• IUCN Status
  • Population
    Under 500
  • Diet
    Herbivore - root vegetables and some fruit
  • Group
  • Size
    1.35m to 1.50m
  • Continent
  • Lifespan
    30 to 40 years
  • Weight
    340 to 430 kgs
  • Habitat
    The Poitou region of France in particular the grasslands and woodlands
  • Scientific Name
    Equus a sinus domestic poitou

Meet the Poitou Donkey


The Baudet du Poitou, also called the Poitevin or Poitou donkey, is a French breed of donkey. It is one of the largest breeds, and jacks were bred to mares of the Poitevin horse breed to produce Poitevin mules, which were formerly in worldwide demand for agricultural and other work.

In their natural habitat donkeys will browse, eating highly fibrous plant material in small quantities throughout the day. Carrots, apples, bananas, pears, turnips and swedes are all safe for them to eat and usually very popular with all donkeys.


Joseph at Wolds Wildlife Park

Did you know?

If you would like to know more about this rare donkey then read the below interesting facts.

What are a male and female Poitou donkey known as?up arrow

A male Poitou donkey is known as a baudet (translated this means "sire of mules") and as female is known as a anesse.

Originally what was the Poitou bred for?down arrow

For hundreds of years the Poitou was bred solely to be used in mule breeding, an activity that made an important contribution to the French agricultural economy and earned the Poitou a worldwide reputation.

The Poitou was exported to many countries, including America, Russia, the Belgian Congo and North Africa, and the army bought large numbers of mules.

What characteristics does a Poitou donkey have?down arrow

This breed of donkey is one of the worlds largest donkeys.

They have long shaggy coats, which has given them the affectionate names of "the woolly mammoth" or the "dreadlock donkey".  Their coats are usually dark brown, black or grey-coloured, with typically bare or white-haired snouts, and they have rings around their eyes

Poitou donkeys are affectionate, calm, docile, gentle natured and tend to form strong bonds with their keepers and other farm friends.

They have longer shaggy ears than other donkeys/mules.

How tall can a Poitou donkey grow?down arrow

The average size of the Poitou sees them standing at anything between 1.35m to 1.50m at the wither.

How did the Poitou donkey become endangered?down arrow

By the mid 20th century, mechanisation had become so widespread that breeding work mules no longer made financial sense, so many breeders abandoned or killed their animals.  Up until this point in history Poitou donkeys were breed to produce large strong mules for work. 

In 1977 a survey found that there were only 44 pure bred Poitou donkeys left in the entire world.

Thanks to conservation efforts of a number of public and private breeders since this date, this adorable species has been brought back from the brink, and today there are approx 500 of them living in countries around the world.