Thank you for being visitor                       to  learn more about conformation.
Farming for the fun of it since 1998!
Jim and Frankie Lee
13903 Millhopper Road, Gainesville, FL
Cell  352-339-3908                               email  bestfriendsfarm @                           Home  352-333-3819
Welcome to your continued miniature donkey education!
Look for lessons throughout our site or use index at the bottom of the page.
Lesson Five
Why is Miniature Donkey Conformation Important?
Good conformation is an asset to good donkey health and easy care.

Our thanks to the National Miniature Donkey Association
and the American Donkey and Mule Society for permitting us to reprint this.
Please use NMDA site for additional conformation information.
All BFF site copy and photos are the exclusive property of Best Friends Farm and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission.  Any violation of this copyright is pursueable
to the full extent of the law. Copy and pictures from the NMDA are the property of NMDA and are used with permission. They may not be reproduced without express permission from NMDA.
Continued Education
The head should be in proportion to the Donkey. A shorter head is preferred to a longer one. The Donkey should have a broad forehead and width between
the eyes. The muzzle should taper with firm, even lips and large, open nostrils. The profile should be straight or slightly dished. Eyes are ideally large,
prominent, dark, clear, with symmetry and a kind expression. Ears are preferred long, but in proportion to the head, parallel, set upright and carried alertly.
The head should be well-balanced and carried in an upright position.

A large head that is not in proportion to the body may indicate dwarfism, which is to be avoided. In a desert environment large ears were adapted to help cool
the body and to assist hearing over long distances. Eyes that are small, light colored or dull may indicate poor vision or ill health. Wide-set, prominent eyes
allow for wider field of vision. Large, open nostrils allow for optimum breathing with the ability to take an ample supply of oxygen. Drooping lips can be a sign
of ill health or age; protruding or receding jaw can interfere with eating and may indicate uneven bite.

BFF Note: A beautiful head is one of the most appealing and lovely assets in donkeys.  The warm, kind eyes show gentleness and affection.
At maturity (after the third year teeth have erupted) the teeth of the upper jaw should meet evenly with the teeth of the lower jaw - not overshot ("Parrot Mouth")
or undershot ( "Monkey Mouth"). Up to a 1/4" variation from an even bite (extreme limit) is accepted for registration into the Miniature Donkey Registry.

A good bite is important for grazing, chewing, digestion, nutrition and ultimately longevity. See complete information at NMDA Breed Standard from where this
information was gathered with permission.
BFF Note:  We use an equine dentist to evaluate our donkey's teeth (for bite and chewing necessary to good health) at the age of five (or earlier if a problem
is obvious, such as dropping food) and for older donkeys, annually after age 10.
The neck should be strong, straight, and in proportion to the head and body. It should not be too short and thick, or too long and thin or weak in appearance.

A short, wide neck does not allow for good control under the bit while driving. A strong, proportionate neck will also allow the animal to hold its head up alertly.
Weakness in Breeding Animals
All Donkeys have some weaknesses, but the degree and number of weaknesses and the cumulative effect on function and reproductive health is what we
need to keep in mind. Any animal with severe or multiple weaknesses should not be selected as breeding stock.

1. "Roman Nose" - Convex profile of the head. Coarseness of the head and neck.

2. Short, thick neck and low head carriage.

3. "Ewe Neck" - Thin, concave, weak neck.

4. "Roach Back" - Convex back. Long, weak back; sway back (sagging).

5. Short, high or flat croup, hip too short (no depth of hip).

6. "Goose Rump" - Steep, sloping croup, narrow rump.

7. Insufficient bone in proportion to animal.

8. "Cow Hocked" - The hocks of the back legs turn inward (toward) each other when viewed from behind.

9. "Bow Legs" - The hocks of the back legs turn outward (away) form each other when viewed from behind.

10. "Stands Close Behind" - The back legs are too close together. This is common in a narrow-bodied, flat-ribbed animal.

11. "Sickle Hocked" - The back legs stand in and under the animal when viewed from the side.

12. "Camped Behind" - The back legs are set too far back behind the body when viewed from the side.

13. "Splay Footed" - Hooves of the front legs are turned outward and away from each other. This is common in narrow chested animals.

14. "Pigeon Toed" - Hooves of the front legs are turned inward and toward each other.

15. "Standing Under In Front" - The front legs stand in and under the animal when viewed from the side.

16. "Camped In Front" - The front legs are too far in front of the body when viewed from the side.

BFF Note:  If a purchaser wants a pet and does not plan to breed, a breeding quality animal is still perhaps better to purchase, although usually more
expensive, because the overall health of the animal may ultimately be better. Sometimes, owners who did not plan to breed, decide to breed at a later date.
Then we have the issue of passing on the less desirable "pet quality" traits to the offspring, thus reducing the overall quality of the breed. Having said that,
there are many wonderful pet quality donkeys who make treasured, life-long family members.
.Updated 1-21-21