Are Deer Related To Horses?

Deer are not closely related to horses. Horses belong to the Equidae family, while deer’s family is Cervidae.

Key similarities and differences between horses and deer include:

One way of determining how related mammals are is by looking at their toes. Horses belong to a group of mammals with an odd number of toes. On the other hand, deer have cloven hooves (two toes), meaning they likely diverged on the evolutionary chain a long time ago.

Are Deer Related To Horses

However, both the deer and the horse are ungulates, meaning they all have hooves.

Other characteristics of ungulate animals include: almost all ungulates are herbivorous except pigs and boars, and, their young can stand almost immediately after birth.

Deer are ruminant, while horses are non-ruminant, meaning they are not related morphologically. Deer have a multi-compartmented stomach like a cow, while a horse has a single stomach that works much like humans.

Are Deer Equine?

Deer do not belong to the Equidae family. The family comprises 6 members, which all belong to the same genus (Equus). They include horses, asses, and zebras.

These animals are thick-skulled animals with stocky bodies. They also have a lot of hair, especially on the neck, and have long thin limbs, making them excellent runners. These animals do not chew card.

On the other hand, deer belong to the family Cervidae which hosts other animals such as goats and antelopes.

However, unlike Equidae, this family is quite large and includes around 50 species. Therefore, they have a diverse range of characteristics. Some are very large, for example, mooses, and others such as the Southern Pudu deer are tiny (they only grow to 14 inches).

Cervidae chew cud similar to cattle while equine animals don’t. Equine animals can’t chew cud because their soft palate closes after swallowing food, trapping it in the stomach, and disallowing the cud from being regurgitated.


See Also: Are Deer and Goats Related?

What Are The Differences Between A Deer And A Horse?

Traditionally, scientists have used the Linnean Taxonomy to make educated guesses about how related animals are. This taxonomy groups animals via comparisons of their features.

There are seven classifications in the Linnean Taxonomy: the kingdom, species, class, order, family, genus, and species.

How do the seven classifications determine the relationship between the deer and the horse?


Animals with similar classifications mean they come from a common ancestor. For example, if the animals are in the same genus, family, and order, they are related.

In this case, the deer and the horse share the kingdom, family, and class. Even though they share many classifications, they are not very closely related since they don’t share the same order.

The closest we can say they are is that they’re both ungulates (hooved animals).

Related Article: How Often Do Deer Have Babies?

What are the physical differences between deer and horses?

White-Tailed DeerCommon Horse
About two feet tallAbout Five feet tall
Weigh around 220 kilogramsWeigh about 1000 kilogram
The lifespan of 6-10 years in the wildThe lifespan of 25-30 years
A maximum speed of 37-50 km/hr per hourA top speed of 88 km/hr
Short tailLong-tail

See Also: Are Deer Related to Elk and Moose?

Is It Possible For Deer And Horses To Reproduce?

It is not possible for deer and horses to reproduce. Only species closely related to each other can interbreed to give birth to hybrids.

Deer and horses do not have identical chromosomes, and their DNA is different in many ways.

They belong to different families. Deer belong to the Cervidae family, while horses belong to the Equidae family.

Deer and horses are different species and also different orders. Horses belong to the Perissodactyla, odd-toed ungulates, while deer belong to the Artiodactyla, even-toed ungulates. This means that deer and horses cannot breed.

Horses, however, can breed with other Equidae creatures like zebras and donkeys. Below, for example, is an animal that is a mix between a zebra and a horse, called a zorse:

Do Deer And Horses Get Along?

Horses and deer do not usually get along. Deer avoid horses to some degree. Research suggests that on a farm where horses are kept, deer will generally avoid the area used by the horses, mainly during the day.

Some horse farmers say that when a horse sees and smells deer, it gets irritated. So, for some reason, deer and horses will keep distant from one another.

One possible explanation is that the two species compete for the same food sources. Sometimes you may see them on opposite sides of a field, for example, keeping to their own patch of grass.

Other Differences Between Deer And Horses

1. Muscles

Horses are much stronger than deer. An average horse is strong enough to carry more than 300 pounds on its back. They also have an impressive bite force of about 500 psi. Their kicks are also potent and can average 2000 psi.

Deer vary in size ad usually weigh around 150 to 300 lb. With this weight, they can comfortably carry about 120 lbs to 250 lbs on their back.

Read Also: Are Deers Quiet but Fierce?

2. Pace

Horses are naturally speedy animals, and it is hard for other animals to keep up with them. The average maximum speed of horses is around 88 km/hr. This is because horses have long, thin legs, which gives them long steps or strides.

On the other hand, deer can only reach a maximum speed of around 37-50 km/hr.

However, deer are excellent jumpers compared to horses. They can jump 7-foot height from a standing position and up to ten feet when running.

3. Survival

Wild horses can survive in relatively harsh conditions like drought or semi-arid areas and grasslands. They have innate instincts that help them find water up to six feet underground, increasing their chances of survival.

Unlike horses, drought or harsh conditions affects deer by decreasing their body fat because of the few available plants to feed. This reduces their chances of survival in these areas.


Deer are not very closely related to horses. They are both ungulates but separated on the evolutionary chain a long time ago. They are from different families, and their DNA differs from each other.

Therefore, they cannot breed together to produce offspring.

Although both of them can run fast, deer cannot maintain their speed for a very long period compared to horses.

Other noticeable differences include their size, strength, and species diversity. Deer belong to a family of diverse species. Additionally, there are around 43 deer species. However, all equine species are grouped into the same genus. Therefore, horses are less diverse.

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