mule, hybrid offspring of a male donkey (see ass) and a female horse, bred as a work animal. The name is also sometimes applied to the hinny, the offspring of a male horse and female donkey; hinnies are considered inferior to mules. The mule has many donkey characteristics—long ears, a tufted tail, slender legs, small hooves, and a loud bray—but it resembles a horse in size and strength. Most mules weigh from 1,100 to 1,400 lb (500-640 kg). They lack the speed of horses, but are more surefooted and have great powers of endurance. Like donkeys, they are of a cautious and temperamental disposition and require expert handling to perform well. Both sexes are sterile. Mules have been bred as pack and draft animals since prehistoric times, and are still used throughout the world, particularly in regions where mechanized farm equipment is uncommon. They have been widely used in the United States, where they were first bred by George Washington, but are now found mainly in the southeastern states. Mules were used extensively for military transport before the advent of mechanization. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Perissodactyla, family Equidae.
mule, in manufacturing: see spinning.

Mule deer buck (Odocoileus hemionus).

Large-eared deer (Odocoileus hemionus) of western North America that lives alone or in small groups at high altitudes in summer and lower altitudes in winter. Mule deer stand 3–3.5 ft (90–105 cm) and are yellowish brown in summer, grayish brown in winter. The tail is white with a black tip, except on the black-tailed deer (O. h. columbianus), a Pacific Northwest subspecies. The male's antlers fork twice above a short tine near the base; a mature male normally has five tines on each antler. It is related to the white-tailed deer.

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Offspring of a male ass and a female horse. The less common cross of a female ass and a male horse is called a hinny. Most mules are sterile. The mule resembles the horse in height and in shape of neck and croup (rump); it resembles the ass in its long ears, small hooves, and short mane. The coat is usually brown or bay. Mules are 12–17.5 hands (50–70 in., 120–180 cm) high and weigh 600–1,500 lbs (275–700 kg). They have been used as pack animals for at least 3,000 years because of their ability to withstand hardships.

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