Save as favorite

Avg. Owner Satisfaction


(71 Reviews)

Scientific name: Equus africanus asinus

Other common names: Ass; Burro; Jack; Jenny

The basics:
The modern domesticated Donkey is a descendant of the African Wild Ass, now considered an endangered species. Historically, the donkey is recorded as having been domesticated about the same time as the horse and became an essential beast of burden in ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Middle Eastern cultures because they could carry close to a third of their own body weight (horses can comfortably carry 20%).

Donkeys were introduced to different parts of the world but only became popular in the United States in the mid-1800s as pack animals for miners and gold prospectors. After the gold rush, many donkeys were released into the southwest deserts. In the 1900s, donkeys regained popularity as pets, farmland companions, guard animals, and for pulling carts and wagons.

Hybrids of male donkeys (Jacks) and female horses (Mares) are called Mules. The mating of a male horse and a female donkey produces a Hinny.

Please see the separate pages for the Mammoth Jack Donkey and Miniature Donkey. Also, there are a number of sub-types of the standard sized Donkey. Please see our pages for Australian Teamster Donkey, English / Irish Donkey, and the Poitou Donkey.

Appearance / health:
Donkeys often vary in body coloration, from black to gray, brown, or tan, but the common characteristics occur in most animals, such as dark markings on the ears and throat, and white markings around the eyes, on the muzzle, on the belly and inner legs. Most donkeys have a dark dorsal stripe and a shoulder cross. The ears are large and long. The back is straight. The mane is course and stiff. The standard donkey is about 44 inches tall.

A donkey’s health is dependent on its habitat and nutrition. They are typically hardy and resilient but can suffer from health problems if overfed. Vaccinations, de-worming medications, and hoof care are essential in keeping the donkey clean and healthy. The care and monitoring of a veterinarian is recommended.

Behavior / temperament:
Donkeys have become popular as pets and companion animals, even as guard animals because of their high intelligence. They became notorious for being stubborn, although this stubbornness is said to be the result of their strong sense of self-preservation –- no one can force them to do something they perceive as a threat to their survival, especially going into water. Donkeys are used as guard animals for herds of sheep, goats, and cattle because they are protective and can be aggressive when deterring predators. They are calm and good-natured, but will kick and bite when threatened. They emit a loud and persistent call referred to as a bray.

Housing / diet:
Donkeys are grazing animals and require pasture for food and fresh air. The recommended pasture area is an acre per donkey per month. Mammoth Jacks require slightly larger areas. A barn or similar enclosure must be available to shelter them from harsh climates. Donkeys do not like rain and snow because they easily chill and become susceptible to disease.

Donkeys are native to sparse deserts, therefore they require vegetation that is low in protein and high in fiber such as Timothy Hay or Bermuda Hay. A salt block should always be available for mineral supplements. Clean fresh water should also be available at all times. Treats like bite-size carrots can be offered sparingly. Donkeys enjoy eating and if allowed to self-feed will become obese and susceptible to various health risks.


great pets, endearing, intelligence, great companion animal, herd guards, developing country


bray, wet climates, little stubborn, dual personalities, mutual respect, screaming


dressage movements, good scratch, BLM, routine worming, ground manners

Helpful Donkey Review


From Eqwuus Jan 4 2019 7:18PM


Donkey Behavior Tip


From Chelta Jan 8 2015 7:32AM


Member photos