Life Expectancy

While Alaskan Klee Kais have an average life expectancy of 10 to 13 years, certain representatives of the breed can reach anywhere from 15 to 22 years of age.

Generally, these dogs do not suffer from any significant genetic disorders. However, they can still be predisposed to certain conditions that owners should watch out for. These include:

Certain Klee Kais also keep their baby teeth, which can cause pain, discomfort, and more severe health problems when the adult teeth start growing in. As a result, such dogs may need to have their baby teeth removed.

Baby alaskan klee kai resting on arm of the human

via Instagram:@ alaskan_klee_kai

It’s important to note that there may be other health conditions associated with this type of dog that we are yet to discover. The Alaskan Klee Kais is a very recent breed, and we still don’t know everything there is to know about it. More information regarding its health should come to light as the breed and sample size grow. 

Factor VII Deficiency

This deficiency is one serious condition that plagues this breed. Factor VII is a type of protein that is produced in the liver of both canines and people. Among other things, it regulates the process of blood clotting. When your dog is diagnosed with this condition, they suffer from excessive or prolonged bleeding when injured or during surgery. Common symptoms include:

  • Swollen joints
  • Bleeding gums
  • Frequent nose bleeding
  • Bleeding excessively after spaying, neutering, or other surgeries

If you notice any of these tell-tale signs, your Klee Kai may have factor VII deficiency. Make sure to talk to your vet as soon as possible. While a cure is still non-existent for this condition, there are steps that you can take to monitor your dog and prevent injuries. 

If your canine gets injured or needs surgery, it may require medication or clotting factors transfusion to either prevent or stop excessive bleeding.

The good news is that breeders have made a concerted effort to remove from the gene pool dogs that carry the recessive gene responsible for factor VII deficiency. As a result, nowadays, your dog will highly unlikely have the disease if it comes from a reputable breeder. 

Nutrition Needs

Because Alaskan Klee Kais are such high-energy dogs, they need a diet that can power them throughout the day. That being said, although this active breed has a fairly low potential for weight gain, you shouldn’t overfeed them. 

Red Miniature Alaskan Klee Kai  standing on top of the big bone

via Instagram:@meetkodapup

While there is no special Alaskan Klee Kai food, you should provide your dog with a well-balanced diet to keep it healthy and thriving. Every dog is different and has its particular nutritional requirements. You should consider your pet’s caloric needs and the amount of exercise it gets on a daily basis. For example, working animals will need a lot more proteins and fats than lap dogs or house pets. 

In addition, your dog’s diet should change throughout its lifetime. Puppies, adolescents, pregnant females, adults, and senior dogs have very different nutritional needs. Your dog’s diet might also change if it develops a health condition. 

In any case, it’s always best to speak to your vet or an expert dog nutritionist. They can help you work out the optimal diet for your Alaskan Klee Kai. 

Grooming

Like Huskies, Alaskan Klee Kais “blow” or shed their coat twice a year — right before summer and winter. During this process, they gradually lose all of their undercoat, which falls out in clumps. When Klee Kais shed, they do so profusely and may require regular and even daily brushing. Throughout the rest of the year, however, Klee Kais shed moderately and only needs combing once or twice a week.  

blue colored bristle brush and klee kai's fur after brushing

via Instagram:@arrowakk

You also need to brush your Klee Kai’s teeth, clip its nails, and clean its ears regularly — just like with any other dog breed. Use toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail clippers, and ear cleaner that’s intended for dogs. The Ceenwes Dog Clipper Kit has everything you need to keep your pup groomed and healthy throughout the year.

One of the best things and interesting fact about Alaskan Klee Kais is that they can be extremely fastidious and keep themselves very clean and well-groomed in much the same way as cats do.

Black and white Alaskan Klee Kai puppy sit next to a fluffy grey cat

via [email protected]_klee_kai

They also do not generally develop a dog odor. That means you don’t need to wash them as frequently as some other breeds.   

Rescue Groups and Adoption

It is unlikely you will come across a Klee Kai at your local animal shelter or rescue organization, although you could try. If you are keen to adopt an Alaskan Klee Kai your best bet is to go through the same clubs that provide breeder referrals:

As with any adoption be prepared to take a dog in as a trial for a period to see if it fits your family and your lifestyle. Also, like any dog that has been rescued, it might have some special socialization issues that will decide the kind of environment best suited to looking after the animal. 

Should You Get an Alaskan Klee Kai?

So, is an Alaskan Klee Kai a good fit for you and your lifestyle? Here is a shortlist of some of this breed’s pros and cons to help you figure this out. 

Pros

  • Mini Huskies. If you love Siberian Huskies but don’t have enough room in your home, an Alaskan Klee Kai is an excellent apartment-sized alternative.  
  • Great companions. Klee Kais are loving, affectionate, and love to spend time with their owners.
  • Relatively quiet. Klee Kais don’t bark much and won’t disturb your neighbors.
  • Smart. This breed is highly intelligent and trainable.
  • Clean and low maintenance. Klee Kais do not develop a dog odor and love to groom themselves. They also don’t require plenty of exercise. 

Cons

  • Talkative. Klee Kais have a stubborn streak. They love to whine and talk back. 
  • Expensive. This is not a budget breed. If you see a low-priced dog, it’s probably a scam. Make sure to always buy from certified breeders.
  • Separation anxiety. These dogs do not handle alone time well.
  • Shedding. Klee Kais shed a lot when blowing their coat. That can make a mess in your home and is also not hypoallergenic.
  • High prey drive. This breed cannot be trusted around pigeons, squirrels, cats, and other small animals. 

Is Your Dog an Alaskan Klee Kai?

If you’re not sure whether your dog is a pure Alaskan Klee Kai or not, you should consider using the Embark Dog DNA Test (available on Amazon.com). 

This test will allow you to determine exactly what breeds your dog is, as well as learn about any genetic diseases your dog may be predisposed to. The test results come in about a month, so it’s pretty quick as far as DNA tests go. Overall, I highly recommend it if you’re curious about your dog’s pedigree.

How Much Does an Alaskan Klee Kai Cost?

Toy size Alaskan Klee Kai puppy sitting on the table full of dollar notes

via Instagram:@adventures_with_kleekai

As with any rare dog breed, Alaskan Klee Kai aren’t cheap. All Things Dogs states that these adorable pups usually sell between $1500 to $3000. However, different factors influence the sale price, including:

  • The number of puppies in the litter. When there are fewer puppies from one litter, they usually cost more money since the breeder wants to make enough money for their business.
  • Ancestry matters more than anything. A purebred Alaskan Klee Kai costs quite a bit, especially if their parents are award-winning dogs. Fewer genetic defects often result in a higher price.
  • On the contrary, the only birth defect that increases the price is the dual eye color. The term is heterochromia, though it’s not always a result of an injury. The most common types of heterochromia, including blue-brown eyes or blue-green eyes, will cost you more money.
  • Finally, the age that you buy the dog will change the cost. If you buy a puppy, you’ll have to spend more. However, adult and senior dogs typically cost less. Regardless of the age of the dog, Alaskan Klee Kai cost more than the average dog.

Alaskan Klee Kai Breeders

The breeding history over the last three decades has resulted in more puppies being born, although it is still a fairly exclusive breed. Waiting lists can be long, and prices is very similar to  any designer breed dogs. But over time, more breeders of the Alaskan Klee Kai are emerging.

Four new born puppies of Alaskan Klee Kai holding by a breeder

via Instagram:@alaskan_klee_kai

For more information and to find a reputable breeder near you we suggest making contact with clubs and associations in your country.

Alaskan Klee Kai breeders have to ensure that they meet all of the requirements as listed by AKKAOA. Once they move through all of the suggestions, they can list their dogs for adoption. Make sure you know where to look. You’ll need to ensure that they’re a licensed breeder to prevent diseases, criminal transactions, and other issues.

Becoming an Alaskan Klee Kai breeder is challenging since they’re so rare. Nordic Mini Huskys explains that it’s important to socialize any Alaskan Klee Kai as soon as possible to prevent common problems when meeting new people or pets.

Final Thoughts

The Alaskan Klee Kai has its root in the Alaskan Husky, rather than the Siberian Husky, however, all three of these breeds are similar. You will find the Klee Kai a somewhat mischievous dog, clever, and high in energy.

The smaller size will make the Alaskan Klee Kai better suited to those who can not fulfill all the exercising requirements of a full-sized Siberian Husky but still have an active lifestyle. The smaller breed stock means you might need to hunt around and ask local clubs for referrals to breeders, plus waiting periods may apply. However they are not as rare as Miniature Huskies and providing there is a breeder in your area, it will not be impossible to find one.

About the author

Danny Bainbridge

A genuine husky lover who enjoys spending time with his huskies. Huskypuppiesinfo.com was created purely out of passion for these dogs.