Alaskan Klee Kai: Rare Breed Spotlight
Have you ever admired a beautiful Siberian Husky and thought, “I wish those were just a little smaller?” If so, you’re in luck. The Alaskan Klee Kai is a rare breed that resembles a Siberian Husky but is only 13 to 17 inches tall at the shoulder. These petite Northern dogs were created by Linda S. Spurlin, a dog lover who in the mid-1970s acquired an unusual dog created as a result of an accidental mating between a small dog and an Alaskan Husky. “Curious” inspired Ms. Spurlin to selectively breed in hopes of creating a miniature Alaskan Husky.
The Alaskan Klee Kai breed began with one dog owned by Linda Spurlin in Alaska and a few similar dogs bred by her brother-in-law and his family in Oklahoma. In the early 1980s, the brother-in-law decided to stop breeding dogs and sold his remaining stock to Ms. Spurlin. With these additional dogs, she was able to create what we now know as the Alaska Klee Kai.
Breeds used in creating the Klee Kai include the Alaskan Husky, Siberian Husky, Schipperke and American Eskimo Dog, as well as the “unknown small dog” that mated with an Alaskan Husky to produce the original Klee Kai, Curious. The Alaskan Klee Kai’s small size was achieved without introducing dwarfism. This avoided both the health problems of dwarf dogs and the conformation disparities that might have occurred had dwarfism been used to shrink the dogs. Dwarf dogs generally have short legs and large heads, while the Klee Kai is a small but proportionate duplicate of the Siberian Husky.
Should You Own an Alaskan Klee Kai?
Alaskan Klee Kai are dogs best suited for active adult households or households with children over the age of eight. These petite dogs need a great deal of exercise but could easily be injured by an enthusiastic child tripping on them or trying to wrestle and roughhouse with them. Additionally, some Alaskan Klee Kai are extremely shy even if well-socialized from birth. This genetic trait is a fault in the breed and conscientious breeders avoid producing it, but shyness is still common in the few pet-quality dogs made available to buyers.
If you’re not absolutely certain that this is the perfect dog for you, it’s likely that you’re better off choosing a smallish dog from a shelter or a more common, similar breed like a Schipperke. Alaska Klee Kai are very rare and the few breeders working with them tend to be very selective about homing them with pet parents. Would-be Klee Kai owners often must wait a year or more for a puppy to become available from their chosen breeder. You might even have to drive cross-country to get the puppy or ship it to you by air. The breed is likely to remain rare thanks to the strict standards of the Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America, which grants breeding rights only to dogs that pass an inspection. All others must be spayed or neutered.
If you do choose to buy or adopt an Alaskan Klee Kai, be prepared to fall in love with an energetic and very LOUD little dog. Your Klee Kai needs a long walk or run every day. Playing in the backyard won’t do. It will make a variety of howls, barks and yodels continually throughout the day and night. Many owners report that their dogs seem to “talk!”