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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Donkey Breed: Pyrenean Donkey (Pyrenean)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Pyrenean is a French (and Spanish, in the case of the Catalan subtype) breed of a donkey.

A mountain dweller:
Donkeys have roamed the Pyrenees Mountains for centuries, and were shaped by the mountainous environment into frugal animals who are well-adapted to the high altitude.

The size and strength of these donkeys made them ideal for carrying loads and riders up and down the narrow mountainous paths. For centuries, they were also used for working farms that resided on the mountains, as well as for pulling carts.

The 20th century saw the mechanization of agriculture and transportation. Similar to other donkey breeds in France, these advancements led to steep decline in the numbers of Pyrenean donkeys. Even though they remained in use in the Pyrenees, their numbers were dangerously low.

In 1994, the association of breeders of Pyrenean donkeys was established to promote the breeding of these donkeys. The official recognition of the Pyrenean breed by the French authorities in 1997 also helped to conserve this breed, which exists today in small numbers.

Two subtypes:
Originally, there was only one 'type' of Pyrenean donkey, and that was the Catalan. It originated in Catalonia, and was imported to the French side of the Pyrenees many centuries ago.

In Catalonia and Spain, the Catalan was always bred as a Catalan donkey, and was seen as a breed of its own. In France, however, some of the Catalan donkeys were selectively bred for having a smaller size and a more compact conformation. This created a new type of a Pyrenean donkey, known as Gascon.

The Gascon is smaller than the Catalan, stands between 11.3hh and 13hh compared to the 12.3hh to 15.2hh range of the Catalan. The Gascon's short height and sturdy conformation made it ideal for pack work, a purpose which it still fulfills today, contrary to the Catalan which was often used for riding, driving, and for the production of mules (see the 'Pyrenean Mule').

Both of these subtypes still exist today, and are used for roughly the same purposes as their ancestors (see the 'Catalan' and 'Gascon' for more information.)

The Pyrenean donkey today:
Today, Pyrenean donkeys exist in small numbers in the French side of the Pyrenees, although their numbers are still higher than that of other French donkey breeds.

They are used primarily for riding, recreational driving, pack work, and, to a lesser extent, farm work on distant farms in the Pyrenees, depending on the subtype. Furthermore, similar to other French donkey breeds, Pyrenean mares are being milked, and the milk is used in cosmetic products, especially in soaps.

In addition to the above, Pyrenean jacks of the Catalan type are often crossed with Breton, Percheron, Merens, Castillon, or Anglo-Arab mares to create the Pyrenean mule (see the 'Pyrenean Mule' for more information)

Conformation:
The conformation of the Pyrenean varies between the taller and more angular Catalan donkey, and the shorter and rounder Gascon donkey.

In general, the head is deep, the eyes are large, the profile is either straight (Gascon) or concave (Gascon and Catalan), the ears are long, straight, and narrow, and the body is narrow.

Performance metrics:
The following are the: range, average, (SD), and MOE of performance metrics of ordered Pyrenean Donkeys in Horse Isle (not bred ones). In rare cases, donkeys might have metrics outside of the range. Breeders can produce donkeys that are beyond this range.

Speed: 13.4-15.4, 14.6 (0.5), 0.09.
Sprint: 29-43, 35 (3), 0.63.

Accel: 0.70-0.89, 0.81 (0.04), 0.01.
Decel: 0.78-0.94, 0.86 (0.04), 0.01.

Jump: 5.05-5.32, 5.18 (0.06), 0.01.
Pull: 1.16-2.28, 1.61 (0.24), 0.05.

Turning: 34.68-46.28, 40.28 (2.59), 0.51.
Reverse: 1.8-2.4, 2.1 (0.1), 0.03.

Stamina: 43.68-51.35, 47.48 (2.1), 0.41.
Reaction: 0.73-0.85, 0.79 (0.03), 0.01.

Coat & Height:
Coat: Always black or brown-black with light points, and a stomach which is white to a variable degree. The legs are dark, and the coat lacks a dorsal line, a shoulder cross, leg stripes, and markings.

Breeding notes: in order to comply with the coat standard:
1) Pyrenean donkeys must always have light points and a mealy coat, which means that non-mealy (pgpg) donkeys will be registered as Pyrenean Donkeys Breeding Stock.
2) The legs must be dark, and therefore donkeys who are homozygous for mealy (PgPg) will also be registered as Pyrenean Donkeys Breeding Stock.

==> In Horse Isle, in order to be eligible for identification as a Pyrenean donkey, the donkey must be heterozygous Pgpg.

Height: 11.3hh to 15.2hh.


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