Difference Between Donkey and Mule

The main difference between donkey and mule is that donkey is a fertile mammal whereas mule is a sterile mammal. Donkey is a hoofed mammal with long ears, belonging to the horse family. Cross breeding between a male donkey and a female horse produces a mule.

Donkey and mule are two herbivorous mammals. Both are tetrapods and are black, gray to sable or white in color. Genetically, the donkey has 62 chromosomes; mule has 63 of them and a horse has 64 chromosomes. 

Key Areas Covered

1. Donkey
      – Definition, Facts, Characteristics
2. Mule
      – Definition, Facts, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Donkey and Mule
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Donkey and Mule
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Chromosome Number, Donkey, Ears, Equidae, Fertility, Mule

Difference Between Donkey and Mule - Comparison Summary

Donkey – Definition, Facts, Characteristics

Donkey is a domesticated, hoofed mammal with long ears, and a braying call, belonging to the horse family. It is also called burro or domesticated ass. It is known to be used as a beast of burden since 4000 BSE. Donkeys live in deserts and savannahs in northern Africa from Morocco to Somalia, in the Arabian Peninsula and in the Middle East.

Difference Between Donkey and Mule

Figure 1: Donkey

Donkey has a dorsal stripe from mane to tail and a crosswise stripe on its shoulders, collectively called the Christian cross. Donkeys eat grass or shrubs. The gestation period of a donkey is 12 months. Foals or baby donkeys weigh about 19-30 lbs.

Mule – Definition, Facts, Characteristics

Mule is a hybrid animal produced by a crossbred between a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Donkey has 62 chromosomes while a horse has 64 chromosomes. Hence, the hybrid mule has 63 chromosomes per cell. Since it is an odd chromosome number, a mule cannot produce fertile gametes. Therefore, it is generally sterile. However, a female mule may bear a fetus.

Main Difference - Donkey vs Mule

Figure 2: Mule

Since a mule is a hybrid animal, it bears better traits of both horses and donkeys. Physical fitness of a mule is higher than that of a donkey. The crossbred between a female donkey and a male horse gives birth to a hybrid animal called hinny.

Similarities Between Donkey and Mule

  • Both donkey and mule are herbivorous mammals, who are horse-like.
  • Both belong to the family Equidae.
  • Both have four legs.
  • Both have long faces, and ears.
  • Both have a tail.
  • Skin of both is covered by fur.

Difference Between Donkey and Mule


Donkey: A domesticated, hoofed mammal with long ears, and a braying call, belonging to the horse family

Mule:  A hybrid animal produced by a crossbred between a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare)

Scientific Name

Donkey: Equus asinus

Mule: Equus mulus


Donkey: A shorter face and mane, wider eyes, thin limbs, and narrow hooves – long ears are darkened at the base and tip

Mule: A long face, long ears, and harder hooves – sturdier than a horse, but muscles are smoother than a horse’s


Donkey: Longer

Mule: Long than the horses’


Donkey: Cow-like tail

Mule: Horse-like tail

Coat Color

Donkey: Gray or dark brown. Have a ‘Christian cross’

Mule: Brown or bay-colored

Fifth Lumber Vertebrae

Donkey: None

Mule: Some may have


Donkey: Strays off alone and pairs later

Mule: Qualities such as patience, sure-footedness, obstinacy, and intelligence

Height and Weight

Donkey: Height ranges from 90-180 cm. Weight ranges from 180-1060 lbs.

Mule: Taller than a donkey. Weight ranges from 820-1000 lbs.


Donkey: The lifespan varies between 30-50 years

Mule: The lifespan is about 50 years

Number of Chromosomes per Somatic Cell

Donkey: Has 62 chromosomes

Mule: Has 63 chromosomes


Donkey: Fertile

Mule: Generally sterile


Donkey: Jack

Mule: Jack or John


Donkey: Jenny

Mule: Molly


Donkey is a fertile animal while a mule is a sterile one. Donkey belongs to the horse family. A crossbred between a male donkey and a female horse gives birth to a hybrid mule. The main difference between donkey and mule is their fertility.


1. “Donkey.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 30 Mar. 2017, .
2. “What Is a Mule?” The Donkey Sanctuary, 2 Aug. 2016, .

Image Courtesy:

1. “Donkey 1 arp 750px” (Public Domain) via
2. “Juancito” By w:User:Dario u / User:Dario urruty – Own work (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

Leave a Reply

Related pages

stainless steel vs mild steel strengthnitrate nitrite nitridevaporization definition chemistrydifference between personification and metaphorascorbic acid molecular formulamood literary term definitionchloroplast definition sciencethe difference between realism and naturalismdistinguish between asexual and sexual reproductionprotista and fungiopposite of assertivewhat is the difference between concentrated and diluteis pepper a spice or a condimentbiennial vs biannualdialect and accentmegaloblastic pernicious anemiawhat is the difference between brazing and solderingbullmastiff factsdifference between grace and blessingdefine jealousy and envycodon and anticodonimmigrant emigrant differencedefinition of static friction in physicshomonyms meaning and sentencedifference between high commissioner and ambassadordefinition of metallic mineralsdiploid wikipediahomonym for fairdifference between english mastiff and bullmastiffinduction and conductiondifference between bake and broil in ovenmeaning of multinational corporationcations vs anionsfurniture and fixtures definitionelevation vs altitudeduring eukaryotic transcription the molecule that is formed isdescribe the difference between transcription and translationking bharatchemistry definition of volatiledifference between cilia and flagellaaffectionate definewhat is the difference between canker sores and cold soreswhat is pomelo fruitaddition polymerisation definitiondifference between herb and spicebicameral governmentwhat is the difference between constructive and destructive forcesdefinition of monologue in dramadifference between dinner and dinerdark reaction stepshinduism reincarnation factspersonal values differ from professional ethicsbrandy vs whiskey vs bourbonwhat is the difference between a moose and an elkwhat is external combustionproverbs idiomsdifference llama alpacaasymptote of a hyperbolaemboli vs thrombiwhat is the difference between anthropology and sociologyciting footnotes apacrocodile vs alligator snoutdifference between a phd and doctoratemechanism of sn2 reactionhow are metallic bonds similar to covalent bondsdifference monocot and dicotactivity based costing system formulaelectron neutron protonovertone physics definitionwhat is the difference between sashimi and sushialumni vs alumnus definition