How Fast Can a Donkey Run? (Average & Top Speeds)

How fast can a donkey run

If you’ve ever seen a donkey run, you might be surprised at the speed they can travel at. But just how fast a donkey can run has always been open to debate… until now. I decided to look at studies, videos, and online research to come up with the top speed of a donkey has run at, plus the average walking speed you can expect them to reach.

How fast is a donkey? The average donkey can run as fast as 15 mph (24 km/h). The Asiatic wild ass, the onager, is the world’s fastest breed of donkey, hitting a top speed of 43 mph. Onagers are among the fastest mammals in the world.

But if we’re just talking about the everyday animal you might see in the wild or on a farm, then the average speed of a donkey when running probably won’t exceed the 15-mph mark.

However, this is very dependent on multiple factors including age, size, breed, and for working donkeys, what they are carrying on their backs.

Here’s all you need to know about how fast donkeys can run.

How fast is a donkey
This young donkey might grow up to run as fast as 15 mph.

How fast is a donkey? 

This question is rather open-ended as a donkey’s speed is dependent on factors like size, nutrition, motivation, among others. However, what I can tell you is what the absolute fastest donkey in the world is…

The world’s fastest donkey

The fastest donkey speed recorded is 43.97 mph which was a achieved by an Asiatic wild ass breed known as the Onager. 

They are among the fastest mammals, as they can run as fast as 64 km/h (40 mph) to 70 km/h (43 mph). The onager is closely related to the African wild ass, as they both shared the same ancestor.


But, if we’re talking your standard donkey, their average speed will be much lower, clocking in at around 15 mph. 

During my research, I even found a video of donkeys racing. The person who uploaded it said that donkeys can move as swiftly as a horse if they’re convinced such speed is necessary – I will explore donkeys speed vs horses further down though. 

The average walking speed of a donkey

Donkeys are often seen to be slow, but the reality is, the average walking speed of a donkey isn’t that far different to a human. I would estimate the average speed of a donkey when walking to be around 3 mph. Humans walk at about 4mph on average.

Whether the donkey will run faster will depend on whether they simply walk, trot, or gallop. Here’s the differences between the different ways a donkey will move: 

  • Walk: Most of the time, a donkey will simply walk at around 3 mph. 
  • Trot: The average donkey will also trot, which is that speed between walking and running, possibly as fast as 7 mph.
  • Gallop: This is the fastest a donkey can move and where the average donkey top speed might hit 15 mph.

What determines how fast a donkey can run

If you own a donkey and want them to run faster, there’s some considerations. These include the obvious like diet and health, but they can also be trained to run quicker.

I’ve watched videos online where donkey trainers will place a harness on the animal, then encourage them along by pulling on the lead whilst trotting in front or beside them. When the donkey starts to trot, the trainer will reward with praise.

A domesticated donkey needs exercise. If you can work with them on their trotting and running, it might even bring you closer together – you could notice their behavior towards you becoming more affectionate.

How fast can a donkey pull a cart?

How fast a donkey can pull a cart will vary, but could be up to 10 mph. It will depend on the weight of the cart, and anything else in it. But you might expect a donkey to trot lightly whilst pulling a lightweight cart. 

average speed of a donkey
The average speed of a donkey running will dramatically reduce when they are pulling a cart. (Credit:

Unfortunately there is no direct answer to this question because speed depends on unique factors for every situation. The weight of the cart and the donkey’s strength, among other factors, affect the speed.

Is a donkey faster than a horse?

This is another one of the questions that’s very hard to answer precisely due to the varying factors. For example, if you decided to race an average donkey against a miniature Shetland pony, there will only be one winner – the donkey will be faster than the horse.

Most of the time, horses are much bigger than donkeys, with longer legs, leaner bodies, and longer strides, making them much faster when running. There’s a reason why humans have ridden horses for thousands of years, rather than taking a donkey into battle. 

Is a mule faster than a donkey?

Yes, a mule is typically faster than a donkey, as it will have the characteristics of a horse as well as the donkey genetics. Given that in most cases, horses are faster than donkeys, it stands to reason that a mule can run faster than a donkey… in average situations of course.

How to feed a donkey to be faster and leaner

Nutrition is one of the main factors affecting a donkey’s speed. Nutrition revolves around what the animal eats. To gain more insight into how food influences a donkey here are some very brief bullet points.

  • We are advised not to feed them scraps or risk weight gain.
  • Make sure the food is high in fiber, even better if low on sugar.
  • Unlike other pets, which can be fed in the morning and evening, donkeys need to feed slowly throughout the day.
  • The donkey might love the food so much and end up overeating. It is your duty as the owner to prevent this. You can separate the feeding area from the rest of the pen and lock it when you feel he has had enough.

Handy Hint: Some donkeys will cry out at night when chickens are faced with a predator… strange, but true!

Different types of donkeys 

In most parts of the world, donkeys are categorized based on size rather than breed. There are different donkey types of various sizes which can effect how fast they can run.

  • Standard donkey: This is the donkey most of us are familiar with. It is 4 feet tall and quite friendly. The standard donkey is well built and relatively strong. They are, however, not ideal for riding due to their height so don’t expect to run fast like a horse.
  • Miniature: As the name suggests, they are very small. They are 3 feet tall at most, even for the mature ones. Don’t expect this donkey to run very fast.
  • Mammoth: This is the largest donkey you will ever see. Its height makes it the preferred option for donkey riders who want faster donkey running speeds. It can grow up to 4.6 feet tall.


When I was young, I remember watching a donkey race on TV and could not help but marvel at the speed some of the donkeys got to. This gave me a false expectation though on how fast the average donkey can run… until today. 

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Categorized as Donkeys