Breeder of Registered Miniature
Donkeys, Quality Breeding Stock, and Lovable Pets
Miniature Donkey Facts
FACTS ABOUT THE MINIATURE DONKEY
BY Carolyn Christian
A miniature donkey is affectionate, extremely
comical and a joy to own. They are by nature
people loving. They truly care for his or her
family and are like the family dog. They are
playful and will develop lasting bonds with
The intelligence of the miniature donkey is
superior to all other farm animals. They are
thinking and reasoning creatures. The miniature
donkey is easily trained. They are not so flight
oriented that they will hurt themselves or
others when startled as is the case with other
equine. That intelligence at times makes them
appears stubborn. Quite the opposite is true.
They do not put themselves in harm's way which
can lead to accident or injury.
The average life span is 25 to 35 years but
with good nutrition and proper care, miniature
donkeys have been known to live longer.
Mature height is 36"
and under. The Miniature
Donkey Registry accepts miniature donkeys who
and under. Their small size makes
them easy to handle for both adults and
Males are called “jacks"
Females are called “jennets"
Males that have been castrated are called
Babies are called “foals"
until they are
Babies that have been weaned and are
under a year old are called “weanlings"
Donkeys that are between one and two
years old are called “yearlings"
Miniature Donkeys are registered through the
Miniature Donkey Registry which is administered
by the American Donkey & Mule Society at
Mature weight is between 225 and 350 pounds.
Gestation is 11.5 to 13 months with an
average around 12 months. Foaling problems are
uncommon in miniature donkeys. Owners will want
to brush up on the care of the pregnant jennet
and the things to look for as foaling
approaches. See Carolyn's article on “Signs
Colors are gray, brown, black, red (or
sorrel), spotted and a more rare solid white
color called frosted spotted white. The color of
their muzzle and eye rings designates what is
. Most donkeys have white around
their eyes and muzzles. That is called “light
. A donkey with a dark muzzle (almost
always having an absence of white around the
eyes) is said to have “no light points" or NLP
Almost all donkeys will have a "cross". The
cross is a darker brown or black dorsal stripe
running from the top of the donkey's back from
the withers (where the neck connects to the
back) and extending to the rear and down the
tail. There is also a shoulder stripe that
intersects the dorsal stripe at the withers
running down each shoulder. There is a legend
called the “Legend of the Donkey's Cross"
states that Jesus rewarded the donkey for his
loyalty to Him when he carried Jesus into
Jerusalem and staying with Him at the
crucifixion by placing the shadow of the cross
across the donkeys back for all to remember the
importance of God's humblest of creatures.
Miniature donkeys have relatively few health
problems. They are hardy animals used to most
anything the environment can throw at them. They
thrive in the cold regions of Canada and the hot
areas of Mexico, South America and Africa. For
information regarding their care, see Carolyn's
article on “Care of the
MINIATURE DONKEY ANATOMY
Responsible breeders should always breed for
excellent conformation in their foals. That is
necessary for the health of the donkey and the
welfare and future of the breed. Although
perfect conformation is impossible to achieve
and subject to breeder preference, the following
should be included in any discussion of good
Proportion – This means that each body part is
proportionate to every other body part, i.e. the
head isn't too big or too long for the neck and
body, the length of the body isn't too long for
the legs, the neck isn't too long for the head
and torso, etc. A longer back is acceptable in
the brood jennet in order to give her more room
for gestation and delivery of the foal. You
can't always define proportion but you can
certainly tell a well-balanced donkey when you
see it because it has great eye appeal.
Body Type – There are two body types in the
miniature donkey. One is called drafty or stocky
and the other is called refined. A drafty body
type is seen when the donkey is thicker, legs
are larger, rump is wider, and neck is thicker.
The overall look is one of heavier bone. A
refined body type is seen when the body parts
are thinner and not as heavy looking. Both body
types are acceptable although breeders today
tend to like a more drafty look in their
Head – A shorter head and wider forehead is
preferred over a long and narrow one. Heads can
be roman, flat or dished. Roman heads are more
convex while dished heads are more concave.
Teeth – The teeth should meet perfectly. A
slight overbite or underbite is acceptable with
the Miniature Donkey Registry as long as it does
not exceed ¼"
. A severe overbite is called
while a severe underbite is
called “monkey mouth"
. Occasionally, foals will
be born with an overbite or underbite but they
grow out of it at maturity. It all depends on
the genotype (heritable characteristics) in the
pedigree. Bad bites are highly heritable and
donkeys that have them should not be bred.
Topline – A straight topline is preferred.
Although the miniature donkey is naturally
slightly higher in the rump, this height should
not be excessive. A sway back is a conformation
Legs – Miniature donkeys are naturally
slightly cow-hocked because they are a draft
animal and descendants of draft animals.
Cow-hocks are common in draft animals used for
work. It helps pull a load because they can more
easily get their feet under them to aid in
pulling.A miniature donkey's legs should be
straight to only slightly cow-hocked. Severe
cow-hocks are a conformation fault. When viewed
from the front, legs should not be knock-kneed
or bowed. Hooves should not be facing away from
the donkey or underneath him or her. This is
referred to as “toe-in"
all 4 hooves should face directly forward and
legs should be straight. Additionally, when
viewed from the profile, the donkey's canon bone
should be in perfect alignment vertically with
his tail set (where his tail meets the rump).
Width – Miniature donkeys should have good
width between their front legs as well as their
back legs. Lack of width is referred to as
in front and/or back. This width is
particularly desirable in the brood jennet in
order for her to have more ease in foaling due
to a wider body frame.
Rump – The rump
should be full and round when viewed from the
profile or above the donkey. When viewed from
the profile, the tail should appear to simply
lie on the rump rather than dangle from it as in
the case of a pointed rear. When viewed from the
top, the rump should form a “U"
and not a “V"
MINIATURE DONKEYS AS A BUSINESS
Miniature donkeys are fun to breed and a
wonderful means of making additional income.
They are small, easy to manage and healthy.
There has been a continual demand for miniature
donkeys and the prices have remained relatively
stable for many years even through the ups and
downs of the economy. It appears that the
breeders who breed for good conformation, keep
their numbers relative to the demand, and market
well are those who are successful. Additionally,
the miniature donkey is easy to market because
they sell themselves with their affable
disposition, love of people, and easy going
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THEM?
There are many activities you can enjoy with
a miniature donkey. They are easy to train to
lead and pull a cart. What fun it is for a
couple of kids (or middle aged kids!) to ride in
a cart pulled by a donkey.
You can take them to county fairs, nursing
homes, schools, church, birthday parties and
other such venues. They are a hit wherever they
go and they enjoy the adventure as well. You can
show them. There are many local, regional and
national shows around the country that you can
attend and show in halter and/or performance
Some miniatures have become registered
therapy donkeys through the Delta Society (www.deltasociety.org)
and bring joy to sick and terminally ill
children in children's hospitals and our
veterans at VA hospitals.
But the most important thing you can do with
them is to share them with family and friends.
Miniature donkeys bring families together;
children with parents, grandchildren with
grandparents. They teach us that family fun is
much more exciting than TV or video games. We
learn to relax as we laugh and observe their
Miniature donkeys open a door to a magical and
joyful world that we would never have entered
without them. The best answer to the
difficult question of “What do you do with
is found in the response one new
miniature owner gave us years ago. When asked
what he wanted to do with his miniature donkey
he just purchased from us he replied, "I want to
drink coffee and grow old with Pedro." At last
word, they are doing both.
The painting above is titled "Until We're Old
and Gray" by well-known artist Laura Butler.If
you would like to inquire about one of Laura's
paintings or a commissioned work, you can email
email@example.com. Laura is also a
miniature donkey owner!Any reproduction or use
of this work without artist approval is