Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America, Inc.

The Original AKK Breed Club

Health Issues

This page is dedicated to addressing health issues in the Alaskan Klee Kai, and providing the owner with information to help guide in decision-making regarding your dog’s health.  To many breeders, information presented on this site might be common knowledge to them, but to the pet owner who is not into breeding, this information is being offered as a guideline to assist you in taking care of your dog.

      When considering the health of your dog, some simple suggestions                come to mind:


  • it is extremely important that you find a veterinarian in whom you have confidence and trust, and with whom you can develop a strong working relationship for the health of your dog.
  • if you find a veterinarian that makes you feel uneasy or one that you just do not feel comfortable treating your dog the way you would like,  you should search for one that DOES meet your requirements.




  • if the veterinarian that you have chosen meets your requirements, and truly wants to work with you, then you have made an excellent step toward maintaining the health of your AKK.
  • On occasion, your veterinarian may ask you for suggestions as to what to do in the event questions may arise about any known health issues in the Alaskan Klee Kai.  To date, there are no published data on AKK, and much of the information that is circulating in the AKK world, may be based on word of mouth rather than on factual data.  Therefore, when asked this question by your veterinarian, suggest that the veterinarian follow whatever procedure or protocol would be appropriate if the patient was NOT an AKK, and to follow his/her instinct if this was a different breed that presented with this situation.  Then work with the veterinarian to find the answers for your dog’s health. 

Should your dog have any health issues, please share them and the laboratory results, treatment and outcome with the Health & Medical Research Committee by forwarding the information to:

AKKAOA H&MR Committee 03.15.04

Why Perform Blood Work?

What Blood Work Should I Get On My Alaskan Klee Kai? Laboratory Values and What They Mean

 Owners and breeders of Alaskan Klee Kai are interested in assuring that their dogs are healthy.  Unfortunately, these little dogs cannot tell us when they are sick or have some disease or infection present in their bodies.  But laboratory studies, and sometimes symptoms can alert the owner to the presence of a potential health problem. 

  Questions have arisen from AKKAOA members, and other AKK owners as to what blood work should be routinely measured on the Alaskan Klee Kai and what do the different values really mean?  Of concern to some AKK people is liver disease, specifically, elevated ALT.  Some owners have raised questions about the occurrence of thyroid disease, as well as questions about the potential for kidney disease in the Alaskan Klee Kai.  These are all good questions. Concerned AKK owners have reported these disease states on the electronic talk boards.  However, at this point in time, we do not know how frequently these conditions do appear in the Alaskan Klee Kai.  That is why it is so important to determine if there is a potential health problem in the AKK that can be transferred from generation to generation. Please see the Health Research page for a copy of the Liver Enzyme Research Form, which is part of the Health Questionnaire.


When checking for possible liver disease in my dog, what blood work should I get and why?

A Liver Panel, consisting of ALT (alanine aminotransferase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase), GGT (gamma-glutamyltransferase), AP (alkaline phosphatase), albumin, and TP (Total Protein) should be obtained.  Remember that everything that enters the blood stream will pass thru the liver one or more times, and can influence test results.  These include bacteria, antibiotics, food, hormones, etc.


ALT is elevated during infection, inflammation, antibiotic therapy, and liver pathology, among others.  A laboratory value of greater than 3 times the upper limit of normal (Reference range of 10-100) [a value of > 300] would indicate that further study is necessary to find the cause.  It does not mean there is liver disease, as there is not enough information based on this one value and one laboratory parameter alone.


AST can be elevated because of age, obesity, pathology involving the liver as well as the biliary tract.  AST is a less reliable indicator of liver disease, as other organ disease can cause a release of this enzyme.  AST is present in muscle and other organs, and damage or disease in those extrahepatic areas can cause elevation.   Thus, an elevated ALT and a ‘normal’ AST may not indicate liver disease at all.  An elevated ALT with an elevated AST likely is liver disease, especially if they are >3x the upper limit of normal. Thus, an ALT of 182 and an AST of 106 are within acceptable ranges, because they are < 3x the upper limit of the reference range.

Depending upon the other liver enzyme levels, and what your veterinarian believes may be happening in your dog, further lab work may be indicated following treatment of any current infection with antibiotic therapy.


- GGT comes primarily from the liver and can be elevated  with liver disease, gallbladder disease, and pancreatitis.  It can be increased by anticonvulsant and by glucocorticoid drugs.


- AP is highly sensitive but not very specific for liver disease in dogs.  But an elevation of GGT increases the specificity of AP(in dogs).  (Thus, an elevation of GGT as well as AP is highly indicative of liver disease)  AP is also elevated during growth spurts, especially in dogs.  It is increased by the presence of infection, some antibiotics, anticonvulsants and glucocorticoids, and mildly elevated in both hypo and hyperthryoidism.  Highest levels are seen in fatty liver disease.


- Albumin may be decreased because of lessened liver function in hepatitis, or because of ascites.  Hypoalbuminemia (decrease in albumin) is indicative of severe liver disease, or may be indicative of kidney disease, with protein losses across the basement membrane in the glomerulus in the kidney.


- TP is a rather quick test to determine if there is a drop in total protein because of liver or kidney pathology, or if there is a malabsorption of food from the GI tract.


Rationale for doing a Liver Panel, rather than just one test:

No one component of the Liver Panel is diagnostic of liver disease, or of any other disease.  Values from all components must be taken together to determine the cause for the elevation, whether or not it is of concern, and what further clinical evaluations are necessary.   Because infection can cause an elevated ALT, your veterinarian will look at urine and other areas, perhaps treat with antibiotics, then follow up with repeat blood work after the course of therapy has been completed.

Q.  What kinds of lab work should I get to check for kidney disease?

A.   BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and Cr (creatinine) definitely should be checked.

BUN can be elevated by anything that increases metabolism or causes an increase in the breakdown of protein in the blood stream.  Fever, infection, glucocorticoids, and GI bleeding, are but a few of the factors that can increase BUN.  Thus, BUN is not the best indicator of decreased kidney function.  Normal BUN is ~ 10-20 (mg/dl).  (A reference range of 9-15 is essentially the same as 10-20).


Cr comes from the muscle, is released at the same rate every day, and is elevated only in kidney disease.  Consider 1 as a normal Cr and that 1=100% of function.  A  Cr of 2 = 50% of kidney function; a Cr of 10 = 10% of kidney function.  These are not scientifically accurate, as specific function tests are required to assess kidney function accurately.  However, the reciprocal of the Creatinine (1 over the Cr value) will give a ballpark value until specific function tests are done, if they are done at all.


Q. Should I do one of those ERD or early renal disease studies on my dog to be sure?

A.   Some veterinarians like to do ERD on dogs to test for the possibly of kidney disease, but they also do BUN and Cr at the same time.  There seems to be some controversy in the veterinary literature as to the specificity and the sensitivity of this test, and there is no universal agreement in the veterinary community as to the validity of nor to the application of the values in determining kidney function.  Meanwhile, BUN & Cr are universally accepted kidney function test and the meaning of those values is universally accepted.  Your own veterinarian should be able to guide you.


Q.  I’ve heard that some people are routinely doing thyroid tests on their dogs, but why should I do that?

A.  Because some owners have reported hypothyroidism (sometimes called lazy thyroid by lay folks) in their AKK, obtaining and providing the results of a Thyroid Panel can help identify if this is a problem that is specific to the AKK breed.  Hypothyroidism can be the culprit in male dogs being unable to produce sufficient quantities of healthy sperm and female dogs failing to cycle, infertility, abortion or poor litter survival.


Hypothyroid dogs can also have involvement of several organs, can seem ‘lazy’ or slow to move, or may actually have a pituitary tumor.

Q.  What other blood work should I get?

A.  At some point, you will want to have a baseline Chemistry, including electrolytes, and CBC (Complete Blood Count) with Diff (differential or breakdown of the various white cell counts).  Establishing a baseline will help in any kind of assessment should your dog develop any illness.  Having your dog’s ‘normal’ blood work on file can save time later in determining if there have been any changes from your dog’s normal values, and if they may be due to pathology.


Resources for this information came from:
Connolly, Patrick (DVM) Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital, Thousand Oaks, CA, personal communication.

Cunningham, James G (DVM, PhD) Ed.,Textbook of Veterinary Physiology, 3rd ed., Chap 31, Postabsorbtive Nutrient Utilization p308-321 in Sec IV, WB Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA, 2002
Hepatic Diseases in Small Animals , p 326-332 in The Merck Veterinary Manual, 8th Ed, Merck & Co, Inc, Whitehouse Junction, NJ, 1998

Meyer, Denny (DVM,DAVIM, DACVP) Gilead Sciences, Boulder, CO, & Twendt, David C (DVM, DACVIM) Colorado State University, “Liver Diseases” in Lecture Notes, June 2001, The District of Columbia Academy of Veterinary Medicine

Rose & Black’s Clinical Problems in Nephrology, Chap 17, Prerenal Disease, p207-219, Black, Robert M Ed., Little, Brown & Co, New York, 1996


To assist you in keeping track of your dog’s lab values, please see the attached Flow Sheet that can be helpful in quickly determining any changes.


Stay tuned to this page, as we bring you more health related information. 

Submitted by Lo Binkley 07.15.04


Please forward any comments about this information to the Health & Medical Research Committee c/o

Recommendations for Health Monitoring

Alaskan Klee Kai

Our breed continues to grow in popularity and number, and new breeders and owners are recognizing the need to carefully monitor the health and welfare of the breed. In response to questions about what to do, and when to do it, the Health and Medical Research committee of the Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America has developed the following recommendations to guide the veteran breeder as well as the new breeder and owner. Please note that these are guidelines and not requirements. However, it is our hope that every breeder and owner will eventually incorporate these guidelines into their plan for monitoring the health and welfare of their Alaskan Klee Kai. Submitting results and participating in publishing of results on OFA and AKK Pedigree databases should be an eventual goal of all breeders, as this will allow the sharing of health issues, and serve as a mechanism to determine breeding pairs that will likely produce the healthiest offspring.

Health Guidelines for the Alaskan Klee Kai
- At age 3 to 7 days of life, dewclaws are removed and a basic health exam is performed by a qualified veterinarian. (a few breeders remove them on their own pups)
- At 8 weeks of age, a health assessment is performed, and includes eyes, ears, mouth (teeth), lungs, heart, testicle status (males only) and check patellae bilaterally (refer to the Patellar Luxation section in OFA area).
- Vaccinations should be given according to your veterinarian’s schedule. However, do not allow the veterinarian to give both the rabies vaccine and the last set of puppy shot together because a reaction may occur. References: “YOUR DOG”, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Volume XI, number 6, pg 12, June 2005; plus reports from several AKK owners whose puppies experienced a reaction.
- De-worming should be done on all puppies. However, follow the recommendation of your veterinarian for a schedule of dosing and frequency. If you live in those areas of the country that do not have the weather to support the usual intestinal parasites, your veterinarian may advise you that routine worming is not necessary. This is particularly true in the Southwest and other desert areas, and routine stool samples for fecal parasite testing provides helpful information. Heartworm testing should be done on the puppy prior to starting on heartworm medication before 6 months of age. However, if the mother has been on year-round heartworm preventative medication, and you are in that part of the country where heartworm is not present, your veterinarian may advise you that testing may not be necessary prior to starting medication. Those living in areas where venomous snakes reside may want to consider vaccinating against snake bite. Please follow your veterinarian’s advice.
- Factor VII DNA testing needs to be done on all AKK since Factor VII Deficiency has been found within our breed. Testing can be done as early as 6 weeks of age, as long as there has been an interval of at least 3-4 hours from nursing until the DNA swab is done. Offspring of a breeding between parents that are other than Clear, should be done to determine Factor VII status. Ideally, Factor VII Deficiency will be eradicated from the Alaskan Klee Kai breed rather quickly, as dedicated breeders seek to breed this health issue out completely.

- Frequently check your AKK puppy for retained baby teeth, since these can present a problem if left unchecked as the dog matures and the adult teeth come in. This can cause interference with the proper scissor bite in this breed if retained baby teeth are not removed by the time the puppy is 6 months of age or the adult teeth have grown.
- If you will be spaying or neutering your AKK puppy, consult with your veterinarian about timing and consideration of health issues. Small breed males usually reach sexual maturity between 7-9 months of age; females sometimes take a bit longer. While they may be sexually mature, the female will likely not be emotionally mature enough to have puppies at a young age. There are advantages and disadvantages to early spaying and neutering. Reference information can be found at:
- If the AKK is going to be used for show/breeding purposes, then neither the male nor female should be bred before the age of 12 months, and then only after the health exam is done and is within normal or acceptable limits.
- Initial health exam (for breeding suitability) should be done for the Alaskan Klee Kai at 12 to 15 months of age and not before that time. This recommendation is based upon the developing physical maturity of the Alaskan Klee Kai. Rationale: As a rough approximation, the human equivalent of a one-year-old dog is between about 10 and 15 years--- a one-year-old dog or cat has generally reached it full growth and is sexually mature, although it might still be lanky and need to fill in a more mature musculature, similar to human teenagers. The second year is equivalent to about another 3 to 8 years in terms of physical and mental maturity, and each year thereafter is equivalent to only about 4 or 5 human years. Reference information can be found at:
Emotional maturity occurs, as with humans, over an extended period of time and in stages. As in other areas, development of giant breeds is slightly delayed when compared to other breeds, and as with humans, there is a difference between adulthood and full maturity (compare humans age 20 and age 40 for example). In all but large breeds, social-sexual interest arises around 6 to 9 months, becoming emotionally adult around 15 to 18 months, and full maturity around 3 to 4 years, although, as with humans, learning and refinement continue thereafter. Reference: UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
A breeding suitability exam should include the following:
- Full blood panel (sometimes referred to as a Canine Comprehensive SuperChem). This blood panel will include all the liver function tests, CBC (complete blood count) plus T3, T4 and a Free T4, which are thyroid function tests. Reason for the full panel is to make sure that all values are within normal range and if isolated elevations are found, may warrant further evaluation. This is also to establish a baseline against which future laboratory results can be compared. However, by doing this panel at age 12 to 15 months, the AKK is mature enough that growth spurts are unlikely to render inaccurate liver function test results. Owners and breeders alike must also keep in mind that certain values can be slightly elevated due to stress on the dog going to the veterinarian and having the blood drawn. All of this must be taken into account when lab work is being evaluated.
- Liver function tests such as ALT and AST are affected by liver disease, but can be influenced by growth spurts as mentioned above, infection, and health conditions. ALT elevation without AST elevation does not indicate liver disease, but does indicate that there likely is an infection present, commonly a urinary tract infection. Usual reference range for both ALT and AST is around 10-100; clinicians do not generally become concerned until the values are greater than 3 times the upper limit of normal, or over 300. However, abnormal values do warrant “another look” or a “wait and watch”, for which the veterinarian may want to recheck certain lab tests.
- Thyroid panel is important because autoimmune thyroiditis, which has been found in our breed, is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism in dogs. The disease has variable onset, but tends to clinically manifest itself at 2 to 5 years of age. Dogs may be clinically normal for years, only to become hypothyroid at a later date. The marker for autoimmune thyroiditis, thyroglobulin autoantibody formation, usually occurs prior to the occurrence of clinical signs. Therefore, since the majority of affected dogs will have autoantibodies by 4 years of age, annual testing for the first 6 years is recommended. After that, testing every other year should suffice. Unfortunately, a negative or normal report at any one time does not guarantee that the dog will not eventually develop thyroiditis.* But, a breeding pair that remains normal (neither male nor female develops autoantibodies) should produce offspring that are also normal.** References: * Orthopedic Foundation for Animals Recommendations website **Jean Dodds, DVM. Your veterinarian should have the blood work sent to the OFfA with the proper forms so they (OFA) can evaluate and notify owners of AKK of the results, and the results are available in a national database accessible to the public. An increasing incidence of thyroiditis is occurring in Siberian huskies, and we do have this breed as one component of our foundation for the Alaskan Klee Kai breed. Please refer to the Siberian Husky Health Foundation for more information. Website is:
- All AKK should be screened for patella luxation, especially since the American Eskimo breed is ranked 27th with this problem and the Schipperke is ranked 58th. Both of these breeds are in the foundation for the Alaskan Klee Kai. Although the luxation may not be present at birth, the anatomical deformities that cause these luxations are present at that time and are responsible for subsequent recurrent patellar luxation. Patellar luxation should be considered an inherited disease. Neonates and older puppies often show clinical signs of abnormal hind-leg carriage and function from the time they start walking; these generally present as grades 3 to 4. Young to mature animals with grade 2 to 3 luxations usually have exhibited abnormal or intermittently abnormal gaits all their lives but are presented in the clinic when the problem symptomatically worsens. Signs vary dramatically with the degree of luxation, so evaluation should occur initially at 8 weeks of age when the puppy has a basic health assessment done. If a dog is still found to be normal at 12 months of age or older, a breed database number will be issued to the dog from the OFA. Forms and paperwork must be obtained from the OFA, taken to your veterinarian at the time of evaluation, completed and sent by the veterinary office to OFA. Preliminary evaluations of dogs under 12 months is encouraged if the owner desires to breed at this age. However, the most opportune time to gather breeding data about patellar status is at 6-8 weeks of age prior to the puppy’s release to the new owner. Reference: OFA Website at While OFA recognizes that owners will breed some dogs at less than 12 months of age, AKKAOA, at this time, does not recommend breeding dogs at this young age. Obviously, there will always be an exception, but as a general rule, it is not recommended.
- Screening for cardiac problems within the AKK breed is encouraged since heart murmurs have been found within our breed. Examinations performed in mature dogs are most likely to be definitive. This is especially true when considering mild congenital heart defects. Innocent heart murmurs are less common in mature dogs than in puppies and are less likely to be a source of confusion. Furthermore, the murmurs associated with some mild congenital malformations become more obvious after a dog has reached maturity. While it is quite reasonable to perform preliminary evaluations and provide provisional certification to puppies and young dogs between 8 weeks and 1 year of age, final certification, prior to
breeding, should be obtained in mature dogs at 12 months of age or older. Reference: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website:

- Consider an eye evaluation by a qualified ophthalmologist. Distichiasis, a double row of eyelashes, one row of which is growing inward against the eyeball, is a somewhat common phenomenon in this breed. Suspect this if a dog with no previous tearing begins to have excessive tearing. The extra eyelashes can be plucked (they return, usually stiffer) or removed with cryosurgery (a process that permanently removes the excessive eyelashes). An ophthalmologist can also evaluate for cataracts or other eye problems. While there have been few reports in the Alaskan Klee Kai about juvenile cataracts, this is a heritable disease, and offspring should be evaluated annually. CERF (Canine Eye Research Foundation at Purdue University) examinations are reported on the CERF database by submitting the form along with the Ophthalmologist’s report. These are valid for 1 year from the date of the exam.

These recommendations for our breed are intended to help you to continue to keep it sound and thriving for generations to come.


But we do not want to intentionally breed dogs with known health issues or problems and these recommendations are guidelines to assist you along the path that leads to a sound and thriving Alaskan Klee Kai breed.




Health & Medical Research Committee: Chair -

Will add members when it has been decided... 9-27-11 


Patricia Zengel, Chair (2011)

Health & Medical Research Committee

©AKKAOA 2007 

Health Schedule

Autoimmune Thyroiditis Seminar

Jean Dodds, DVM

July 18, 2008


Hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine disorder of dogs, and up to 80% of cases result from an autoimmune disease that progressively destroys the thyroid gland (autoimmune thyroiditis). When more than 75% of the thyroid gland is destroyed by the process of thyroiditis, classical clinical signs of hypothyroidism appear. Because auotoimmune thyroiditis is heritable, it has significant implications for breeding stock.

Accurate diagnosis of the early stages of autoimmune thyroiditis offers important genetic and clinical options for prompt intervention and case management. However, it is often difficult to make a definitive diagnosis.

Extracted From Dr Dodds’ Presentation:

A complete baseline thyroid profile includes total T4, total T3, free T4, free T3, T3AA and T4AA, and can include cTSH and/or TgAA. A TgAA assay is especially important in screening for heritable autoimmune thyroid disease.

Most cases of thyroiditis have elevated serum TgAA levels, while only 20-40% of cases have elevated circulating T3 and/or T4 AA. Therefore, elevated T3/T4 AA confirms a diagnosis of autoimmune thyroiditis but underestimates its prevalence, as negative or normal antibody levels do not rule out thyroiditis. To be sure that one is doing all that can be done to identify thyroiditis, screening should include TgAA testing on an annual basis as part of the annual exam.

Q & A (taken from conversations with Dr Dodds and from the Seminar):

Q:If twice daily treatment with thyroxine medication converts the abnormal blood levels to normal levels, does that mean that the thyroiditis has been cured? And the dog can then be used for breeding?

A: No, it means that while the disease is under control, it still exists. If left untreated, other autoimmune disorders may also arise.

Q: So does that mean that if the medication is stopped, the disease will again manifest itself with high TgAA levels?

A: Absolutely. An Alaskan Klee Kai with thyroiditis, on treatment, and routine laboratory testing with monitoring of the lab results, should be able to live a relatively normal life.

Q: Is autoimmune thyroiditis sex linked? We seem to see more of it in males than in females?

A: No, thyroiditis is not sex linked. It appears equally in males and in females.

Q: Does thyroiditis skip a generation?

A: No, it does not skip a generation.

Q: So, Mali, will be 5 years old in a couple of months, has good levels and no evidence of thyroiditis. If she remains that way, she will likely not have thyroiditis and her offspring will likely not have it. Is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: What is the earliest we should be checking our Klee Kai for thyroiditis?

A: Screening should be initiated once healthy dogs and bitches have reached sexual maturity (10-14 months in males and approximately 8 weeks after the maiden heat in females [anestrus]).

Thereafter, screening should be on an annual basis, again during anestrus for females and for males when not around a female in heat.

Q: Why is necessary to test females during anestrus and males who have not been around females in heat?

A: This is to minimize any influence of sex hormones on baseline thyroid function.

Q: So hypothyroidism is different from thyroiditis, then?

A: Yes. Hypothyroidism is not inherited or passed from generation to generation, and those Klee Kai with it do not need to be removed from the breeding pool, as we have such a small gene pool.

Q: What can we do to minimize or eliminate autoimmune thyroiditis from the Alaskan Klee Kai breed?

A: 1) Annual screening is essential

2) removing those with autoimmune thyroiditis from the breeding pool will prevent this heritable disease from being passed on to future generations;

3) participating in the international research study to identify the gene responsible for autoimmune thyroiditis will give us genetic markers that can be tested for. (much like we now do for Factor VII).

Q: How many Alaskan Klee Kai are in the thyroiditis database?

A:To date -- including the dogs just tested, we have a total of 69 AKK in our data base.

There were 43 normal, 10 hypothyroid, and 16 with thyroid autoantibodies [i.e. with heritable thyroiditis]. While, we should have 100 dogs (preferably 200) in the data base for a statistically predictive survey of the brred, these data to date show: 62% normal ; 14% hypothyroid; and 23% thyroiditis positive.



The trouble with a small total database is that people with affected dogs tend to test all their close relatives, which can skew the database towards more abnormals than in the breed as a whole. We need more dogs tested to establish the true prevalence of thyroiditis/hypothyroidism in the Alaskan Klee Kai breed.

Q: None of my dogs are hypothyroid or have thyroiditis. Why should I keep testing them?

A: While thyroiditis can occur early on, it may not appear until the dog is 5 or 6 years old.

Therefore, females should not be bred before 4 years of age, to assure not passing along the heritable disease; males should not be bred until 7 years of age. But annual testing with a complete thyroid profile, as mentioned above, including TgAA, is the best way to assure the diagnosis, subsequent treatment, and continued good health of your AKK. Submitting thyroid lab results, or blood samples to Hempoet to participate in the study, as well as participating in the international genetic marker (DNA) study. We need normals in there, too, not just dogs or relatives of dogs with hypothyroidism or thyroiditis.



Please see the Files Section for the following forms if you wish to participate in the AKK Thyroid Database.

1) Lab Request Form to send samples to Dr Dodds’ laboratory, Hemopet

2) Consent form to sign and submit to participate in genetic marker DNA study

3) Instructions for sending laboratory samples, including sample for DNA study

4) Complete handout from Dr Dodds’ Seminar

Update on Thyroid Disease, Vaccine Issues, and Nutrition

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
938 Stanford Street
Santa Monica, CA 90403
310-828-4804; Fax 310-828-8251;


Thyroid Disease
Hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine disorder of dogs, and up to 80% of cases result from an autoimmune disease that progressively destroys the thyroid gland (autoimmune thyroiditis). Once more than 75% of the gland is destroyed by this process, classical clinical signs of hypothyroidism appear. Because the condition is heritable, it has significant genetic implications for breeding stock. Accurate diagnosis of the early stages of autoimmune thyroiditis offers important genetic and clinical options for prompt intervention and case management. However, it is often difficult to make a definitive diagnosis.

Vaccine Issues
Modern vaccine technology has permitted us to protect companion animals effectively against serious infectious diseases. However, the challenge to produce effective and safe vaccines for the prevalent infectious diseases of animals has become increasingly difficult. In veterinary medicine, evidence implicating vaccines in triggering immune-mediated and other chronic disorders (vaccinosis) is compelling. While some of these problems have been traced to contaminated or poorly attenuated batches of vaccine that revert to virulence, others apparently reflect the host=s genetic predisposition to react adversely upon receiving the single (monovalent) or multiple antigen “combo” (polyvalent) products given routinely to animals.
Animals of certain susceptible breeds or families appear to be at increased risk for severe and lingering adverse reactions to vaccines.

Wholesome nutrition is key to maintaining healthy immune function and resistance to disease.  Discussion will focus on the basic ingredients and trace vitamins, minerals, and immunebalancing nutrients that promote healthy endocrine and immune function as they apply to health and disease.



About Factor VII Deficiency in the Alaskan Klee Kai

Factor VII information has now been updated to DNA testing for your dogs, as well as instructions for obtaining swabs to do the tests, should you prefer to do this rather than take your dog to your vet to have blood drawn. This information and the swabs for acquiring the necessary material for the DNA testing will be available to ALL AKK owners whether or not they are members of any dog club.

This is the test that many of us have been waiting for.  It is a simple non-invasive swabbing like the DNA tests done for UKC or for RF testing.  However, it is essential that you rotate the swabs as many as 10 times to assure enough tissue sample for accurate DNA testing.  In order to receive three swabs for each dog, please email 
or  with the number of dogs for which you are requesting swabs.  Please include your postal mailing address and allow a little time for the swab kits to arrive. They will be sent to you as soon as possible.

Please note that THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY.  If your dog has not experienced any abnormal bleeding from cut toenails, dewclaw removal, or from minor trauma, your dog very likely does not have a problem.  If you are not breeding your dog,  you will not need to do this test.  However, the price goes up in 3 months (May 31, 2006), so if  you think you might want to know whether or not your dog has Factor VII Deficiency, then you may want to do this now.

Thank you for your patience with us as we do our best to get accurate information out to you.

A very special thanks to all of the people who have come together to make this happen for the Alaskan Klee Kai family.  To mention specific people by name would be insufficient, because there are so many people who are nameless who played a significant role in bringing this to fruition.  Rather than risk omitting anyone whose contribution was a key piece of this genomic puzzle, because it was many pieces that came together for this to happen, a blanket statement of gratitude is sincerely extended to all of you who participated in this achievement.  You have all made a significant contribution to the Alaskan Klee Kai breed.  Thank you!

This is a joint AKKAOA/UAKKA project.



FVII Deficiency in Alaskan Klee Kai Updated Information as of March 15, 2006

Several hereditary bleeding disorders have been identified in many different canine breeds and involve clotting (coagulation) factor deficiencies, platelet disorders, and von Willebrand disease. Coagulation factor VII (FVII) deficiency has been known to occur in Beagles for decades, and there are a few reports of FVII deficiency in the Alaskan Malamute, Bulldog, and a mixed breed dog. Very recently hereditary FVII deficiency was identified in a bleeding Alaskan Klee Kai dog and its family, as well as unrelated asymptomatic Alaskan Klee Kai dogs. A DNA test to identify the mutation responsible for FVII deficiency in Alaskan Klee Kai dogs has been developed at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dogs with hereditary FVII deficiency may exhibit an increased bleeding tendency following trauma or surgery or rarely appear to develop spontaneous bleeding. There are few reports of severe bleeding requiring blood transfusions, and some FVII-deficient dogs may remain unrecognized. As this is an autosomal recessive disorder, the diseased/mutant gene (allele) may be unknowingly passed on through generations not only via asymptomatic carriers but also affected dogs, as they may not show obvious signs. Carriers have one mutant and one normal gene and appear clinically normal, but they can pass the defective gene to their offspring. Only a small number of Alaskan Klee Kai dogs have been tested thus far, and hence the frequency and bleeding tendency remain to be elucidated.

Screening Alaskan Klee Kai dogs with a clotting test (PT assay) may suggest FVII deficiency, and measurement of plasma FVII coagulant activity could confirm a diagnosis of FVII deficiency. Results of the PT assay are normal for carriers, and measurement of plasma FVII coagulant activity will not accurately identify carriers, as there is overlap of FVII activities between carrier and normal dogs.

A mutation-based DNA test to screen Alaskan Klee Kai dogs (and Beagles) for FVII deficiency has been developed

(Dr. Beth Callan, principal investigator) and has then been established at the Josephine Deubler Genetic Disease Testing Laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Dr. Urs Giger, director; Mr. Adam Seng, Research Specialist). This test can clearly identify affected, carrier, and normal (also known as clear) Alaskan Klee Kai dogs. We recommend testing of any Alaskan Klee Kai dog with signs of bleeding, as well as its relatives. Furthermore, it is advisable to screen any Alaskan Klee Kai dog, particularly popular sires, prior to breeding to limit the spread of this bleeding disorder. Carriers could still be used in future breeding programs.

Knowing which dog is a carrier or normal (clear) will allow the targeted breeding of carriers with desirable traits to normal dogs without ever producing affected dogs, as long as the offspring are also tested and only clear dogs used thereafter. With a breed of this size you cannot afford to neuter all animals with a mutant gene, as you want to preserve their desirable traits and the gene pool.

The Josephine Deubler Genetic Testing Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania is offering screening for FVII deficiency in Alaskan Klee Kai dogs at a reduced introductory rate of $50 per dog through May 31, 2006, provided that a pedigree and adequate clinical information on the submission form are included ($75 per sample without pedigree). Samples suitable for this DNA test include 1-2 mLs EDTA-anticoagulated blood (preferable) or 2-3 cheek swabs (obtained with special cytology brushes). Cytology brushes and test submission forms are available through the United Alaskan Klee Kai Association

and the Alaskan Klee Kai Association of America

Test submission forms may also be downloaded from our website We are also offering test kits when requested with a self-addressed stamped envelop. For more information on canine FVII deficiency, please contact Dr. Beth Callan 215-898-3999; or Dr. Urs Giger (215-898-8830; Blood and dried cheek swab

samples, along with test submission forms and pedigrees, may be submitted in a ziploc bag to Dr. Urs Giger/FVII Rm 4006, Ryan Veterinary Hospital, University of Pennsylvania, 3900 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-6010. Test results are generally available within 3 weeks of receipt of samples and are sent only to submitter of samples. All information is kept strictly confidential.


 Procedure for Cheek Swab Collection

Three swab brushes are needed for each animal tested. To avoid contamination by food, do not feed the animal for a minimum of 2 hours before you collect the sample. If you are collecting from a puppy or kitten do not collect within 2 hours of nursing. If you plan to test more than one animal, remember to wash your hands in between them and submit each pair of brushes in separate bags.


1. Wash your hands before you collect the cheek swab sample.

2. Clearly label the envelopes that contain the cheek swab brushes with the

following information: owner’s last name, animal’s name or ID and date of


3. Open the end of the swab package that shows the word "peel" printed on

it. Be careful not to touch the brush ends as you remove the swab.

4. You may need to gently restrain the animal by using one hand to loosely

grip a handful of skin at the nape of the neck as well as one ear. This

should give you a fair amount of control while collecting the sample.

Another way to make the collection easier is to ask another person to

assist you in holding the animal and positioning the head.

5. Insert the brush end horizontally between the animal’s upper gums and the

inside of the lips on one side of the mouth. Roll the brush for approximately 10

seconds (or at least 5 full rotations). Make sure the brush is in contact with

the gum/inner cheek tissue and not just the saliva.

6. Return the brush to its original package. Let the brushes sit out for one

hour to overnight and then tape the opened end of the package shut

and place in a ZiplocTM bag.

7. Repeat the above steps for the other brush, collecting from the

opposite side of the mouth from the previous collection.

8. Complete the required submission form for each animal and mail with the

sample or complete the submission form on the website below.

9. The samples can be mailed by regular or express mail to the address below.

Contact and Shipping Information:

Dr. Urs Giger

Deubler Genetic Disease Testing Laboratory

Veterinary Hospital University of Pennsylvania, Room

4006 3900 Delancey Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010

Phone 215-898-3375

Fax 215-573-2162

Other Test and instructions

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