The difference between mules and horses relies upon their parents and fertility. Horse and Mule belong to the same family, ‘Equidae’ and more or less they look very similar. But, both the creatures have different physical and genetic traits that we will discuss in this post.
A mule is an animal created by breeding donkeys and horses together. Mules have a jack (male donkey) as a father and a mare (female horse) as a mother.
Mules carry 63 chromosomes after fertilization of horse egg cells (32 chromosomes) with the donkey sperm (31 chromosomes). Due to different animals and the presence of an odd number of chromosomes, mules remain sterile or unable to produce gametes.
A horse is an animal resulting after crossing over between a male horse and a female horse. Horses have a stallion (male horse) as a father and a mare (female horse) as a mother.
Horses carry 64 chromosomes after fertilization of horse egg cells (32 chromosomes) with the horse sperm (32 chromosomes). They can reproduce offspring.
This post describes key differences between mules and horses along with the comparison chart. You will also know the definition and similarities between mules and horses.
Content: Mules Vs Horses
|Scientific name||Equus mulus||Equus caballus|
|Parents||A mule is a hybrid animal resulting from the cross-breeding of a female horse with a male donkey||A horse is an animal resulting from mating between a male horse and a female horse|
|Number of chromosomes||Mules have an odd number of chromosomes, i.e. 63||Horses have 64 chromosomes|
|Male type||Male mules are called John mules||Male horses are called stallion horses|
|Female type||Female mules are called molly mules or mare mules||Female horses are called mare horses|
|Body||Mules have a small body-size than a horse but leaner than a donkey||Horses are fairly large|
|Height||Usually 4 ft. tall||Ranges typically between 62 to 72 inches|
|Weight||Weigh between 50 to 800 lbs||Weigh between 700 to 1000 Kg|
|Ears||Longer ears than the horse||Short ears|
|Tail||Mules have a short tail, but long hairs on the it||Horses have long tail hairs which grow from the dock|
|Mane||Short mane||Mane has coarse hairs that extend from the dorsal ridge of the neck|
|Legs||Thin limbs||They have long slender legs|
|Hooves||Narrow, oval and more upright hooves, but harder than horses||Oval-shaped hooves|
|Head||Short and thick head||Large and elongated head|
|Colour range||Sorrel, black, bay and grey coloured mules are more common||Black, bay, chestnut, palomino, cream and white coloured horses are more common|
|Endurance and physical strength||Like donkeys, mules are strong and considered resilient working animals that can pack a lot of weight for a substantial distance. Also, they can resist adverse conditions||Horses have low endurance and physical strength than mules|
|Food and Stamina||Mules eat less food (hay) and have more stamina (can work for longer without food and water)||Horses comparatively need more food than mules to meet their thirst and hunger and have less stamina as they cannot exercise longer without a break|
|Trail-riding||Mules are more surefooted in rugged terrain than horses due to stronger hooves||They are less efficient in trail riding|
|Learning skills||Like donkeys, mules are more patient, steadier and smarter than horses||Horses are flighty and impatient|
|Reflexes||Mules have both freeze and flight reflexes||Horses have flight reflexes|
|Self-preservation||Mules are docile and intelligent, and they are cautious of danger. They have good self-preservation instincts, so they neither endanger themselves nor the rider||They’ll follow other herd members into a wreck. They’ll get into a flight mode in stressful conditions|
|Skin resistance||Like donkeys, their skin is thick and resistant to irritation, due to excessive heat and rain||Horses have thin coats due to which they easily get skin irritation from heat, rain and other factors|
|Speed||Mules have an average speed of up to 15 miles per hour||Horses have an average speed of 55 miles per hour|
|Vocal noise||They make whimpering noises, including whinnying and braying||Horses make neighs and whinnies noises|
|Life span||Mules can live longer, generally up to 35 to 40 years||Horses have an average life span of 25 to 30 years|
|Reproduction||Mules are sterile. But, in rare cases they can give birth to offspring||Horses can reproduce offspring|
What are Mules?
A mule is a genetically hybridized animal produced from a male donkey and a female horse. The size of a mule depends upon the mother or female horse, based on which mules can be heavy, medium or lightweight.
Mules have 63 chromosomes. A mule is a bred of a horse and donkey, so it shares features common to both.
Features Similar to Donkeys
- Short and thick head
- Long ears
- Thin limbs
- Small and narrow hooves
- Short mane
These were some physical traits inherited in a mule from its father, sire or male donkey. Besides that, a mule inherits traits of sure-footedness, endurance, patience, toughness and self-preservation from a father donkey.
Features Similar to Horses
- Height and body frame
- The shape of the neck and rump
- Uniformity of coat teeth
What are Horses?
Horses are domesticated hoofed mammals. They evolved from multi toad creature “Eohippus”. A mare is a female horse, and a stallion is a male horse. Horses have 64 chromosomes.
Features relative to the Body Structure
- Large elongated head
- Long thick neck
- Ears are slender and upright
- Mane extends from the dorsal side of the neck
- Specialized teeth for grazing
- Oval-shaped hooves
- Muscular and deep torso
- The colour of the coat ranges from white to black
- Mass: 227 to 900 kg
- Height: 0.9 to 1.7 meters
They have a strong flight or fight behaviour. Also, features like speed, agility and endurance are characteristics of horses. They can sleep both standing up and lying down. Horses communicate among their herd members through various facial gestures and vocalizations.
Key Differences Between Mules and Horses
- A mule is a hybrid animal resulting from the cross-breeding of a female horse having 64 chromosomes, with a male donkey having 62 chromosomes. In contrast, a horse is an animal resulting from mating between a male horse and a female horse with equal or 64 chromosomes.
- Mules are smaller in body size than horses but leaner than donkeys. They are usually 4 ft. tall and weigh between 50 to 800 lbs. In comparison, horses are relatively large, with a height of 62 to 72 inches and weight between 700 to 1000 kg.
- Mules are preferred over horses in terms of endurance, trail riding, learning skills, self-preservation, and skin sensitivity. However, horses are preferred over mules in terms of intelligence, speed, and agility.
- As a mule share features similar to both horses and donkeys, it makes whimpering noises (including whinnying and braying). Horses make neighs and whinnies noises.
- Both mules and horses are herd animals.
- Mules and horses are herbivores that rely upon grasses and grassland plants.
- Both are domesticated animals used in transporting goods, military campaigns, sports etc.
- Foxes, wolves and lions are predators of a mule and a horse.
Thus, mules and horses look very similar, but they are different. The physical traits and appearance of a mule share some common characteristics with both horse and donkey.
A mule inherits traits like body size, endurance, strength, intelligence, and perseverance from donkeys. Mules appear as miniatures of horses, and their athletic skills are similar to horses.