Difference Between Donkey and Burro

Donkeys and Burros are horse-like animals usually used for load lifting purposes. They belong to the family Equidae, genus Equus. There can be various sub-types and breed of donkeys. A Burro is a special kind of donkey, that is smaller in size and has extra hair. While most donkeys are domestic, burros are usually wild.

Donkey vs Burro

The main difference between Donkey and Burro is that donkeys are domestic packing animals found in almost all continents while burros belong to a relatively smaller wild breed of donkeys with more body hair than usual. They are commonly found in specific regions of the USA and Mexico.

Donkey vs Burro

A more common term for Burros is Miniature Donkey. The word Burros means donkey in Spanish. The term became popular since these animals were mainly found in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. These were later brought to other regions.


Comparison Table Between Donkey and Burro (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonDonkeysBurros
SpeciesA donkey is a horse like-animal with the scientific name Equus assinusBurros are basically miniature donkeys, however, they belong to the same species.
DistributionDonkeys are found throughout the world, however, the densest population of donkeys can be found in third world countries.Burros are mostly found in the United States and Mexico.
OriginThe commonly known domesticated donkeys were first documented in the 15th century.They originated around 4-5 million years ago, along with other horse-like animals.
PropertiesThey look similar to horses however are smaller, and have a tail similar to a cow.Burros are smaller than regular donkeys and are often hairier.
Housing life spanThey are usually domesticated and can live up to 40-50 years.Burros are normally wild and live up to 25-30 years only.


What is Donkey?

Donkeys belong to the species Equus assinus. They are several breeds of donkeys scattered around the world. Although their population is relatively dense in warmer third world countries.

Donkeys are very similar to a horse. They usually have relatively longer faces with a much smaller body. A horse has about 5 vertebrae while a donkey has only four. Donkeys have tails very similar to a cow.

They usually live in packs and are frequently domesticated. Humans use donkeys for carrying heavy load etc. There is a common misbelief that donkeys are not smart.

Some breeder belief that donkeys are smarter than horses and can be trained to do complex tasks. They can prove to be intelligent, compassionate and playful companions.

When donkeys are domesticated they are often given supplements and fodder which is why their life span can usually range between 40-50 years. Donkeys are essentially herbivorous animals. They eat plants herbs, shrubs and fruits. 

Agricultural civilisations find donkeys to be useful since they are cheaper to feed and require minimal maintenance. They can be excellent for small scale transportation. Donkeys can also be used for providing milk and meat.

Donkeys are believed to have originated in the early 15th century, somewhere during the time zebras and other horse-like animals became common.

Since hundreds of years, they have been domesticated. They can be kept inside a barn in case of environmental stress or unsuitable conditions.


What is Burro?

Burros are donkeys that are relatively smaller in size. They belong to the same species as regular donkeys. The word Burro is Spanish for a donkey.

Burros are found in the United States and regions of Mexico. These donkeys originally belong to Spanish and Mexican civilisations.

They were introduced in the United States during the infamous gold rush when Mexican were migrating and exploring regions of the United States. Today burros are commonly found in Southern USA.

Burros are also called wild asses. Wild asses evolved around 4 million years ago. Wild asses or burros, are shorter and have more body hair.

They typically feed on vegetation, grass and other wild plants. Burros are not domesticated like donkeys. Although in some countries they are used as pack animals.

Since they do not live in controlled conditions, they often do not get nourishment the way domesticated donkeys get. They are also susceptible to damage due to harsh environmental conditions. Their lifespan is usually less than 25-30 years.

The breeding season for Burros is usually during the wet season. The term Burros is also generally used to refer to donkeys in some languages.

Burros have special survival skills that help them stay alive in arid regions in the absence of surface water. A recent study revealed that the wells dug by burros are used by other species that live in the region.

These wells also functioned as nurseries for vegetation such as cottonseed saplings that ultimately served as fodder for other herbivores.

Since Burros are considered to be an invasive species, the benefits that they induce in the ecosystem are often ignored.


Main Differences Between Donkey and Burro

  1. Donkeys are horse-like animals used for carrying loads, while burro is a miniature variant of a donkey.
  2. Donkeys are found throughout the world, however, are more common in third world countries, while burros are found in USA and Mexico.
  3. Both donkeys and burros originated somewhere during the same time, like other horse-like animals, however, the domestic donkey was first documented in the 15th century.
  4. Structurally a donkey is smaller than a horse with only 5 vertebrae and has a tail similar to a cow. Burros are smaller than donkeys and usually have more hair on their body.
  5. Donkeys are usually domesticated hence their lifespan is up to 40-50 years, while Burros live in the wild and live only up to 23-30 years.
Difference Between Donkey and Burro



Donkeys and Burros are similar looking animals, which technically belong to the same species. They are closely related to horses, with long faces and smaller bodies. However, Burros and Donkeys are slightly different.

Donkeys are found all around the world. They are particularly found in warmer third world countries where they are popular amidst agricultural communities.

Burro is the Spanish name for a donkey. However, the term is reserved for wild donkeys that are hairier. They are commonly found in the USA and Mexico.


  1. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=ewdcc4
  2. https://www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/jappl.1970.29.2.159
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