10 Donkey Breeds Good for Riding

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Presently there are more than 50 million donkeys around the globe.

Originally bred as beasts of burden, these robust, durable creatures are frequently handled like horses, despite being opposed in every manner.

However, donkeys are more sociable and easy to care for than horses. 

Additionally, they live longer on less feed, making them far less expensive to care for than horses, which contributes significantly to their global popularity.

Indeed, farmers say that donkeys can get fat on air, indicating how little nutrition they require.

Donkeys were domesticated approximately 5,000 years ago and have coexisted with humans for millennia.

Like humans, they have evolved differently across the globe.

Today, donkeys come in an array of shapes, sizes, colors, and coat textures.

Grey is the most frequent coat color, followed by brown, black, roan, and broken colored donkeys (donkeys with a combination of brown and white or black and white markings), while pure white is the rarest.

Nonetheless, numerous breeds of donkeys exist in various parts of the world.

Multiple of these breeds are merely named after the geographical area in which they are found.

In most areas, donkeys are simply donkeys; there are no distinct breeds, yet regional variations have resulted in significantly different donkeys.

10 Donkey Breeds That Are Good For Riding 

Donkey Breeds Good for Riding

As with all species, donkeys come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

However, unlike many closely related species, such as horses, donkeys are not generally classed according to breed.

That is not to suggest that distinct breeds of donkey do not exist; they do.

However, in the United States, we usually do not classify donkeys according to their breed.

Rather than that, they are classed according to their physical attributes, including size, color, and coat texture.

This list includes both American donkeys classified according to their look and size and some of the most prevalent real donkey breeds found around the world.

We’ve listed about 10 breeds below as well as an overview of the most often encountered donkey varieties and species.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on the reasons why some donkeys might bite

1. Standard

When people picture a donkey, they envision this animal.

After all, regular donkeys are, well, standard donkeys! This is an average donkey, reaching 3–4 feet tall at the shoulder and possessing a stoic, quiet demeanor.

They are robust, durable, and sociable, making them ideal pack animals or companions for other cattle.

Considered one of the most versatile donkeys, they excel at almost everything, even riding, although they can only carry children and have to be mature to do that. 

2. Miniature

As you can think, tiny donkeys are pretty small. In the United States, a tiny donkey is defined as less than three feet tall at the shoulder when fully mature.

Apart from their size, they resemble regular donkeys.

Miniature donkeys share the same peaceful, laid-back disposition, which makes them ideal for various purposes; however, many people keep them as pets for their perceived cuteness.

3. Mammoth

If tiny donkeys are smaller than regular donkeys, enormous donkeys are the inverse.

These are the colossal donkeys. Males must reach a height of at least 4.6 feet, while girls must reach at least 4.5 feet.

What makes mammoth donkeys unique is their intended purpose.

Mammoth donkeys were bred initially with horses to produce mules.

Naturally, once it was discovered how tough and sure-footed mammoth donkeys are, they began to be employed for riding.

They are less fearful than horses and are often seen as safer and easier to ride.

4. Burro

Burros are not a distinct breed of donkey. Burro is, in fact, the Spanish term for donkey.

However, the term burro is frequently used to refer to a wild donkey.

The American’s Bureau of Land Management may occasionally round up huge numbers of these burros and sell them at rock-bottom prices.

As with other donkeys, they make excellent companions and can also be utilized for hauling.

However, on average, Burros are around the size of a typical donkey, making them unsuitable for riding.

Additionally, a burro will require extensive training before being of many services due to its untamed nature.

5. Poitou

Locating this breed can be a bit challenging because of how few they are left.

There are only a few hundred of these donkeys worldwide. This is a genuine donkey breed from France.

This breed is distinguished by a long coat known as a cadenette that distinguishes them from other donkeys and makes them easily identifiable.

These donkeys shed their undercoats in the summer, which can become tangled in the outer coat without external assistance.

Also check out this article on why some donkeys dig holes

6. Spotted

Spotted donkeys come in a variety of sizes; their distinguishing feature is their instantly recognizable spotted coat.

While most donkeys we know of are brown or gray, this breed is different with mottled, eye-catching coats.

This is the outcome of genetic admixture, and it is not something that can be created with certainty.

While some breeders have been breeding spotted donkeys for decades, they remain very rare because the offspring of two-spotted donkeys are not always spotted.

7. Hinny

Hinnies, on the other hand, are not real donkeys. They’re similar to mules but in reverse.

Mules are a result of a crossbreed between male donkeys and female horses. However, hinnies are from a crossing between a female donkey with a stallion.

This results in a smaller animal, but apart from that, mules and hinnies are extremely difficult to tell apart.

8. Grand Noir du Berry

Similar to Poitou donkeys, Grand Noir du Berry donkeys originate in France, this time in the Berry region.

These are rather large donkeys, standing an average of 4.5 feet tall.

They have bay brown, dark bay brown, or black, with white or gray underbellies, inner forearms, thighs, and around the eyes.

These donkeys are still widely used for farm work in France, but they are also popular with visitors for carrying bags on walks.

9. Abyssinian

Abyssinian donkeys are highly prevalent in Ethiopia. They weigh between 190 and 450 pounds and stand between 2.6 and 3.3 feet tall, with a lifespan of 30-40 years.

They are typically gray in hue, but some are chestnut-brown. These donkeys are rarely seen outside of their native Ethiopia.

10. English/Irish

English/Irish donkeys were never particularly popular in the majority of the United Kingdom, despite their widespread use in Ireland.

Often referred to as English or Irish donkeys, the same breed is still seen in Ireland today, while they have also been introduced to New Zealand, where the breed is establishing itself.

They are miniature donkeys, standing no more than 3.6 feet tall but come in a variety of hues.


Most donkeys are not very big, that doesn’t mean you can’t still ride them. Only the largest donkeys are suitable for riding, but this does not negate the fact that these are valuable beasts.

Donkeys have long been utilized for draught work and hauling reasons due to their rugged nature and dependability.

Furthermore, most donkeys can carry an adult because of their weight, but they can carry children comfortably.

If you are hoping to get a donkey, one of the ten mentioned here will be suitable for you.

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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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