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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!”

What’s the Best Way to Train Pit Bulls?

Is there any breed more controversial than the American Pit Bull Terrier? Not only are many people afraid of them, they’re even singled out to be killed on sight in some areas due to Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). So what’s the truth about Pit Bulls, and how can the average owner train one to be a friendly family pet? Read on.

Pit Bull Temperaments

Contrary to the beliefs of the legislators and activists who have introduced legislation banning them in many cities and counties throughout the United States, Pit Bulls are not naturally vicious. In fact, their ancestors were family dogs prized for their ability to guard their owners’ wives and children without harming them or the livestock while the man of the house was away from home.

Most Pit Bulls are naturally prone to test their limits and ignore the occasional command. They may, due to their background as a dogfighting breed, be reactive toward other dogs. Pit Bulls are best suited for households with at least one experienced dog owner who understands positive reinforcement training and is willing to take some obedience classes with the dog. As long as there is a family member taking responsibility for training, however, most Pit Bulls do very well with children of all ages. Their low sensitivity to pain makes them less likely to react violently to a pulled tail or being tripped on by an exuberant child. Additionally, they are playful, puppy-like dogs throughout life. Most are very fond of children if socialized with them at a young age.

Training Pit Bulls

Pit Bulls, like all dogs, learn best through positive reinforcement. Harshly punishing a Pit Bull can be dangerous. They have a high tolerance for physical pain, so by the time you are giving a big enough correction to get a response from the dog, you could be at risk of injuring him or her. Additionally, Pit Bulls often associate whatever they’re looking at when they feel pain with the pain, rather than their own behavior. For example, if you gave a harsh collar correction for sniffing a cat while walking, the dog might think that the cat caused the pain and attack the next cat it sees.

Try clicker training to motivate your Pit Bull during training. This method allows you to reinforce the exact instant your dog performs the correct behavior. If your Pit Bull isn’t food motivated, try using a game of Tug-of-War with a favorite toy as a reward for each click. Some Pits will even work hard for praise alone.

Combine clicker training with a NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) approach to make sure your Pit Bull continues to obey even when you’re not actively in a training session. That means no attention on demand–if your Pit walks up and shoves his head in your lap, ignore him. When he’s doing something desirable, like chewing an appropriate toy, call him over and give him attention, then stop on your time, not his. Whenever the dog wants something, he must perform a desired behavior to get it. That includes petting, going outside, coming back inside, getting his breakfast, getting a treat, getting his leash put on for a walk, getting his leash taken off when you get home, and everything that the dog finds desirable and rewarding. This method of interacting with your Pit Bull will keep him continually attentive and obedient.

Rare Breed Profile: The Hungarian Pumi

I’m a firm believer in biodiverisity. Variety is the spice of life, after all! For that reason, I’ve decided to start occasionally profiling a rare breed on Petlvr: The Blog, in hopes of encouraging dog lovers who’ve decided on a purebred dog to investigate rarer dogs. Of course, I always encourage adoption as a first choice for most pet parents, but for those who want a purebred, owning a rare breed can be fun. It’s a great conversation starter, too!

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Hungarian Pumi!

Pumi Dog by Lake

Pumi Dog by Lake

Photo by Voff.

If you love the look and attitude of spunky terriers like the Wheaten Terrier, but enjoy the energy and intelligence of herding breeds, the Pumi (not to be confused with the Puli, another Hungarian breed) might be your perfect dog. The breed originated in Hungary and was originally developed to herd sheep. Although the Pumi is first and foremost a herding breed, its terrier traits are more than skin deep. Like many terrier breeds, the Pumi also eagerly combats rodents and other prey, even wild boar, and can easily learn to hunt by scent.

Allergy sufferers like Malia Obama might also consider a Pumi the perfect pet. Its harsh, curly topcoat and soft undercoat grow continuously, but the dog has little or no shedding, making it potentially less likely to trigger dog allergies. No breed is truly “hypoallergenic,” but breeds like the Pumi and Poodle with coats that do not shed are generally more likely to be compatible with owners who have dog allergies.

Pumis aren’t perfect for everyone, however. The high energy levels of a herding breed, combined with the boldness and confidence of a terrier, make the Pumi a dog not suited for a meek pet parent or a couch potato owner. They need frequent, high intensity exercise to stay calm. Obedience training is mandatory for this breed. Without training and frequent practice, they may become defiant and ignore commands. Like all herding breeds, Pumis are happiest when they have work to do, whether it’s herding, hunting, or something else.

If you think a Pumi might be the right dog for you, answer the following questions:

  • Can you commit to exercising a Pumi every day?
  • Would your Pumi have a job, like hunting with a member of the family, competing in dog agility, or taking herding lessons?
  • Will you take an obedience class with my Pumi and reinforce lessons at home with at least one short training session daily?
  • Are you willing either to learn to groom a Pumi at home or to pay for professional trimming and grooming every 8-16 weeks?
  • Can you wait anywhere from a few months to 2 years to add a Pumi to your family? Rare breeds can be hard to find, and good breeders have long waiting lists.
  • If you choose to get a Pumi from a breeder, will you commit to keeping the breeder updated on the dog’s health and temperament, to help the breeder make better decisions in breeding future Pumi generations?
  • Can you afford treatment for hip dysplasia or patellar luxation if necessary, both of which are unfortunately fairly common in Pumis?
  • Can you commit to the care and keeping of a Pumi for at least 12-15 years?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above, consider contacting the Hungarian Pumi Club of America and locating a Pumi fancier in your area who can introduce you in person to the breed.