Have you ever seen a miniature donkey? If not, you are missing out! miniature donkeys are adorable, shrunken versions of donkeys. Like their larger relatives, miniature donkeys are often used on farms for a variety of purposes. But even if you think you know a lot about miniature donkeys, these 14 facts may surprise you!


Top 14 Facts About Miniature Donkeys

1. “Miniature” Is Specific

Donkeys range in size, but miniature donkeys are a specific kind of Mediterranean donkey. To be officially recognized as a miniature, the donkey can’t be more than 36 inches tall and must weigh between 200 and 400 pounds. This is roughly half the size of a standard donkey.

a miniature donkey eating grass
Image Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay

2. These Donkeys Are Native to Italy

Miniature donkeys originated in the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, where they were used to carry heavy loads. In the 1920s, they were sent to the US, where they were used for farm labor—a purpose they still serve today.

3. They Are Social Creatures

Like their close relative, the horse, miniature donkeys are herd animals and enjoy being around donkeys and other animals. If kept alone, they can become lonely and depressed. Heartbreaking thought, isn’t it?

4. KneeHi Is the World’s Shortest Donkey

KneeHi is the Guinness World Record holder for the shortest donkey. He’s only 24.29 inches tall, which is significantly shorter than most miniature donkeys. His sire was GP Oscar, who was previously the world’s smallest registered jack at 26.5 inches tall.

close up of miniature donkeys
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5. Miniature Donkeys Are Born That Way

Most miniature animals are bred to create a smaller sized breed, including a lot of dog breeds, pigs, and goats, but miniature donkeys are small naturally. There is a bred-down version of the miniature donkey known as the micro-mini donkey, but they tend to suffer from poor conformation.

6. Female Miniatures Are Called “Jennets”

A female donkey is called a “jenny” and a male is called a “jack.” With miniature donkeys, the males are still jacks, but the females are called “jennets.” This is likely named for a small Spanish horse breed that was similarly compact and well-muscled.

7. They Are Diminutive Workhorses

Though cute, miniature donkeys are not pets. They’re bred to handle tough work, just with lighter loads than their full-size relatives. Standard donkeys often carry heavy loads like rock or iron, while miniature donkeys are ideally suited for carrying heavy luggage or parcels. They shouldn’t carry weights above 50 or 100 pounds.

miniature donkeys walking on grassy field
Image Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay

8. You Can Ride a Miniature Donkey…With Limitations

Miniature donkeys can be ridden, but it’s important to mind their weight limit. Children and pets can ride a miniature donkey if they don’t exceed 50 to 100 pounds. Remember, these are MINIATURE donkeys!

9. These Donkeys Are Long-Lived

With proper care, a miniature donkey can live for 25 or 35 years. Captive miniature donkeys receive excellent food and care, which gives them a longer lifespan than their feral counterparts.

10. Believe it or Not: They Can Be Housetrained

Housetraining a miniature donkey may not be as common as a dog or cat, but it can be done. Some people keep miniature donkeys as household pets and housetrain them successfully, but these are working animals and do better outside with other livestock.

a miniature donkey in pen
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11. They Can Be Livestock Guardians

One of the biggest differences between donkeys and horses is that donkeys will fight while horses flee. This makes donkeys excellent livestock guardians that will protect other animals from wildlife. Miniature donkeys are much smaller, however, so their ability to take on large predators only goes so far.

12. Miniature Donkeys Have One of the Longest Gestation Cycles

With a gestation cycle of 10 to 14 months, miniature donkeys have one of the longest pregnancy periods in the world. Like standard donkeys and horses, they typically have only one foal or the occasional twins.

13. These Little Guys Are NOT Miniature Horses

Donkeys and horses are separate species, as are miniature donkeys and miniature horses. They may look similar, but these animals have completely different genetics, builds, sizes, diets, temperaments, and care needs.

miniature donkeys standing next to a wire fence
Image Credit: Gwells, Shutterstock

14. Miniature Donkeys Have Been Domesticated for 6,000 Years

Like the standard-sized donkey, miniature donkeys have been domesticated for thousands of years. They’ve been kept for companionship and work abilities.

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Are Miniature Donkeys Good Pets?

Miniature donkeys are laid-back animals that are popular for all types of environments and jobs. In fact, they may be used as a companion for nervous horses or other anxious animals. Still, miniature donkeys were bred for work and prefer having a job to do, so they aren’t ideal as a household pet.

miniature donkey eating
Image credit: babeaudufraing, Shutterstock



There you have it—14 fun and interesting facts about miniature donkeys! Hopefully, this cleared up some of the misconceptions about these pint-sized donkeys and gave you a new appreciation for these versatile and tough creatures. If you have never seen one before, hopefully you will see one in the near future because they are really adorable!

Featured Image Credit: Gregory Johnston, Shutterstock