Why Donkeys Make Excellent Pets – A Complete Care Guide


Known for their gentle, affectionate nature, donkeys can make great wonderfully unique and rewarding pets. Their charming personalities combined with relatively simple care needs make them an appealing option for anyone looking to add a long-lived, low-maintenance animal companion to their home.

In this complete guide, learn why donkeys make excellent pets along with tips for providing proper housing, nutrition, grooming and healthcare to keep your donkey happy and healthy.

An Introduction to Keeping Donkeys as Pets

While less common than dogs or cats, donkeys actually make fantastic pets for the right owner. Some quick background facts on donkeys:

  • Native to Africa, donkeys were historically used as pack animals and beasts of burden.
  • The average lifespan ranges from 30-50 years.
  • Donkeys are highly intelligent, social herd animals that bond closely with humans when handled gently.
  • Their affectionate, gentle nature makes them ideal animal companions, especially for retirement farms or children.
  • With proper space and care, donkeys thrive when kept as pets and greatly enrich their owners’ lives.

Below we’ll explore what’s involved in caring for a pet donkey so you can decide if adopting one might be right for you.

Donkey Temperament – Gentle, Affectionate Pets

One of the top reasons donkeys make such excellent pets is their sweet, gentle temperament when properly trained and socialized.

Some key facts about donkey personalities:

  • Donkeys are highly social and form strong bonds with human and animal companions.
  • They are extremely intelligent and respond well to patient, positive reinforcement training.
  • Donkeys are naturally wary of predators and new situations, but not aggressively stubborn.
  • With gentle, consistent handling from a young age, donkeys become very affectionate and enjoy human interaction.
  • Their calm, gentle nature makes them perfect animal partners for children, the elderly or special needs individuals.

If you treat your donkey with understanding and patience, you’ll be rewarded with years of delightful companionship.

Donkey Care and Housing Needs

While quite hardy when properly cared for, donkeys do have some specific housing, nutrition and healthcare needs.

Space Requirements

  • Full-size donkeys need a minimum of 1-2 acres of pasture per animal.
  • Miniature donkeys require about 1/2 acre each.
  • Provide a dry, draft-free barn or shelter for bad weather.
  • Fencing should be strong and at least 5 feet tall to prevent roaming.


  • Provide free-choice hay – timothy, oat, or Bermuda grass hays work well.
  • Feed a small amount (1-2 pounds) per day of a commercial donkey feed.
  • Provide a salt block and fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Avoid feeding treats high in starch, sugar or protein.
  • Always make fresh water available

Grooming and Hoof Care

  • Trim hooves every 6-8 weeks to maintain foot health.
  • Brush frequently to distribute oils and promote shedding.
  • Use a donkey-specific shampoo when bathing to avoid skin irritation.
  • Seek professional dental care annually to float teeth.

By providing ample space, a proper diet, and routine care your donkey will lead a happy, low-stress life.

Common Donkey Health Problems

When properly cared for, donkeys are quite hardy. However, some health conditions to watch for include:

  • Parasites – Use a dewormer schedule appropriate for your region.
  • Laminitis – Inflammation caused by a diet too high in carbohydrates.
  • Saddle sores – Avoid by properly fitting and padding saddles.
  • Hoof infections – Keep hooves trimmed and treat any apparent thrush.
  • Obesity – Limit treats and use a slow feeder hay net to slow consumption.

Routine wellness exams from a veterinarian, making sure vaccination regimes are up to date, and farrier visits along with prompt treatment for any emerging issues will help prevent major health problems.

Pros and Cons of Donkeys as Pets

While donkeys can make endearing pets, it’s important to reflect on both the positives and challenges of keeping one:


  • Intelligent, personable companions that bond strongly
  • Peaceful, gentle nature ideal for families
  • Require basic, low-cost care with minimal expenses
  • Very long-lived, providing decades of companionship
  • Don’t require the extensive space dogs do

Potential Challenges

  • Housing, feeding and routine healthcare expenses add up.
  • Require more time and commitment than typical pets.
  • Susceptible to obesity if overfed and under-exercised.
  • Braying can become a nuisance to neighbors if unhappy or lonely.

Take ample time to consider if you’re ready for the unique joys and commitments of donkey ownership before adopting one.

What Type of Donkey Should I Get?

There are a few different options when selecting a donkey breed:

Standard Donkeys

  • Range from 400-500 pounds full grown.
  • Require more space and feed than smaller donkeys.
  • Come in a range of coat colors like brown, black, gray or spotted.

Miniature Donkeys

  • Stand less than 36″ tall at maturity.
  • Perfect for smaller properties.
  • Require less feed and have lower housing costs.
  • Just as personable as standards. Great pets!

Mammoth Donkeys

  • Can weigh over 1,000 pounds!
  • Primarily used for breeding mules, not often kept solely as pets.
  • Require strong, tall fencing and significant feed.

For most owners, miniature or standard donkeys make the best pets and are easiest to accommodate.

Tips for New Donkey Owners

If you are getting your first-time donkey, here are some top tips to set you and your new donkey companion up for success:

  • Slowly introduce and socialize your donkey to new objects, situations, animals and people.
  • Handle feet frequently so trimming becomes easy.
  • Train basic skills like leading, loading into a trailer, and allowing sudden movements near their body.
  • When it comes to feeding donkeys, slowly transition feed and change routines to avoid digestive upset.
  • Provide toys and activities to engage their active, inquisitive minds. Donkeys love to have their keen intelligence engaged with.
  • Adopt in pairs if possible since donkeys are highly social.

With proper introduction and consistent training, donkeys become trusting, delightful animal partners.


Q: Can donkeys be kept as pets?

A: Yes, donkeys make good pets and can be kept as companion animals.

Q: What is a pet donkey?

A: A pet donkey is a domesticated donkey that is kept primarily for companionship or as a hobby animal.

Q: Can miniature donkeys be good pets?

A: Yes, miniature donkeys make great pets and are popular among donkey enthusiasts. You can even take your donkey for a walk!

Q: What do donkeys need in terms of space?

A: Donkeys require adequate space, such as a pasture or one acre of land per donkey, to graze and roam around. A mini donkey does not need as much space but a minimum of half an acre is required.

Q: How long do donkeys typically live?

A: Donkeys have a lifespan of around 25 to 30 years with proper care and nutrition.

Q: Do donkeys require veterinary care?

A: Yes, like horses, donkeys need regular veterinary care, including vaccinations, deworming to manage worm loads and dental exams. Also, don’t forget regular hoof care with a trimming every 6 to 8 weeks.

Q: What do donkeys eat?

A: Donkeys mainly eat hay, grass, and other types of equine feed. They should also have access to fresh water at all times. Use a refillable tub or barrel for water and make sure they can always get access to it.

Q: Can donkeys be kept alone or do they need companionship?

A: Donkeys are social animals and generally thrive when they have the companionship of other donkeys or even other species. So two donkeys are better than one donkey, as one will quickly get lonely.

Q: Do donkeys require a specific shelter?

A: Donkeys may be robust animals, but donkeys prefer a shelter that provides protection from cold or wet weather, such as a three-sided shelter or a dry barn with barley straw as bedding.

Q: What are some important considerations before getting a pet donkey?

A: Before getting a donkey, it’s important to consider the financial commitment, available space, and the time and effort required for their care.

Q: How much do mini donkeys typically weigh?

A: Mini donkeys can weigh between 200 to 450 pounds.

Q: Is a donkey noisy?

A: The answer is yes. A donkey’s bray can often travel a long distance

Q: What is a male donkey Called

A: Jack

Q: Can donkeys get west nile virus?

A: Donkeys can contract the West Nile virus, but typically exhibit mild symptoms. Preventive measures like mosquito control and vaccination can reduce the risk. Regular veterinary care is important for timely detection and treatment. Stay vigilant to protect your donkeys.

Q: Can a coyote hurt a donkey

A: While donkeys are generally resilient, they can be at risk from predators like coyotes. It’s important to take measures to keep your donkey safe. Secure fencing and keeping them in the company of larger animals can help protect them. Providing a companion donkey can increase their sense of safety. Regular monitoring, maintaining fences, and consulting with wildlife authorities can further minimize risks. By being proactive and taking precautions, you can ensure your donkey’s safety.


In conclusion, donkeys make excellent pets with their gentle and affectionate nature. They are intelligent and form strong bonds with humans and other animals. Donkeys require proper care and housing, with a minimum of one to two acres per donkey. They can be kept as companion animals and are often used as guard animals.

Donkeys have specific nutrition and healthcare needs, including hoof care and regular veterinary check-ups. While donkeys are a financial commitment, they provide decades of companionship. Whether you choose a male donkey, a pet miniature donkey, or multiple donkeys, they will greatly enrich your life. Donkeys need room to graze and roam, and they prefer access to fresh water at all times.

By providing ample space, a proper diet, and routine care, you can ensure your donkey leads a happy and healthy life. It’s important to consider the level of commitment and effort required before getting a donkey, but with understanding and patience, the rewards are abundant.

So, if you’re ready for the unique joy and companionship a donkey can bring, take the time to learn more and get hands-on experience before bringing one into your home.

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