Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Borkie

When it comes to designer dog names, there are some weird and wonderful ones out there and the Borkie has surely made the top ten list! Despite the name, this dashing mix of the Beagle and Yorkshire Terrier is an energetic hybrid with a bubbly personality. These dogs have plenty of energy and are always up for a game.

Of course, the Beagle and the Yorkie look so unalike that one would be forgiven for wondering if they were a different species. Due to this, the Borkie has a rather varied appearance. Most, however, will have a medium-length wiry coat and will be black & tan or tricolor. They are larger than the average Yorkie, though are still a small sized breed.

About & History

Borkies originated in the United States at the end of the 20th century when there was a surge in the popularity of designer dogs and people were eagerly creating every hybrid that came to mind. With only a few decades under their belt, their history is still in its infancy but we can understand more about them by examining the history of each parent breed more closely.

The Beagle

Beagles are handsome hunting dogs renowned for their easy-going nature and cheery disposition. Beagle type dogs have been used for hunting for over 500 years but it wasn’t until the 1800s that the Beagle that we know and love today was established. Beagles originate from Foxhounds and other hunting dogs and have been developed to pursue prey close to the ground, including rabbits and hare.

While originally from Great Britain, they made quite the impression overseas and are extremely popular within America. As well as being a great pet dog, Beagles are also used as sniffer dogs by the police and at airports. Their exceptional sense of smell and love of tracking gives them the edge over their canine peers when it comes to this type of work.

The Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers, of course, hail from Yorkshire in the north of England and are one of the smallest dog breeds in existence. Teeny enough to fit within handbags and undeniably elegant with their long and silky coat, they are the chosen breed of many celebrities and are frequently seen in dog shows.

Although a pampered pooch in modern times, the original Yorkies were actually developed as working dogs and would earn their crust as ratters, keeping vermin levels down in the local mines and mills. Their tenacity and quick turn of foot made them ideal candidates for the post.


Borkie Large Photo

The Borkie is a fetching dog with a cheeky face and wonderfully ‘scruffy’ coat. Their skull is rather round and they have a muzzle, which is medium in length and not overly wide. While it’s possible for them to inherit the erect ears of the Yorkie, most will possess the endearingly floppy, over-sized ears of their Beagle parent. Their eyes are round and dark brown and, for many owners, this is their most appealing feature. They have a rectangular-shaped body with a noticeable abdominal tuck up and sturdy limbs. Their tail is quite slim, medium in length and may either have short or long fur.

For most Borkies, they have a medium to long coat that is rather wiry and unkempt looking. Their facial fur is longer in certain areas, giving them the appearance of having eyebrows and a beard! While black and tan or grey and tan are the most common colour combinations, we can also see dogs that have patches of white fur, making them ‘tricolour’.

Weighing roughly 9kg to 11kg and measuring from 30cm to 38cm at the withers, the Borkie is evidently far larger than its Yorkie parent. This is something that should be taken into account when breeding and is why it is advised that the female of the pairing be the larger Beagle (to prevent a difficult labour).

Character & Temperament

Well-suited to family life, the Borkie is a companion animal through and through and loves to be part of the action within the household. Curious critters, they need to know what is going on at all times and will show a great deal of affection towards their owners.

One should not forget that both the Yorkie and the Beagle were bred to hunt and there are certain character traits that they continue to possess due to this. Borkies often have a rather determined attitude and still have a honed prey drive. This makes them ill-suited to life with small furry pets, such as gerbils and guinea pigs. It also means that they can become easily distracted when outside and owners will have a harder time teaching them recall when there are lots of lovely scents to go and pursue.

While well able to bark and howl, most Borkies are too sweet-natured and accepting to cut it as guard dogs and tend to welcome strangers into their home with excitement. Their sociable nature is one of their most attractive character traits and most make wonderful ‘cuddle buddies’.


Eager to learn, Borkies enjoy their training sessions and make for good little pupils. Their downfall is their attention span, however, and they will become easily distracted from the task at hand, especially if outdoors. Basic training should begin from a young age and owners should reward appropriate behaviour with plenty of treats.

It is not unheard of for poorly trained and under-stimulated Borkies to develop vices, such as excessive barking. Owners must work with them to ensure that this doesn’t happen by providing them with a solid and consistent training program.


Dogs that generally enjoy good health, we need to be on the watch for a handful of health conditions that may be experienced throughout their lifetime:

Ear Infections

Due to their large and pendulous ears, these dogs are more likely than others to develop chronic ear infections. Symptoms can include head shaking, ear scratching and vocalisation. Owners may notice that the skin inside the ear appears red and inflamed and that there is a large amount of foul-smelling discharge within the ear canal.

Infections should be treated as soon as they are present. Keeping canals dry at all times and cleaning ears regularly can go a long way towards preventing an infection from setting in in the first place.

Tracheal Collapse

The trachea (or windpipe) is supported by cartilage and if this cartilage does not provide enough support then the airflow will be restricted as the windpipe collapses to some degree.

Dogs may suffer from shortness of breath and a chronic, dry cough. Most benefit from weight loss (if needed) and the use of a body harness rather than a neck collar. For some, medications will offer relief from symptoms while those that are more severely affected may need a surgery.


An underactive thyroid gland results in a circulating thyroid hormone level that is too low. The thyroid hormone is responsible for a variety of different functions within the body and causes a myriad of symptoms when it is not working as it should. Hypothyroid dogs are often slow and sluggish.

They are typically over-weight and find it hard to slim down. Affected dogs may also have a slow heart rate and can find it hard to stay warm, sometimes displaying ‘heat-seeking’ behaviour around the home. Thankfully, this hormonal condition is easily treated by replacing the thyroid hormone with tablets that are taken each day. Dogs will require frequent check-ups and blood test with the vet to confirm the condition is being well-managed.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A jolly and active dog, the Borkie is not one to lay about. Even within the home, these dogs will follow their owners from room to room and chase around after their toys. They are especially playful and relish the opportunity to play with interactive dog toys and take part in games outside, such as fetch and 'go find' type games.

As they are not particularly big dogs, a couple of 20-30 minute walks or hikes outside are generally enough. Be sure to allow your Borkie to sniff to their heart’s content as, for them, this is oftentimes the best part of the excursion.


The moderately dense coat of the Borkie should be brushed a few times a week to prevent knots from forming. Extra attention must be paid to their ears and owners should be confident cleaning them on a weekly to fortnightly basis.

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