What Is the Difference Between a Donkey and a Mule?

Though one cannot find much difference between a Donkey and Mule, they have anatomical and physiological differences. People often find it hard to differentiate between the two Donkey and Mule as they are almost similar in their looks and ways.

A Mule also has the capability to jump up a few feet from standing position where as a Donkey cannot perform such an act. A Mule looks like a Donkey with its short thick head, thin limbs, and short mane but it appears different from the Donkey in height, shape of neck, coat and teeth.

Even though there is a great difference between a donkey and a mule, one can find it hard to differentiate between the two.

How do you tell the difference between a donkey and a mule?

Mules have ears smaller than the Donkeys but they are longer and also have almost the same shape of a Horse. A Mule looks like a Donkey with its short thick head, thin limbs, and short mane but it appears different from the Donkey in height, shape of neck, coat and teeth. The Mules are taller than the Donkeys.

Can a mule reproduce?

Befuddling Birth: The Case of the Mule’s Foal Mules — the offspring of female horses and male donkeys — are generally sterile and can’t reproduce.

Can a donkey give birth to a mule?

A mule gave birth to a mule when the sire was a donkey and then to a horse when the sire was a stallion.

Why can't mules reproduce?

They are sterile because they can’t make sperm or eggs. They have trouble making sperm or eggs because their chromosomes don’t match up well. And, to a lesser extent, because of their chromosome number. A mule gets 32 horse chromosomes from mom and 31 donkey chromosomes from dad for a total of 63 chromosomes.

Donkeys are well-known for their stubbornness, while mules are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, but do you know the difference between these two pack animals?

A male horse and a female donkey (a “jenny” or “jennet”) produce a “hinny.” However, there are a few rare cases documenting reproductively viable female mules.

Physically, mules share more physical characteristics with horses than donkeys do, including coat consistency, body shape, body size, ear shape, tail, and teeth.

Although the terms mule and donkey are often used interchangably they do not refer to the same animal. A mule is a hybrid animal which is the result of breeding a donkey with a horse. A donkey is a seperate animal and member of the horse or Equidae family. These two animals are very similar in regards to their appearance, traits, and behavior but there are a number of anatomical and biological differences between them.

Animals who toil under heavy loads for extended periods of time may only live to an age of between twelve and fifteen years. Image credit: MuleGirl/Wikimedia.orgMules are hybrid animals which are born after a female horse (or mare) mates with a male donkey (called a jack).

Mules are used in a variety of industries and environments throughout the world including mining, farming, and transporting heavy loads as draft animals. Typically in terms of height these domesticated animals may measure between 31 and 63 inches at their withers (the ridge between a donkey‘s shoulder blades).

Donkeys and mules are closely related, which you might have guessed from their similar appearance. Theyre so closely related that many people have a hard time telling them apart. Like horses, donkeys and mules are both part of the same Equidae family, so they all share a lot of similarities. But horses are quite easy to tell apart from donkeys and mules; donkeys and mules arent quite as easy to tell apart from each other.

Image Credit: Pixabay Average height (adult): 36-60 inches Average weight (adult): 400-1,100 pounds Lifespan: 25-30 years Exercise: 1+ hours a day Grooming needs: Moderate Family-friendly: Yes Other pet-friendly: Often Trainability: Intelligent but stubborn Descendants of the Wild African Ass, donkeys were employed as workers, being used to draw carts and haul loads.

Image Credit: Pixabay Donkeys come in various sizes today, including miniature, standard, and mammoth. Since theyre smaller in stature, it shouldnt be surprising that donkeys arent as heavy as horses or mules. Farmers joke that donkeys can get fat on air, but this is a very useful characteristic in many parts of the world where feed is scarce and expensive.

This is part of the reason that donkeys are so prevalent as work animals around the world with more than 50 million being used worldwide. Specifically, theyre made by breeding a male donkey called a jack with a female horse, known as a mare. They get the athleticism of a horse mixed with the hardy nature and physical strength of a donkey.

Image Credit: Pixabay Horses are considerably larger than donkeys, so it makes sense that mules are as well. Standard mules are about 50-70 inches tall on average (12.5-17.5 hands), making them larger than even mammoth donkeys. With weights reaching up to 1,500 pounds, mules are considerably heavier than donkeys, and they can even outweigh many horses.

The only way to make mule offspring is by breeding a male donkey and a female horse. Most donkeys arent suitable for riding, so theyre a better choice as companion animals for other pets or for light draught work. An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan.

An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.

Biology

In terms of basic biological make up one of the main differences between these two very similar animals is the fact that while donkeys can reproduce, mules are infertile. Since they cannot mate mules are incapable of producing offspring. Donkeys are also born with 62 chromosomes while mules have 63. Although both animals are used for labor intensive work mules are widely thought to be better at handling heavy loads than donkeys. This is due to the fact that donkeys are known for losing patience while struggling with excess weight. Mules are also regarded to be better at physically demanding work because they have more stamina. Another difference between mules and donkeys involves the mules’ ability to jump up from a standing position which is a feat that donkeys are incapable of performing.Due to the fact that the ability to reproduce is one of the major biological differences between mules and donkeys, it’s interesting to note that while male mules may mate these animals don’t have the haploid cells which are required in order to successfully produce offspring. In order to better curb the aggressive behavior of male mules towards females, most animals are castrated.

Lifespans

Mules generally have a somewhat shorter lifespan than their donkey counterparts. Mules may live between thirty and forty years while a donkey‘s lifespan can range from thirty to as much as fifty years. The lifespans for both animals is largely dependent upon their individual living and working conditions. Animals who toil under heavy loads for extended periods of time may only live to an age of between twelve and fifteen years.

Mule

Mules are hybrid animals which are born after a female horse (or mare) mates with a male donkey (called a jack). Physically they more closely resemble horses more than do their donkey counterparts. This is particularly true when it comes to examining the mule‘s ears which are smaller in size than a donkey‘s and more in line with the physical structure of horse ears. This is also true in terms of the mule‘s tail which looks a lot like that of a horse’s tail. Conversely, the tail of a donkey is coarse and looks much more similar to that of a cow’s. Mules are characterized by their short manes and heads as well as thin legs. Mules are also taller than donkeys. The two animals also display subtle physical differences in regards to the appearance of their teeth, neck shape, and coat.Mules are used in a variety of industries and environments throughout the world including mining, farming, and transporting heavy loads as draft animals.Male mules are called jack or john while females are referred to as molly.Mules are said to have harder hooves than that of horses. This is another reason why they are able to handle carrying heavy loads over long distances.The mule‘s coat is usually brown, grey, or black but a small percentage may be white, buckskin, or palomino.There are approximately twelve million mules in the world with most living in countries such as China. Mexico, and Brazil.

Donkey

Also commonly referred to as an ass or burro, the donkey is characterized by the loud braying sounds it makes as well as the large size of its ears which are shaded darker at the tips as well as at the base of its ears. Depending on factors such as breeding these hardy animals come in a range of sizes. Typically in terms of height these domesticated animals may measure between 31 and 63 inches at their withers (the ridge between a donkey‘s shoulder blades). A fully grown donkey may reach a weight of between 180 and 1,060 pounds. A donkeys lifespan is largely dependent on the animal’s living conditions. In poorer countries donkeys have long been utilized as efficient beasts of burden; therefore they have shorter lifespans than similar animals living less regimented and more comfortable lifestyles in countries such as the U.S.Male donkeys are called jack while females are referred to as jenny.Donkeys have short fur on both their manes and tails as well as a dark stripe running along their backs from the animal’s head down to its tail. They also have a stripe across their shoulders. Other physical traits include narrow shaped hooves which are particularly useful when the animal is travelling over rough terrain.The donkey‘s coat is typically grey but may also be black or a dark shade of brown.Donkeys are regarded to be intelligent animals with the ability to remember places and other donkeys for a significant amount of time. They are herd animals which are superior to horses when it comes to their capacity to travel over a variety of terrains.According to recent statistics there are about nineteen million donkeys living in various geographical regions across the globe. The majority of these animals reside in China and Pakistan while large numbers of donkeys can also be found in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Donkeys are also used in regions where horses fail to thrive such as Mongolia, Tibet, and northeastern portions of Africa.

Size

Donkeys come in various sizes today, including miniature, standard, and mammoth. But even mammoth donkeys only stand about 56-60 inches in height or 14-14.5 hands. Compared to a horse or even a mule, that’s not very large. And remember, we’re talking about mammoth donkeys here; the largest of their species. Standard donkeys stand even shorter at just 36-56 inches. And miniature donkeys can be even shorter than 36 inches!Since they’re smaller in stature, it shouldn’t be surprising that donkeys aren’t as heavy as horses or mules. A standard donkey will weigh about 400-600 pounds. Meanwhile, mammoth donkeys are about 950 pounds on average and top out at about 1,100 pounds for the largest specimens.

Feeding

One great thing about donkeys is that they don’t require very much feed for their size. Farmers joke that donkeys can get fat on air, but this is a very useful characteristic in many parts of the world where feed is scarce and expensive. This is part of the reason that donkeys are so prevalent as work animals around the world with more than 50 million being used worldwide.

Suitable for:

Donkeys are suitable for many situations. They’re one of the most commonly used work animals, particularly in lesser developed countries. Thanks to their low feed requirements, donkeys are easy and affordable to keep. They’re also strong, hardy, and great for working. But many people also keep donkeys as companions for their other livestock or even just as pets!

Mule Overview

Though donkeys look vaguely like horses, mules are much closer to horses in appearance, while still looking strangely donkey-like. It’s possible that wild mules exist, but it’s highly improbable, and practically every mule used by humans was bred on purpose. At one point, mules were highly favored; more so than donkeys or horses. Royalty often rode mules in years past, and the ancient Egyptians even preferred mules over camels as pack animals!

Origin

When you understand where mules come from, you’ll understand the key differences between them and donkeys. Mules are created by crossing a horse and a donkey. Specifically, they’re made by breeding a male donkey called a jack with a female horse, known as a mare. In essence, this gives mules the best of both worlds. They get the athleticism of a horse mixed with the hardy nature and physical strength of a donkey.

Size

Horses are considerably larger than donkeys, so it makes sense that mules are as well. Granted, there are different varieties and sizes of mules, including a miniature variety that can weigh as little as 50 pounds! But generally speaking, mules fall somewhere between horses and donkeys in size. Standard mules are about 50-70 inches tall on average (12.5-17.5 hands), making them larger than even mammoth donkeys. With weights reaching up to 1,500 pounds, mules are considerably heavier than donkeys, and they can even outweigh many horses.

Sterility

Though mules are usually very healthy creatures, there is a problem that comes along with crossing two different species, even if they are in the same family. As a result of this crossbreeding, 99.9% of mules are sterile. You can’t keep making mules by crossing two mules. The only way to make mule offspring is by breeding a male donkey and a female horse.

Suitable for:

Mules are extremely versatile creatures that are used for almost everything that horses and mules are used for. They’re perfect for someone who can’t decide between a horse and a donkey! These animals are great for draught work, pack animals, riding, cart pulling, and they’re even used in many riding shows and events like endurance races, show jumping, and dressage.

Riding

Some of the most notable differences between mules and donkeys are their uses. While both make great work animals, donkeys aren’t generally ridden. That said, mammoth donkeys are great for riding thanks to their sure-footedness and stability, but standard and miniature donkeys can’t be ridden by an adult. Standard mules, however, are often used for riding as they’re nearly as sure-footed and steady as donkeys, but they’re large enough to allow for a full-sized human to ride.

Breeding

Donkeys can be bred to create new donkey offspring, just like most animals. But mules cannot. You can’t breed two mules since mules are almost always sterile. You’ll have to breed a horse and donkey to make a mule, making it impossible to breed mules for specific traits that you want to nurture, which is much easier to do with donkeys.

Genetic Differences

Of course, these breeding differences work out to genetic differences in the end. Looking at their chromosomes, it becomes simple to see where the difference lies. Horses have a total of 64 chromosomes. Donkeys, on the other hand, have 62 chromosomes. Mules, a cross between these two species, fall right in the middle with an odd 63 chromosomes.

What About Hinnies?

Hinnies are quite similar to mules in many regards. They’re made the same way, by crossing a horse and a donkey, only it’s opposite of mules. To make a hinny, you have to cross a female donkey with a male horse. Like mules, hinnies have 63 chromosomes and are practically always sterile. Hinnies are so similar to mules that it can be very difficult to tell them apart.