Martina Franca Donkey Breed


     In the Murgia trulli, hilly calcareous plateau, placed at nearly 500 metres sea-level between the provinces of Bari, Brindisi, and Taranto, for a long time the bringing up of a great regard donkey breed is practised: the Donkey Breed of Martina Franca.

     That of Martina Franca is a mesomorphic donkey breed, which as a whole, shows an harmonic development in its shapes; it is characterized for its height, for an extraordinary sturdiness and for a good blood; it has a dark bay cover - called blackish in the Murge’s territory - with snout, breastbone region, abdomen and internal thigh of dark grey colour; a reddish strip of some centimetres long, called reddish, is noted around the orbital cavity and the upper part of the snout.



                                                                                                                                                        centimetre = 0,3937 inches


Somatic architecture

mesomorphic type




voluminous, but well formed


wide and not noticed


little oblique, with good muscular masses

Back-lumbar line

long and for this reason well disposed to the saddler


generally short and horizontal, in the pure subjects rounding


well developed                                      


well drawn and solid


supplied of good muscular manes


excellent, but the vaccine is frequent


generally proportioned to the body growth


 small, very often affected by blemished as the left-handedness (lack of  perpendicular)



Height at the withers

between cm.135 and 156

Thoracic  circumference

between cm.155 and 170

Shin circumference

between cm.18 and 22

  (From Luca Pastore, The stallion business of the Martina Franca donkey and the Murge horse, in Riflessioni umanesimo della Pietra, Martina Franca, July 1984, n. 7, p. 83)


     In the Martina Franca territories and around, good donkey stallions of developed shapes and with a rather dark cover existed, they were then improved by crossing with a group of spanish donkeys probably imported during the last centuries. The favourable condition of the ground and of the climate at one head, the patient and the meticulous cares of the bringing up traditionally practise by the Murge breeders, at the other hand have allowed, successively, the formation and the formation and the specialization of the present Martina Franca Donkey Breed.   

     The local opinions agree with the testimony that the Martina Franca Breed descended from local subjects and from catalonian donkeys imported in Puglia during the Spanish domination. The news about the person who effected such importation, whereas, are discordant: some sources suggest that the importation of the catalonian donkeys, together another selected group of merinos sheep, was effected directly by the will of a Spanish queen in her Puglia lands which were extended in Mottola, Ginosa, and other places around; other sources, on the contrary, award the importation of the 15 Spanish donkey subjects to one of Caracciolo, duke of Martina, or to one of Acquaviva, counts of Conversano, who introduced these animals in their splendid and prestigious breeds in order to ameliorate the local subjects. This is, of course, the most accredited hypothesis as the testimonies of the Swiss noble Carlo Ulisse De Salis Marchlins shown; he during a visit in the big farm of San Basilio, near Mottola, propriety of Martina Franca dukes, at the end of the XVIII century, referred that he saw three donkeys, too of an impressive size and of an extraordinary cover that the duke kept only for the mule production.


Martina Franca Donkey Breed stallion

(From Prof. Giacinto Fogliata, Tipi e razze equine, Pisa, 1910, p. 565)
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