By PetMD Editorial on Dec. 20, 2009

The Dongola is a breed of horse that originates from West Africa, particularly in the Cameroon area. Also known as the Dongolawi, this common breed is mainly used as a riding horse.


Physical Characteristics


The Dongola has a convex profile and a rather large head, which detracts from its attractiveness. Standing at about 15 to 15.2 hands high (60-61 inches, 152-155 centimeters), the Dongola does not have an imposing presence. Its back is long and its loins are rather poorly attached. The legs and croup, meanwhile, are thin.


Many Dongola horses have white markings on their faces and lower legs. In addition, the typical Dongola horse has a black or chestnut-colored coat. However, the most common color is a deep, reddish bay.


Personality and Temperament


If cared for properly, the Dongola can actually be a rather beautiful, energetic, and vibrant horse.


History and Background


The Dongola is said to have originated from the Dongola province, which can be found in the Sudan; the breed is named for this particular province. Nevertheless, no records of this origin can be confirmed.


The Dongola is said to be a poorer version of the Barb. However, many believe that the Dongola is a descendant of the Iberian horses, which were found in Egypt and taken from Numidia during the 13th century. There are also some who believe the Dongola is related to the Cameroonian Foulbés, which is due to the fact that the Foulbes lived in Northern Cameroon -- the same place where many Dongola horses can be found.


Although many believe the Dongola to be an inferior breed, the lack of quality of the present-day Dongola horses is due mainly to poor management and certainly not because of any lack of potential. Most Dongola horses are owned by people who prefer to buy stallions from neighboring countries rather than to breed their own. As a result, there are no selective breeding programs in place for the Dongola breed, and the only stallions left to mate with the Dongola mares are those that do not exhibit the best traits. 

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