Companions for a donkey.
Donkeys need company as, unless in exceptional circumstances, a donkey will be very lonely and upset if it lives alone. The ideal companion is another donkey, preferably one of a similar age as youngsters need someone to play with, and older ones can get annoyed by the constant antics of the young brigade. Mixed age groups are usually fine, but try and make sure there is at least someone of a similar outlook for each donkey to pair up with. If you do not have another donkey as a companion, donkeys live very well with a horse or pony – or even a goat – but it’s a bit like one of us having to live with a chimpanzee and no human contact. The species are close but it’s not quite the same is it?
Donkeys make very strong links with their companions and splitting up ‘friends’ which have really bonded can be extremely stressful for a donkey – so much so that they can become ill with a stress-related disease hyperlipaemia (liver failure). This is often fatal.
Donkeys & Other Animals
Most geldings and mares are fine with most other animals, however colts and stallions can be very territorial and may attack (and possible kill) other animals such as lambs – so don’t just assume turning your donkeys out with a flock of sheep will be OK. It might not.
The one animal that many donkeys will not tolerate (unless brought up with them or trained to accept) is dogs. Donkeys have a natural instinct to attack ‘wolf’ predators – and will chase dogs, stamping their front feet in an endeavour to trample them. If the donkey caught a dog, they may seriously injure or kill it. Once a donkey is happy with a dog, then they will be fine, but I always caution people to be very careful when introducing donkeys to dogs – including ‘strange’ new dogs if the donkey is already happy with the family pet pooch. Mares with foals will also be very protective and might turn on a dog that they have previously been very happy with. Be careful!
This defensive action against predators is used in some parts of the world where a single donkey is run with a flock of sheep. The donkey bonds with the sheep (it must be just one donkey else it will bond with another donkey and ignore the flock) and protects them to the point of chasing / killing predators such as coyotes etc. Don’t believe me? – then click the button on the left!