Ask Difference

Donkey vs. Burro — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 14, 2024
Donkey refers broadly to the domesticated hoofed mammal species, while burro is the Spanish term for a small donkey, often used specifically in the Southwestern US.
Donkey vs. Burro — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Donkey and Burro


Key Differences

A donkey is a domesticated animal from the Equidae family, used globally for work and transportation. While burro, a term of Spanish origin, specifically denotes a small donkey, commonly used in the Southwestern United States and Latin America. These animals are known for their endurance and ability to carry heavy loads over rough terrain.
Donkeys have been bred in various sizes, from the miniature to the standard donkey. Whereas burros are typically smaller, standing less than five feet tall, and are often found in arid and semi-arid regions where their hardiness is advantageous.
The term "donkey" is used universally in English-speaking countries to refer to this helpful beast of burden. On the other hand, "burro" is used in Spanish-speaking regions and has been adopted into American English, especially in contexts involving the cultures and environments of the American Southwest.
Donkeys are often associated with docility and stubbornness, characteristics that have been bred into them over thousands of years of domestication. While burros, although sharing these traits, are particularly noted for their ability to survive in less hospitable environments, making them vital to rural communities in their native regions.
Donkeys are utilized in a variety of roles, from plowing fields to providing therapy in animal-assisted therapy programs. Burros, in contrast, are frequently seen in roles that require navigating rough terrains, such as pack animals in mountainous areas.

Comparison Chart


Ranges from miniature to large
Generally smaller and more compact

Origin of Term


Usage Region

Primarily Southwestern US and Latin America

Environmental Adaptation

Less specialized
Highly adapted to arid regions

Typical Roles

Work, transportation, therapy
Pack animals, work in rough terrains

Compare with Definitions


Exhibits a calm and steady temperament but can be stubborn.
The donkey refused to cross the stream, standing stubbornly on the bank.


Adapted to harsh environments, making them ideal for dry regions.
Burros thrive in the desert where other pack animals would struggle.


Often featured in folklore and stories as a symbol of patience and hardiness.
In the fable, the donkey is portrayed as a loyal and hardworking creature.


Commonly found in arid parts of Latin America and the American Southwest.
Burros are a common sight in the rural landscapes of Mexico.


A domesticated hoofed mammal of the horse family, used as a working animal.
The farmer used his donkey to pull the cart loaded with produce to the market.


A small donkey, especially one used as a pack animal in the Southwestern US.
The hiker rented a burro to carry his gear through the desert trail.


Known for its endurance and strength, especially under burdens.
The donkey patiently carried the supplies up the steep path.


Used traditionally for carrying heavy loads over difficult terrains.
The miners used a burro to transport ore from the remote mining site.


Utilized globally in various agricultural and transport roles.
In many countries, donkeys are essential for transporting goods in rural areas.


Cultural significance in Spanish-speaking communities.
Burros are celebrated in numerous local festivals throughout the Southwest.


The donkey or ass (Equus africanus asinus) is a domesticated member of the horse family, Equidae. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African wild ass, E. africanus.


A small donkey used as a pack animal.


The domesticated ass (Equus asinus), having long ears and a loud bray.


A small donkey, especially one used as a pack animal.


(Slang) An obstinate person.


(Slang)A drug smuggler who swallows bags filled with a drug, especially heroin or cocaine, to avoid detection by drug enforcement officers or customs officials.


(Slang) A stupid person.


A small donkey, especially when used as a pack animal or one that is feral and lives in the southwestern United States or northern Mexico.


A domestic animal, Equus asinus asinus, similar to a horse.


A donkey.


A stubborn person.


Small donkey used as a pack animal


A fool.


(nautical) A small auxiliary engine.
Donkey engine


A box or chest, especially a toolbox.


(poker slang) A bad poker player.


British sea term for a sailor's storage chest.


A stupid or obstinate fellow; an ass.


The symbol of the Democratic Party; introduced in cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1874


Domestic beast of burden descended from the African wild ass; patient but stubborn

Common Curiosities

How do donkeys and burros differ in size?

Donkeys vary widely in size, while burros are generally smaller and more compact.

What is a burro?

A burro is the Spanish term for a small donkey, often associated with the American Southwest and Latin America.

Why are donkeys considered stubborn?

This perception comes from their cautious nature, which can make them seem stubborn when they are actually being careful.

What makes burros particularly suitable for arid climates?

Burros have adapted to survive with less water and tougher forage, typical of arid climates.

Can both donkeys and burros be used for carrying loads?

Yes, both are used for carrying loads, but burros are especially suited to navigating rough and arid terrains.

Are donkeys and burros the same species?

Yes, both are the same species, Equus asinus, but 'burro' often refers to smaller, local varieties.

What is a donkey?

A donkey is a domesticated animal from the horse family, used worldwide for work and transport.

What is the typical lifespan of a donkey or burro?

Both can live for 25 to 30 years, depending on their care and environment.

What are the main uses of burros in the American Southwest?

In the American Southwest, burros are primarily used as pack animals for trails and in rural work.

Where are burros commonly found?

Burros are primarily found in the Southwestern US and various arid regions of Latin America.

Can donkeys and burros be found in urban areas?

While less common, donkeys and burros can be found in urban settings, particularly in regions where they are integral to local transport or culture.

How did the term 'burro' enter American English?

The term came from Spanish and became part of American English through interactions in the Southwestern United States.

What roles do donkeys fulfill globally?

Donkeys are used for agriculture, transport, and even in therapy programs worldwide.

Are there cultural differences in how donkeys and burros are perceived?

Yes, perceptions and uses of donkeys and burros vary significantly between different cultures and regions.

Do donkeys have any special care needs?

Like all domestic animals, donkeys require proper nutrition, veterinary care, and social interaction to thrive.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Polymorphism vs. Allotropy
Next Comparison
Dream vs. Nightmare

Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms