Keeping Donkey as Pet: A Complete Care Sheet

Donkey as pets? Do Donkeys make good pets? How to keep donkeys as pets? Depicted as stubborn cantankerous beasts of burden throughout history, donkeys have a bad reputation for being strong-headed. The fact that they are gentle farm animals is often brushed under the carpet.

Donkeys are not demanding at all, they would not ask for treats and other things, just love and care. Donkeys along with their cousin horses were domesticated a long time back.

People keep donkeys as pets, it is getting more common for farm owners and countryside residents. However, keeping a donkey as a pet is still stigmatized, aspiring pet owners usually go for the usual suspects, cats, dogs, and hamsters.

Going by several donkey names like a burro, jackass, ass, jennet, mammoth jackstock and standard, donkey makes a unique companion.

They may not be as expressive as dogs and cats but donkeys show affection in their own way. If you are thinking of keeping donkeys as pets, we will guide you through the way, enlightening you with every detail.

Keeping Donkey as Pet

It should go without saying that donkeys are working animals who have carried the burden for centuries.

Few people know that they are social creatures who thrive with companionship. Just like you, donkeys need friends, family, loved ones, and social life.

A donkey needs a companionable group where the fellow animals eat, sleep, and play as he does. So, get a pair as it is much easier to live with the happier donkeys than one sad donkey.

What are donkeys like?

Being an aspiring donkey owner, your mind must be riddled with questions like how they are, what’s their temperament like? It is possible that you may be trusting the myths that have been around for centuries, especially the infamous one “Stubborn as Mule”.

Donkeys are tough, rugged, and strong, even stronger than horses. 

They are calm, gentle, extremely laid back, all these traits make them the perfect pet for people of all age groups.

It may come as a surprise to you that the saying ‘stubborn as a mule’ is just not true, they only refuse to do a certain task when there is a potential threat. They love working with their owners who handle them with love and care.

Donkey, being a working animal, does not like to laze around, they keep roaming the pasture if they have not anything to do.

Just occupy them with simple tasks and witness the happiness on their faces. If you want, they will help you with some tasks as well, just get a cart and harness, and drop the manure at the compost area.

Different Coat Color of Donkeys

Donkeys have multiple colors, Grey-dun being the common one. Other colors include brown, black, roan, and white. Pure White is a rare color, so, only a few donkeys have this color. 

Donkey also comes in different sizes, from Miniature to Mammoth Jackstock. Mini donkeys are preferable pets as they are small in size and only grow up to 36 inches. Mammoth Jackstock, as the name suggests, is 14 hands tall or higher.

Can you ride donkeys?

If you are thinking of keeping a donkey as a pet to get your kid countless rides, you would not be disappointed. Donkeys and kids can bond over riding and both the parties would have equal fun. However, train donkeys for riding first then go for a ride.  


Feeding Habits of Donkeys

What do donkeys eat? Donkeys are natural grazers, they will appreciate it if they are kept on a pasture or grass field.

They like to roam and stroll around on the grass all day, but be careful, they are prone to weight gain.

Most donkeys become obese or overweight in the life of captivity, so, monitor their food consumption.

Obesity can be deadly for donkeys contracting many diseases like laminitis and other chronic veterinary issues.

Make sure they are exercising, going on walks along with their fulfilling diets.

Purchase a weigh band from the local feed store to monitor the donkey’s weight.

Often, you like to indulge your donkey with different treats, but not all treats are healthy. Some deadly food items for donkeys are chicken feed, bread, rotting fruit, horse nuts, pellet pet foods, and grains.

Here read complete guide on treats for donkeys

Add mineral supplements and mineral-licks to the diet. Donkeys drink 6 to 8 gallons of water a day, make sure there is a freshwater source nearby the barn.

Now, you must want to know the feeding cost as it can deal-breaker for many pet owners, so the feeding cost can be $100 to $300 a month if there is no pasture.

Living Space

It is quite evident that donkeys like to live outdoor, precisely in a farm-like setting. Half an acre or acre is enough grazing field for one donkey.

However, they can not be outdoors all the time, weather can be cruel with heavy rain, rough winds, hot sun, and cold. 

They need a sheltered or fenced space to live when the weather gets bad or to sleep in at night. A sheltered stall will be their safe space to live and sleep.

The floor should be dirt and it is easier to clean, covered with a layer of insulating straw. 

Fencing needs to be done to keep donkeys contained and not allowing him to trespass on neighbor’s property. Choose it to be mobile depending on the setup of grazing and your pasture management. Different kinds of fencing are available, popular being electric fences and post and rail fences.

Veterinary Care

Not just the donkeys, every pet animal needs veterinary care.

The donkey’s hooves continuously grow and his feet need constant trimming every 12 weeks. So, donkeys see farrier every two or three months for hoof trim for more or less $25.

Hooves trimming is not the only thing you should care about, they need to see the vet every year for vaccination shots.

Donkeys need to be wormed quarterly, it is quite normal as donkeys graze on fecally contaminated grasses, they may contract a wide variety of internal worms. Farrier or vet worms the donkey with worming paste.

Get them to an equine dentist to examine their teeth every two years or when you sense ‘teeth trouble’.

It is quite natural for donkeys and other pets to be at risk of ticks and lice infestation. Delousing powder is used to get rid of these irritating parasites. If delousing powder does not work and lice continue to move freely, contact the veterinarian.

Flies problem should not be underestimated, these pesky flies can irritate donkeys to the point they become aggressive.

They do not just irritate the poor animal but host a lot of problems. Get rid of them using the equine fly repellent spray. It should not be sprayed once in a while rather regularly. Avoid sensitive areas or use roll-on repellent.


How to Train Your Pet Donkey?

Donkeys are reluctant to learn, they are not as obedient as horses. It is hard to push and bully the donkey into obedience, mutual respect is the key.

If you demand donkeys to do a certain task, be patient, give him time to think things through, he will surely be obliged to your order. 

It is not that there is no hope for donkeys to be trained, it is just that they take more time to learn than horses.

Pamper your donkey with lots of snuggles and praises, build trust, be rewarding, realistic, and forgiving. You will soon gain control over the donkey with trust and mutual respect.


Donkeys do not like to sit idle, they like to constantly do something. Being more cerebral than horses, donkeys can quite destructive when bored.

Toys help donkeys play and have fun, watching donkeys play is an absolute delight and your donkey may rose to be a local public attraction.

Buy hula hoops, beach balls, corrugated drain pipe rings, cardboard boxes with no staples, feed pans, hoses with the ends cut off, etc to watch them have endless fun. Donkeys also like hilly areas, just pile dirt somewhere and watch them climb up and down.

Donkey Purchase Cost

It is quite right to know the purchase cost of donkeys before finalizing your decision to buy one. Dwarf Donkey price starts at $300 and goes up from $2000 to $3000 or even higher depending on different factors. Breed, color, bloodlines, age, gender, and training play a vital role in determining the price.

Donkey Lifespan

The average lifespan of a donkey almost equals that of horses. The average life expectancy of the donkey is 25 to 30 years. If well cared for, they can live even longer. So, relax, this naive companion will be with you for a long time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are donkeys friendly?

A common consensus is that donkeys are stubborn, rude, and nervous animals. It is quite untrue as they are surprisingly affectionate.

They seek out the love and affection of their owners by simply standing nearby and with other cute antics.

Not just human beings, they can get attached to livestock members like horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and other pasture pals. One unusual friendship that stands out the most is their bond with the dogs if they are not threatening the herd.

Are donkeys difficult to keep?

Not much, they are not as demanding as some other pets. Little would be enough for them.

However, it best to keep them in a pair, otherwise there is a chance they might get pushy, mouthy, needy and start to chew on fences, trees, and barn.

They show such behavior when they have no partner to play, eat, and sleep with.

How to bond with a donkey?

Donkeys are just plain cute, establish a routine with them and they will fall head over heels for you.

Feed them regularly at a specific time, employ them some work, lend a helping hand, talk, groom, train, and bathe them. Throw a lot of snuggles and admiration their way.

Putting it all together, keeping donkeys as pets is quite unusual but it sure is not without rewards. The naive animal may not be as cuddly or expressive as other pet companions, but he knows just the way to tell you how much he cares. Their low-maintenance lifestyle saves a lot of money as well. 

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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