Is an Alaskan Klee Kai the right breed of dog for you?
You've always loved the look of the Siberian husky and/or Malamute. Maybe you've wanted one for years but knew you didn't have the room for such a large dog. Not only room for them to run, but also didn't have the time to care for all that hair! And then you see it. An Alaskan Klee Kai. Your dream dog in a cute little 10-20 lbs package. Even your apartment would be big enough for this little dog. And really, how much could it possibly shed? It's not much bigger than a large cat. And with that your ready to buy one.
As much as I love this breed, its not a breed for everyone. And even though they may look the part of your dream dog, you may find some of the breed traits more nightmarish than endearing. So lets make sure you really know what your getting into before you've paid a small fortune and brought one home.
The Alaskan Klee Kai is not a miniature Siberian Husky and its temperament is nothing like that of a Sibe. Siberian Huskies are outgoing, friendly dogs that love everyone. They have never met a stranger in their life and they are basically born this way. They make terrible watch dogs. If someone were to try and rob your home with a Sibe on guard, the Sibe would happily show the robber where you keep all your valuables and then help them transport it to their hide out.
Alaskan Klee Kai are by nature, very reserved and shy of people not in their immediate family. And even within the immediate family, some are very attached to a single family member and barely acknowledge the rest. This isn't to say that there aren't any outgoing Alaskan Klee Kai or that a shy Klee Kai can't become outgoing. What this means is that you need to be prepared to Socialize Socialize Socialize your Alaskan Klee Kai at every opportunity. Any person it does not have contact with on a daily basis it is likely to shy of. It won't matter if the person is your mother, father, brother, sister, wife, husband, child, girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancee, your Klee Kai may be fearful when they try to pet it. This can take months of patient socializing to work through. It is also going to be afraid of the vet, the groomer, the dog sitter, friends who come over to visit, children if its never been exposed to them, and all the people who are going to approach you wanting to pet your dog. And trust me, you will be approached.
It is now your job to properly educate everyone you know and meet in the the proper way to introduce themselves to a small dog. Small dogs do not like people reaching over them and the Alaskan Klee Kai is not exception. They also don't like being grabbed at, something that small children will often do. Your dog expects you to protect it in these scary situations. Every interaction your dog has with anything or anyone new needs to be positive. This way your dog or puppy will come to see people and other dogs as good things it wants to interact with. How you handle these situations can have a huge impact on how your dog interacts with the world around it.
When your dog meets a new person (a new person or cousin Joe your dog has seen a 100 times but is still shy of) you want them to either get down on your dog's level (kneel down in front of them) or for you to pick your dog up and bring it to their level. Then have them put their hand out for your dog to sniff. If that goes well, great! let them try scratching under the chin, this feels nice and is non-threatening. If that goes well, then a scratch behind the ears will probably be fine now too. Praise your dog, tell him or her what a good dog they are and have the other person give them a treat. If at any point your dog seem uncomfortable, stop. Maybe sniffing is all they are ready for right now. So they sniff the new person, you praise them and give them a treat. Maybe next time they will feel up to a chin scratch too. With children you have to make sure that they move very slowly. They may be a little scared of dogs but your dog is far more afraid of them! If you aren't prepared to do this on a daily basis, this isn't the breed for you!
Alaskan Klee Kai also have a very high prey drive. This means anything smaller than them (that they are not raised with and even still even some that they are) is fair game to be hunted. It's not uncommon for them to take on prey even larger then they are! They truly do not know that they are little dogs. This also applies to their interaction with other dogs. Most Alaskan Klee Kai are very social with other dogs (and other animals if they are raised with them). They are pack animals and will include humans or other dog breeds as members of their pack. However, if they think their pack, human or canine, is being threatened they will take on a dog far larger then they are. I don't think I've seen a dog large enough yet to intimidate an AKK. The highest cause of death in this breed is being killed by another dog and being hit by a car. Things to keep in mind.
Alaskan Klee Kai are highly intelligent and have lots of energy. Also, they do not fully mature until they are about 2 years of age. Those first 2 years you have the task of keeping your AKK from being bored and therefore destroying things, possibly valuable, expensive things. They love to dig and chew and can easily annihilate a backyard of all vegetation. They are also excellent climbers and jumpers. Just because a backyard or area is dog-proofed, doesn't mean it is Klee Kai proof. They can also be very aloud to the point of being obnoxious. They are very vocal when they have something they want to tell you and being quite extroverted they usually do have something to say. Whether you've been out of their sight for 5 mins or 5 hours, be prepared for a good 5-10 mins of being filled in on everything you missed while out of their sight.
Grooming, Shedding, and Allergies
On the plus side these dogs are very cat-like in the cleanliness department. Its not uncommon for me to take mine hiking, get back to the car with dogs covered in mud, but are completely clean by the time we get home (all the mud is left behind in the crates). They don't have a doggy odor nor do they drool. Some like playing in water, but I have yet to see one that likes being bathed. Thankfully they don't require baths that often. They do shed lightly all the time. This can be easily cared for by running a slicker bush over them a couple times a week. Twice a year though they will "blow" or lose all their undercoat which will fall out in big clumps of hair. I highly recommend a trip to the groomers to be combed out when this occurs.
Because they are so clean and don't have a doggy type odor, they are more tolerable to people with allergies than other breeds of dogs. You should still spend some time around one though if allergies are an issue for you just to be on the safe side.
Like any puppy or new dog, your going to have to spend time training them. Some dogs are very easy to potty train, some won't be fully house-broken until they are about a year old. Most training issues though are with the human not the dog. So you need to be prepared to take your dog or puppy to training classes so the instructor can teach you how to train your dog. This also means your need to be prepared to read books about dog training and research solutions to problems you run into on the internet.
There are a lot more expenses you need to be prepared for besides the initial cost of buying your puppy and having it shipped (if you don't live within driving distance). Even if your puppy comes already micro-chipped, most likely you still going to have to pay the registration fee for the chip. Without that registration the chip the is useless. Your puppy will most likely only come with its first set of shots. That means your going to have to take it to the vet every so many weeks to get the rest of its shot series. Most breeders also require that you have the puppy examined by a vet in the first 72 hours. Your also going to want to have a yearly exam done on your done that will range in cost between 100-400 a year. If you want your dog or puppy to stay in good health you'll want to feed it a premium food which generally runs about 50-70 dollars a bag. Then there's collars, leashes, toys, beds, and all the things it will destroy in the beginning. You'll also have the cost of spay or neuter before your pet is a year old. These are all just normal expenses that go along with having a pet. This doesn't even take into consideration any emergencies that might come along.
More than anything, talk to people who own these dogs. Hear the good and bad things they have to say about the breed. And if at all possible, go spend a few hours or a day with an actual Klee Kai and be sure this is really the dog breed your looking for.