Alaskan Klee Kai trotting on grass

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The Alaskan Klee Kai might look like a miniature Siberian Husky, but it’s actually a separate breed. An intelligent, active breed that’s on the smaller side, the Alaskan Klee Kai is an excellent companion and family pet.

Like many breeds, Alaskan Klee Kais have unique needs and health problems. As a smaller breed, the Klee Kai has some of the same health problems as the Dachshund and other small breeds. Klee Kais like to spend a lot of time around their owners, and they’re typically great with kids. If you’re considering adding an Alaskan Klee Kai to your family, here’s everything you need to know to calculate the costs of pet ownership and make the right decision.

History & Origin Of Alaskan Klee Kais

The name of the Alaskan Klee Kai is an excellent hint about its origin. Klee Klai means “small dog” in the Eskimo language. The Klee Kai is a newer breed that originated in Alaska sometime during the early 1970s. [1]

The Alaskan Klee Kai was developed in Wasilla, Alaska, and started with Alaskan and Siberian Huskies. The small size may have come from adding a schipperke and American Eskimo into the mix. Alaskan Klee Kais were officially recognized as a breed by the United Kennel Club in 1997. [1]  

Because the Klee Kai is a newer breed, it’s not especially common. Unlike other breeds which have grown in popularity over the course of several decades or hundreds of years, Alaskan Klee Kai are still relatively rare.

Physical Attributes Of The Alaskan Klee Kai

Height, weight, and lifespan of Alaskan Klee Kais

Alaskan Klee Kai have a Husky-like appearance because of their lineage, but there are some unique features that set them apart from various types of Huskies.

The Alaskan Klee Kai is a small dog, standing at 12 to 17 inches at the withers. Klee Kai are relatively proportionate, with a body that’s slightly longer than it is tall. Alaskan Klee Kai males weigh about 12 to 20 pounds, with females weighing 10 to 18 pounds. The ears are a neat triangle shape with a rounded edge, and they’re active and responsive to sound and touch. [2]

Klee Kai coat colors can vary. Many Alaskan Klee Kai are black or gray with a white underside, but Klee Kai can also be various shades of red and brown. Some Klee Kai even have an all-white coat. 1 Alaskan Klee Kai puppies and dogs often have an alert expression. [2]

Alaskan Klee Kai can live to the age of 15 or 20 with proper care and few health problems. Regular vet visits can help prevent health problems like gum disease in dogs that can shorten their lifespan. Klee Kai dogs prone to certain medical conditions, so proper care is essential. [1]

Behavioral Characteristics Of The Alaskan Klee Kai

The Alaskan Klee Kai temperament is one of the reasons people love this breed so much. Klee Kais are often smart, active, and affectionate, which makes them great companion dogs and an excellent choice for families and small children.

Alaskan Klee Kai are often alert and ready to react, making them good guard dogs despite their smaller stature. Klee Kais also have a tendency to bark and be vocal like the Papillon and other small breeds, so they usually don’t have any problem alerting their owners to strangers. Because they can be noisy, Klee Kais might not be ideal in apartments or other close-quarters living situations. [3]

If you’re looking for an affectionate dog for your family, Klee Kais are great. Klee Kais are typically extremely affectionate with their owners, but they can have trouble with strangers. Alaskan Klee Kais also get along with other dogs in most cases, although they can be a problem around other small pets.

Obedience training can be a helpful tool as you’re raising your Alaskan Klee Kai. 

Alaskan Klee Kai Health Risks

Alaskan Klee Kai health risks

Like many small breeds, Alaskan Klee Kais have a higher risk for certain health conditions — including heart murmurs, patellar luxation, and eye disorders.

Patellar luxation is when the kneecap pops out of place, which can make it difficult to walk and cause pain and discomfort. Several small and toy dog breeds are at higher risk for patellar luxation, including the Alaskan Klee Kai. [4]

Autoimmune thyroiditis is a condition that causes antibodies to attack the thyroid gland. This medical condition is one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism in dogs, which is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the hormone that controls the metabolism. Autoimmune thyroiditis typically develops between the ages of 2 and 5, although onset times can vary. Alaskan Klee Klais should be tested for hypothyroidism, and it can be treated with a daily supplement. [5]

A heart murmur is when there’s a whooshing sound in addition to a heartbeat sound. Heart murmurs vary on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe. Heart murmurs can be congenital or acquired later in life, and they’re more common in Alaskan Klee Kais than in many other breeds. This is another reason regular vet visits are so important. [6]

There are several eye disorders that can affect dogs, and Alaskan Klee Kais are at higher risk. Eye infections, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, and other medical conditions are more common in certain breeds. While some eye conditions are minor and easy to treat, others are serious and may lead to blindness without proper treatment. If your dog has eye problems, get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible. [7]

A factor VII deficiency causes clotting issues, and it’s often not discovered until surgery or a serious injury. DNA samples can be used to check for factor VII deficiency in dogs, and Alaskan Klee Kais are at high risk. If you get an Alaskan Klee Kai, you may want to order a DNA test or find a responsible breeder who tests their Klee Kais. [8]

Caring For An Alaskan Klee Kai

Alaskan Klee Kais aren’t especially high maintenance, but they require special care and attention like every dog. As an active breed, exercise is an important part of keeping your Alaskan Klee Kai happy and healthy.

Diet & Nutrition

Alaskan Klee Kais are omnivores just like other dog breeds, which means they need a mixed, nutrient-rich diet to stay healthy and strong.

Choosing nutritious dog food for your Alaskan Klee Kai is particularly important. Dogs need a diet consisting of protein, amino acids, fats, and fatty acids. A dog that weighs 10 pounds should eat about 404 calories each day as an adult. 30-pound dogs should eat about 922 calories daily, so Klee Kais are right in the middle. Overfeeding can lead to health issues. [9]

You can talk to your vet to find a good dog food brand for your Alaskan Klee Kai, or you can learn how to make nutritious homemade dog food. The most important thing is making sure your Klee Kai eats a balanced, nutritious diet.

Grooming

Alaskan Klee Kais have a longer coat, but they don’t shed as much as you might expect. Grooming your Alaskan Klee Kai is relatively simple because they do a good job of staying somewhat clean on their own. You can brush your Klee Kai weekly to get rid of excess hair and keep their coat shiny. When Klee Kais shed their undercoat twice a year, they need more detailed brushing and grooming.

Trimming your Klee Kai’s nails and cleaning up their paws can help prevent deformed feet and other injuries caused by a lack of grooming.

Dental, eye, and ear health are all as important as well. You should try to brush your dog’s teeth at least once a day, and their ears should be cleaned monthly. Your vet can recommend dental, eye, and ear health products.

Exercise & Enrichment

Klee Kais are active dogs, so they need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Younger Klee Kai puppies may want to exercise for multiple hours each day, while older dogs may only need 30 minutes of daily exercise.

Since Klee Kais are small, active dogs, they often do well with agility training . Agility training can be a great way to keep your dog active and healthy. Lick mats and toys can also help keep your Klee Kai busy.

Preventative Care & Veterinary Check-Ups

Preventative care and regular vet visits help keep your Alaskan Klee Kai in good health. You can use medication like Credelio or NexGard chewables to prevent fleas and ticks, which also protects your pet from flea and tick-borne illnesses and skin and coat problems.

You should take your Alaskan Klee Kai to the vet for an annual check-up. Check-ups help your Klee Kai maintain a healthy weight, and it gives your vet a chance to look for signs of medical problems. If your Klee Kai has symptoms of a medical problem or illness, you should also schedule a vet visit. [10]

Alaskan Klee Kai: FAQs

Do Alaskan Klee Kai shed a lot?

Alaskan Klee Kais shed because they have a longer double coat like Huskies do. Fortunately, they tend to keep themselves fairly clean and you can prevent excess shedding with weekly brushing. Twice a year, Klee Kais shed their undercoat and require extra grooming.

Do Alaskan Klee Kai require a lot of exercise?

The Alaskan Klee Kai is an active breed, which means they need lots of exercise. Klee Kai puppies may need multiple hours of exercise every day. Both physical and mental challenges can be beneficial in terms of keeping Klee Kais active.

Are Alaskan Klee Kai mini Siberian Huskies?

Alaskan Klee Kais look like Siberian Huskies, but they’re a unique breed created by crossing several breeds. Since Klee Kais have Husky lineage, they do share some features and qualities with Huskies.

Close-up of Alaskan Klee Kai sitting in car with tongue out

Final Notes

If you’re looking for a smaller breed that’s active, intelligent, and great around families, Alaskan Klee Kais are a smart choice. These dogs make great companions and love to exercise, so they’re great with small children. Klee Kais also shed more than many other breeds, so be prepared to groom regularly and clean up dog hair.

Taking care of your Alaskan Klee Kai is easier when you use Dutch. Dutch uses telemedicine for pets to connect you with expert vets through video chat, and you can even get prescriptions for your pets online. Try Dutch and take the stress out of keeping your pets happy and healthy.

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References

  1. Hill's Pet Nutrition. "Alaskan Klee Kai Dog Breed Information," https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/dog-breeds/alaskan-klee-kai.

  2. American Kennel Club (AKC). "Alaskan Klee Kai Breed Standard," https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn-origin-etr.akc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/22154424/Alaskan-Klee-Kia-Standard-9.22.22-.pdf.

  3. Wisdom Panel. "Alaskan Klee Kai Dog Breed Information," https://www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/dog-breeds/alaskan-klee-kai.

  4. Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Patellar Luxation," https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/canine-health-information/patellar-luxation

  5. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). "Thyroid Disease," https://ofa.org/diseases/thyroid

  6. Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Get the Jump on Heart Murmurs," https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/canine-health-information/get-jump-heart-murmurs.

  7. PetMD. "Eye Problems in Dogs," https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/evr_dg_eye_problems_in_dogs.

  8. University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. "Factor VII (F7) Deficiency," https://www.vet.upenn.edu/research/academic-departments/clinical-sciences-advanced-medicine/research-labs-centers/penngen/penngen-tests/genetic-tests/Detail/11/

  9. National Academies Press (NAP). "Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats," https://nap.nationalacademies.org/resource/10668/dog_nutrition_final_fix.pdf.

  10. Merck Veterinary Manual. "Routine Health Care of Dogs," https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/routine-care-and-breeding-of-dogs/routine-health-care-of-dogs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

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During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

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