Breeds of Donkey

Laughing Donkey

Image from jaxxon

Members of the Asinus genus of the equidae family, Donkeys got the short straw and the big ears of the family.

There is a variety of domestic donkey breeds & bloodlines range based on local needs, local terrain and the need for stronger & more robust animals.

Definitely the worker bee of the species, most donkeys have it pretty hard. Throughout history they have been bred as work animals, their genetic history shaped by the needs of mankind.

Here is a look at some of the different breeds of donkey. Like horse breeds, info is limited and inconsistent so this is a basic overview of the main breeds I could find.

Abyssinian / Ethiopian Donkey

Abyssinian / Ethiopian Donkey

Image from jinjawil

Still common as work animals and found throughout Ethiopia and are usually slate-grey but can be found in chestnut brown.

Andaluz Donkey – Cordovan

Andaluz Donkey - Cordovan
The Spanish Military used them for stud and kept their bloodlines relatively pure over the years. Since the end of Franco’s reign, need for a quality donkey has declined and their numbers followed.

This species is endangered and threatened with extinction.

Catalan Donkey

Catalan Donkey

Image from Lascorz

It’s roots have been traced back to Somalia but the Catalan Donkey has been adopted as the symbol of the Catalan people (perhaps in defiance of the Spanish national bull). Their numbers became critically low late in the 20th century, but breeding programs have saved them from extinction.

Cotentin Donkey

Cotentin Donkey

Image from Eponimm

This donkey comes from Lower-Normandie and was once used to transport cows milk. Due to modernization of agriculture in the mid 20th century their numbers dwindled. Thanks to modern appreciation for the bloodlines & the creation of a breed registry in 1997 their numbers continue to grow.

Mammoth Donkey

American Mammoth Jack

The American Mammoth Donkey is the world’s largest breed of ass and was created through combining a variety of older bloodlines. The result was a larger, stronger animal capable of shouldering bigger workloads.

Miniature Mediterranean Donkey

Miniature Mediterranean Donkey

Image from Jim

These tiny animals come from the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia & Sicily and were used to turn grinding stones inside peasant houses & for carrying water. Almost extinct in their homeland, the Americans have taken a liking to them as pets and helped to keep the breed alive.

Parlag Donkey

Parlag Donkey
The Parlag is a Hungarian donkey that came to them via the Celts and Romans had a hand in shaping their lines. Like most of their brothers the lack of need was a determining factor in the decline of their numbers. Today their lines are kept alive by hobby breeders in central Hungary.

Poitou Donkey

Poitou Donkey

Image from Père_Igor

Thought to have been introduced to the Poitou region of France by the Romans, this Donkey is specifically used to create mules. These are mighty, robust animals and possess a thick, woolen brown coat.

Zamorano-Leones Donkey

Zamorano-Leones Donkey
Another Spanish donkey, the Zamorano-Leones donkey was bred to be robust for traveling and trade & later used to create large work mules. Their range has dwindled due to lack of necessity and they can now be found only in the Zamora and Leon provinces.

Know Donkeys?

If you know more about donkeys than I do, I’d love to learn more. That said, I hope you’ll speak up and teach me a thing or two.

Be sure to learn more about the Equus & Asinus & Zebra members of the Equidae family. Plus stay tuned for more information about hybrid zebra species.

33 Comments on “Breeds of Donkey

  1. Shirley Schulz

    Hello – To tell the truth I know nothing about donkeys. We breed horses, Akhal-Tekes to be specific. We recently acquired a 2-yr-old Miniature Mediterranean Donkey jack that we are hoping to use as a teaser. He is wonderful – friendly and kind – though he has not yet mastered the art of being led with ease. We love him though, and I hope to learn a lot from him.

    Reply
  2. virginia

    We recently rescued 2 severely malnourished horses and got a donkey as a bonus! He is a stud- about 5yrs old, and has grown on me. He brays the minute I step out in the mornings to feed, follows me around when I have a bucket. He has several patches of hair missing. I know only what I have recently read about them but he is fun, broke to lead when he wants but I haven’t been able to catch him since I unloaded him ,just pet his nose and neck.

    Reply
    1. Paige Post author

      Cheers to you for rescuing those animals Virginia! Your bonus donkey sounds like a character. I’ve never had experience with donkeys, but after doing some research I’ve developed a great deal of respect for them. They are like horses, but with a bit more attitude. ;)

      Reply
  3. Lori Spiker

    I have been into equines for over 36 yrs but have had donkeys and mules for the last 15 years. I wouldn’t trade my ass for nothing! They are the most entertaining and friendly animal I know. I have used them in a ballet on stage for 2 yrs, numerous Christmas nativities, and one day I would like to use them at children’s hospital. I love sharing them with others and educating folks about them. Even my BLM (wild) donkey has come around, even if I can’t use him to drive a buggy someday, he will make a fine pasture ornament and friend for my other longears. I do ride my mammoth on trails and camp with her, (my mule too), and will be driving my standard donkeys when they are old enough and ready. I rescue most of my donkeys. Many people abuse these smart animals because there are people who aren’t as smart as the donkey, so that person loses his cool and takes it out on the donkey. Rodeo people use them to practice roping on, this is horrible and I witnessed what happens when they are used for this, trust me, it’s not pretty!!! They lose eyes, their necks get damaged terribly, and they lose trust in humans…you can actually see the sadness in their eyes. If you own a donkey you have to think like a donkey so therefore you need to be smarter than one…don ‘t get mad at the donkey, get smart and educate yourself on what donkeys are like….they are amazing animals if you understand them. If you treat them with kindness you will get so much back in return. I love my ass!!!!!

    Reply
    1. kitty

      we just got a donkey about a month ago and she is such a sweat hart. we dont know nothing about them. we just had horses. and still do have horses.she was on the ground and my 4 year old boy went out in the pasture where she is. and i thought for shure she was going to step on him. but she just layed right there well he was loving and huging her. she is so layed back. i cant ask for a better pet.. i did find out today that she dont like the goats.

      Reply
    2. Jackie

      Oh my soul!!!
      My husband’s family has raised horses for many years and we have had a mule that I dearly loved that died with cancer. He was the most sweetest (spoiled) character I have ever had, even more so than some of my boxers. I have just a few weeks ago gotten my first jack and jenny. I have fell so in love with these two animals. I spend time with them every morning and every evening. My jenny (Katie Elder) is still pretty young and a little shy when it comes to trying to catch her so I am not forcing that issue right now. I am just letting her smell me and be inquisitive of me right now. However, she loves for me to hand feed her. My jack (Dubyah) he is rotten. He loves to be rubbed, hugged and scratched behind his ears and loves the hand feeding as well. The big thing with him is he gets upset when you leave so I let him be the first one to walk away. Our whole family has fallen in love with them and I must say our close neighbors have too. Their faces and eyes are so sweet but at the same time have a look of intelligence. When my Dubyah looks at you it’s almost like he’s looking straight into your heart. I call them my donkey therapy. It’s as good as puppy therapy.

      Reply
    3. betty lee white

      I have two donkeys, Harry and Franklin. We call them the Democrats. Harry is an American mammoth, very friendly with children and adults alike. Franklin, a Provence ass, is short and gray with a hot-cross mark across his back and down his spine, and a very large belly like a Franklin stove. He is not as friendly as Harry but allows himself to be petted. They hang out together constantly and if separated for any reason bray to each other with gusto. They have a love-hate relationship so can be observed grazing peacefully together or biting one another’s neck. Franklin always gets the best of these skirmishes despite his abbreviated stature.

      These two neutered males share 40 acres in Houston with 45 other animals including horses, llamas, goats and sheep plus a host of avian species.

      Reply
  4. steve

    I am getting my first donkey in 3 weeks time. She is a 4 year old Zamorano-Leones.
    Her name is Luca, and she is gorgoeus.
    I live up a mountain in Southern Catalunya. I will keep you posted on our progress together.

    Reply
    1. Annamaria

      Hello Steve – I read you are getting a Zamorano-Leones. May I as if you live in USA . I would love to own one of these donkeys. Are there any in the USA?

      Look forward to your answer.

      Reply
  5. Anothervirginia

    We’ve had George, a small, (not miniature), donkey for almost 3 years. At first, he was in with the horses, (excellent herd protection), and now, he has a girlfriend, Loretta, (who may or may not be pregnant), whom we just got last week.
    After a lifetime of being into horses, we have started to get into donkeys. I never appreciated them until we got George.
    Very easy-keepers, good herd/property protection and wonderful at landscaping. :)
    Thanks for this great site. I never knew there were so many breeds of donkeys.

    Reply
    1. steve

      Hi Anothervirginia (unusual name)
      Yes this is a marvellous site.
      Good luck with Loretta and any offspring
      I have just been to see another donkey which was abandoned by his owners and has been looked after by their neighbours, not too well, but fed and watered anyway.
      He is quite shy and about 10 years old of mixed parentage, but definitely a big bit of catalan in him.
      I am hoping that he will like Luca.
      Dont forget to let us know when the foal arrives.

      Reply
    2. Mackenzie

      we have had Fred, and Ginger for almost two years and finally Ginger finally had a baby. I named him Jed.

      Reply
  6. steve

    Unfortunately the original owners of the jack have decided that they want to keep him.. I now have Luca with me and she seems to be settling in ok out in the field, but she really doesn’t like the stable. It looks like there will have to be lots of treats and carobs to get her in there. Meanwhile I have half of Spain trying to find me a male Burro as a friend for her

    Reply
    1. steve

      I am getting a 14 year old male castrated donkey in 2 days time. He is adorable and very hairy. He has mixed parentage and will stand on a table for carrots. God knows what he used to do in the past. Cant wait to see him and Luca together.

      Reply
      1. steve

        I had Pino delivered today and him and Luca have taken to each other really well.
        Its love at first sight….ahhh
        I now have 2 really gorgeous donkeys

        Reply
  7. Joshua Renfro

    I have discovered that my first donkey to own is an African Wild Ass mix, he has the distinct striped markings on his legs that resemble Zebra stripes. He is extremely gentle; I have never seen him be mean to anything but dogs. I prefer him over any dog or cat.

    Reply
  8. natasha jeffery

    hello,i have just got 2 new donkeys,a mother and son.
    im not sure what breed they are.they have a cross a cross there back, fluffy legs,can any one help me??
    And they are good with having head collars on but they are not easy to lead they just stand there any trips or tricks??!

    Reply
      1. Alexandra Perdue

        I don’t know if you have found a Donkey but I bought mine from a Nationwide Rescue association called Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue. I bought 2 so they’d be company for each other for $375.00 Check out the website. Good luck. http://www.donkeyrescue.org

        Reply
  9. donkeymo

    i keep donkeys. i have a Catalonian (14hh) with foal at foot (3 months old and 11hh ), an Andalusian jenny (15.2hh) and a Baudet du Poitou (14.2hh) jack. i breed them to produce large/mammoth donkeys for working on the land, logging and hauling hay. i am in the UK. Can i just say, any one who has not kept a donkey before, but has kept horses, please be aware that the two species are totally different! a donkey should not be kept, fed or treated as a horse or pony.

    Reply
  10. Borrowed Pastures

    Good job, but you forgot one. The American Spotted Ass. Known for their spots or patches these donks are registerable to the American Spotted Ass registry. I am the proud owner of two donks – both rescued from the slaughter bound truck. We LOVE LOVE LOVE them – total characters and very talkative!

    Reply
  11. Becky Anderson

    Hi if you realy want to know how many breeds there just look around the web you will find there way over 100 donke breeds and I just touch the tip of then.I cant find much on the breed history, Just every little on any brees,that is just what I have found so fare. if you want the info, like I did you just look for it!! It will be hard to fine any one breed I think but I’mnot that far yet! just cant pick just one I like them all. Eve thow I live in town cant have them I have fun learing about them.

    Reply
  12. Brenda Rosa

    I just got my first donkey about a week ago. Its a 3yo BLM jenny. Im her 3rd legal adopter & shes had a very rough time with humans. I was able to get a halter on her, and I can pet, as well as brush her. She doesnt know how to lead. Shes in with my BLM mustang mare, & they seem to be getting along fine.

    Reply
  13. Alyssa Vierbickas

    I got a little black jennie and her name is Soniadora,she is really fluffy and cute,she was about 6 months old when I got her,now a days I ride her and she loves going out for rides,she is very fast too.

    Reply
  14. Selena

    My husband and I adopted two miniature donkeys from a family who got the pregnant Jennys from the humane society. They are smart, and as gentle as our dogs. We love them, and they love us. I had no idea that they were so sweet.

    Reply
  15. tomas

    Hi !

    I write because i.m Chilean Small farmer and i would like to know more about Donkey Dairy farming.
    Does someone know about it or whre can i find a small farm to visit and learn how to produce milk ?.
    huerta.tomas@gmail.com
    Thanks a lots..
    Tomás.

    Reply

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