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Mule vs. Jackass: What's the Difference?

By Aimie Carlson & Janet White || Updated on March 4, 2024
A mule is a hybrid animal born from a male donkey and a female horse, known for strength and endurance, whereas a jackass is simply a male donkey.

Key Differences

Mules are the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare), combining the endurance and patience of the donkey with the vigor and strength of the horse. Whereas jackasses are male donkeys, known for their sturdy build and ability to carry heavy loads despite their smaller size compared to horses.
Mules inherit the best qualities of their parents, such as the horse's physical strength and the donkey's hardiness. On the other hand, jackasses are purebred donkeys, valued for their durability and adaptability in various climates and terrains.
While mules are sterile and cannot reproduce due to the mismatch in the number of chromosomes from their parents, jackasses can breed and produce offspring, typically mating with female donkeys to produce more donkeys or with female horses to create mules.
Mules are often preferred for tasks requiring strength and endurance, such as farming and trekking, due to their hybrid vigor. Jackasses, however, are commonly used in breeding and as working animals in less intensive roles due to their sure-footedness and ability to navigate difficult terrain.

Comparison Chart


Hybrid offspring of a male donkey and female horse
Male donkey


Yes, mules cannot reproduce
No, jackasses can reproduce


Patient and hardy, with strong endurance
Sturdy and adaptable, but can be stubborn


Preferred for labor-intensive tasks due to strength and endurance
Used for breeding and less intensive labor

Physical Traits

Inherits horse's strength and donkey's resilience
Smaller and more compact than horses, but strong for their size

Mule and Jackass Definitions


Mules are known for their strength, intelligence, and hardy nature, making them suitable for various work tasks.
Mules are often used in mountainous regions for carrying supplies due to their sure-footedness.


Known for their stubbornness, jackasses also have a calm disposition and are very intelligent.
Despite the jackass's stubborn streak, it was well-trained and reliable for light farm work.


Mules often inherit the size and speed of a horse with the endurance and patience of a donkey.
The mule's ability to carry heavy loads over long distances made it invaluable on the farm.


In many cultures, jackasses are valued for their ability to carry loads and work in difficult terrains.
In the village, jackasses were indispensable for carrying goods to the market.


Mules are valued for their versatility in both agricultural and transport roles.
In many cultures, mules play a crucial role in transportation, especially in rugged terrain.


Jackasses are smaller and less muscular than horses but are incredibly resilient and sure-footed.
The jackass easily navigated the rocky path, showing its agility and stability.


Due to their hybrid nature, mules are sterile and cannot reproduce.
Despite their usefulness, mules cannot produce offspring, limiting their population.


A jackass is a male donkey, known for its robustness and adaptability in various environments.
The jackass brayed loudly as the sun began to set over the farm.


A mule is a hybrid animal resulting from a cross between a male donkey and a female horse.
The farmer preferred using mules for plowing his fields because of their endurance.


Jackasses are often used for breeding purposes and can produce offspring with female donkeys or horses.
The farmer used his prized jackass to breed high-quality mules for mountain work.


The sterile hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, characterized by long ears and a short mane.


A foolish or stupid person; a blockhead.


A sterile hybrid, as between a canary and other birds or between certain plants.


A male donkey.


(Informal) A stubborn person.


A foolish or stupid person.


An inappropriately rude or obnoxious person.


A kind of bootleg liquor.


The laughing kookaburra.


To behave very obnoxiously.


A conceited dolt; a perverse blockhead; - disparaging and offensive.


A man who is a stupid incompetent fool


Male donkey


Can mules reproduce?

No, mules are sterile due to having an odd number of chromosomes, making reproduction impossible.

How do mules differ from jackasses in temperament?

Mules are known for their patient, enduring nature, combining the horse's strength with the donkey's resilience, while jackasses can be stubborn but are adaptable and hardy.

What roles do mules play in agriculture and transport?

Mules are invaluable in agriculture for plowing and transportation, especially in rough terrains where their endurance and strength are advantageous.

What is a mule?

A mule is a hybrid animal produced from mating a male donkey (jack) with a female horse (mare).

What is a jackass?

A jackass is simply a male donkey, often used for work or breeding purposes.

Can jackasses breed with other animals?

Yes, jackasses can breed with female donkeys to produce donkeys or with female horses to produce mules.

What is the lifespan of a mule compared to a jackass?

Mules and jackasses have similar lifespans, generally living into their 30s, with proper care and nutrition.

What are the dietary needs of mules versus jackasses?

Both require a diet rich in fiber but mules, being larger, may have slightly higher nutritional requirements to maintain their energy levels.

Why are mules preferred for certain tasks over horses or donkeys?

Mules are preferred for their hybrid vigor, combining the strength and speed of horses with the endurance and sure-footedness of donkeys, making them ideal for challenging tasks.

Are mules used in modern times?

Yes, mules are still used in many parts of the world for farming, transportation, and even recreational purposes.

How do the physical characteristics of mules and jackasses differ?

Mules often inherit the size and strength of horses with the hardiness of donkeys, while jackasses are smaller, more compact, but strong for their size.

Are mules or jackasses more suitable for cold climates?

Both are hardy animals, but jackasses, with their donkey heritage, are particularly well-suited to arid and cold climates.

How do mules communicate compared to jackasses?

Both mules and jackasses use a range of vocalizations like braying, but mules may also exhibit vocal traits inherited from their horse mothers.

What contributes to the stubbornness often associated with jackasses?

The perceived stubbornness of jackasses is often a result of their strong sense of self-preservation and intelligence, making them cautious about their actions.

Can mules and jackasses be trained for the same tasks?

While both can be trained for various tasks, mules are often preferred for more physically demanding work due to their greater strength and endurance.

How do the social behaviors of mules compare to jackasses?

Mules can exhibit social traits from both horses and donkeys, often being sociable yet independent, while jackasses are typically more solitary.

How do mules and jackasses contribute to biodiversity?

Mules, being hybrids, don't contribute to genetic diversity, while jackasses, as purebred donkeys, contribute to the genetic pool and biodiversity.

What are the historical uses of mules and jackasses?

Historically, mules have been used for transport and agriculture, while jackasses have been used primarily for breeding and lighter work tasks.

Can mules participate in equine sports?

Mules can and do participate in various equine sports, showcasing their versatility and athleticism.

What are common health issues in mules and jackasses?

Both are generally robust but can suffer from hoof problems, respiratory issues, and obesity if not properly cared for.
About Author
Written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.
Co-written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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