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What are the Differences Between a Donkey and a Horse?

By: Katrina

We are always learning new things about our wonderful little donkeys. I think they teach us as much as we teach them. If you are familiar with horses you may be interested in how we have found them to differ from donkeys.

Dixie, Daisy

1)      Which is more intelligent?

There are some extremely smart horses, but a donkey is a very intelligent animal that learns rapidly (which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes, not so good), assesses a situation and responds once it is determined the action is safe. For example, a loud noise may cause some horses to be startled and they’ll jump, run or even panic. A donkey will remain calm, assess the situation and then react accordingly.

2)      Are donkeys really stubborn?

When encountering a new or awkward situation, a donkey will stand calmly, assess the circumstances and decide whether it is in its best interest to proceed. To generate high performance from your donkey requires a high level of trust.

3)      Life span

A horse lives between 20 – 30 years, whereas, a donkey may live between 30-40 years.


4)      Health

A donkey tends to be healthier than a horse in that a donkey will eat until full and stop, whereas, a horse will continue to eat and create digestive issues. However, when feeding a donkey, alfalfa hay can be too rich. A donkey can survive on a coarser pasture than a horse. Lush pastures suitable for a horse may be too rich for a donkey and cause a series of health issues. A diet of grass hay, beet pulp, oats and a small amount of grain (with even levels of sweet feed) is recommend.

Horses have 64 chromosomes, donkeys have 62. Therefore, a mule (donkey is the “father” and a horse is the “mother”) is sterile.

5)      Worming, Hoof care and shots

Horses and donkeys both require a regular schedule of worming (alternate wormers every 60 days), annual vaccinations similar to horses and routine hoof care. Hoof care is required every 6-8 weeks. A donkey stands more upright and has tougher, more elastic hooves than a horse

6)      Gestation Period

Approximately 11 months for horses and 12 months for a donkey.

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Filed Under: Miniature DonkeysThe Ranch


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