Consider the smartest animal that comes to mind. Is it a donkey? Despite being historically thought of as stubborn, mean, and unintelligent, the Egyptians revered them. So, are donkeys smart?

Recent research indicates that donkeys are as intelligent as the average dog, and some believe they may even rival dolphins in intelligence. 


Additionally, studies have shown that donkeys are emotional creatures and possibly even smarter than horses.

The issue at hand is how to accurately assess the intelligence of a donkey. Intelligence is a complex trait, incorporating various elements such as memory and problem-solving skills. 

Emotional and social intelligence are also crucial but harder to quantify, yet they are significant when evaluating a donkey’s intelligence.

Similar to humans, dogs, and other living beings, the intelligence of donkeys varies considerably. 

Some conform to the stereotypical image of a stubborn and unintelligent animal, while others exhibit curiosity and thoughtfulness. 

Measuring the intelligence of donkeys and other creatures is important as it helps us identify and measure desirable traits. This, in turn, will enable us to breed more intelligent donkeys in the future.

There Are 5 Primary Components of Donkey Intelligence 

By studying these aspects, we can gain a better understanding of the overall intelligence of donkeys. Below, we will delve into each of these components in more detail.

There are various factors that contribute to the overall concept of intelligence, and by observing these aspects, we can better understand the intelligence of donkeys.

In the following sections, we will delve into each of these factors in more detail.


Donkeys possess one of the most exceptional memories among all animals. 


They have the ability to memorize complex routes, even if they have only traversed them once several years ago. 

Furthermore, donkeys are known to remember both people and animals. 

According to some individuals, donkeys never forget a human face and can even recall animals they encountered just once in the past.


Donkeys exhibit remarkable critical thinking abilities that are not found in many other animals. 

They can be observed dipping a hoof into running water to assess its depth before crossing, demonstrating their capacity to reason and problem-solve. 

Although some may perceive donkeys as stubborn, it may simply be the animal’s way of assessing risks before taking action or following instructions.

Emotional Intelligence


Donkeys are surprisingly emotionally intelligent, with the ability to form strong bonds with humans, other donkeys, and even other livestock animals. 

They are social creatures and become distressed when separated from their companions for too long. 

In fact, they are now being used as therapy animals, particularly for the elderly and autistic children, as they are great at reading facial and body language just like dogs.


Donkeys can be trained with verbal cues and clicker training, similar to dogs. 

Positive reinforcement is the best approach, as yelling or hitting can make them fearful and harder to train later. 

Trainability varies among donkeys, with some being more stubborn than others.



Horse and donkey owners often observe that donkeys enjoy exploring and manipulating objects, such as barn stall latches and toys. 

Utilizing a donkey’s curiosity can facilitate their training, but there is a risk of injury if they become too curious and accidentally harm themselves.


Contrary to the misconception that donkeys are merely unintelligent beasts of burden, research indicates that they possess comparable intelligence to dogs and exceptional memory. 

By assessing their intelligence, we can potentially breed smarter donkeys and aid in their conservation efforts.

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