We call a simple graph G a 4-cycled graph if either it has no edges or every edge of it is contained in an induced 4-cycle of G. Our interest on 4-cycled graphs is motivated by the fact that their clique complexes play an important role in the simple-homotopy theory of simplicial complexes. We prove that the minimal simple models within the category of flag simplicial complexes are exactly the clique complexes of some 4-cycled graphs. We further provide structural properties of 4-cycled graphs and describe constructions yielding such graphs. We characterize 4-cycled cographs, and 4-cycled graphs arising from finite chessboards. We introduce a family of inductively constructed graphs, the external extensions, related to an arbitrary graph, and determine the homotopy type of the independence complexes of external extensions of some graphs.