The Alaskan Klee Kai and the Mini Husky are two breeds of dog that are often mistaken for one another at a glance, and this is an easy mistake to make given the many similarities in the appearance and many of the core traits of both breeds! While the two breeds are in fact close relatives, they are nevertheless recognized as two completely separate types of dog-so in this article, we will take a look at the basic traits of both breeds, their similarities and differences, and how to tell them apart.
To learn more about the differences between an Alaskan Klee Kai and the Mini Husky, click here.
More about the Alaskan Klee Kai
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a relatively modern breed, which was only developed and standardised in the 1970’s, and not widely available to buy by private owners until the 1980’s. The Klee Kai’s ancestry includes elements of the Alaskan Husky, Siberian Husky, and to a lesser extent, the American Eskimo dog and Schipperke as well.
While many people incorrectly refer to the Alaskan Klee Kai as Mini Huskies, or use the two terms interchangeably, it is important to note that they are not the same breed, and this article will help to go some way towards clarifying why this is, and how
More about the Mini Husky
Mini Huskies are exactly what the name implies they are-Miniature Siberian Huskies, or Siberian Huskies that are smaller than the size accepted by the breed standard for true dogs of the breed, due to either deliberate breeding for a smaller size, or simply the luck of the draw. As demand for and interest in these slightly smaller Huskies has become more common and widespread, deliberate breeding programs for the Mini Husky have resulted in the establishment of the dog as a new, and for many people, desirable alternative to the standard Siberian Husky. Ergo, the Mini Husky is genetically identical to a Siberian Husky-just a little smaller.
Traits common to both breeds
One thing that both the Alaskan Klee Kai and Mini Huskies have in common is that both breeds were derived from other existing dog breeds, and they have a reasonable amount of common ancestry between them. In order to better understand how the Mini Husky and the Alaskan Klee Kai differ, it is a good idea to develop a basic understanding of what the two breeds have in common first!
Both breeds are classed as Spitz-type dogs, which means that they come from the same genetic background, and so share a lot of common traits in their physical appearance-such as their distinctive curved tails, thick double-layered coats, and pointed ears.
Additionally, the Siberian Husky features in the ancestry of both breeds-the Mini Husky is, as mentioned, genetically the same as a Siberian Husky, while the Alaskan Klee Kai was originally bred from a combination of Spitz-type dog breeds, including the Siberian Husky, and so shares some traits with them.
Both breeds are cold-hardy and very thick coated, and not fazed by cold weather. They also look very similar at a glance, which means that unless you are in the know, they can be hard to tell apart-but the differences between the two breeds are more than just skin deep, and their temperaments and personalities are markedly different from each other as well.
Size and appearance
The Mini Husky essentially looks just like a full-sized Siberian Husky, but smaller! Miniature Siberian Huskies measure between around 12-16” tall at the withers, and usually only weigh up to around 25-30lb, while the Alaskan Klee Kai can range from 13-17” tall at the withers with a weight in proportion to their size, meaning that they are usually a touch taller and heavier.
In terms of color, the Mini Husky usually has white paws and facial markings, with a range of other colors making up the main part of their coats. The Mini Husky’s most common coat color is grey, or black and white, but they can also be seen in pure white, agouti, or copper as well, although these shades are less common.
The Alaskan Klee Kai was traditionally found in just three color variants-black and white, grey and white, or red and white. However today, a pure-white variant is also recognized, as are solid colors, ie, those without white accompanying them.
One of the key differences in appearance between the two breeds can be seen on the face-the Alaskan Klee Kai has what is known as a mask, which means that the fur immediately surrounding their eyes and along their noses bear a line of color, making them look as if their eyes have been outlined, or as if they are wearing spectacles!
While it can be hard to tell the Alaskan Klee Kai Mini Huskies apart based solely on their appearance, their temperaments are markedly different, and this provides one of the clues to the identity of the breed!
The Mini Husky, as a smaller version of the Siberian Husky, was bred as a working dog first and foremost, and as such, they are intended to run, hunt and pull sleds, which is reflected in their temperament. They are highly energetic and intelligent dogs that will think nothing of taking themselves off for some exercise if they get bored, and their desire to hunt and chase are also marked within the breed, and can be hard to manage in some cases!
The Siberian Husky tends to be outgoing, lively and friendly, and not at all afraid of meeting new people or even wandering off with someone they only just met if it looks as if there may be an adventure in it!
The Alaskan Klee Kai, on the other hand, was deliberately bred as a companion dog or pet, and while they are intelligent, lively and spry, they are not quite as energetic or one track minded as the Mini Husky! They also tend to be rather more speculative around people that they don’t know, and while they bond strongly with their families, they need to be properly introduced to strangers, and will usually take a while to warm up to them!
They make for good watchdogs and guard dogs too, and will soon let you know if a stranger is approaching-in contrast to Mini Huskies, which will usually offer a warm welcome to both friends and potential foes alike!
Both Miniature Siberian Huskies and the Alaskan Klee Kai are versatile, hardy dogs that think nothing of running around and spending time outside in all weathers, and they both have good conformation that means they are not predisposed to any faults or problems due to their shape and build.
The Alaskan Klee Kai was, for a long time, considered to be essentially free of hereditary genetic defects thanks to their hybrid vigor, but since their formative days, the breed has been identified as having a slightly elevated propensity to thyroid problems, patellar luxation, and heart defects-however, such problems are by no means widely spread within the breed.
Mini Huskies have a slightly higher occurrence rate of hereditary health problems, including eye problems, digestive upsets and problems with the larynx and lungs. Health testing prior to breeding is advisable for certain conditions-but overall, Mini Huskies too tends to be healthy and long-lived, without a significant number of markers for hereditary health issues.
Deciding to buy or adopt a dog is a big commitment, regardless of what sort of dog it is, but when it comes to the Miniature Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Klee Kai, extra special care should be taken to ensure that you know what you are getting into, and are confident that you understand the core traits of the breeds and are able to cater for them!
The Mini Husky needs significant amounts of exercise every day, and they will not be satisfied with a couple of sedate walks-they require plenty of both mental and physical stimulation and to lead an active, interesting life, otherwise they will not thrive-or may go off looking for excitement on their own!
The Alaskan Klee Kai too needs mental stimulation and plenty of exercise–however, they are not as highly strung or potentially challenging as the Mini Husky, as they were bred as a companion dog and designed to live happily within the average family home. The Alaskan Klee Kai should be taken on moderately long, varied walks every day and given plenty to occupy their time with, but they also love to relax at home with their families and favorite people too.
One thing to bear in mind with both breeds is that the coat care they require can be something of a challenge-both the Mini Husky and the Alaskan Klee Kai have very thick, warm double-layered coats, which tend to shed most of the year, and can make keeping your home free of fur a challenge! Added to this, both breeds will blow their coats once a twice a year, which involves shedding all of their prior season’s coat over the course of just a couple of weeks, which can be very messy and time consuming in terms of grooming and hoovering up after them!
One additional piece of information that may be important for some people is the pedigree status of the two dog breeds- the Mini Husky is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a breed in its own right, as they are genetically identical to the Siberian Husky, but smaller.
While this is a desirable trait for many owners and in fact, there is a lot of demand for Mini Huskies, it is important to bear in mind that the Mini Husky itself is not a distinct breed from the Siberian Husky, and so cannot be registered as such.
The Alaskan Klee Kai, as a relatively young breed, has yet to receive formal recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC) either-however, they are recognized by both the United Kennel Club, and the American Rare Breed Association, and ultimately, are highly likely to become accepted as a breed in their own right by the AKC in years to come.
Which breed of dog is right for me?
In order to decide which of the two breeds is the best match for you, it is important to do plenty of research into both breeds, get out there and meet some dogs of both types, and take your time to make an informed decision, based on your preferences and home life.
A Mini Husky will require a lot of supervision, attention, training and vitally, exercise-they also have a strong prey drive, and like to be outside and running around for most of the day. The Alaskan Klee Kai too needs plenty of entertainment, exercise and stimulation, but they tend to be a better match for life within a family home, and not quite as onerous to care for as the Mini Husky.