Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Alaskan Klee Kai: Care, Pictures, Traits & More

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

alaskan klee kai dog with heterochromia

If you’re looking for classic sled-dog sass without the unwieldy frame, the Alaskan Klee Kai may be a perfect match! Reaching a maximum size of 25 pounds, this relatively recent breed has quickly become a favorite companion dog for those wanting the Husky look and temperament but not the size and strength. Let’s explore the Alaskan Klee Kai’s traits, personality, and care needs to see why they’re such a hit with families and single owners alike.

Breed Overview

Height: 12–17 inches
Weight: 6–25 pounds
Lifespan: 13–16 years
Colors: White mixed with black, gray, or red
Suitable for: Active families
Temperament: Loyal, intelligent, goofy, curious, alert, aloof with strangers

The Alaskan Klee Kai is an intelligent, devoted, and spirited breed that didn’t appear until the 1970s. An Alaskan resident, Linda Spurlin, adopted a miniature Husky weighing only 17 pounds named Curious and immediately set to work to refine the breed. She began a careful program combining Alaska Huskies with select smaller dogs to give her the consistent form, health profile, and temperament she desired.

In 1987, Spurlin sold her first dog to a friend, Eileen Gregory, who enthusiastically promoted the new breed. Seeing the popularity of this undersized companion version of the Husky, Spurlin renamed the dogs Alaskan Klee Kai. “Klee Kai” means “little dog” in Alaska’s Athabascan language, an apt shoutout to their ancestral origins in Alaska’s interior. Indeed, these dogs are petite, appearing in three size classes:

  • Toy: 13 inches to the withers and under
  • Miniature: Over 13 inches but no more than 15 inches at the withers
  • Standard: Over 15 inches but no more than 17 inches at the withers

The Klee Kai have an undeniable Spitz-type form with their perky ears, wolfish snout, and curled furry tail. Sporting a facial mask and often striking eyes, they bear a close resemblance to Siberian Huskies.

Alaskan Klee Kai Characteristics



Alaskan Klee Kai Puppies

alaskan klee kai puppy dog lying on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: PBPIC, Shutterstock

The Alaskan Klee Kai earned UKC recognition in 1997 and has an official national club, the Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America. The studbook closed in 2007. In 2020, the AKC accepted the Klee Kai into its Foundation Stock Service. Though they can’t register with the AKC, breeders can use the FSS to maintain records and promote proper practices as the Klee Kai moves up the ladder to official recognition.

With their established type and growing popularity, finding a reputable breeder isn’t difficult. Klee Kai aren’t prevalent, but a devoted following ensures you can locate the perfect puppy, even if you have to make a trek to meet them.

The AKKAOA Find a Breeder page is an excellent starting point for finding an Alaskan Klee Kai puppy. It has an aggregate list of national member breeders. Information is sometimes limited or out of date, but you can get accurate contact info with a quick web search for any of the listed breeders.

hepper-dog-paw-divider 4

Temperament & Intelligence of the Alaskan Klee Kai 🧠

The Alaskan Klee Kai offers the Husky’s goofiness and animated personality in an even more adorable package. The ever-curious dog loves playing with family and taking on problem-solving tasks to satisfy their intelligent and active mind. Since they’re energetic, they require constant attention but will quickly learn (and often excel at) numerous sports and activities.

Alaskan Klee Kai are loyal and loving with family but wary of strangers. Frequent socialization is crucial from an early age to help them experience new people and places, though some dogs will always stay aloof with anyone outside their own family. While they are not aggressive, they’ll voice their discomfort or concern. Alongside their alert, protective nature, their vocal tendencies often make them good watchdogs.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

An Alaskan Klee Kai provides the same playfulness as the Husky with a lower risk of injuring a child. Alaskan Klee Kai are loyal and ready to entertain, making them a beautiful fit for an engaging family unit. Like any dog, a Klee Kai’s fit in a family also depends on the children.

Though they won’t pose as much of a knockdown risk, the Klee Kai doesn’t tolerate overly rough play and often nips if agitated. Bonding at an early age is a beautiful experience, but you must always supervise Klee Kai and the children playing together.

A Klee Kai is an excellent match for a family, and a family is an ideal situation for a Klee Kai. The breed is prone to separation anxiety, and having more people in the house will give your dog a better chance of constant companionship and enough activity to satisfy their high-energy personality.

young boy playing with an alaskan klee kai puppy dog on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: Golden Pixels LLC, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽

The Alaskan Klee Kai gets along well with other dogs. They don’t let larger breeds intimidate them and will often engage other active pups in play and games of chase around the park. Another dog in the house can make an excellent companion while you’re out of the house to help stave off boredom and separation anxiety.

Other pets might not fare so well with the Klee Kai. With their high prey drive, Alaskan Klee Kai may hunt and terrorize smaller animals like cats, guinea pigs, and birds. However, with socialization as a young puppy, they can live amicably and make life-long friends with other animals.

hepper-dog-paw-divider 4

Things to Know When Owning an Alaskan Klee Kai

Alaskan Klee Kai, like many of their northern relatives, have plenty of quirks that add to the fun in some ways and create challenges in others. Their intelligence is notable, making them quick learners but also somewhat stubborn. Training during the critical socialization period at an early age will help overcome many training difficulties, though certain behaviors can often seem impossible to overcome.

The prey drive might be the best example of this. A focused Klee Kai will often chase anything they see and only return when they want. Recall is a consistent training challenge. They generally need to stay on a leash during walks to keep them from running off, and you may have to chase them down when it’s time to leave the dog park.

While they typically only bark when alerted, Klee Kai are vocal dogs. Similar to Malamutes and Huskies, Klee Kai converse with others and vocalize when excited. Rather than emit crisp barks, they’ll use various singing intonations, yelps, yowls, groans, screams, and droning whines, often tying sounds to different emotions or situations.

Alaskan Klee Kai
Image Credit: bon9, Shutterstock

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Alaskan Klee Kai need a high-quality diet based on their growth stage. An adult Klee Kai will eat up to two cups of food daily, split between two meals. As a puppy, they should usually eat more frequently to keep up with their caloric needs. Working with your vet will allow you to formulate the most practical plans for your dog.

Exercise 🐕

Alaskan Klee Kai have a purposeful energy about them. They aren’t uncontrollably hyperactive dogs, but their motors seemingly won’t quit. They need up to 2 hours of daily exercise, split among several walks throughout the day and ample playtime. A fenced-in area is ideal, as they love to run, give chase, and play fetch.

While their smaller size might seem limiting, the Alaskan Klee Kai might be one of the most versatile dogs for an active family. They’re highly athletic and excited for any activity you put before them. They excel at agility, and their size makes them well-suited for everything from hiking to sitting in a kayak on the lake.

Training 🎾

The Alaskan Klee Kai’s intelligence is a plus when it comes time to train. But it takes a disciplined, knowledgeable owner to overcome their willful personalities and keep them cooperative, focused, and obedient. Professional training is an excellent idea. With the proper approach, they grasp training quickly and easily learn tricks.

Klee Kai are sensitive dogs that respond well to food rewards and, like most dogs, positive reinforcement. Stressing early and frequent socialization and training is crucial. Because they are adventurous and curious, training sessions should often stay short and sweet. You must carefully control potty training to keep them from becoming distracted while outside, and crate training can be an essential aid in housebreaking and helping them manage alone time.

alaskan klee kai leaping over a jump at a dog agility trial
Image Credit: Mark Herreid, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

The Alaskan Klee Kai’s medium-length double coat can create an ongoing cleaning chore, but they aren’t challenging to groom. Brushing should occur once weekly but increase to a few times weekly during the coat-blowing seasons in fall and spring. Many owners choose gentler de-shedding options like blow-dryers over abrasive blades to protect the skin. Otherwise, they’re clean dogs that don’t need frequent baths or any haircuts.

Health and Conditions ❤️

The Alaskan Klee Kai is a healthy and relatively long-lived dog with few genetic diseases. Most notable among their unique susceptibilities is factor VII deficiency, which is a clotting disorder causing excessive bleeding. Responsible breeders continue testing and refining their stock to decrease genetic issues, including factor VII deficiency.

Minor Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
Serious Conditions
  • Thyroiditis
  • Heart murmur
  • Liver shunt
  • Eye problems (e.g., cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and vitreous degeneration)
  • Factor VII deficiency

Male vs Female

Male and female Klee Kai can differ slightly in size and temperament. Females are often slightly shorter and lighter than the males. Many owners find them to be the more independent and stubborn of the sexes.

Males seem more owner-focused and eager to please, making them more biddable. All dogs are different, and with early training and socialization, they’ll have a much better chance of becoming as cooperative as they are outgoing.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Alaskan Klee Kai

1. Klee Kai Are Alaska Husky Descendants

Distinguishing the Klee Kai’s roots is crucial in appreciating their personalities. Despite the Siberian Husky look, Alaskan Klee Kai are notably descended from the Alaska Husky, a hardworking ancient breed with a much different background. The Alaskan Husky existed in North America for thousands of years, playing a vital role for native Alaskan Interior tribes as hunters and sled dogs.

Many dogs mixed with the Alaskan Husky over the years thanks to the Gold Rush and, later, the growing sled-dog racing scene in the 1920s. Mushers like Leonard Seppala, famous for his role in the Nome Serum Run, helped make the Siberian Husky an essential influence within the breed. Years later, speed breeds like the Greyhound would add to even more athleticism and determination.

The Alaskan Husky is a malleable breed. Throughout history, this dog’s development has only focused on working traits. With no club recognition or breed standard, they remain versatile and open to experimentation to continue their refinement. Although a standard is established in the Alaskan Klee Kai, they inherit all the pep, loyalty, and eagerness that made their ancestors such prized creatures.

2. Klee Kai Are Ultimate Escape Artists

Siberian Huskies owners know their dogs can dig, wriggle, kick, and climb as much as needed to go under, over, or through any obstruction. Take that same enthusiasm and scale it down, and the Houdini act only becomes more impressive. Alaskan Klee Kai, with their slim frames and bouncy athleticism, can squeeze through the narrowest openings, so don’t assume that the average baby gate or backyard fence can contain them.

black and white alaskan klee kai dog running on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: Kelsie Taylor, Shutterstock

3. Klee Kai Are Up for Any Sport

While the sight of a Klee Kai zipping through an agility course will make it seem like their true calling, they’re game for almost any sport you suggest. They’re whip-smart, eager to learn, and confident in the face of any challenge. A few of the many activities where you might find a Klee Kai competing (and often winning) include:

  • Nose work
  • Obedience
  • Dock diving
  • Lure coursing
  • Weight pulling
  • Rally

hepper-dog-paw-divider 3

Final Thoughts

As a breed, the Alaskan Klee Kai is new enough to be a work in progress, but these modern-day dogs are more than ready for a loving family to experience all the joy they have to offer. They’re adaptable, upbeat, and adventurous and naturally fit in numerous settings. If the Husky’s loyalty and look have won you over, the Klee Kai’s more manageable frame may be all the justification you need to add one more dog to the household.

Featured Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database