Breeders: Poitou Donkey

The primary job of the Baudet du Poitou was one of breeding. They were crossed with the Mulassiere horse (French Cob), which was the horse of the Poitou and produced the Poitou mule.


In its heyday it is said that 30,000 mules were produced of a very high quality and bred for France and the rest of Europe. The mules were prized as the finest working animals in the world. The Baudet du Poitou were kept purely for bloodstock and great care was taken to ensure that the donkeys were not crossed or sold out of the region. As a result, the breed was kept pure for hundreds of years.

After World War II, when motorised vehicles took over in agriculture, demand for the mule dropped and, as a result, the Poitou donkey became redundant. Some breeders sold or killed their herds and, as a result, the Poitou donkey became an endangered species. Purebred Poitou donkeys are very expensive and are nearly impossible to find.

Cute Poitou donkeys

By standard, a Poitou should stand between 1.35 m and 1.50 m at the withers. His coat is black or brown with a grey underbelly and a white nose and eye rings. A Poitou must never have a cross upon his shoulders and back. The head is quite large and long, set on a strong neck. The withers are unobtrusive and the back flat and long. The croup is short and the haunches round.

The limbs are strong with large joints and loose movement. The feet of a Poitou are larger than those of other donkey breeds and covered with the long hair of the legs. The ears should be large and open, again, covered in long hair. The actual coat of a Poitou Donkey is longer and softer than that of other donkey breeds. When the animal is left ungroomed, it will often retain the long hair of its youth which becomes matted and tangled, growing down into a great coat. Tradition dictated that these animals with their great “cadenettes” were most highly valued.

If you are interested in buying a Poitou, check the links below:

United Kingdom: Poitou Breeders

Norley Farm

Donkeys of Wales

Poitou and foal

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