Do Donkeys Need Shoes? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

The question if donkeys need shoes or not is often asked because the cousins of donkeys, i.e., horses, usually need shoes.

Donkeys do not need shoes; however, you cannot generalize because donkeys are used for a variety of purposes, and their need for shoes will depend on their use and other factors.

Donkeys, like mammoth donkeys, usually need shoes because they are ridden often. When donkeys are ridden often, their hoofs tend to wear out faster; this is what necessitates do use of shoes for donkeys that are ridden often.

Donkeys generally do not need shoes but when you want to use shoes for them, be sure to get the right people with enough knowledge to put the shoes on; always get the right farrier.

Why do donkeys need shoes?

Do Donkeys Need Shoes

Donkeys do not generally need or use shoes, but they may need them in certain circumstances depending on certain factors.

That is what we’re going to explore in this part of the article.

1. The Breed of the donkey

The breed of donkey matters a lot because this tends to determine the use of the donkey.

A mammoth donkey that is generally used for rides as a mode of transportation would need shoes to protect its hoofs.

Smaller breeds of donkeys are not used so much; they’re mostly pets, so they tend not to need shoes.

Wild donkeys do not need shoes because they have adapted to the wild

2. The type of work they do

The work your donkey does on your farm or establishments would determine if they need shoes or not.

If your donkey works a lot on your farm, pulling and carrying things, the donkey would need shoes to protect its hoofs.

It goes to reason that the work the donkey does determine its need for shoes.

3. The Use of the donkey:

This is tantamount to the donkey’s work; your use of your donkey might require you to get shoes for their hoofs.

If you don’t use a donkey for extraneous things and they don’t have to walk around a lot, then they wouldn’t need shoes.

4. The surface they tread on (terrain)

This is one of the primary reasons donkey needs shoes, the surface they tread could be very hard.

If the surface is very hard, it will lead to the hoofs wearing out easily, so they need shoes.

If the floor of your establishment where your donkeys are sheltered has concrete floors and the donkeys have to walk on the hard concrete floors, their hoofs would wear out faster than it grows; therefore they would need shoes.

No matter your reason for getting shoes for your donkey, you should get a knowledgeable person, a farrier to wear your donkey the shoe.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on do donkeys need shelter?

What are donkey shoes made of?

Donkey shoes are made of several materials, including aluminum, steel, plastic, rubber, copper, titanium, magnesium.

When it comes to making the shoes of donkeys, durability, balance, and comfort are the guiding words.

There are different types of shoes made from different materials or a combination of different materials.

You could have a steel shoe with titanium padding, you could have a copper shoe with rubber lining, and you could have a shoe entirely made from rubber or plastic.

However, the most popular materials used for making donkey shoes are aluminum and steel.

So don’t be surprised when you see donkey shoes made from any of these materials.

It doesn’t mean that they are not good; it just means that they might be specialized shoes.

This is because materials like copper, titanium, rubber, or plastic are used for specialized shoes.

Do donkey shoes hurt them?

This is a very important question to ask if you want to get shoes for your donkey; you typically would not know if your donkeys are hurt because they can mask how they feel very well.

However, shoes do not hurt donkeys.

The hoofs of donkeys are very dense, and there are little to no nerve endings in their hoofs.

So, do not worry that the shoes you wear for your donkeys will hurt them even though in wearing the shoes, the farrier usually nails the shoe into their hoofs.

This is done to protect the hoofs and make sure the shoes stay on well.

Not wearing your donkeys shoes and riding them often over hard surfaces Would be what would hurt them as opposed to getting shoes for them.

Also here is an article I wrote on are donkeys good pets?

How often do donkey’s shoes need replacing?

Usually, it is advised that you replace the shoes of your donkeys every six to ten weeks.

This is because that is when you are expected to trim the foot of your donkeys.

The hoofs of your donkeys grow out within this time.

I would need trimming, and you cannot trim the hoofs of your donkeys without removing the shoes, so when you trim the hoofs of your donkeys and remove the shoes, you should change the shoes.

Are there any dangers to putting shoes on donkeys?

There are dangers to putting shoes on your donkeys; putting shoes on your donkeys could expose them to significant danger of injury.

If the farrier you get to put the shoes on your donkeys is not competent, they could put the shoe in a way that would harm your donkeys.

The nails could be improperly placed and harm the inner parts of your donkey’s hoofs.

If the shoe is not properly placed, it could remove while your donkey is working and lead to your donkey spraining its legs.

The wall of your donkey’s hoofs could also be damaged.

Because shoeing is expensive, some people try to cut corners when they want to shoe their donkey; This leads to more danger and more likelihood of harm.

Do donkeys need a farrier?

If you want to shoe your donkey, then definitely donkeys need a farrier.

It is not advised that you shoe your donkey yourself or get someone that is not a specialist to shoe your donkey, and farriers are the best people to shoe donkeys.

Therefore donkeys need farriers for shoeing and hoof maintenance.

Farriers are one of the specialists required in hoof maintenance of donkeys.

Can donkeys wear hoof boots?

Yes, donkeys can wear hoof boots; it is part of their hoof care.

Hoof boots are more cost-effective than shoes, so it is considered a reasonable alternative to shoes for donkeys.

Hoof boots do not need to be changed like shoes every six to ten weeks; they provide longer protection for your donkey’s hoofs. They also reduce the risk of damage and injury to the hoofs of your donkey.

The advantages of boots include:

  • Cost-effectiveness.
  • Better cushioning for the hoofs of your donkeys.
  • More protection for hoof wall.
  • Last long and can be used for many donkeys.
  • You can take them off after riding your donkey.
  • They come in different styles.
  • They are easy to put on your donkeys.
  • They come in different sizes depending on the particular hoof of your donkey.

Can donkeys be ridden without shoes?

Donkeys can be ridden without shoes.

However, you are not advised to ride them for long or often without shoes or boots.

The hoofs of donkeys usually grow continuously and are hard, so they can be ridden without shoes, just not on hard surfaces, for long and often.


Hoof maintenance in donkeys is vital; if you do not maintain the hoofs of your donkeys, the chances of you enjoying the use of your donkeys fully would greatly reduce.

Wearing donkeys shoes or boots can be necessary depending on a number of factors, as explored above.

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About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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