The Alaskan Klee Kai generally have a great deal of energy and as such a fair amount of physical activity is needed. They would do well in homes with a fenced yard in which they can run off some of the energy, however no yard activity should replace daily walks. Alaskan Klee Kai can live in an apartment setting if their owner is committed to take their dog on multiple long walks daily. An under-exercised Alaskan Klee Kai (or any dog for that matter) can become destructive and develop behavioural problems.
They enjoy a variety of activities, as long as they do it with their pack, aka YOU! Hiking, jogging, biking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are examples of activities they love if you enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle. This breed also enjoys agility, weight pull, flyball and even some obedience. One day, we will hear about the first AKK disc dog, dock jumper, or other events that may come up.
The Alaskan Klee Kai are double coated dogs. They continuously shed lightly year round, and typically go through a heavy shedding spell or “blow coat” twice a year. As such, the Alaskan Klee Kai requires a decent amount of brushing and DO expect to carry loose fur (and a lint remover) everywhere you go.
Otherwise, the Alaskan Klee Kai is a generally low maintenance dog. Baths should only be given on an as-need basis, which can be as frequent as once a month, to as sparse as 2-3 times a year. No dog should be washed more than once a month unless directed by a veterinarian for medical reasons.
I have found the best products for coats of this breed are the Furminator and the Kong Zoom Groom. The Furminator brush is not good for puppy coats so for puppies I use a simple slicker brush. I used to use the Furminator shampoo and conditioner on my dogs, until I found out that Pika is sensitive to them and they would make her itch for days. Now I use a salon brand oatmeal shampoo and conditioner.
The breed standard states that this breed can be “reserved with strangers and in unfamiliar situations”. To overcome shyness and potential issues that may arise due to this breed trait, it is imperative that an Alaskan Klee Kai be socialized as much as possible throughout its entire life.
Bring your Alaskan Klee Kai EVERYWHERE possible. Bring her to work with you. Kids’ soccer practice. Shopping. Do you know you are even allowed to bring your dog into the bank?
Take advantage of supervised socialization opportunities such as doggie playdates, daycare, and group training classes.
One thing I would caution is taking your Alaskan Klee Kai to dog parks. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR DOG PARK. Most are good places for dogs and their owners to connect, but some parks and their attendees can be questionable. Too many people bring their undisciplined and underexercised dogs there to “blow off steam”, introducing chaos and potentially dog fights. The Alaskan Klee Kai are small dogs. They can easily be harmed if one gets caught in a ruffle. There are also incidents where people steal dogs from dog parks in broad daylight, when their owners were not paying attention.
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a very intelligent breed. They are extremely easy to train, in the sense that it takes them very little time to learn new things. To get them to repeat what they learned, that’s a different story, because Alaskan Klee Kai are also independent thinkers. So be prepared to out-think and out-smart a “perpetual two year old” for the dog’s lifetime. Unlike some breeds of retrievers, the Alaskan Klee Kai does not benefit from repetitive training. Switch things up. Keep things interesting to keep the dog engaged.
Alaskan Klee Kai are extremely sensitive. Therefore, negative or intimidation style training techniques can have TERRIBLE results. NEVER TRY TO PULL A “DOG WHISPERER” ON THIS BREED. Such techniques will cause the dog to shut down, be fearful and can permanently scar the dog.
Instead, apply positive reinforcement and reward-based training. Make them WORK for their rewards. The Alaskan Klee Kai are eager to please and the possibility of being rewarded adds extra motivation for their compliance.
It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you attend training classes with your Alaskan Klee Kai. If you are interested, try out a dog sport called “Rally Obedience”. I refer to it as “fun obedience” where you and your dog run through a course of “obedience obstacles”. Each course is different and therefore it makes training super fun and exciting.
Alaskan Klee Kai are also known to do very well in Agility and Weight Pull training.
I’m often asked by people “what is the best food on the market?”. I can preach about this on and on, but let me spare you and just have it simple put, that “the best food is the one(s) that work best for YOUR dog”. Obviously, stay away from the low end grocery brands, as they are the doggie equivalence of McDonalds and junk food. Once you get into the premium foods, there are a whole variety. Alaskan Klee Kai can be finicky eaters so you might need to do the trial and error. My dogs go through a series of food rotation so that they don’t get attached to one specific food. I will share my experience with you with some of the brands I have tested with my dogs and what I think of them.
My dogs are fed a commercially premixed raw diet. AT HOME, I use Big Country Raw and rotate among the various blends and dinners. 2-3 times a week they get a raw bone (chicken feet or uncut rib bone) as a recreational treat. When they go in the crate, they get a stuffed Kong. WHEN TRAVELLING, I transition the ones going away to kibble about one week prior. I feed kibble on the road for convenience. Once we get home, I transition them back to by fasting them for one day, and then offering their next raw meal as scheduled.
Below is some of my experience with various brands of kibble:
Royal Canin – Royal Canin is a top of the line “traditional foods”. Meaning they focus on the chemistry, or micro ingredients, rather than the state of the ingredients themselves. They make sure the nutritional profile is complete, but doesn’t matter how they make it so. You will see ingredients like meat meal, corn components etc. It is a good food for the science behind it, but it does not fit into the recent trends of “natural, whole, and holistic” models. My dogs have found Royal Canin quite bland and would often refuse it unless they are absolutely starving. I do not use this food as part of my food rotation.
Precription Diets – Very similar to above, they are designed using the “traditional foods” principles and focus of the micro ingredients (protein constitution, fatty acids, minerals etc) rather than macro ingredients (whether the protein come from chicken or beef or corn or whatsoever). Vets usually PUSH PUSH and PUSH prescription diets, if you ever ask them about foods, because they receive huge incentives from the food manufacturers. In my mind, there is absolutely no reason to keep a healthy dog on a “prescription maintenance diet”. However, if your dog is dealing with certain medical issues, such as gastro problems, allergies or intolerances, by all means use a prescription diet until he gets better. I have had good results with the Hill’s I/D gastro foods. Meanwhile, I have found the Hill’s Z/D hypoallergenic food absolutely USELESS in dealing with Drake’s allergies.
Blue Buffalo – one of the premium foods that boasts natural and whole ingredients, Blue comes in normal formulas with grains, limited ingredient formulas, as well as grain free (Blue Wilderness) formulas. High in protein, they further include cold formed “live source bits” of vitamins and antioxidants. My dogs have done well on this food. However Ni’cko had the tendancy to pick out the live source bits and not eat those. I have dropped this food from my list of rotations because I figure if the dogs are not getting the benefits from the live source bits, then why do I keep paying for them?
Wellness – another premium food. Comes in grained version and grain free (Wellness Core). They also have high percent pure ingredient canned food (chicken, turkey etc). I particularly like their 5 fish formula. I use Wellness occasionally for rotation. I also use their canned food quite often.
Acana/Orijen– I LOVED this brand UNTIL RECENTLY (approx 2018). Its Canadian products are made in Canada in their company owned factory, and the ingredients have been superb. Most their formulas are grain free, some do contain oats which is a good grain. Orijen is too rich for Pika and would give her terrible gas, so I mostly use Acana. I rotate through all of their varieties, never with any issues. UNFORTUNATELY, the manufacturer has ventured to the USA with a new factory, introduced lower quality recipes, and altered ingredients in the existing recipes. The company is now facing class action lawsuits about their foods containing heavy metals and toxins. I’VE PULLED ALL MY DOGS OFF ACANA after noticing increase in tear stains, inconsistent stools and the fact that my dogs don’t seem to enjoy their food anymore.
Nutrience – I want to put in a mention of their Subzero line. In terms of ingredients, they are almost on par with what Acana/Orijen used to be, using mostly Canadian sourced ingredients, and the kibble is also made in Canada. I’m not a big fan of their “freeze dried raw bits” inclusion. I think it’s a gimmick, and the bits tend to spoil if exposed to moisture. However, I still pick this line over the rest of their lower quality lines, such as Infusion and Natural.
Home Cook – I make this meat loaf for the dogs and they LOVE it. They love it so much they’re ready to fight for it if I don’t give each dog their own dish. I use a flour mix from Essex Cottage Farms in Canada. It has been balanced for minerals and essential nutrients, and you add your own meat, eggs, vegetables and fruits. I love it because I can play with the recipe for different protein, fat, and fiber contents.
Raw – I have done the prey model (or “whole”) raw, meaning I really just throw a chicken wing or a whole quail at each dog and let them work on it. I’m no longer feeding the dogs this model as their main diet. I loved it when I was doing it, and it does WONDERS to the dogs’ coats. It did take their system a while to adjust, so I had cleaned up some very interesting poop while they detoxed. But then one day, Pika contracted gastroenteritis and had explosive diarrhea for days. I cannot 100% confirm it was due to the raw diet, but after a $1400 vet bill, I’m not willing to take that chance. To me, there are too many variables you need to consider to make sure raw is safe. So I dropped this off my program. The dogs still get a raw chicken foot once in a while as a leisure bone, but that’s about it.
Since writing the above, the raw diet market has evolved, and many “commercial premixed” raw brands have emerged. I’ve tried a few, and I am now a big fan of Big Country Raw based in southwestern Ontario. They source local and human grade ingredients, and all the foods are premixed in a grind, so there is no choking hazard. The only hassle is that since the food comes in frozen containers, I need to thaw out a batch and portion it for the dogs. Handling hygiene is a MUST, but the dogs inhale this food and never have anything left over. This is now the main food I give my pack.
Treats – The dogs occasionally get 2% cottage cheese, shredded cheddar, yoghurt and sometimes panfried hamburger meat as treats. I also like the Vitalife brand chicken, duck, and duck & sweet potato. Freeze dried beef liver is also used. Yes I must admit, they do get their occasional milkbone, especially when they’re at Petsmart, but a little bit won’t hurt.