Over time the distinctions between the two island populations blurred and they are now considered one breed properly called Miniature Mediterranean donkeys. Donkeys are members of the equine family.
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 have global genetic value. 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 overall appearance of a miniature donkey is of a small, compact, well proportioned animal that resembles a small draft donkey. It should have a sweet sociable disposition.
In order to be included in the Miniature Register in both the USA and with the Donkey All Breeds Society of Australia (DABSA) a donkey must be 36" or less at 5 years of age.
THE WOOLLY DONKEY:
The woolly donkey is relatively new to USA breeding, and unique in Australia. It began around the mid to late 1980ís in the USA and around 2012 in Australia.
A gentleman named Larry Golden was breeding longer haired donkeys in the USA when they caught the eye of Jerry McRoberts of McRoberts Game Farm (MGF).
Jerry was known to have most beautiful animals of the highest quality. He bred them for perfection. He was constantly looking at the genetics to find the best possible combination for the perfect animal.
As of 2012 there were only about 300 registered woolly donkeys out of roughly 60,000 registered miniature donkeys in the USA so they are fairly rare.
The hair length varies from 3" to an extreme of 12".
True woolly donkeys only shed about half of their hair out in the summer. In the winter they look like an English Sheepdog and the hair covers the eyes.
They are more comfortable than regular coated donkeys in the winter and in the summer the hair helps protect them from flies better.
They tend to have stockier builds as well. The woolly donkeys are not only extremely cute, but they seem to be hardier as well.
The woolly coat does tend to be longer in colder climates but this attribute is a gene that is carried and passed on by both the sire and the dam.
It's the long woolly hair and of course their genetics that makes them unique.
THE MINIATURE and MICRO MINIATURE DONKEY:
THE ENGLISH / IRISH DONKEY:
The Irish donkey's history can be traced back to 400 BC when the invading Roman legions carried their stores and equipment on small sturdy donkeys. The Irish donkey is not native to Ireland/Britain. Donkeys bred from stock originating in the Mediterranean and the Middle East spread across the English Channel from Gaul into Britain.
The donkeys quickly adapted and were used by the British travelling into Ireland as traders. When the Romans withdrew from Britain in 44 AD the donkeys were well entrenched into the culture and had become an important asset to farmers and merchants alike. They remained so for the next 1800 years.
The donkey was also used by the tinkers in Ireland to pull their decorated wagons and by the workers in the Irish bogs to carry the cut turf in baskets strapped to either side of the 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.
The English and Irish donkey is compact and small, but strong and sturdy, with an excellent temperament. It is a very active and willing donkey.
Poppy 36-3/4" Example of a Small Standard English Irish
Donkey All Breeds Society of Australia
Donkey Society of Victoria
Donkey Society of Queensland
Donkey Society of West Australia
The American Donkey and Mule Society
The Donkey Sanctuary
It should be noted however that the woolly donkey is not a breed - It is an "Attribute" of the donkeys we are breeding. .
Allegra (29") Example of a Micro Miniature Donkey
Emmy Lou and Iowa. Example of Miniature Donkeys. 30" - 36"
ADMS Code of Ethics
A Micro Miniature donkey is not a breed at this time, but is a Miniature donkey that does not exceed 30" at the wither.
A number of breeders in the USA have been breeding down in size from the Miniature donkey and are now producing quality, sub 30" correctly conformed donkeys. These have acquired the group classification of Micro Miniature Donkeys. As yet this is not recognised as a separate breed. They are still registered and referred to as a miniature donkey.
These donkeys are predominately used as pets and are showed extensively in the USA.
Micro Miniature breeding is limited in Australia at this time.