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Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Tribe: Equini
Genus: Equus

A hinny is a domestic equine hybrid, the offspring of a male horse (a stallion) and a female donkey (a jenny). It is the reciprocal cross to the more common mule, which is the product of a male donkey (a jack) and a female horse (a mare). The hinny is distinct from the mule both in physiology and temperament as a consequence of genomic imprinting and is also less common.


The hinny is the offspring of a stallion and a jenny or female donkey, and is thus the reciprocal cross to the more common mule foaled by a jack (male donkey) out of a mare. Like the mule, the hinny displays hybrid vigour (heterosis).[1]: 36 

In general terms, in both these hybrids the foreparts and head of the animal are similar to those of the sire, while the hindparts and tail are more similar to those of the dam.[1]: 36  A hinny is generally smaller than a mule, with shorter ears and a lighter head; the tail is tasselled like that of its donkey mother.[1]: 37 

The distinct phenotypes of the hinny and the mule are partly attributable to genomic imprinting – an element of epigenetic inheritance.[2] Hinnies and mules differ in temperament despite sharing nuclear genomes; this too is believed to be attributable to the action of imprinted genes.[3]

Fertility, sterility and rarity[edit]

According to most reports, hinnies are sterile and are not capable of reproduction.[1]: 37  The male hinny can mate, but the emission is not fertile. Many have no sperm in the emission, others have sperm that is not motile.[4] The dam of a foal carried to term in Henan Province of China in 1981 is variously reported to have been a mule[5] or a hinny.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
  2. ^ Hunter, Philip (2007). "The silence of genes. Is genomic imprinting the software of evolution or just a battleground for gender conflict?". EMBO Reports. 8 (5): 441–443. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400965. PMC 1866201. PMID 17471258.
  3. ^ Wang, Xu; Miller, Donald C.; Harman, Rebecca; Antczak, Douglas F.; Clark, Andrew G. (2013). "Paternally expressed genes predominate in the placenta". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110 (26): 10705–10710. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11010705W. doi:10.1073/pnas.1308998110. PMC 3696791. PMID 23754418.
  4. ^ Zong, E; Fan, G (June 1989). "The variety of sterility and gradual progression to fertility in hybrids of the horse and donkey". Heredity. 62 (3): 393–406. doi:10.1038/hdy.1989.54. PMID 2753743. S2CID 25057091.
  5. ^ Rong, Ruizhang; Cai, Huedi; Yang, Xiuqin; Wei, Jun (October 1985). "Fertile mule in China and her unusual foal". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 78 (10): 821–25. doi:10.1177/014107688507801006. PMC 1289946. PMID 4045884.
  6. ^ Angus O. McKinnon, Edward L. Squires, Wendy E. Vaala, Dickson D. Varner (editors) (2011). Equine Reproduction, second edition. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781444397635.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Hinnies at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of hinny at Wiktionary