15 Popular Draft Horse Breeds

draft horse breeds
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Draft horses are some of the largest and most powerful breeds, known for their strength and stamina when pulling loads of people and cargo from one place to another.

Also called workhorses or heavy horses, the draft horse creatures were essential to many civilizations throughout history, whether pulling carriages or plows in the fields.

Here are 15 famous draft horse breeds you’ll fall in love with!

1. Shire Horse

The Shire horse is a draft Horse Breeds that originated from the shires of England. It is the tallest and heaviest draft horse, with males weighing up to 2,000 pounds and females at 1,600 pounds.

The most notable characteristic of this breed is its long mane. These Draft Horse Breeds are generally gentle, slow-moving horses used to pull heavy loads for centuries. 

While they were bred mainly as farm animals, they excelled in many other jobs, such as logging or hauling firewood.

However, as mechanization became more prevalent on farms, the number of these animals declined drastically until conservation efforts began over 30 years ago.

As a result, only about 3,000 purebreds exist worldwide, but numbers continue to grow thanks to breeding programs and even some new imports from abroad.

2. Suffolk Punch

The Suffolk Punch is an English draft horse bred for agricultural work. The draft horse breeds are medium-sized horses with a strong build and short, muscular legs. These horses are known for their intelligence and ability to work hard. 

The Suffolk Punch is one of the most popular Draft Horse Breeds because they are powerful and reliable on farms and shows.

They were originally bred from the Flemish Horse, which had been developed from the large Spanish breed by Dutch traders who set up bases on the coast of England.

These ponies were eventually crossed with other breeds, such as the Thoroughbred, resulting in a larger animal than the original Flemish ponies.

3. Clydesdale

The Clydesdale is a breed of draft horse. These Draft Horse Breeds are tall, gentle giants weighing up to 2200 pounds.

They were originally bred to work in coal mines, but now they are used primarily for show and pleasure riding.

Clydesdales have a natural gait called the pacers gait, which helps them move at a medium speed while working.

4. Irish Draught

Originally bred to do agricultural work, the Irish Draught is an all-purpose draft horse. They are known for their hardiness and can thrive in various environments.

In addition, the breed is known for its docile temperament and ability to carry a large load over long distances. 

These Draft Horse Breeds are often used by farmers, who find them useful for pulling things like plows and carts.

The Irish Draught prefers a pasture with plenty of grass or hay to eat, but they also do well with a grain or hay pellets diet. 

The Irish Draught grows up to 16 hands high (or 4 feet 6 inches) at the withers, which is taller than most ponies.

5. Dutch Draft

Dutch draft horses are considered to be the largest of the draft breeds. These Draft Horse Breeds are well-muscled, compact, and have a docile temperament. Dutch drafts are typically used for riding horses and general farm work. 

Dutch farmers originally bred Dutch drafts in the middle of the 19th century and later exported them to North America.

These Draft Horse Breeds are known for their intelligence, strong work ethic, and calm demeanor. Dutch drafts come in all colors but black, bay, chestnut, roan, or sorrel dominate colorings. 

They usually stand from 16-17 hands high at the withers and weigh 1,600 pounds on average for males and 1350 pounds for females.

6. Friesian

Friesians are large, powerful draft horses, typically standing between 16.2 and 17.2 hands high, with thick necks and broad chests.

These Draft Horse Breeds are known for their uniformity of size and style and the dark brown or black color of their coats. They are the tallest horse breeds but do not have the largest heads or necks. 

Friesians are often seen pulling carriages at weddings and other formal occasions because they have an elegant appearance that makes them seem almost like majestic creatures from another world.

However, 18th-century Dutch landowners originally bred Friesians to pull carriages for upper-class families.

7. Ardennes

The Ardennes is a Draft Horse Breeds from the Ardennes region of Belgium. It has been used as a work animal and later as a military horse. The Ardennes is popular for its versatility, intelligence, manageability, and strength. 

The coat of an Ardennes can range from dark brown to bay with a black mane and tail. The draft horse is typically 15.2 to 16 hands tall at the withers and weighs between 1,400 to 2,000 pounds.

The horses have a calm temperament and make excellent riding horses as well.

8. Jutland Horse

Jutland is a noble and distinguished-looking draft horse with a docile temperament. It stands 16.2 to 18 hands high and weighs 1,600 to 2,400 pounds. Jutland is mostly bay or chestnut but can be any color except grays and roans. 

These Draft Horse Breeds are an old draft horse breed that has been around since the 15th century when they were used as working horses in Denmark’s marshes due to their ability to swim through the deep water easily without getting tired.

Jutland is noted for being very intelligent, willing workers who are not difficult to train and get along well with other animals and humans.

9. South German Coldblood

The South German Coldblood is a draft horse originating in the southeastern part of Germany. These Draft Horse Breeds are often called cold blood because they can tolerate some cold temperatures.

The horses are generally found with a dark coat, though there have been instances where they appear brown or gray. These horses are often used for agricultural purposes.

10. Percheron

The Percheron is the largest of the draft horse breeds and is known for its smooth and easy gait. They were originally bred to be saddle horses, but many have been used as harness horses because of their gentle nature and long stride.

The Percheron originated in France and was imported to North America around 1830. The Percheron is a large draft horse that can weigh anywhere between 1800lbs-3000lbs.

11. Belgian

Belgian Draft Horse Breeds are known for their heavy build, long head and neck, large nostrils, and strong jaw. They’re also well-known for their endurance and power in pulling.

Belgian horses have been used to pull carriages, artillery pieces, buses, carts, and other heavy loads. 

The breed originated from the Flanders region of Belgium. Belgian horses can vary greatly in height and weight depending on the use they’re put to: some are as short as 16 hands, while others can reach up to 18 hands tall.

Some Belgian draft horse breeds have a height of around five feet, ranging from 1,600 to 2,000 pounds. 

Other strains may be around six feet tall, with weights ranging up to 3 tons!

12. North Swedish Horse

The North Swedish Draft Horse Breeds is a strong, heavy horse with good stamina. This breed originated from Sweden and is one of the most popular breeds.

They are known for their calm and gentle temperaments, which make them excellent mounts for children, but they also have great power and agility when needed. 

These Draft Horse Breeds are often used as carthorse and draught horses. The North Swedish draft horses are mostly found in Sweden today, but some live outside of the country as well.

13. Fjord Horse

The Fjord draft horse is a large, muscular horse that can look like it has a light hair coat. It can also come in dark brown or black.

These Draft Horse Breeds are found mostly in Norway and Sweden and were used as war horses by the Vikings. 

The Fjord draft horse is one of the oldest known breeds of horses, and they are now mainly used for riding, pulling wagons, and farm work. These gentle giants are quite easy to train. 

Fjord Horses have also been crossed with Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds to produce horses such as the Oldenburg, Norwegian Dovre, Gotland Pony, North Swedish Horse (Nokkelen), and Gotland Ponies (Gutbrund).

14. Russian Heavy Draft

The Russian Heavy Draft Horse is a large horse bred for heavy work. It was developed in the 19th century and is still used as a working horse. The horses have an average height of 17 hands, ranging from 1,000 to 1,800 pounds. 

These Draft Horse Breeds have short coats in bay, chestnut, brown or black colors. These Draft Horse Breeds are docile and easy to train but can sometimes be stubborn.

If you’re looking for a new draft horse breed to call your own, it may be worth researching this one!

15. American Cream Draft

The American Cream Draft is a Draft Horse Breeds that the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy does not recognize.

It has a very heavy coat and may be any color. Its head is round, with a short neck, sloping shoulders, and well-defined muscles. 

The breed’s average height is 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm) but can vary between 15.2-17 hands (60-68 inches, 152-173 cm).

The developed American Cream Draft was from horses imported from Europe to New England during the 17th and 18th centuries, with some draft horse types being bred and imported to develop this new breed. 

The first known breeder of these animals was Amos Parrish of East Millinocket, Maine, in 1909.


We hope you enjoyed learning about some of the most famous draft horse breeds! Have you seen these horses before? Were they working at your local fair or event? What have you heard about these breeds?

We want to hear from you! Comment below and share your thoughts with us. Is there a certain Draft Horse Breeds that you find particularly fascinating?

Maybe there’s a story behind the name of your favorite one, too! Tell us all about it in the comment box below.

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