History of the Alaskan Klee Kai Dog Breed
The Alaskan Klee Kai (AKK) has ancient roots descending from the numerous native dogs which have populated Alaska for thousands of years. Many of these dogs became not only loving family pets, but in the harsh environment of Alaska they were crucial for survival for the tribal groups and nomadic people. They excelled at pulling sleds, hiking, hunting, tracking, and were early warning alerts for dangers such as wild animals or enemies approaching. One of the largest groups of native dogs that make up the base of what became known as the Alaskan Husky-type of dog are the Alaskan Interior Village dogs. Husky lines from Siberia, which were imported to Alaska in the early 1900s, were added to much of this hearty dog population as dog sled racing started to grow. They developed an intelligent, vigorous, and hardworking dog with a happy nature.
The Alaskan Klee Kai breed that we see today was developed in Alaska from these well-bred Husky-type dogs by Linda Spurlin and her family, starting in the early 1970s. Using a strict breeding program to select the somewhat smaller dogs with the type/look she envisioned that also met her high standards for health, structure, and temperament, she carefully developed a companion-sized version of the Alaskan Husky with very distinctive, contrasting, symmetrical facial mask and markings. Much like their ancestors, the Alaskan Klee Kai is adaptable to multiple lifestyles and to traveling, hiking, sports, entertainment, performance, therapy and service, and most importantly, as a loving companion dog for all ages. Today, the breed is already warming hearts and laps in more than 25 different countries.
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a small-sized companion dog that is alert, energetic, and very curious. The body is well proportioned, with a level topline and a length slightly longer than the height. The gait is smooth, agile, and well balanced. The wedge-shaped head, erect triangle-shaped ears, well-furred double coat, and loosely curled tail reflect its Arctic heritage. The most distinctive visual characteristic of the Alaskan Klee Kai is the contrasting facial mask and body markings, which must be symmetrical and clearly visible due to the contrasting colors.
The full mask is the most desired for the AKK. It includes the solid dark coloration on the head extending continuously down the top/bridge of the muzzle to the nose, and under or around the eyes, without extending more than a quarter of the way down the cheeks or off the side of the muzzle.
Height is 12-17 inches at the withers.
Weight: 6-25 pounds (approximate) and in proportion to the overall dog, and will vary according to bone structure.
Alaskan Klee Kai Colors
The Alaskan Klee Kai (AKK) has symmetrical and distinctive dark and white contrasting-colored markings in required areas as per the Breed Standard. The three allowable coat colors are in shades of black, gray, or red.
The Alaskan Klee Kai is intelligent, vigilant, loyal, and talkative. They enjoy being physically and mentally challenged and have an energetic eagerness to participate in a broad array of activities. A perceptive yet mischievous nature, and an adaptability to most lifestyles, makes them a loving and devoted companion. AKK have a sensitive and naturally reserved nature, so positive reinforcement, training, and proper socialization from an early age are important.
The Alaskan Klee Kai (AKK) is a generally healthy breed. Responsible breeders screen breeding stock for health conditions, including patellar luxation, autoimmune thyroiditis, heart murmur, eye disorders, and Factor VII deficiency. Prospective AKK owners are encouraged to purchase from responsible/reputable breeders who are doing these evaluations, and confirm the health screenings of the sire and dam. Responsible breeders use the many tools available, along with the knowledge of their dogs’ pedigrees, to selectively choose breeding dogs in order to reduce the likelihood of temperament, structural, and health concerns.
Grooming the Alaskan Klee Kai
The Alaskan Klee Kai (AKK) is a double-coated breed, with a short, dense undercoat and a longer outercoat of guard hairs. This coat not only helps to insulate them from the cold and heat, it also helps to protect the skin from the sun. While the undercoat is shed (or “blown”) twice a year, some owners quip that it lasts for six months at a time.
Weekly brushing and/or combing helps to keep the coat and skin in good condition and helps to reduce the hair around the house. AKK often need only a few baths a year, as their coat tends to naturally repel dirt, and they do not have the “dog odor” that many breeds have. Blowing the dog with a strong, cool, blow-dryer is also a good way to remove loose hair and dirt. Avoid using any tools with blades.
The nails should be trimmed regularly to prevent any foot problems. Alaskan Klee Kai competing in conformation require a bit more selective grooming or bathing for the best presentation. The Breed Standard is specific: “The Alaskan Klee Kai is shown in its natural state and the only trimming permissible is around the foot area to present a clean/neat appearance. Any trimming of the whiskers, or the fur on any other part of the dog, is to be severely penalized.”
The Alaskan Klee Kai (AKK) is an active dog with a medium-high energy level. Regular exercise and doing activities together, both physical and mental, strengthens the bond between dog and owner, and helps to avoid potential destructive behavior.
AKK enjoy doing performance sports or exploring life with their people in many activities such as camping, hiking, climbing, swimming, boating, kayaking, and even on paddle boards! For those who live in a more urban setting, or have a more sedate lifestyle, daily walks or a game of fetch can also provide great exercise.
Alaskan Klee Kai are, foremost, loving companion dogs that form strong bonds with their family and are as happy playfully interacting with their owners exploring the outdoors as they are relaxing lovingly on the laps of their youthful or elderly owners.
Like many dog breeds, AKK are curious, clever, fast, and sneaky, and may have a high prey drive, so it is important to keep the dog on a leash or in a securely fenced area at all times when outside the home. AKK are not suitable for people who cannot spend time with their dogs.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The name Alaskan “Klee Kai” was created from parts of Alaskan Athabaskan words meaning “little dog.”
- Alaskan Klee Kai have distinctive, contrasting, symmetrical facial masks and body markings in three color varieties: Black with White, Gray with White, and Red with White.
- The plural and singular spelling of the breed is Alaskan Klee Kai (no “s”).
- Alaskan Klee Kai “talk,” resulting in sometimes strange and amusing noises of howling, grumbling, yodeling, purring, and chirping to express themselves.
- Adorably animated, quirky, and comical, Alaskan Klee Kai produce many laughs and entertaining moments with their humans.
- Alaskan Klee Kai are independent thinking problem-solvers with a penchant for escape by digging, climbing, squeezing through small openings, or opening gates and crates.
- The Alaskan Klee Kai was accepted into the AKC Foundation Stock Service in October of 2020.
More information about the Alaskan Klee Kai: