A Guide to 12 Donkey Breeds (With Pictures)

We are all quite touchy about the horse breeds, don’t we? Have you ever thought the total donkey population is separated in breeds as well? Even if you don’t you would be able to speak confidently about the few donkey breeds by the end of this article.

Donkey breeds are also not small in numbers, it’s just that we don’t really pay attention to the breed and their distinguishing features usually. Unlike horses, donkeys are normally bought without taking into account their breed. It is also the reason why we have such little knowledge about donkey breeds.

There would be several hundred registered donkey breeds but it’s impossible to discuss all here, we have decided to dedicate an article to all famous worth-knowing registered donkey breeds. So, let’s not beat about the bush and discuss what needs to be discussed here. Starting with the names first, we’ll get into the details later.

12 Donkey Breeds

  • Poitevin 
  • American Mammoth Jackstock 
  • Miranda 
  • Cotentin
  • Asinara
  • Grand Noir du Berry
  • Provence 
  • Amiatina 
  • Zamorano-Leones
  • Bourbonnais
  • Norman
  • Balearic 

1. Poitevin 


Poitevin donkeys are known and recognized by several names including Poitou, Baudet Du Poitou, and Poitou Ass. As these unusual donkey names suggest, this dramatic donkey breed originates from France but they can now be found in almost all parts of the world.

Poitevin is considered the largest breed among all donkey breeds as these donkeys are almost of mule’s size. Besides the super-natural height, they have stronger necks, short croups, round haunches, exceptional long heads, and backs. 

Like all donkey breeds, this donkey breed is friendly, affectionate, and docile. This dramatic donkey breed is usually admired for its long shaggy locks that look somewhat similar to dreadlocks. This donkey breed is best to keep as a pet. Read my complete guide on Keeping Donkey as a Pet

Coat color

Dark bay

Distinguishing feature

Shaggy locks, stronger necks, short croups, round haunches


Pet, siring mules, agricultural work, driving, and riding

2. American Mammoth Jackstock


American Mammoth Jackstock originates from the United States of America. This American Mammoth Jackstock is the oldest donkey breed that was bred before the revolutionary war. 

This exceptional donkey breed was developed by crossbreeding European donkeys with American and Mexican stock. Their strength and size make them extremely popular for agricultural and transportation purposes. 

The American Mammoth Jackstocks are well-proportioned, usually weighing around 1000 to 2000 pounds. Read the complete guide on How much does a donkey weighs? These donkey breeds have been blessed with fuller hips and stronger well-muscled necks. Though American Mammoth Jackstock donkeys are not that popular over the internet, they are well admired and appreciated by their keepers across the globe. 

Coat color

Brown, black, Sorrel, roan, and dun

Distinguishing feature

Fuller hips and stronger well-muscled necks


Riding and agricultural purposes 

3. Miranda


Miranda, another hardy donkey breed that is commonly known among the locals as  “Burro de Miranda”, “Raca asinina de Miranda”, “Transmontano”, “Mirandes”, and “Burro do Planalto Mirandes”. This donkey breed appears quite similar to the regular donkey breeds with no distinguishing characteristic. 

The Miranda donkey breed originates from a northeast region named Terra de Miranda in Portugal. As they are quite ordinary, they are never bothered to be imported. Miranda donkeys can hardly be seen elsewhere as the whole population is surviving in their hometown, Terra de Miranda serving the local farmers. 

Miranda donkeys can be recognized by their long hair, broad forehead, large hooves, pangare marking around the eyes, stronger legs, and heavy necks. This donkey breed is more social and docile than all donkey breeds out there. This ultra social and docile nature makes them a great pet and an exceptional farm animal. 

Coat color

Black and brown 

Distinguishing feature

Broad forehead, large hooves, pangare marking around the eyes


Pet, agricultural, and transportation purposes 

4. Cotentin


Cotentin is a domestic French donkey breed that can be seen in any part of the country. Most population of Cotentin donkeys are found in Lower Normandy, other than the said region a noticeable number of Cotentin donkeys are also serving in north-west France. 

This French donkey breed can be easily recognized by their well-defined dorsal, shoulder, and zebra-like leg stripes. Though this domestic breed has been living and serving Francis for centuries it got the recognition it deserved in 1997.

Way back in the days, Cotentin donkeys were raised and kept for carrying milk churns and agricultural purposes. Their ultra-social nature makes them great companion animals. 

Coat color

Dove gray

Distinguishing feature

Well-defined dorsal, shoulder, and zebra-like leg stripes


Pet, companion animal, hiking, trekking, leisure, therapy, and transportation purposes 

5. Asinara


Ever heard or seen a grayish-white donkey? Never? Our readers have probably never come across the Asinara donkey breed. These all white donkey breeds belong to the islands of Asinara in Italy. 

Asinara donkey breed holds a special place in the list of eight autochthonous donkey breeds that got recognized by the Italian Ministry of agricultural and forestry “Ministero Delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali”.This donkey breed is expensive, Read a complete guide on How Much Does a Donkey Cost?

This Italian breed is usually called by several names in the hometown including “ainu”, “borricu”, and “molenti”. Whereas for the rest of the world, they are either “the white donkey” or “Asinara”. 

Coat color


Distinguishing feature

White coat


Show animal and a means of transportation 

6. Grand Noir du Berry


Grand Noir du Berry, a domestic donkey breed, is living, breathing, and serving in central France. Besides Berry(central France), these ultra-social animals can also be spotted in Northern France in abundance. This breed is known as the riding donkey breed.

It’s another registered domestic donkey breed that got recognized as a separate breed by the French ministry of agriculture “Ministère de l’Agriculture” in 1994. 1994 proved to be Grand Noir du Berry’s year as the breed got recognized by Haras Nationaux(an association that is made to maintain studbooks)as well. 

Despite being registered and known, the books of history are full of doubts about their origin. They can be recognized by their plain black coat with no visible signs of dorsal, shoulder, and Zebra stripes. Unlike most of the donkey breeds, their belly and the lower part of the muzzle are pale grays. 

Coat color 


Distinguishing feature

Plain black coat, well defined dorsal and shoulder stripes


Pet and agricultural purposes 

7. Provence 


Provence, another’s famous donkey breed, that got endangered after serving us as exceptional pack animals for hundreds of years. Besides the legit name, this donkey breed is also referred to as Ane d’Arles, Ane de berger, Ane de la crau, Ane de savoie, Ane gris de procence, Ane de transhumance, Ane des croises, Ane des saintes. 

Back in the fifteenth century, the Provence donkeys were specially saddled to carry the necessities of local shepherds. Besides carrying the necessities and taking shepherds from place to place, Provence donkeys had no other use. 

Provence donkeys had pale eyes, russet tint ears and foreheads, and well-marked dorsal and shoulder stripes. Like few other French donkey breeds, they have larger hooves and solid limbs. Do you want to Read about Donkey vs Burro – What is the difference? 

Coat color

Dove gray

Distinguishing features

Pale eyes, larger hooves, solid limbs, russet tint ears, and foreheads


Pack animal

8. Amiatina 


Amiatina is an endangered Italian donkey breed that is distributed throughout Liguria, Campania, but mainly Tuscany, Italy. Amiatina donkeys were listed as endangered in 2007.

The Amiatina horse breed can be recognized by the prominent dovetail, leg stripes, and collar buttons. Besides the unusual dovetail, leg stripes, and collar buttons, Amiatina are no more exceptional than ordinary donkeys, they usually weigh around 150 to 250kgs and have height somewhere between 125 to 140 centimeters. 

Like most donkey breeds, Amiatinas are strong and hardy, they can easily survive on harsh marginal terrain. Just like the Asinara donkey breed, it also belongs to the list of eight donkey breeds that are recognized by the Italian Ministry of agricultural and forestry, Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali. 

Coat color

Dove gray

Distinguishing feature

Dovetail, leg stripes, and collar buttons


Transport, meat, and hippotherapy

9. Zamorano-Leones


Zamorano-Leones is a Spanish donkey breed that belongs to the provinces of Zamora and Leon. The name “Zamorano-Leones” is generated by combining the names of two provinces this donkey breed belongs to. 

Besides Zamorano-Leones, this donkey breed is also referred to by the locals as Carbajalina, Leonesa, Zamorana, Ganaron Leones, Asno Zamorano-Leonés. These Zamorano-Leonés donkeys can be seen serving the natives of Castilla y Leon, province Zamorana, and Leon. 

This massive donkey breed can be recognized by its height, long shaggy coat, and pale-colored eyes and muzzles. Because of their hardy nature and exceptional height, they can easily survive the hardest living conditions. 

Coat color

Black or dark bay

Distinguishing feature

Long shaggy coat, pale-colored eyes and muzzles


Agriculture mainly 

10. Bourbonnais 


This French donkey breed called “Bourbonnais” got popular for hauling barges and pulling light gigs. Due to this breed’s outstanding contribution as a pack animal, the Bourbonnais got recognized by the French Ministry of Agriculture Ministère de l’Agriculture in 2002.

Like most of the donkey breeds on this list, Bourbonnais usually appear serving and surviving among the natives of Bourbonnais, France. The Bourbonnais donkeys usually get recognized by their chocolate, bay, or dark bay coat color and the darkest dorsal and shoulder stripes. 

Bourbonnais donkeys can be kept and raised for any purpose as they are hardy and have exceptional drought tolerance. Most Bourbonnais, in underdeveloped parts of Bourbonnais, are carrying and transporting vegetables, coal, and milk from one place to another. 

Coat color

Chocolate, bay, or dark bay

Distinguishing feature

chocolate, bay, or dark bay coat color and the darkest dorsal and shoulder stripes


Pack animal, Agriculture, and transportation

11. Norman


Norman is a hardy domestic donkey breed that is distributed throughout Brittany, Pays de Loire, lower Normandy, and upper Normandy. Unlike other donkey breeds mentioned in this article, Norman is the smallest donkey breed. One of the seven smallest donkey breeds ever got registered. 

Ane Normand or Norman donkeys have prominent dorsal, shoulder, and leg stripes. Their eyes, muzzle, and belly are usually lighter somewhat grayish-white whereas the rest of the body is chocolaty dark. 

This typical French donkey breed has done it all from being a pack animal to carrying milk churns and pulling carts. As the world progressed, their life got easier as they do not now have to pull carts or carry milk churns around. 

Coat color

Chocolate brown

Distinguishing feature

Dorsal, shoulder, and leg stripes, and pale eyes


Pack animal, hiking, and trekking 

12. Balearic 


Balearic is a popular Spanish donkey breed that is popular among the natives with various names. As the name suggests, this donkey breed belongs to the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean off the eastern coast of Spain. 

The donkey breed remained popular till the 20th century, some of the fellas were even exported to England but the 21st century didn’t prove to be great for them. They started falling in number and now the Balearic donkeys can only be spotted in the Balearic Islands. 

This is probably the only donkey breed that is not just recognized by the Ministero de Agricultura but prized outside the Island as well. Though they do not have any such prominent feature, pale belly muzzle, and eyes can be considered their marks of identification. 

Coat color


Distinguishing feature

Pae belly muzzle, and eyes


Agriculture and transportation breeds

These were the few donkey breeds that are known and recognized by the world, books of history, and the breed registering authorities. As mentioned in the beginning, the donkey breeds are just as great in numbers as horses so we can discuss all in detail in one article. If by reading all the donkey breeds mentioned in the article, my readers’ interest has developed, they can check the other worth-knowing donkey breeds names listed below. 

  • Catalan
  • Asno de las Encartaciones
  • Bourbonnais
  • Pyrenean
  • Andalusian
  • Majorera
  • Corsican
  • Abyssinian
  • Burro da ilha
  • Balkan
  • Maltesa
  • Viterbese
  • Irish
  • Ponui
  • Parlagi szamar
  • Farineiro
  • Dwergezel
  • Jumento nordestino
  • Jumento paulista

And several hundred more. Lastly, I would like to confess here that the information provided here is gathered from thorough research so it’s limited and it can be faulty, connect to the authentic books for more details. I hope you have found this article helpful. It would be an honor knowing that our writings are helping our readers in some way.

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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