Pygmy Spotlight: Miniature Donkey

If you can have a miniature horse as a pet, a miniature donkey is within the realm of possibility, right? These unbearably cute animals measure just 9 hands or less in height (36 inches) when fully grown, making them the perfectly-sized miniature companion. The animals are great with children, intelligent, and remarkably affectionate.

 

In the early and mid-twentieth century, donkeys became popular pets in the United States. Miniature donkeys date back to around 1930, when Robert Green, a New Yorker, imported seven donkeys of the small, indigenous Sardinian breed to the United States. Though never considered “miniature” in Sardinia, the animals came to be known as Miniature or Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys within a few years of breeding in the United States. A breed registry was opened in 1958 by Bea Langfeld, the first professional breeder of miniature donkeys in America; in 1987, the registry was absorbed by the American Donkey and Mule Society.

 

Miniature donkeys have needs similar to their full-sized cousins. They need plenty of hay, grain, fresh water, and access to a fenced pasture with dry shelter. The require regular vaccines and should have their hooves trimmed every few months. Additionally, these are not solitary animals, often requiring the companionship of another miniature donkey. If you have the time and resources necessary to care for these four-legged friends, the payoff can be life-changing. However, if you are unsure about your ability to care for a miniature donkey, it is best to leave it to a professional.

 

Nearly all miniature donkeys have a black or brown cross extending down its back, reaching from the neck to the lower back. These tiny animals weight just fifteen pounds at birth and are capable of light work. Though donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn, this behavior emerges as the result of good memories; if something hurts or scares the animal, it will be remembered. In reality, donkeys—both full-sized and miniature—are incredibly loyal and affectionate. They can live to be over 35 years old, making them life-long companions.