Difference Between Donkey and Horse

Donkey vs Horse | Features, Characteristics, Lifespan | Different Names at different ages – Foal, Yearling, Colt, Filly, Mare, Stallion, Gelding

Being horse-like mammals (Equids), donkeys share some similarities with horses. The lifespan, body size and structure, interests among people on them are different. According to the uses of both horse and donkey, there are some similarities as well as dissimilarities. Both of them were wild once and then some became domesticated. Presently, most of the donkeys and horses are domesticated while still there are some wild populations.


Donkeys were originated in Africa and later spread throughout the world. Usually, a donkey lives minimum for 30 years and maximum up to 50 years. Depending on the breed, they vary in their size (80 – 160 centimetres tall) and colour. They have characteristic ears which are long and pointed. Between poll (top of the head) and withers (ridge between shoulders), there is a series of hair through the crest, those are little longer than the hair on rest of the body except in the tail. Donkeys live alone and not in herds in the wild. They grunt loudly (known as Braying) to communicate within each other. A dry matter weight of about 1.5% of the body weight of a donkey is required for a day. Donkeys have been very important for man as a working animal. Not only to carrying cargo, but also for guarding goats, donkeys have been important for humans for years. However, in 3000 BC, there is evidence on the first domesticated donkey.


Horse fossils from Europe, Asia, and North America give evidence of their early distribution in the world. They are larger mammals with a lifespan of 25 – 30 years. Horses vary in their coat colour, markings on coat, and body size according to the breed, sometimes nutrition, and the parental populations. The ears are not distinctively long and pointed but the hairs between poll and withers are longer. The horse’s tail hairs are considerably long and drop down like a waterfall. Horses at different ages are known as different names (Foal- < 1 year; Yearling- 1 to 2 years; Colt- male under 4 years; Filly- female under 4 years; Mare- adult female; Stallion- adult male; Gelding- castrated male). Horses do not live in herds in wild. They have a characteristic whining sound and which is important for them in the wild especially for communication. A dry matter weight of 2 – 2.5 % of their body weight is required for a horse daily. With a greater economic value, horses serve human as family pets, game animals, and sometimes food. Also in the recreational activities, horses have been very well used.

Donkey vs Horse

Origins of the two animals are different, donkey being from Africa and the horse is not so. Comparatively, a donkey is long lived than a horse with a slightly smaller body size. The daily requirement of dry matter amount is a little more higher for a horse than a donkey. Horses have a greater economic value and attract more human attention than the donkeys. The horse races are very popular and people gamble for horses in races worldwide, but not that much for the donkeys, hence the economical values are different. The aesthetic values of horses are again higher than that of donkeys. Somehow, the sexual mating between a male donkey and a female horse results a sterile mule, those are working animals; and that is an importance of both donkeys and horses together.