Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Carkie is a mixture of two British breeds: The boisterous Yorkshire Terrier and the self-assured Cairn Terrier. They inherit their parents’ confidence and mischievous nature and make a vivacious pet who love to play with children of all ages. While clever and adaptable, they know their own mind and can be less biddable than other breeds.

A typical product of the designer dog movement, the Carkie is small, fluffy and ever so cute. They have a foxy face, teddy bear eyes and a long, soft coat. While some may be the typical black and tan of the Yorkie, most will get some colour from the Cairn terrier, with cream, grey and red fur being commonly seen.

About & History

A product of the designer dog movement that began in the 1970s, the Carkie is thought to be a more recent addition to the crew which was first developed sometime around the 1990s. As the Cairn Terrier is not a particularly popular breed, it is not surprising that the Carkie is even less well known.

The Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is a spirited little dog with a reputation for being feisty. They originated in Yorkshire during the 19th century and descended from breeds, including the Skye Terrier and the now extinct Black and Tan Terrier and Paisley Terrier. While some presume that these dinky, delicate doggies were developed to sit in handbags, the converse is actually true and they made superb ‘ratters’ in their day.

They were employed in areas where it was difficult to keep vermin levels low, such as within coal mines. Nowadays, Yorkies no longer work and are instead kept as either pets or show dogs. They are a firm favourite of many celebrities, including Johnny Depp and Paris Hilton.

The Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is one of the least recognised of the terriers and some may even mistake it for a ‘dirty’ West Highland White Terrier as they bear a close resemblance but are never white! In fact, it is the Westie that was bred from the Cairn Terrier.

As with the Yorkie, the Cairn Terrier was bred to hunt vermin, though they originated further north, in Scotland. Over the centuries, they would also be used in sport; competing in the likes of otter hunting. The Kennel Club recognise them within their Terrier Group and make mention of the fact that they have changed so little throughout the centuries.


The Carkie is a diminutive dog with a rather fine bone structure. They have a small and delicate head, with round brown eyes and a small but well-defined muzzle. Their ears are typically large and erect, though pendulous and semi-erect ears are seen too. Their body is rectangular in shape and, while they won’t be winning any body-building competitions any time soon, they are quite well-muscled for a dog of their stature. Their paws are small and cat-like and they often have dark claws. The tail of the Carkie is very slender and well-plumed.

Growing to heights of between 21cm and 30cm and weighing from 4.5kg to 7kg, the Carkie is larger than their Yorkie parent, but would still be considered a Toy breed. The coat of the Carkie is variable but most will have straight fur, which can grow long if allowed to do so. The most common coat colours are black, cream, grey and brown.

Character & Temperament

The Carkie dog has a fun-loving nature and a real zest for life. They love to actively take part in anything that is going on around the home and are so curious they could be described as nosy! They possess a confidence that most humans would love to have and always seem very in control and sure of themselves, rarely acting shy or hesitant regardless of the situation they are put in.

Carkies enjoy spending time with their family and can get along splendidly well with children as most have high thresholds for being pushed about. However, they are quite small so are prone to injuries and should be monitored closely when around toddlers and young children. Most are happy to be introduced to new people and rarely act hostile in their company.

A number of individuals can become over-reliant on their owners, eager to spend every waking second with them and following them around the house as if stuck to them with glue. For some owners, this is not an issue, however, it can become problematic when owners need to leave the home. Separation anxiety will develop in those that are left alone for too long so they should only be kept by owners who have plenty of time for them.


As the Carkie is a smart cookie, they have plenty of fun during their training sessions. They can be quite high energy and require lots of patience. Easily distracted, their attention is best kept with a constant supply of delicious training treats.


A small terrier cross, the Carkie typically enjoys good health and should live into its early teens.


A reduced production of the thyroid hormone (T4) will slow down the metabolism and cause sluggish behaviour, weight gain and chronic infections that are hard to shift. The low level of thyroid hormone can be detected on a blood test but hypothyroidism is not an easy diagnosis to make as dogs who are not affected can develop a temporarily low thyroid hormone level when unwell.

Atopic Skin Disease

There can be several causes for itchy skin but atopy is one of the most common, particularly in younger dogs who are kept indoors. It’s important to rule out other causes of itching such as a yeast infection or parasite infestation before pursuing treatment.

For many, long-term anti-itch drugs, such as steroids, are the main stay of therapy and any secondary infections that develop will be treated with courses of antibiotics and medicated shampoos. In the ideal world, we would determine exactly what the dog is reacting to and eliminate it completely from their environment (but this is generally a lot easier said than done and can be very expensive).

Patellar Luxation

Those with a luxating patella may have an unusual gait and often develop stiffness in later life. They may hesitate when walking and running due to the discomfort caused and owners sometimes report an intermittent ‘skip’ when walking. A quick X-ray can detect a knee cap that is out of place and surgery may be advised for those whose day-to-day life is seriously affected.

Diabetes Mellitus

Abnormally high blood sugar levels can cause a range of issues, including weight loss and cataracts. While diabetes is not something that can be cured, those that are affected can be managed with once or twice daily insulin injections which regulate their blood sugar levels.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Considering both parents were once used to run about and chase rats all day, it is little wonder that the Carkie likes to be kept busy and has relatively high exercise requirements. They should be provided with a minimum of an hour’s walk every day and owners should be sure to stimulate their minds by playing lots of games indoors.


How much effort an owner will have to put into the grooming of their Carkie will depend on which parent breed they take after more in the fur department. Those with the longer coat from the Yorkie side will need daily brushing to manage mats, while shorter-furred Carkies will only need to be brushed a couple of times a week.

Due to the small size of their jaw and the potential for overcrowding of teeth and retention of baby teeth, the Carkie can be prone to dental disease if his teeth are not brushed on a regular basis.

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