10 Largest Horse Breeds In The World You Will Not Believe Exist

largest horse breeds

You may be familiar with tiny, adorable ponies, but have you ever wondered just how large horses can get? Some horses can get so large that riders need to use climbing support like a footstool to get on horseback. Here are the top 10 largest horse breeds in the world you probably never knew existed.

Top 10 Largest Horse Breeds

#1. Shire

Shire

The Shire is the tallest horse breed that currently exists. They originate from England, average 6 feet in height, and weigh 1,800–2,400 pounds. Shires can be recognized by their monochrome greyish coat, muscular build, and feathered legs.

They have been historically used, and are still used, as draught horses due to their high capacity for weight-pulling. In 1928, there was an exhibition in Britain showcasing the pulling power of a pair of Shires who could pull a starting load of approximately 50 tonnes.

At a time when carts were the primary means of transporting goods, Shires commanded tremendous economic value. Shires have also popularly been used for farm work such as plowing.

#2. Clydesdale

Clydesdale

The Clydesdale is a Scottish Breed of horse that averages 5’8” feet in height, just notches shy of the Shire, and 1,800–2,000 pounds in weight, making it one of the largest horse breeds in the world. They’ve also been traditionally employed as draught horses for hauling goods.

Clydesdales are sometimes hard to distinguish from Shires because they can be black, grey, or chestnut and also have the same feathered hooves. But one common noted difference between the two, according to ranchers, is the way they walk. Clydesdales are said to have a relatively high-stepped gait.

#3. Percheron

Percheron

Percheron horses originate from France. They’re tall, have a lustrous black or grey coat, and lean muscular build. Percherons range in height from 5ft to over 6ft and weigh 1,900-2,000 pounds on average.

Percherons were once considered the tallest horses in the world. It’s believed that crossbreeding with lighter Arabian horses during the 20th Century may have influenced the change in their average size.

Percherons were originally bred to be war horses for their agility, endurance, and stamina. Before World War I, this breed was used almost exclusively for war throughout Europe, with many also shipped to the United States. However, an embargo signed around the time the war began resulted in France stopping the shipping. Since then, Percherons have been used for pulling stagecoaches and agriculture.

#4. Belgian Draft

Belgian Draft

Belgian Draft horses, as the name suggests, originate from Belgium. They’re also referred to as the Flanders horse. They possess strong feathered legs but have much shorter necks.

They grow up to 5 feet in height and weigh approximately 2,000 pounds. The reason they’re number 4 on this list is that some Belgian Drafts have been found to grow over 6 feet in height, rivaling the Shire.

Belgian Drafts are largely used for farming and also feature quite often in riding circles.

#5. Dutch Draft

Dutch Draft

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The Dutch Draft originates from the Netherlands and is one of the rarest breeds of horses. It’s believed they were bred from the Belgian Draft and thus share a few common features like feathered hooves and bay or chestnut coats. They average 5’4 feet in height, with some growing up to as tall as 5’8” feet, and 1,600 pounds in weight.

The Dutch Draft is a heavy draft horse with a short neck and chiseled muscular body. They were originally bred for pulling carts and plowing fields and thus have remarkable stamina for pulling heavy loads for extended periods.

#6. Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch

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The Suffolk horse is a breed of draught horse that originates from Suffolk in England. Historically, it has also been known as the Suffolk Punch or Suffolk Sorrel. Chestnut in color, they grow 5’8” feet on average and weigh about 2,000 pounds.

The Suffolk Punch is England’s oldest surviving native breed that has been bred for agricultural purposes since the 1500s. They’re known for their excellent work ethic and mild temperament.

Ever since the mechanization of agriculture, Suffolk Punch horses began to fall out of favor and have been on the brink of extinction. There have been efforts to keep the oldest native breed alive and employ them for farming and pulling non-motorized vans; however, the numbers remain thin. The UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust and American Livestock Conservancy have classified the breed’s status as critical.

#7. American Cream Draft

American Cream Draft

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The American Cream Draft is America’s only remaining native breed of draft horse and is recognized as a rare breed today. They’re recognized by their creamy, champagne-colored coats and amber-red eyes. American Cream Drafts can grow up to 5’7” in height and weigh as much as 1,800 pounds.

The breed was developed in Iowa during the early 20th century for its distinct appearance. They have strong hindquarters, a wide chest, well-proportioned legs, and a particularly docile temperament. This comes as an especially pleasant surprise to new owners not used to handling horses.

#8. Australian Draught

Australian Draught

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The Australian Draught was developed by combining 4 pure draught breeds — Shire, Percheron, Suffolk Punch, and Clydesdale. As a result, they display common appearance traits and embody the characteristics of all four.

The Australian Draught can grow up to 5’10” in height and weighs about 1,600 pounds on average. They have a lean muscular body, short neck, and feathered hooves.
The history of breeding goes back to mid-nineteenth century Australia that received stallions and mare breeds from across the world. The Australian Draught was originally bred for farming but is today used for both farming and horse shows.

#9. Boulonnais

Boulonnais

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The Boulonnais, also known as the “White Marble horse,” is a French Draft horse breed known for its elegant appearance. They’re usually gray but are also bred for chestnut and black. A Boulonnais horse can grow up to 5’8” feet in height and weigh 1,400 pounds on average.

It’s an energetic and highly sociable breed that owners face little resistance from during training. They make excellent plowers and riding companions.

#10. Jutland

Jutland

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Last on this list is the Jutland Horse. It’s a Danish Breed known for its compact but muscular size. They’re usually chestnut in color and have a calm and agreeable temperament. They grow up to about 5’5” feet in height and weigh around 1,500 pounds.

What sets Jutland apart is how beautiful they are to look at. They have feathered hooves, a very stocky and compact body, thick coats, and long hair. Jutland was originally bred for agricultural purposes but is now more commonly used in shows and for recreational horse rides in urban settings.

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Sandra Holbrook

Sandra Holbrook

Sandra is an elementary school teacher turned columnist. Backed by many years of experience with social interactions under challenging circumstances, her work focuses on the importance of conversational wellbeing.

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