also similar to vehicles and humans, in a way that there are large and small varieties.
Despite some breeds being larger than most, all horses, with proper care, will most likely have a gentle temperament unless provoked. They also pack intelligence with the right kind of training.
So, what exactly are the top 5 world’s largest horse breeds? If you want to find out about them, read on below to check out each breed as we give you information about these wonderful horses.
- 1 #5: Dutch Draft
- 2 #4: Percheron
- 3 #3: Belgian Draft
- 4 #2: Clydesdale
- 5 #1: Shire Horse
#5: Dutch Draft
Height: 62 inches (male), 61 inches (female)
Weight: 1,650 pounds (male), 1,540 pounds (female)
The Dutch Draft is usually seen as a grayish horse with hints of black on its feet. In some cases, the Dutch Draft can also be chestnut or bay color.
This strong horse has a solid build and tends to be a muscular breed, especially at the front. Its ears are relatively short while the head has a straight profile. Likewise, its withers are just fine in terms of shape while the loin and hind of the horse are key features due to their heavy muscles in that area. Its legs also have a lot of feathering, adding to this.
The Dutch Draft was developed past 1918 from cross-breeding the Belgian Ardennes and the Zeeland-type Dutch mares called Brabant. They were first bred in Holland and eventually became popular after World War II. In the province of Groningen, the Dutch Draft then began its work despite not gaining success or popularity over the Groningen horse.
Eventually, the Dutch Draft became an agricultural helper but with newer technology surfacing, these horses lost their meaning and declined in population.
Among the places where you can find the Dutch Draft include North Brabant, Gelderland, Limburg, Overijssel, and Drenthe. Although they were very popular before, the new machinery replaced their use in the field. Nonetheless, you can still find them in such provinces.
The Dutch Draft is usually quiet but can also let loose whenever needed. Due to its calm temperament, this breed of horse is often sought after by farmers who need a helping hand when it comes to agricultural jobs.
Attuned to working in the field, the Dutch Draft is known to be a farmer’s best friend and companion for life. Due to their immense strength and muscular build, this breed is best used as an agricultural helper. They can lift heavy loads and will work for long hours without getting too tired.
With that said, today, the horse is now not that much found around. That’s because horses and animals are slowly being replaced by machinery in farms. After all, machines are less costly due to their low maintenance versus a real live animal. Sadly, we won’t get to see a lot of Dutch Draft horses around anymore, but the same is true with most traditional farm animals meant for heavy work.
Height: 61 to 73 inches (France), 66 to 71 inches (United States)
Weight: 1,100 to 2,600 pounds
Percheron is a horse that has a straight profile with smaller than usual ears. They’re known for having large eyes with muscular legs and feet. Aside from that, they have a deep chest and their rump or croup at a long length.
Common colors of the Percheron include black, gray, chestnut, roan, and bay. However, for show horses, gray and black are the only permitted Percheron colors in Britain and France. Moreover, excessive white markings are also a show fault but a little is okay.
Around the 17th century, the Percheron was originally bred to be used in war. Aside from their purpose in battles, they were also made for agriculture, pulling heavy equipment. Eventually, due to cross-breeding, traces of the Arabian horse were found in them around the 19th century.
The Percheron came to the US before World War I. Having been used in European combat, Percherons are one of the oldest horses around the world. The British Percheron Horse Society was formed in 1918 while the US Percheron registry came to be around the 1930s.
Moreover, the Percheron horse was also known as the Diligence Horse due to their historical purpose of pulling “diligences”, which are stagecoaches during the Middle Ages.
Today, Percherons aren’t that much seen around after World War II although preservation efforts were made around 2009. In France, however, their decline isn’t that felt and some even cook them while others were made for competition and agricultural work. You’ll often see Percherons in English riding.
The temperament of a Percheron is usually calm and docile. They have a steadfast personality and they aren’t very moody or dull at all. You’ll find that a Percheron is easy to tame.
However, due to their time as war horses, there are times when the Percheron does have a spike of high spirits. Compared to similar draft horses (breeds that are mainly used for agricultural purposes such as pulling carts on farms), the Percheron has a lot of intelligence combined with some burning passion. This is also a possible reason why they’re often competition horses.
The Percheron used to be a warhorse and a farm buddy but today, they are also great for horseback riding. They can be used for events such as parades and sleigh rides due to their prideful appearance and demeanor. In the UK, horses of this breed are often showcased, such as with the World Percheron Congress.
#3: Belgian Draft
Height: 61.2 to 72 inches
Weight: 1,800 to 2,200 pounds
The Belgian Draft is a horse breed with expressive eyes. With a small but well-shaped head, this breed tends to be in light chestnut, as well as bay, black, and roan. There are also varieties of the color and specks of white but the sorrel color is what makes it recognizable, as well as some facial markings in white.
The horse profile may either be straight or curved. With a muscular and short neck, it has a broad back and a short, deep body. The Belgian Draft also has medium to heavy feathering and lean legs. Belgian Drafts are also known to be quite muscular and heavy.
European and American versions of the Belgian horse differ when it comes to certain characteristics. For instance, European Belgian horses tend to be thick while the American version has a taller frame.
Likewise, this horse breed holds the record for the world’s tallest horse. Big Jake stands 82.75 inches tall, roughly about 20 hands. As for the breed itself, Brooklyn Supreme was the biggest Belgian Draft in history, standing 78 inches tall and weighing 3,200 pounds.
Belgian Drafts have quite a clouded history, to the point that the Belgian Draft and the Brabant were previously thought of as the same breed, but the European version of this Brabant horse became much more distinct with a bigger and heavier appearance. Eventually, the breed was seen around 1880 and came to the US in 1866.
As with many draft horses, after World War II, they weren’t used around farms anymore as being replaced by machinery. Nonetheless, many people still try to preserve the beautiful and towering breed that his the Belgian Draft.
The Belgian Draft is known to be docile and quiet. Since they are draft horses, they mostly do their job on the field and are typically calm and collected around humans. They are loyal and will work hard for whatever you need, so long as you give them the right treatment. Similarly, they are quite an intelligent breed.
Ideally used for the field and the competition, Belgian Draft horses are also seen as horseback riding companions. In Belgium, some even consume them due to their tender meat. Due to their immense strength, two of them can pull up to 17,000 pounds in a distance of 7 feet. Therefore, if you need a heavy-duty animal worker, the Belgian Draft qualifies greatly.
Height: 65 to 72 inches
Weight: 1,500 to 2,200 pounds
A Clydesdale horse is usually a tall breed that has a wide muzzle, convex profile, and a broad forehead. Its withers are significantly higher than most while the shoulders have a sloped shape. The hooves and legs are commonly looked on by show judges and breed associations.
The Clydesdale is also a muscular breed with an arched neck. Common colors of the Clydesdale include roan, piebald, dark brown, bay, black, or skewbald, with white markings.
River Clyde is the origin of the name for the Clydesdale horse breed. It was formerly known as Clydesdale. The Clydesdale of today was a result of cross-breeding a Flemish stallion with other horses in 1715. The horses were taken to North America in the 1800s despite the lack of popularity.
Eventually, The American Clydesdale Association was founded in 1879. Later on, the Shire blood was bred into the Clydesdale to improve the breed. The Clydesdale of today is subsequently being preserved to prevent them from getting the “at-risk” status.
Like many draft horses out there, the Clydesdale is a cool and collected type. They make great barn buddies and when trained properly, they will easily listen to you. Whether your horse is built for the show ring or the farm, they will quickly adapt to their surroundings. However, you will occasionally find their stubborn side, depending on the situation.
Among the uses of the Clydesdale is as a farm horse, since it is a draft breed. You’ll find the Clydesdale carrying heaps of coal, as well as logs. Aside from their use in the field, the Clydesdale can also be a show horse and a horseback riding breed.
Due to the feathery feet, that’s usually in white, the Clydesdale is often a symbol of royalty and is commonly used as carriage horses. The company behind Budweiser used such horses for their promotional content.
#1: Shire Horse
Height: 68 inches
Weight: up to 2,000 pounds
The Shire Horse is quite a tall horse with a long and lean build. They tend to have an arched neck, large eyes, wide chest, wide hindquarters, a short muscular back, and slight feathering on the legs. If they do have feathering, it tends to be silky and fine compared to other horses. They also have a long mane and tend to have large hooves.
Common colors of the Shire Horse include grey, bay, black, or brown. Roan and white markings are show faults for stallions. On the other hand, chestnut is only allowed in the United States. Mammoth, the Shire born in 1848, was recorded to be the largest horse in history at 86.2 inches or 219 cm, weighing 3,360 pounds.
Also known as the Great Horse of England, the Shire Horse has been around since the 11th century as war horses. After serving their purpose in battle, the Shire Horse became load pullers or carthorses. Moreover, they were previously known as the English Cart Horse and a society was founded in 1878.
As with many draft breeds, the Shire Horse is a gentle and laid-back companion. They are okay for beginners, as well as for horseback riding. If you are a tall rider and don’t feel comfortable with smaller breeds, perhaps the Shire Horse is for you.
Since the Shire horse is a warhorse from its origins, they have a good temperament and can handle difficult situations. They aren’t easily startled unlike other horses so it’s okay to have them around dogs and noisy neighborhoods. This also allows them to be okay even around children and the sound of high traffic.
The Shire Horse is known for being a brewery delivery horse, especially in the United Kingdom. This was especially around the 1800s and there are still services with such today.
Aside from that purpose, the Shire Horse has also been hired for forestry. You will also find them in horseback riding ranches.