It's easy to mistake the Alaskan Klee Kai for a tiny Siberian Husky -- it was actually created to look like a miniature version of the much larger husky. Both have prick ears, thick coats that come in similar colors, and curled-over bushy tails. However, despite the similarities, the breeds are very different in their origin and behavior.
The breed was developed in Alaska by Linda Spurlin from the 1970s to 1988, when it was released to the public. Linda bred Alaskan and Siberian Huskies with American Eskimo Dog and Schipperke to create the look of a husky in a petite frame but without the risk of dwarfism. The Alaskan Klee Kai was recognized by the American Rare Breed Association in 1995 and the United Kennel Club in 1997.
The Alaskan Klee Kai comes in three sizes: toy, miniature and standard. The sizes stand up to 13 inches, between 13 and 15 inches and between 15 and 17 inches, respectively. Toy varieties can weigh up to 9 pounds, miniatures are 10 to 15 pounds and standard Klee Kais weigh 16 to 23 pounds. Alaskan Klee Kais have three recognized color varieties, including black and white, gray and white, or red and white. This breed is described as being lively, intelligent and highly active. They thrive on stimulation and plenty of exercise. They have great drive to please their masters so should be taught manners and basic obedience at an early age.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Siberian Husky originated with the Chukchi people of northeastern Asia. The husky was created to be a sled dog that could run long distances with heavy loads. Researchers say the Chukchi people maintained a pure strain of sled dogs through the 19th century and that they are the sole and direct ancestors of the modern Siberian Husky.
The Siberian Husky stands between 20 and 23 1/2 inches, and weighs between 35 and 50 pounds. According to the American Kennel Club, all coat colors from black to pure white are allowed. Many have unique dark markings or masks on their faces. The Siberian Husky is alert, friendly and outgoing. Because the husky was bred to run and pull loads over long distances, the breed retains great stamina and a need for strenuous exercise. They tend to display some "primitive" qualities, such as the characteristic husky howl.
- Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images