The second member of the equine family that has lived in our country for thousands of years is the ass or donkey (Equus africanus asinus). The donkey, because of its exceptional characteristics, was an integral part of life and the daily routine of the Greeks. We come across the donkey in mythology and history. Until a few decades ago donkeys were not separated into breeds, but rather into categories according to size. Internationally, there were six categories (according to some there were four), where the first category was made up of the smallest in size and the sixth the largest. Traditionally in the Greek domain there are two kinds of donkey: the Greek donkey, which belongs to the first size division, and the Cyprus donkey, which belongs to the fourth. The absence of a breeders association, crossbreeding between the two main kinds and the free importation of foreign donkeys over the decades have given rise to the huge diversity observed in our country’s donkey population today. In the last decades, due to the ease of transportation, well-known donkey populations in isolated and inaccessible areas such as the Greek islands have lost their ‘purity’.
The Greek donkey, compared to the horse, is characterized by its long ears, big head and upright mane. Moreover, it lacks the horse’s forelock, while its tail resembles that of the cow. The Greek donkey belongs to first size division which is usually called the “Mediterranean ass” because animals of similar size are also found in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
The population of the breed is classified as ‘Critical’ (2019).
(To learn more about this breed, see our book here->)
*See the population classification chart here->