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Alaskan klee kai sitting by a road

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Foundation stock service (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 15-17 inches
  • Weight — 16-22 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Short and dense with a coarse double coat.
  • Coat color — Gray and white, wolf gray, wolf gray and white, red and white, black, white, and black and white. There is no significant difference shown between adult and puppy breed members.
  • Exercise needs — Average
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 12-16 years
  • Temperament — Intelligent, loving, loyal, family-friendly, and social
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Alaska

Alaskan klee kai temperament and characteristics 

Alaskan klee kais are playful dogs who love any type of social stimulation. They have a higher-than-average intelligence, making them especially fun to play with and challenge. Your klee kai will enjoy any type of play that focuses on agility, endurance, or a good mental challenge — appealing to their need to dominate and succeed.

These dogs can be social with young children, especially when socialized correctly. They can adapt well to environments with cats or other animals. While they are considered to be quite sociable, they may be a bit shy around different people. Many attribute this to their reputation as intelligent dogs, considering the possibilities of the situation around them before letting that sweet personality show.

The Alaskan klee kai breed generally stays around the same size, averaging about 20 pounds and 16 inches. They’ll do well in a moderately sized home with room to romp and play.


The Alaskan Klee Kai’s double-coat and loosely curled tail reflect its arctic heritage. The facial mask is a distinctive characteristic, and the breed always has a dual-colored coat that comes in shades of black, gray, or red. The AKC breed standard requires white on all three coat colors. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, the most common two colors for the Alaskan Klee Kai are (60%) gray and white, with a close second of (30%) black and white. 

Alaskan klee kai fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Alaskan Klee Kais Blue; Rocky is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our female Alaskan Klee Kai owners love Luna, then Nala.

  • Klee kai puppies are new on the scene. This breed is considered “newer” than many others, and were developed by Linda Spurlin in the 1970s.
  • They’re not considered a type of miniature husky. While many refer to them as huskies, it isn’t accurate. Many consider them to be closer to a spitz-type of pup.
  • Barking isn’t just barking. Alaskan klee kai dogs enjoy vocalization as a form of speech, and rarely “bark just to bark.”
Alaskan klee kai close up with grass in the background

Common Alaskan klee kai health problems 

The Alaskan klee kai breed members are known to be relatively healthy dogs. However, they may be predisposed to a few genetic health conditions. Knowing what these are ahead of time can help you to invest in preventative care, or plan ahead in case future medical needs arise. We’ve summarized common klee kai health issues below:

  • Hypothyroidism. This form of metabolic syndrome occurs when the dog’s thyroid gland is underperforming, which can cause lethargy, weight gain, and a dulled coat.
  • Juvenile cataracts. These types of cataracts are thought to be hereditary and may cause blindness in your klee kai. While this can’t be reversed, Treatments include supplements to reduce inflammation and preserve your dog’s vision for as long as possible. In extreme cases, surgery may be considered.
  • Patellar luxation. This condition occurs when the kneecap does not fit properly into the femur (thighbone) groove, which can cause pain and inflammation . It can be a relatively common condition in small dogs.
  • Factor VII deficiency. Factor VII deficiency is a hereditary clotting disorder that disrupts proper blood coagulation — or clotting. Vets may treat with medications or transfusions.

Cost of caring for Alaskan klee kai

Alaskan klee kais are relatively healthy and shouldn’t require excessive medical intervention. However, it’s always good to be prepared. Pet health insurance can be a great way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses in the event of a sudden medical event. You may also get bonuses for signing your dog up early on. If you’re looking for a more flexible solution, you may consider investing in a pet savings account that you reserve exclusively for medical needs.

Beyond their costs of medical care, Alaskan klee kai dogs are known to be slightly more expensive than the average breed. You may pay anywhere between $2,000 to $3,000 when you purchase your pet, along with $1,000 to $1,500 to get them started in their first year of life. This estimated additional cost covers necessities, such as first vet visits, vaccinations, toys, food, and bedding.

After the first year, you can expect to pay about $1,500 to $2,000 for your klee kai’s food and vet visits on an annual basis.

Alaskan klee kai resting on a red rock

Source: Flickr, cran_b

History of the Alaskan klee kai 

In the 1970s Linda Spurlin, traveler, and dog-lover, encountered a mid-sized husky on her trip to Oklahoma, where she was visiting family. She brought the pup back home and began to create a smaller, companion breed that mimicked the appearance of a husky, but offered a potentially brighter health outlook.

The name klee kai originates from the Athabaskan language and directly translates to “little dog.” The name is quite fitting, especially due to this breed’s compact size.

We do want to note: Though klee kai breed members are commonly thought to be a miniature type of Alaskan huskies,  this isn’t true — although their colors do match. The unique coat and fur color may be influenced by the Alaskan huskies and Siberian huskies that are believed to be in their lineage, as well as the high energy and sweetness that Alaskan klee kai is known for today.

Caring for your Alaskan klee kai 

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful “quick start” guide to get your furry friend the best start possible in their new home. First, we recommend making your first trip to the vet for your pup’s vaccinations. This can guard them against certain conditions they might run into as they make their entrance into the world.

We also recommend puppy-proofing your home ahead of your pet’s arrival to prepare for any teething or gnawing. (We promise, your furniture will thank you!)

Lastly, we recommend that you sign up for FidoAlert. This helpful service provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared in case your dog gets a little too adventurous and manages to get off the leash.

Now that you’ve covered the essentials, here are some other basics specific to the Alaskan klee kai breed type.


Alaskan klee kais enjoy moderate amounts of exercise, approximately 30 minutes per day. You’ll want to consider activities that appeal to their high level of intellect as well as their need to run and romp — such as mazes, challenge courses, and games like fetch. You can do this at your local dog park, your living room, or your complex’s green belt. There’s no wrong way to get your dog out in the great outdoors!

Additionally, klee kais are fairly hearty and enjoy casual activities. Walking, hiking and light jogging can all be fun ways to keep your Alaskan klee kai active.

Like their origin breeds, Alaskan klee kais don’t mind a bit of chill. However, we do recommend considering the intensity of your activity if you live in a place that reaches hot temperatures. Since the klee kai has a luxurious double coat, they may overheat if you overwork them in excessive temperatures. Always take cues from your pup and respect their boundaries around playtime. You might also choose to structure playtime strategically in the cooler hours during the warm summer months.

Alaskan klee kai wearing a red harness standing outside


The Alaskan klee kai is known for its coarse, dense, and doubled coat structure. With this type of fur, ongoing maintenance is key. You’ll be able to keep shedding at a minimum and your klee kai’s fur looking as healthy as can be with a simple grooming routine.

Let’s start with the basics — bathing. Despite their thick coat, the Alaskan klee kai’s skin is relatively sensitive. Bathing too frequently can sap moisture from your dog’s skin, leading to itching and flaking. Many klee kai parents recommend a bath every three months, keeping your pup clean and helping their coat to retain as much moisture as possible. This, of course, can be more frequent if your klee kai finds themself in the middle of a muddy or messy adventure.

Your klee kai’s fur will do best with weekly brushing and combing. This is often enough to naturally disperse the fur’s oil down the shaft and keep overgrowth at bay — reducing excessive shedding and keeping your pup as comfortable as possible.

Your pup’s thick fur also extends up to the ear region. Ear cleaning should be a regular occurrence, happening at least once per month according to the American Kennel Club. This can prevent wax buildup, knotting, and irritation which can lead to infections.

Diet and nutrition

Alaskan klee kais do best on high-quality dog food that has all of the necessary protein, carb, and healthy fat content to help them grow and thrive. On average, klee kai puppies do well with about ¾ of a cup of food per day, spread out across three meals throughout the day (such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner). As they mature, this may be reduced to two larger meals per day, keeping blood sugar levels stable and your pup satiated.

We do want to note that your Alaskan klee kai may eat less or more in a range of situations, such as if they are sick, elderly, or in the throes of puppyhood. That’s why the team at betterpet always recommends connecting with your vet for tailored recommendations around your klee kai’s diet and consumption rates. They can offer you the best possible advice that aligns with your pup’s specific needs.

Training your Alaskan klee kai 

Your Alaskan klee kai is incredibly intelligent and eager to please, making them quite trainable in the hands of a skilled trainer. Learning how your pup prefers to learn is the key to making every training session a success.

With this in mind, you’ll want to create a strategy that appeals to your dog’s drive for challenge and achievement. This can look different for every pet. Starting points to consider may include techniques like:

  • Shortening training sessions. Highly intelligent dogs can get bored if training drags on too long. Keeping sessions short and sweet can help you get the most out of every interaction.
  • Focusing curriculum. Try focusing on mastering a single skill at a time. This can keep your dog’s attention, especially when used in conjunction with strategically short training sessions.
  • Positive reinforcement. Your smart klee kai will appreciate positive reinforcement when they do the right command — whether it’s an extra-long cuddle session or a special training treat.
Alaskan klee kai training

Breeds similar to the Alaskan klee kai 

Not quite sure that an Alaskan klee kai is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Samoyed. Samoyeds are significantly larger than klee kais — but they still have that same adorable personality and sociable temperament. They do well with families with children or other animals.
  • American Eskimo dogs. These dogs are known to be friendlier and less guard-oriented than Alaskan klee kais, acting as a larger and more affectionate counterpart.
  • Akita inu. The Akita Inu is a slightly less child-friendly breed than the Alaskan klee kai, and is notably quieter. However, they are likened to gentle giants — always looking for affection and attention from their parents.

Frequently asked questions

Can an Alaskan klee kai live in hot weather?

Yes, your klee kai can live in hotter climates. They just need to have the right tools to do so. Consider investing in an outside water source (like a pool or sprinkler), and be sure to have reliable air conditioning to keep your dog cool during the hotter parts of the day.

What is the recommended food for an Alaskan klee kai?

Alaskan klee kai dogs often do best with a high-quality dog food blend that is made of lean proteins, healthy fats, and a moderate amount of carbohydrates. We always recommend connecting with a vet to ensure your food blend of choice has everything needed to help your klee kai grow healthily.

Do klee kais like to cuddle?

Yes! Alaskan klee kai dogs are extremely affectionate and love to cuddle up with their pet parents.

How long do Alaskan klee kais live?

Your klee kai can live anywhere from 12 to 15 years of age with the proper care.

Are klee kais hypoallergenic?

No dog is truly hypoallergenic. The Alaskan klee kai is not considered to be a hypoallergenic breed due to its dense double coat and excessive seasonal shed schedule.