The donkey is a descendant of the African wild ass, which is now rare in the wild and found in only a few remote parts of north-eastern Africa.


Domestic Donkeys


Donkeys range in size from the Miniature Mediterranean (under 91cm) to larger donkeys such as the rare French Poitou (up to 150cm) with its large head and ears and thick, shaggy coat. Domestic donkeys tend to be classified by their size rather than breed as over the generations breeds have been crossed and as a result, there are not many pure breeds left. 'Hands' are a measuring unit used for equines that is equal to four inches.

The size categories are:

Miniature                           Under 91 cm ( 9 hands)

Small Standard                 91 - 101 cm ( 9 -10 hands)

Standard                           101 - 122 cm (10 -12 hands)

Large Standard                122 - 142 cm (12 - 14 hands)

Mammoth Jacks               Over 142 cm (over 14 hands)


Although many donkeys are the familiar grey-dun (mouse grey) colour, there are many other coat shades – there are spotted donkeys, black, white, every shade of grey and brown and albino-white. They can also be of a pink colour (light red mixed with grey-dun), more technically known as ‘strawberry roan’.


Donkeys often live for twenty-five years or more. Some have been recorded as living to the ripe old age of sixty, although a forty-year-old donkey is considered to be elderly.

Read More: A Donkey/Horse Comparison

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