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Candace Sarah Hall
2011 Cover

Miniature Mediterranean Donkey Breed Standard©

The NMDA Breed Standard is intended to describe the breed and assist breeders in the selection of stock. This Standard is a working document that will evolve as our knowledge and understanding of the Miniature Mediterranean Donkey grows. In developing a Breed Standard NMDA included a range of qualities that are necessary for the future integrity of the breed. NMDA is committed to maintaining this integrity in future revisions. Many breed organizations have attempted to reach an ideal animal with too much emphasis on only one quality or fad such as size or color. The results have been loss of function with reproductive, birthing, conformation and temperament problems.

Most importantly, this Standard is meant to assist people interested in the stewardship of this unique breed, the Miniature Mediterranean Donkey, with the final purpose of passing on healthy, vigorous and fully functional animals for the generations that follow.

The History of the Miniature Donkey


Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys originated in the Mediterranean area of Northern Africa in ancient times and more recently from the Islands of Sicily and Sardinia off the west coast of Italy. Over time the distinctions between the two island populations blurred and they are now considered one breed properly called Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys. They are simply referred to as Miniature Donkeys in North America.

Purebred Miniature Donkeys in the Mediterranean area are rapidly disappearing as the small donkeys are being mixed with larger breeds. For this reason, Miniature Donkeys in North America have global genetic value. Fortunately, numbers in the U.S. and Canada are strong and are increasing since the first Miniature Donkeys arrived in the United States in the early 1900's. Within the past ten years the export of Miniature Donkeys to England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia has demonstrated the increasing popularity of these versatile, affectionate creatures. In 2014 the MDR now has over 65,500 registered donkeys.

The Miniature Donkey is a compact, well-proportioned animal with a sweet, sociable disposition. At maturity (3 years) it is able to pull a cart or carry a pack as it did in its native Sicily and Sardinia.

The Miniature Donkey community should strive to combine as many positive qualities as possible in each jennet and jack pairing to ensure the progeny will be excellent representatives of the breed.

Although every Miniature Donkey is not breeding quality, all Miniature Donkeys, especially geldings, have a role to play as endearing companions and as public ambassadors in schools, fairs, parades and nursing homes.

(For more information, visit NMDA's Gelding Incentive Program).

The NMDA encourages breeders to help preserve the structure and character of the Miniature Donkey breed by keeping form and function a priority in their breeding programs. Regardless of whether a Miniature Donkey is selected for breeding, show or work purposes, a well-balanced animal should have proportions and conformation that bear directly on the health and function of that individual. Miniature Donkey breeders and owners need to understand the practical reasons behind the Breed Standard, keeping in mind conformation is a combination of bone structure, muscle type, body fat and fitness.

Breed Standard

This Standard is written with the mature three year old in mind. Bear in mind that age may affect comparisons with this Standard. It is desirable to choose breeding stock at maturity (3 years).

The Official Mediterranean Miniature Donkey Breed Standard Handbook is available for $10.00:
       It can be ordered at Publications.
       It is also available to download: NMDA Breed Standard (pdf).

First Printing, Spring, 1996,
Second Printing, December, 1998
Third Printing, March 2010


The National Miniature Donkey Association Breed Standard Committee wishes to thank many dedicated and knowledgeable individuals interested in Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys. Their expertise and input in this document was invaluable. The following organizations also lent their support, ideas and encouragement: The American Donkey and Mule Society, The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Canadian Donkey and Mule Society and Good Samaritan Donkey Sanctuary, Australia.

NMDA Breed Standard Committee:

Ellen Dahlstet, Lynn Gattari, Jane Savage

Sunset Acres NE