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The 15 Largest Horse Breeds in the World

By Alex Verwest


Updated on

There are currently more horse breeds in the world than you could possibly think, to the point where if you actually want to get your hands on a pretty good horse, you will definitely have to spend a decent amount of time just to find the perfect breed for you.

We always recommend that if you are looking for a specific type of a horse, you should look at the main characteristics that each horse breed has to offer, because rarely if ever will one be a completely unique specimen that doesn’t adhere to them.

As such, for today’s article we decided to cover the top 15 largest horse breeds in the world, as these are the best breeds that your money could get you, if you are looking for a labor animal, or if you want to have a show-ready horse to bring with you to any new event.

So, without further ado, let’s just hop right into our first pick of the day, which is none other than:

15. Italian Heavy Draft

Italian Heavy Draft horse
Italian Heavy Draft / twitter.com

Despite being a relatively small draft breed, the Italian Heavy Draft still more than makes up for its small size of around 15 hands tall and 1,320 to 1,540 pounds each, by being very fast at what it does.

As such, this horse is absolutely perfect for small farming jobs, as it can easily carry around the load in no time when you need its help.

14. Boulonnais

Boulonnais horse
Boulonnais horse / wikidata.org

This French horse breed is actually quite popular these days, due to how elegant and massive it can be. You are looking at a relatively small horse breed (when you compare it to other breeds in this list), standing at around 14.3 to 16.3 hands tall, and weighing around 1,250 to 1,650 pounds each, and yet it is still bought a lot more than most other breeds on this list.

Why? The answer is simple really, it is considered to be one of the best show horses in the world. It’s no wonder that most people refer to it as the “White Marble Horse” or “Europe’s noblest draft horse” after all.

13. Jutland

Jutland horses
Jutland horses / Photo by Malene Thyssen / wikipedia.org

Coming up next, we have the Jutland Horse breed, a very good option for any farmer that wants a powerful horse that also looks absolutely stunning as they do their job.

This breed is actually most famous for pulling the Carlsberg beer wagons from Copenhagen, and as such they are considered to be a sort of Danish national pride representative these days.

This is good news for the Jutland as they’ve also been featured a lot in Danish folk tales and are believed to have been the most common horse choice for the Vikings from the 9th century that stormed over Europe back in the day.

12. Breton

Breton horse
Breton horse / facebook.com

France have definitely brought us quite a lot of amazing draft horse breeds and this one right here is no exception.

This 15 to 16 hands tall beauty can get as heavy as 1,500 to 1,800 pounds each, and the more you look at it the more you see just how powerful of a creature this really is, considering just how much it can carry in both agricultural and industrial work sites.

Interestingly enough, the Breton horse breed was also used very commonly in the military and while this has changed over the years, it is quite easy to see why this was their preferred choice considering the absolute mass of muscle that these giants carry on them.

11. Soviet Heavy Draft

Russian Heavy Draft
Soviet Heavy Draft / nativebreed.org

You can already tell from the name alone, but this horse was actually first created in Soviet Russia as a biproduct of the Belgian Brabant horse breed.

It was originally created for the sake of being a heavy labor and agricultural powerhouse, and the cool thing about this breed is that even to this day it is considered to be one of the best at it, because of its sheer size alone.

Around the same time period we also had the Russian Heavy Draft horse breed created, but just because they were both developed around the same time period and for the same reasons this doesn’t mean that you are looking at the same horse breed right here.

They were both used for agriculture or industrial work yes, but the Soviet Heavy Draft breed is far better at getting its job done, as it is considered to be one of the most massive Russian horse breeds ever made.

10. Lithuanian Heavy Draught

Lithuanian Heavy Draught
Lithuanian Heavy Draught / pinterest.com

The 19th to 20th centuries brought us a ton of new horse breeds that are still commonly found even to this day, but by far one of the best ones we’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing with our own eyes was none other than the Lithuanian Heavy Draught and you can instantly see why.

This is a very powerful horse breed that can easily pull anything no matter how heavy it is, but the sad thing about them is that their size had also led to them being used for their meat, which quickly led to their numbers dwindling down in no time.

As such, you can only find about 1,000 horses on the open market as of right now, which is quite sad considering how majestic this horse is to begin with.

You are looking at a 15 to 16 hands tall horse right here, and while it may not be as large as some of the other breeds you’ll find on this list, it is definitely one of the most powerful ones pound for pound.

9. Russian Heavy Draft/Ardennes

Soviet Heavy Draft
Russian Heavy Draft horse / amazinghorsefacts.com

We mentioned previously that the Russian Heavy Draft was created around the same time as the Soviet Heavy Draft, and while the two were very similar when it came to their general use, at the time the Soviet Heavy Draft was definitely considered to be one step ahead of it due to its slightly larger size.

The problem with the Russian Heavy Draft is that it’s nowhere near as massive as the Soviet Heavy Draft breed, to the point where it’s pretty easy to see which one the common field worker would prefer to have in his stead.

This breed still makes for a great milk producer though, and more importantly it can even be used in the production of kumis, which makes it a multi-use acquisition for you right now.

While some countries did choose to use this breed for its meat also, it is not particularly popular in that field and as such it is mostly used for agricultural or industrial work instead.

8. American Cream

American Cream horse
American Cream horse / discoverthehorse.com

The interesting part about the American Cream horse breed is the fact that it was actually developed in the United States and that after so many years, it is the only heavy draft horse that can still be found on the open market to this day.

But even so, because of how much cheaper the other breeds can be, this breed is considered to be almost endangered because of its rarity, which is quite a shame considering how beautiful it looks to say the least.

Just look at this horse’s gold champagne color and you can immediately see why this breed often times ends up winning shows just by showing up.

Due to their beautiful looks and their gentle nature, even though they were mostly used to pull stuff during the Great Depression, they are now mostly considered to be show animals and are almost endangered because of how little interest there is in them right now.

7. Australian Draught Horse

Australian draught Horse
Australian draught Horse / suffolkpunchaustralia.com

You are looking at the culmination of horse breeding right here, this is by far one of the most mixed horse breeds you will ever find, which is interesting to say the least, as even to this day nobody knows every gene that was put into this horse to make it as it is today.

We do know however that the Clydesdales, the Shires, the Suffolk Punches and the Percherons were definitely used to make the strange yet beautiful concoction that is the Australian Draught Horse.

The best part about the Australian Draught Horse is definitely the fact that this breed first made its way on the open market way back in the day, and yet even to this day it is considered to be one of the most popular horse breeds in all of Australia.

In fact, it is quite famous here and even all across the world there are plenty of buyers that are interested in getting their hands on a beautiful Australian Draught Horse.

The best part about this breed is definitely its general size as you’re looking at a relatively massive 16.2 to 17.2 hands high horse that also weighs almost 1,900 pounds after reaching adulthood.

They are also very strong creatures capable of pulling objects many times heavier than their own weight which makes them perfect for both industrial and agricultural work alike.

6. Dutch Draft Horse

Dutch Draft Horse
Dutch Draft Horse

Despite being a relatively newcomer in this world, the Dutch Draft Horse has still managed to make its way on our list by being one of the absolute most stunning looking horse breeds in the world right now.

The first specimen was created during World War 1, after the Ardennes and Belgian Draft horses were bred together, giving birth to what could be the greatest Dutch achievement of all time. This is a very heavy horse breed right here, one so heavy that it can easily pull or do any sort of farm work regardless of how heavy the job can really get.

Sadly though, it only really started to pick up a bit of a reputation after World War II, and that was mostly due to the rarity of the breed as less and less of them were bred at the time leading to them almost becoming endangered in a matter of years.

Even so, this breed is by far one of the strongest in the world, as it can be seen on the first place quite a lot during horse-drawn plowing events due to its sheer size and strength alone.

Sitting tall at almost 17 hands high, this breed is definitely not one you’d want to mess with, but luckily it is also very easy to train and once you get it to listen to you, you will have in your possession one of the best labor horses in the world right now.

5. Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch horse
Suffolk Punch horse / suffolkpunchaustralia.com

This is yet another very tall horse breed that can grow as large as 16.1 to 17.2 hands high and it can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds in some cases.

The Suffolk Punch is actually very popular nowadays for farm work and especially so for forestry jobs that not a lot of other horse breeds can handle.

Due to their general size and their popularity right now, this breed has actually been used a lot in advertising as well which we can’t really blame them on considering just how stunning these horses really look.

4. Belgian Draft Horse

Belgian Draft horse
Ben – Belgian Draft Horse Stallion / facebook.com

Yet another relative newcomer right here, the Belgian Draft horse was actually first brought about during World War II and the strange part about it is definitely its constitution as it immediately stands out from the rest by being taller and yet also way lighter than most other draft horse breeds on this list.

Even though it is nowhere near as successful at carrying huge loads, it can still be considered a heavy horse due to the fact that if you couple them up, multiple Belgian Drafts can definitely pull their weight when helping you around the place.

In fact, there was even a recorded case of two Belgian Drafts being able to pull as much as 17,000 pounds at one point, which is quite an impressive feat coming from a 16.5 hands high horse.

3. Percheron Horse

Percheron Horse
Percheron Horse / Photo by Dominique VERNIER / stock.adobe.com

You may know of this breed as the Percheron Horse breed or better yet you may know it as the colossal horse that was first created in France in a region known as Perche, which is where it got its name from too.

This is a very large horse breed, as you can tell from its nickname already by now. In fact, it may still be considered to be one of the largest horse breeds in the world, with the largest specimens growing as tall as 19 hands high if taken care of properly.

We know that they first came about from France but we have absolutely no idea how they came into being and more specifically we have no idea when they were even introduced into the market.

There are some documents that may indicate that this breed dates back to 496 AD although this is all just speculations and hearsay as far as we can tell.

But regardless, this horse breed is definitely one of the oldest in France and due to its size, back in the 19th century it was considered to be a famous coach horse breed.

Even though this profession is no longer found nowadays, the horse breed is still very popular for horse shows, parades and even just driving around due to its massive size and the strength that the typical Percheron Horse possesses.

2. Clydesdale Horse

Clydesdale Horse
Clydesdale Horse / horses.lovetoknow.com

Commonly mistaken to the Shire Horse, this may not be the largest horse breed on this list but it can still grow as tall as 18 hands in some cases, and while most of these horses stand at around 1,800 pounds, there will be the occasional 2,000-pound specimen on the side that you can get.

Even if they may not be as massive or as strong as some of the other horse breeds on this list though, you are still looking at a very beautiful, energetic and gentle giant, that can make any farmhouse ten times better by just galloping around aimlessly around the courtyard.

1. Shire Horse

Shire Horse
Shire Horse / Photo by Webwebwebber / pixabay.com

You are looking at the current largest horse breed in the world, as the Shire can literally make even the tallest breeds out there look like dwarfs by comparison.

This is a 17 to 19 hands tall horse that can weigh as much as 2,400 pounds, which is no pushover feat to say the least. These are the absolute best horses for farming or industrial work and as such they are very popular on the open market.

They’re used for practically any labor work out there, and even though a lot of the farms out there are mechanized to the teeth, the Shire Horse still remains one of the best large horse breeds you could get your hands on and that’s a fact.

Interesting Facts about the Largest Horse Breeds

  • The largest recorded horse in the world, in weight and height, was a horse named Sampson. Sampson was a Shire born in 1864. He was born in Bedfordshire, England, and bred by Thomas Cleaver. When he was fully grown, he stood 21.2 ½ hands tall and weighed 1,524 kg (3,359 lb).
  • Big Jake is another record-breaking horse. He was born in 2001, in Nebraska, U.S.A. When he was born, he weighed 240 lbs. Big Jake is 20.3 hands tall and weighs 2,600 lbs (1,133 kg). Big Jake is a Belgian Draft.
  • The Budweiser Clydesdales are the most famous large horses in the world.
  • It was reported that a pair of Shires in the 1920s pulled a load weighing 45-tons.
  • Only around 240 Shire foals are born each year.
  • The Percheron has one of the most detailed historical records of the large horse breeds.
  • There are only around 150 Suffolk Punch horses left in the U.K. and 1,200 in the United States.


So, what did we learn today? We essentially just reemphasized the fact that horses are not all cuddly and small, some of them can actually tower over us and if they wanted to they could easily hurt us but they very rarely do so on purpose.

This is because no matter how giant the horse may be, it is still a very gentle creature that is ready to help make your life easier no matter how hard its own life gets. This is why we love horses and we hope that you remembered to pet them today too, as we definitely didn’t.

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About Alex Verwest

Alex is an equestrian consultant who has co-founded several successful start-up companies and worked with various international equestrian businesses. Using his experience and connections in this field, he loves to introduce readers to many outstanding small equestrian brands, sharing stories about equestrian lifestyle and trends. Learn more about Seriously Equestrian's Editorial Process.