A-z - Animals

13 Largest Horses In The World

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  • The Shire breed has the largest horses in the world. They were originally bred to pull heavy carts on farms, breweries, and coal mines, and are still used today on historic farms.
  • Clydesdales are native to Scotland and are the second largest horse breed. They are named after the Scottish soldiers who rode them into battle along the River Clyde. They're made famous in classic Budweiser commercials, and they're often seen in modern day parades as well.
  • Experts believe that the Comtois horse was bred as early as the 1st century AD, but there are definitive records of it breeding in the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland in the 4th century.

The largest horse ever built was a Sampson from the Shire breed. He weighed a staggering 3,359 pounds when measured in 1859 and was over 22 hands tall. As of 2021, the tallest horse in existence is Big Jack, standing over 22 hands tall. Big Jack is Belgian and weighs 2,260 pounds. His owners had to constantly put him on a diet so his joints could bear his weight. Add animals to this list based on height and weight. Learning more about these gigantic animals, especially their height and weight, is a fun activity.

#13 Largest Horse: Russian Heavy – 58 inches tall and 1,420 pounds

The Russian Pound has very short legs compared to many other breeds that are designed to provide better traction. Equestrian athletes bred the breed in Russia around 1952, and they can still be seen pulling wagons in the countryside.

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This breed weighs about 1,420 lbs. It stands approximately 58 inches tall. Strawberry, Laurel, and Maroon are standard colors.

Biggest horse Russia weighs
The Russian Heavy has short legs but a large body.

© arthorse/Shutterstock.com

#12 Largest Horse: Vladimir’s Harness – 58 inches tall and 1,580 pounds

The Vladimir Draft Horse was recognized as a breed in 1946. Breeders developed the breed to pull their Vladimir trokia sleds in the snow. These animals usually have four feathered white feet. Although most common in bays, you can find this animal in a variety of colors. They still often work in threes, pulling sleds for Russian tourists.

Vladimir's draft horse stands 58 inches tall and weighs approximately 1,580 pounds. They usually have Roman noses. The back end is usually short and very powerful. Their tails are higher than those of many draft animals.

Largest horse: Vladimir's draft horse
Vladimir's draft horse has a distinctive Roman nose.

©Makarova Viktoria/Shutterstock.com

#11 Largest Horse: Dutch Draft – 62 inches tall and 1,500 lbs

Shortly after World War I, Dutch breeders bred the Dutch Draft Horse from local stallions. This cold-blooded horse moves exceptionally well for its size. These animals can be fawn, black, gray or chestnut. While their original purpose was to aid in logging and farming, these days they are mostly found at shows.

A Dutch draft horse is about 62 inches tall and weighs about 1,500 pounds.

Biggest Horse: Dutch Draft
The Dutch draft is known as a cold-blooded horse.

© Serhii Milekhin/Shutterstock.com

#10 Largest Horse: Comtois Horse – 60 inches tall and 1,580 lbs

Bred in the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland, the Comtois horse has extremely muscular hindquarters. They also have slight feathering around their short legs. They can be any color, most with a silver tinge.

Experts believe the breed may have been bred in other parts of France since the first century. Breeding of the Jura began in the fourth century AD. The animals stood about 60 inches tall and weighed about 1,580 pounds.

Largest Horse: Comtois Horse
The Comtois horse originated in the 1st century AD.

©Luka Dakskobler/Shutterstock.com

#9 Largest Horse: American Cream – 62 inches tall and 1,800 lbs

If you could travel back to Iowa in the 1850s, you might have seen a farmer auction off a cream-colored livestock called an Old Granny in Melbourne. She is the base mare for all American cream horses. The breed is the only cold-blooded breed bred in the United States. All animals of this breed are solid cream or palomino in color.

American Cream stands approximately 62 inches tall. Typically, mares weigh between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds, while stallions weigh between 1,900 and 2,000 pounds.

Biggest Horse: American Cream
American cream originated in Iowa.

© Nancy Kennedy/Shutterstock.com

#8 Largest Horse: Irish Horse – 64 inches tall and 1,400 pounds

Developed in Ireland in the 18th century, the Irish draft is strong enough to work on a farm and flexible enough to be a great riding animal. These animals come in a variety of colors, although gray and sorrel are the most common. Excessive white above the knees is to be penalized.

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This breed typically lives to be over 30 years old, standing around 64 inches tall and weighing over 1,400 pounds.

Largest Horse: Irish Horse
Irish Draft is as much for farmers as it is for horseback riding.

©Bartkowski/Shutterstock.com

#7 Largest Horse: Boulonnais – 64 inches tall and 1,320 pounds

The Boulonnais, also known as the white marble horse, was bred in France. Soldiers originally bred at least three varieties of the animal before the Crusades, and the current Boulonnais derives its size and weight from those last bred to aid in farming. This animal has a great temperament and is suited to many different things.

Boulonnais is about 64 inches tall and weighs about 1,320 pounds.

Largest Horse: Boulonnais
The Boulonnais has the best temperament of any large horse breed.

©Bildagentur Zonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com

#6 Largest Horse: Suffolk – 66 inches tall and 1,800 pounds

The Suffolk horse was developed specifically for farm work by farmers in Suffolk and Norfolk, England. All Suffolk bloodlines can be traced back to Crisp's Erford horse born in 1768.

These animals are chestnuts. They stand about 66 inches tall and are more rounded than larger draft animals. They weigh approximately 1,800 lbs. They have very powerful hind legs.

Largest Horse: Suffolk
The Suffolk has powerful hind legs.

©iStock.com/nigelb10

#5 Largest Horse: Belgian – 67 inches tall and 1,763 pounds

The first Belgian draft horse bred by breeders was the Brabant from Belgium. Most Belgians in the United States are lighter than those found in Belgium and surrounding countries. While most Belgian cats in the United States are sorrel with a yellowish mane and tail, other colors are equally acceptable in the United States and overseas. These animals are often used in heavyweight rallies because they are the strongest draft horses.

Big Jack is a Belgian draft horse. Another large draft horse is Brooklyn Supreme, which stands at 78 inches and weighs 3,200 pounds.

Biggest Horse: Belgian
The Belgian is one of the strongest draft picks in the world.

©Olesya Nickolaeva/Shutterstock.com

#4 Largest Horse: Australian Draft Horse – 68 inches tall and 1,980 lbs

Around 1850, as activities shifted from exploration to agriculture, the Australian draft horse was developed by farmers who needed a faster alternative to the bull. These horses come in various colors. The legs are feathered. Breeders view excessive white markings as a fault due to the harsh weather in Australia.

It was not until 1978 that a registration process for the Australian draft horse was developed. The horses are about 68 inches tall and weigh about 1,980 pounds.

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Largest Horse: Australian Draft Horse
The Australian draft can withstand harsh weather conditions.

© iStock.com/lonewolfshome

#3 Largest Horse: Percheron – 68 inches tall and 2,200 lbs

Percherons were originally developed by farmers in the Perche department in the Normandy region of France. American horses of this breed are usually a little taller than French horses. The French government is still actively breeding the horse, and they often cross it with lighter breeds to create dressage horses.

In France, all registered Percherons must be gray. In other countries like the US, you can find Percherons in any color. These horses are usually about 68 inches tall and weigh 2,200 pounds. Dr. LeGear is one of the tallest Percherons ever built. These stallions stand 21 hands tall and weigh 2,995 pounds.

Largest Horse: Percheron
Percheron is actively bred by the French government.

© slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

#2 Largest Horse: Clydesdales – 68 inches tall and 1,907 pounds

Clydesdales, arguably best known for appearing in Budweiser commercials, originally hail from Scotland. Soldiers in heavy armor rode them into battle along the River Clyde. You may often see them in parades, and people often fall in love with them for their leg feathers and high gait.

You can find Clydesdales in a variety of colors. Breeders regard white around the feet and face as desirable traits. The horses weigh approximately 1,907 pounds and stand approximately 68 inches tall. King Lear is one of the largest Clydesdale families ever. He is 82 inches tall and weighs 2,950 pounds.

Largest Horse: Clydesdales
Clydesdales are often seen in parades.

©Olesya Nickolaeva/Shutterstock.com

#1 Largest Horse: Shire – 68 inches tall and 2,200 pounds

Sampson is a county and this English breed is known for producing huge horses. Shire's average height is 68 inches and he weighs 2,200 pounds. Originally bred to pull heavy carts on farms, breweries, and coal mines, the Shire is still used on living history farms.

They are usually black, laurel, gray or brown, but can be any color except sorrel. Although a little white markings on the face or forelegs is not a fault, too much white is undesirable. They have feathers around their legs.

Interestingly, European Gypsies bred Shires with Clydesdales (the second largest breed), Dale ponies, and Fell ponies in search of the perfect workhorse that was strong but manageable. The result of this crossing was the Gypsy Van Namar.

Biggest Horse: Shire
Shires were originally bred for pulling heavy carts on farms.

© Marina Kondratenko/Shutterstock.com

There are so many huge horses in the world, you'll want to take the time to learn about them all. Some of these horses are taller and some are heavier. When the world turned to working with machines, many breeds nearly went extinct, but determined breeders around the world worked hard to preserve them. As a result, most have made incredible comebacks.

The world's largest and smallest horses

Now that we've taken a closer look at the world's largest horses, you might be wondering which one is the smallest. Here is a list of the 8 smallest horses on earth:

  1. Peabody – 16.5 inches
  2. Falabella – 34 inches
  3. Under the pot – 40 inches
  4. Shetland pony – 46 inches
  5. Yonaguni–47 inches
  6. Noma–55 inches
  7. Icelandic Horse – 56 inches
  8. Fjord Horse – 60 inches

Summary of the 13 largest horses in the world

Here is an overview of the 13 largest horses living on Earth:

rank horse size
1 Shire 68 inches tall and 2,200 lbs
2 clydesdale 68 inches tall and 1,907 lbs
3 persron 68 inches tall and 2,200 lbs
4 australian draft 68 inches tall and 1,980 lbs
5 Belgian 67 inches tall and 1,763 lbs
6 suffolk 66 inches tall and 1,800 lbs
7 Brunet 64 inches tall and 1,320 lbs
8 ireland draft 64 inches tall and 1,400 lbs
9 american cream 62 inches tall and 1,800 lbs
10 Comtois 60 inches tall and 1,580 lbs
11 dutch draft 62 inches tall and 1,500 lbs
12 draft wladimir 58 inches tall and 1,580 lbs
13 Russian heavy 58 inches tall and 1,420 lbs

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about the author

heather hall


I'm a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by nature. When I do my daily runs, I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I have two dogs that take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the Difference Between a Sharma and a Clydesdale Horse?

The secret to distinguishing these gigantic workhorses from one another is their coat markings. The Clydesdale has distinct white markings all over the body with white hairs scattered throughout the coat. Sharmas are mostly one solid color with white markings on the legs and face. However, this is not the only difference between Sharmas and Clydesdales.

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source
  1. Livestock Conservancy, available here: https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/suffolk
  2. GlobeTrotting, available here: https://www.globetrotting.com.au/horse-breed-dutch-draft/
  3. Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Heavy_Draft