Horses, Donkeys, and Mules: Is There A Difference?

Last Updated on April 9, 2022 by Allison Price

My friend suggested that horses and donkeys should be treated as one species because they are so similar. This is an interesting idea that I wanted to clarify.

What is the difference between horses and donkeys? What is the difference between horses and donkeys? mules cannot be bred and are therefore considered sterile. Donkeys and horses, on the other hand, are not considered to be one species because their offspring can’t breed. are many other differences between them. This article will discuss the key differences between horses and donkeys that distinguish them from each other.

Mules are considered infertile because of their fertility

People have believed for years that horses and donkeys are two different breeds of the same subspecies due to their similar appearance and similar living conditions. This is false.

Horses Donkeys  Mules

Both horses and donkeys belong to the Equidae sub-family Equus. There are 17 species that are odd-toed (large mammals with large hooves) of odd-toed unguls. They are closer to cousins than twins, even though they belong to the same 2903family. Each animal is unique in its genetics and other attributes.

Although donkeys are very similar to horses, they have distinct characteristics that allow them to be distinguished.

Horses and donkeys can breed, but are different species

Although horses and donkeys are able to breed, they are still considered separate species. This is because two animals cannot breed but are considered to be one species. All dogs can reproduce fertile offspring genetically.

Horses and donkeys, however, have different numbers of chromosomes. Donkeys have 62 and horses have 64 chromosomes. Mules have 63 chromosomes, which means mules have an extra copy of a chromosome. Down Syndrome is a condition in which a person’s extra chromosome is present at birth.

Mules cannot reproduce …. most of the time because they have an extra chromosome.

Some Mules Can Reproduce

Mules are generally considered sterile. However, this is incorrect. Sterile is usually a sign that an animal can’t reproduce. Some mules can reproduce. Mules can reproduce with other mules, but they are infertile. Mules are infertile because they have an unusual number of chromosomes. They can’t produce offspring.

However, reports have come out that mules can reproduce with horses and donkeys. A Colorado mule gave birth in 2007 to another mule. The foal of the mule, Kule Mool ( NPR Source) was confirmed by genetic testing. Kule Mule’s DNA showed cells with 64 and 63 chromosomes, respectively. Although he was considered to be a miracle, he wasn’t alone.

A mule from China reproduced in 2001, and a mule from Morocco reproduced in 2001. Since the mid-1500s, only 60 cases have been reported of mules reproducing.

How can mules reproduce when they are sterile? Sometimes, mule mares can produce an egg that has an equal number of chromosomes. However, eggs rarely have a half-set compatible with another half of male sperm. It is not known if mule jacks have ever reproduced.

This could be because most mule-jacks are castrated, and therefore never have the chance to reproduce.

Mule mares are not known to produce eggs with the right number of chromosomes. They also have to be compatible with sperm. It did happen. It has also happened before.

Donkey and horse offspring

Mules have a donkey dad (jack) as well as a mare mother (horse). Hinnies are bred by a horse father (stallion), and a donkey mom (jenny). Hinnies are often physically weaker than mules.

Mules often inherit their intelligence, strength and endurance from their donkey fathers. Their horse mother instils their physical beauty, athletic ability and speed.

The rarity of hinnies is much higher. A donkey jenny is more rare than a stallion. It takes a lot of work to reproduce. A hinny is slower than a mule and has less energy. Because hinnies are more careful than mules, they perform better in rough terrain than mules.

The hinny and the mule are both stronger and more resilient than horses. They need less food and are more resistant to parasites than horses. A hinny and a mule might display the flight instinct of their donkey parent while a hinny or mule might show the freeze instinct of their donkey parent.

  • Stallion: Male Horse
  • Mare Horse
  • Jack: Male Donkey
  • Jenny: Female donkey
  • Mule: The offspring of Jack and Mare
  • Hinny: Jenny + Offspring of Stallion

Mules reproduce with horses and donkeys

Mules can have a relationship with donkeys or horses to reproduce. This is possible, although it’s not often. A Donkule, or a Jule, is the offspring of a donkey mother (jack) and a mule father. This hybrid will inherit many traits from the donkey.

A hule refers to a mule that has a mule mother, and a horse father. This is rarer than usual because donkey breeding is not something that stallions are as interested in.

  • Donkule and Jule: The offspring of Jack + Mule Mare
    • After crossing with a Jack, a Champion Mule gave birth to two jules.
  • Hule: Offspring of Stallion and Mule Mare
    • Old Beck, Texas A&M, was first documented in 1920.
  • Chimera: A type of offspring animal that inherits genetic material from other species

Although mules can occasionally reproduce, it is rare enough for horses and donkeys to be considered separate species. There are many other differences between horses, donkeys and mules.

Physical differences between horses and donkeys

Horses and donkeys have one thing in common: their ears. Horses have oval-shaped ears from birth. This magnifies sound and makes it easier to hear. Donkeys, however, have larger ears. Donkeys’ origins as desert animals allow them to dissipate temperature in hot environments through their larger ears.

Donkeys have more stiff, wet hair if you look closely at their coats. The coats of donkeys are more durable and can withstand all seasons. Donkeys shed less than horses with fine, silky fur.

Horse hooves are bigger than donkeys’. Horses are prairie animals. Horses are prairie animals. Their hooves have evolved to absorb impact and take longer strides in order to avoid predators running on flat planes. Donkeys do not need their feet to speed up and have built thick walls around their densely frogging. The sole of a donkey’s foot is thicker than that of a horse. Their hooves can break rocks and withstand difficult terrain for long distances.

Donkey and horse tails look different. Donkeys have thicker, shorter tails with tuffs at their base to catch flies. The horse’s tail grows on the hindquarters of the horse and flows to the ground in long strands. The dock is located just below the buttocks. Horses use their tails as protection against freezing temperatures.

Horses have a flatter back than donkeys. Six vertebrae are found in the spine of horses, which causes their backs to be higher than their forearms. They have a more natural curve. Donkeys with only five vertebrae are shown to have flatter backs. This design prevents them getting what is known as swaybacks.

  • Horses have shorter ears, but donkeys have larger, more prominent ears.
  • Donkeys have thicker hair than horses, which is why they don’t shed their silky coat.
  • Donkeys have flatter backs that horses
  • Horses have hooves that are larger than donkeys

Behavior differences between horses and donkeys

Donkeys can be misunderstood as hardheaded, stubborn animals that lack the training abilities of fully trained horses. This is false.

Donkeys are strong in self-preservation and will not do anything that could be dangerous or cause them pain. Donkeys are the only animal that can observe and evaluate situations before taking a decision. This trait is very different from horses, who instinctively run at the first sign that danger is approaching.

Both horses and donkeys can be herded animals, and both need companions. Horses tend to prefer larger herds while donkeys are more comfortable living with one partner.

Donkeys, unlike horses, show no signs of discomfort, even when they are suffering from a serious medical condition. In the event of lameness, horses tend to stoop or have a heavy limp.

It is important to be aware of the differences in behavior between species so that you can maintain a healthy relationship with your animal friends while making sure they are happy and safe.

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There are medical differences between horses and donkeys

There are many differences between horses and donkeys that go beyond their physical appearance. They have different medical requirements. Here are some things you should remember when taking donkeys into your care. Donkeys have a different medical treatment than horses.

Hyperlipidemia is more common in donkeys than in horses

Hyperlipidemia refers to a condition where the blood fat levels rise. Donkeys can be seriously ill from hyperlipidemia. If your donkey stops eating, you should immediately treat it. Hyperlipidemia can be caused by a variety of illnesses. Hyperlipidemia isn’t always caused by horses quitting eating.

Castration is more likely with donkeys than horses

Castration is another difference between horses, donkeys, and donkeys. Castration is rarely a problem for horses. Donkeys, however, have plenty of blood supply from their testicles. They are at greater risk for excessive bleeding.

Castration of horses can be done as soon as they are three months old. Donkeys, however, should not be castrated before they reach 6-18 months of age.

Horses and donkeys require different doses of pain medication

Horses are slower than donkeys, but donkeys have a faster metabolism. You may be surprised to learn that donkeys are smaller in height than horses. Donkeys require higher doses of medication than horses due to their metabolism.

If a horse requires NSAIDs every day, a donkey would have to take two doses to achieve the same effect. They also require more medication for sedatives or anesthesia during surgery. Donkeys are often given regular medication by their veterinarians even though they are asleep. This gene is known as the “thrifty” one. It evolved to help donkeys survive in harsh environments.

Donkeys need special hoof care that horses don’t

Horses and donkeys have different hoof shapes. Because of this, farriers must trim donkeys’ hooves in a different way. If the hooves of a donkey are not trimmed correctly, cracks, sores and laminitis can be very common.

Horses don’t have the same topical medication issues as donkeys.

Horses can absorb creams and other topical medication through their skin. Because horses have fine, flat, and thin hair, topical medications can be absorbed through their skin to provide some relief. Because of the thickness and wetness of their hair, donkeys cannot spread cream on horses’ coats.

A longer coat is also better at concealing skin conditions and wounds. You should inspect your donkey’s hair more often than you would horse’s. You must make sure that their skin is healthy and that there is nothing wrong.


People have believed for years that donkeys were a subspecies or horse. But, this article will show you how to distinguish donkeys from horses. Horses and donkeys have amazing and admirable characteristics that make them different.

My friend suggested that horses and donkeys should be treated as one species because they are so similar. This is an interesting idea that I wanted to clarify.

What makes horses and donkeys distinct species? A species is a combination of two animals that can interbreed to produce offspring capable of breeding. Mules are created when horses and donkeys cross, which is what happens to horses and donkeys. Mules, however, are considered to be sterile and ineligible for breeding. Donkeys and horses, on the other hand, are not considered to be one species because their offspring can’t breed.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!