Tag Archives: Donkey

Domestic Equines


In today’s post I am going to cover some basic similarities and differences between common domestic equines; horses and ponies, donkey’s, and mule’s and hinny’s. All of these animals belong to the family Euqidae, and the genus Equus.

Horse (Maggie) and Donkey (Lucy)

Horses and Ponies

Most people know what horses and ponies are, but often are unsure what the difference is. A surprising (to me) number of people have asked me if ponies are baby horses – the answer to that is no; a baby horse or a baby pony (of either gender, under the age of 1 year) is known as a foal. An adult female is known as a Mare, and a juvenile female (under 4 years old) is known as a Filly. An adult male that has been neutered is known as a Gelding, and entire (not neutered) adult male is known as a Stallion, and a juvenile male (under 4 years old) is known as a Colt. The gestation period for horses and ponies is 11-12 months.

There are many different breeds of horses and ponies; from thoroughbred horses to draughts and Shire’s, from cobs to Shetland ponies; within the different types, there are a myriad of colours and patterns – some specific to the breed (e.g. Appaloosa – spotted horse (see below)), others being quite commonplace across many breeds.

Horses are larger than ponies; ponies reach up to 14.2 hh (hands high), and horses are 14.3 hh and taller. The tallest recorded horse to date is a a Belgian Gelding called Big Jake, who was measured in 2010 at just over 20.2 hh.

Horses and ponies have small ears and long faces, long tails and manes, deep chests, and long legs with rounded hooves. They are intelligent creatures, with brilliant speed, agility and strength. Horses have long manes and tails; which need to be kept neat and clean, and are often trimmed, clipped or plaited. Their coats are thin, compared to a donkey’s.

The noises horses and ponies make range from neighing and whinnying to snorting and sighing; these noises can vary a lot in and of themselves, depending on the animal’s mood – body language and posture both help to identify the mood, alongside noises.

Donkey’s

Donkey’s are smaller than horses, and smaller than a good number of pony breeds. An entire male donkey is a known as a Jack (hence the term “Jack-Ass”), a male donkey that has been castrated (or gelded) is known as a John or a gelded-Jack, and a female is known as a Jenny or a Jennet. As with horses and ponies, donkey foals are donkey’s (of either gender) up to one year old, a filly is a female donkey under 4 years of age, and a colt is a male donkey under four yeas old.

The African Wild Ass (which are a critically endangered species according to the IUCN Red List), with a decreasing population, are the wild relatives of the domestic donkey.

There are a fair few different breeds of donkey; from the American Mammoth to the Miniature Mediterranean to the (long-haired) Poitou. The most common colour for a donkey is grey, but they also come in brown, black, roan, white, and a mixture of all of the aforementioned colours; in speckles or patches or other patterns, or just as broken colours. Donkey’s are usually white underneath, but can be solid colours too. Some colours and/or patterns being breed specific.

Donkey’s range from around 7.3 hh to 15.3 hh, with the average height of a donkey being approximately 11-13 hh. Donkey’s are very strong, they have long ears, and hooves rounded the same as a horse/pony. Donkey’s have short brush-like manes, and short tails with fur covering the tail, and a collection of hair at the end. Donkey’s have thicker coats than horse and ponies.

Donkey’s are known to make a braying sound, which most of us would recognise as the classic “hee-haw” donkey noise; this noise is unique to donkey’s, as they can vocalise whilst breathing in and out, unlike horses and zebras. Donkey’s are also known to squeal and snort, amongst producing other sounds.

Mule’s and Hinny’s

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, whereas a hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. A female mule is called a Mare-mule or a Molly-mule, and a male mule is called a Horse-mule or a John-mule.

Genetically, horses have 32 pairs of chromosomes, and donkeys have 31 pairs; due to this, their offspring (when horses and donkeys are bred together) cannot themselves reproduce – they have 63 chromosomes, so one is left without a pair, resulting in mule’s and hinny’s being infertile.

Being part-horse and part-donkey, mule’s and hinny’s are, more often than not, taller than donkeys – ranging from approximately 12 hh to 17 hh. Some suggest that a mule is stronger than a hinny, but others believe it’s hard to gauge as it is hard to tell mule’s and hinny’s apart by appearance. They often inherit the best qualities of both the horse/ pony and the donkey parents; as with crossbreed dogs mule’s and hinny’s often inherit the good characteristics and physiology of their parents, and can be healthier. Physically they can range from looking quite donkey-like, to looking quite horse-like; more often than not they look like what they are – a mix of the two species.


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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11th November – We Remember


This day, 11th November, we set aside to remember all the fallen in war; the hero’s who gave their today, for our tomorrow. These brave people and animals gave their lives, fighting to preserve all that they, and we, hold dear. Their selfless acts and sacrifices allow us the freedom we have; for that, and so much more, we remember them.

Horses are the animals primarily thought of when war animals are mention (at least in my experience in conversations); a war horse had many uses. Depending on the military role of the division in which a horse was placed, would often determine the use(s) of the animal.

A war horse would carry soldiers into battle, be used as transport for messengers, would pull equipment, machinery, artillery, supply carts, and much more. However, horses were integral to the war, and soldiers would form bonds with their horse, often sleeping close together for warmth when necessary. Donkey’s and Mule’s would also have been used for similar roles; however less so as transport for riders.

Perhaps a lesser-known animal used for pulling equipment and supplies, not used on the battlefield, but back home. Due to the usual animals used (horses, mules, donkeys, etc) as they had been taken into war, their roles at home were taken over by some less-common animals in their absence. Elephants and camels were used for transporting materials and such, as well as for ploughing fields, hauling hay/straw, and other every-day jobs that needed to be done. One of the more famous, was Lizzie the Indian elephant (pictured below); once part of a travelling circus, had her role in life completely altered by WW1 just as many people had – and she was put to work in a scrap metal yard in Sheffield.

Pigeons and dogs were also used to carry messages during war. Pigeons were useful with their homing instincts, being able to bring them back to where the message came from – thus being able to return a response message to the correct place as necessary. Dogs were able to navigate trenches and battlefields with more ease and speed than a human soldier, which made them great at transporting messages this way. Dogs had other uses in war, such as; being guard and/or watch dogs, using their keen sense of smell to find injured soldiers on the battlefield and carry medical supplies, as ratters, and (my no means least) as companions.

Cats would also have been used for companionship, as well as for rodent control in the trenches and living areas of the soldiers, as well as on Naval ships. As rodents spread disease and deplete food supplies, cats were of great value in war-time.

Although you probably wouldn’t have thought it, slugs were also of great value during war. How? Well, slugs have the ability to detect gas before humans. They close up their breathing pores and compress their body to protect themselves, and survive the gas. As such, soldiers would take a “Slug Brigade” with them, and when they saw the slugs react to gas, they put on their gas masks before the gas reached harmful levels, and many lives were saved.

Thanks to brave men and women on the battlefields, and back home; thanks to the many animals playing their part on the battlefields, and back home; thanks to the sacrifices made by so many, we have the lives we live today.

Please check out my November 2014 post Remembrance to see other animals that have been used in wars throughout history.


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


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Labradoodles and other “designer” cross-breeds

In response to a question asked – this post is going touch on breeding and genetics in the dog world. The question asked was; “are Labradoodles (and other designer cross-breeds) infertile? – like a mule is.”

The short answer is no.

Two Labradoodles can have puppies – the argument these days is whether or not the offspring of two Labradoodles is still a Labradoodle, or just a mongrel… but that’s a different issue altogether!

A Labradoodle is the offspring of a Labrador crossed with a Poodle (miniature, small, or standard).

Labradoodle (open source)
Labradoodle (open source)

A Labradoodle is genetically different, and genetically the same as your little Dachshund, your beautiful Bulldog, and your fluffy Akita. They are also genetically the same, and genetically different to the Wolf and other wild Canid species.

The family Canidae is broken down into the genus Canis – Wolves, dogs and Jackals; and the genus Vulpues – foxes. The Wolf is its own species within this genus – Canis lupus; the domestic dog is its own species – Canis familiaris.
Canis lupus is divided into subspecies, such as; Grey Wolves and Red Wolves.
Canis familiaris has lots of breeds within the species, but these are not scientifically classified as subspecies. Scientifically the Springer Spaniel and the Irish Wolfhound are the same.

Domestic dogs, Wolves, and Jackals all have 39 pairs of chromosomes. If two dogs breed, the offspring has 39 pairs of chromosomes. If two Wolves breed, the offspring has 39 pairs of chromosomes. If a domestic dog and a Wolf breed, the offspring has 39 pairs of chromosomes. This means that the offspring of any mix are all fertile.

A mule is infertile because a donkey has 31 pairs of chromosomes, and a horse has 32 pairs of chromosomes – the offspring of the two does not have an equal amount of chromosomes; there is not enough to for all to be paired. Therefore, the offspring cannot reproduce. The donkey is a different species to the horse, hence the genetic difference.

A Labradoodle is just the same as a mongrel – it’s a dog. Therefore, it can breed and successfully reproduce with other dogs; no matter what breed. As a cute example, see the image below – she is the adorable offspring of a Chocolate Labrador (Dad) and a Labrador x Springer Spaniel (Mum). Just a cute, little, baby dog!

3 Part Lab, 1 Part Springer Spaniel (Cross-breed)
3 Part Lab, 1 Part Springer Spaniel (Cross-breed)


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