Can Donkeys Laugh? 3 Common Reasons to Know

Last night my guard donkey while guarding the animals on the farm scared a wild dog away. Just as the wild dog was walking away, I noticed my donkey putting his teeth on display and producing a “Hee-Haw” sound. I was laughing as well so my friend who have been noticing the situation patted my back saying “look Charlie(guard donkey)is laughing as well” 

For a second it appeared that Charlie is laughing but when I tried noticing a bit more keenly Charlie looked a bit afraid. I had to calm my guard donkey, it made it hard to believe what my eye saw a few minutes back. 

So, when everything settled down I brought my laptop and did a little research to find out if the donkeys “actually” laugh or not? I collected some valuable information that needs to be served here as well. Without further ado, here is what you need to know.

Do Donkeys Laugh? 

It is believed that donkeys laugh their hearts out, this is however not that true. Donkeys do not laugh, they display their teeth for other purposes.

Only a few animals can “truly” laugh, donkeys are not one of them. So, next time you see someone believing the view, correct them right away. 

Once we get our questions answered, we begin asking why it is so? Don’t we? Since our readers got to know that donkeys do not laugh they might have been thinking why donkeys do not laugh? Well, they can laugh but they just do not do so. 

Why Do Donkeys Laugh?

So the last two paragraphs summarize that donkeys can laugh their hearts out but they do not laugh at all. Even though the question is answered, there is still a lot you need to know;

The sound donkeys make that sounds like laughter is a warning

Donkeys are afraid of coyotes, foxes, and wild dogs, etc. Whenever they see the said animals nearby, they begin making a sound that appears like laughter.

The sound they make when they are scared gives us the impression of a good laugh. However, in reality, they are just informing their fellas about the danger. 

They also put their teeth out on display for some other purpose

Donkeys are smart and put their teeth out on display and make a sound that appears like a laugh, so it’s hard to believe that the animal is not “actually” laughing.

The sound that appears like a laugh is a warning. Whereas, the facial expressions that trick us into thinking that the donkey might be laughing is Flehmen’s response. So, do not believe what you see.

The Flehmen’s response is also called flehmen position, flehmen reaction, flehmen grimace, or flehmening.

Flehmen response, flehmen reaction, flehmen grimace, or flehmening, or flehmen position is a facial expression in which the animal curls up the upper lip, displays their teeth, and inhales through their nostrils.

This usually goes on for a few seconds, tricking humans into believing that the animal is laughing. 

Breaking the Fact Do Donkeys Kill Coyotes?


The sound that appears like a laugh is called “bray”

Yes, if we are supposed to tell what exactly the sound (that appears like a laugh) they produce is called, we would call it a “bray”.

Bray is a loud irritating sound developed to stay in contact or warn the fellow donkey about the predators. Besides staying in contact or warning the fellas, donkeys bray for some other reasons as well.

It can also be produced to scare the predators away but it hardly happens. In some cases, brays can be a call for food or a sign of discomfort/distress or affection as well.

Donkeys do not even smile

Yes, it’s true donkeys do not smile or laugh. Even if it appears that the said domestic animal is smiling, the donkey would “actually” be flehmening.

Donkeys have a habit of hiding their feelings. They do not show affection, anger, and other feelings. It’s “really” hard to judge what mood the donkey is in if it’s happy, sad, frustrated, or mad.

If they had a habit of expressing their feelings, they might have been smiling, laughing, or crying. Not being naturally expressive makes it hard for donkeys to smile or laugh. 

Some animals can smile or laugh just like humans do, donkeys are not one of them

It might come as a surprise to you that there are some animals out there, who can smile or laugh. In fact, they smile and laugh their hearts out a lot.

Besides humans, God’s creatures that have spectacular laughs are dolphins, chimpanzees, kea, rats, bonobos, dogs, seals, gorillas, orangutans, crows, elephants, foxes, and pigs, etc. 

All these creatures come under the category of animals that have been blessed with the ability to laugh, unfortunately, the donkey is not one of them.

Out of all these animals, chimpanzees, orangutans, and dolphins have the cutest smiles or laughs. 

The sound that tricks us into thinking that the donkey is laughing sounds like “hee-haw”;

Donkeys bray a lot and these habits trick us into thinking that the said domestic creature laughs a lot. It’s quite easy to fall into the trap because the donkey’s bray somewhat sounds like “hee-haw”.So, it makes sense why the donkey’s bray is mistaken as a laugh. 


The most appropriate answer to the question “do donkeys laugh?” is no donkeys can not laugh or smile. It’s dolphins, chimpanzees, kea, rats, bonobos, dogs, seals, gorillas, orangutans, crows, elephants, foxes, and pigs that have been blessed with the ability to smile or laugh.

Donkeys display their teeth and make a “hee-haw” sound, it is taken as a laugh. It’s “actually” not a laugh but bray. The donkey’s bray quite often to communicate/contact, warn about the predators, and show affection towards humans.

Sometimes it’s a call for food as well. No evidence tells if donkeys can smile or not, however, it appears that they can neither laugh nor smile.

Donkeys just do not smile or laugh, even if they are not braying they would be displaying their teeth for some other purposes.

It’s totally wrong to assume or believe that the said domestic animal can laugh like dolphins, chimpanzees, kea, rats, bonobos, dogs, seals, gorillas, orangutans, crows, elephants, foxes, pigs, or humans.

Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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