What Is A Hinny?

By Antonia Čirjak on February 1 2020 in Answer

A hinny.
A hinny.

A hinny is an animal that is born as a result of a female donkey and a male horse breeding. A hinny most frequently has the body of a donkey and the limbs of a horse. It is often mistaken for a mule, which is the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Hinnies are smaller than mules; however, other differences are very hard to sport, so the two are often mistaken. In most cases, when people are discussing mules, they are also talking about hinnies, since they are so similar. Depending on what color their parents are, hinnies can come in a wide variety of colors.

Differences Between Hinnies And Mules

There are specific visual differences that let us distinguish between a hinny and mule easier.

Hinnies have shorter ears, more muscular legs, a thicker mane, and are generally a bit smaller in size. The reason for hinnies being smaller than mules can be found in the size of the womb of the female donkey. Since it is smaller than the wombs found in female horses, the growth of the offspring can be influenced by it. They do have the same genetic inheritance, but their differences are caused by the origins of their genes and not their DNA sequence

Hinnies can come in varying sizes. Since donkeys are known to have many possible variations in stature, a hinny can be as small as the smallest donkey, or as large as the biggest one. However, they can never be as large as the biggest mules, since one of their parents is a female horse, an animal that can grow much larger than the donkey.

A hinny - a domestic equine hybrid.
A hinny - a domestic equine hybrid.

Another difference between hinnies and mules is that the head of a hinny resembles a horse’s head much more. Hinnies have shorter ears, and their manes and tails resemble the ones on horses as well. They also have different temperaments. Mules are very temperamental, so it is advised to castrate them as early as possible.

The Fertility Of Hinnies

Since the donkey and the horse have a different number of chromosomes, it is tough to obtain hinnies. Horses have 64 chromosomes, while donkeys have 62. Hinnies, being born from those two, have 63 chromosomes, which is why they are born sterile most of the time. Since their number of chromosomes isn’t even, their reproductive system is unfinished in the majority of cases. It is much easier to breed mules because the donkey, who has a lower number of chromosomes, is male.

Since male hinnies will try to mate, but they are not fertile, they are often castrated to lessen their attraction to females. It is a way of keeping control over their behavior. Female hinnies can give birth to offspring in sporadic cases when they are mated to a donkey or a horse. This is, however, extremely rare, with small numbers of it happening being documented throughout history. Another reason why hinnies are considered rare is that the female donkeys and the male horses can both be quite choosy when it comes to choosing their mating partners. Sometimes they won’t even care to try, which is why hinnies are considered extremely rare, much rarer than mules. 

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