Miniature Mediterranean donkeys, more commonly known as miniature donkeys, are a separate breed in their own right, originally hailing from the islands of Sardinia and Sicily.
Donkeys arrive here at The Donkey Sanctuary in all shapes and sizes, but one particular requirement of this breed standard is that the miniature Mediterranean donkey must reach no more than 91 cm at the withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades, the tallest point of the body).
These slight but attractive donkeys can be found in a wide variety of colours and markings, including chestnut, spotted, skewbald, cream, grey, brown and black.
The history of miniature donkeys
As outlined in our founder Dr Svendsen’s book, The Complete Book of the Donkey, these extremely small donkeys were originally used to turn grinding stones for grain inside peasants’ houses.
According to eighteenth century block pictures, the donkeys were blindfolded and attached to the grain mills and walked in endless circles. They were also used to carry water from village wells and supplies into the mountains for shepherds.
In more recent times they have become increasingly popular as pets, predominantly in North America, where there are a great many specialised breeders.
Did you know?
In 2014, we welcomed the arrival of Charlie, the smallest miniature foal to be born into our care.
Weighing just 14 kg and standing at knee height, young Charlie - nicknamed Dinky the Donkey - made national headlines after he was given sanctuary for life with his Miniature mother Summer, who was already pregnant when she was relinquished to the charity.
Where can I buy a miniature donkey?
Miniature donkeys have become popular has pets in recent years, particularly in the United States where these small donkeys are seen as cute companions.
The Donkey Sanctuary does not sell miniature donkeys. It is a big responsibility to care for a donkey, big or small. Rather than buying donkeys, we would encourage you to take a look at our re-homing scheme, giving a donkey a forever home, or if you don't have the space you can support our care of miniature donkeys by adopting a donkey.
Our very own miniature donkeys
Very often, these petite donkeys are the ones who are packed with personality - none more so than the popular Cisco who lives at our Birmingham centre.
He is capable of pulling 1.5 times his weight, having been bred as a carting donkey in Texas, USA, but now he is a valuable member of the donkey-assisted therapy team.
Adopt a Miniature
and become one of the adoption family