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6 Strongest Horse Breeds in the World

For thousands of years, humans have relied on horses for their incredible strength. This has led to the creation of the strongest horse breeds in the world.

As the demand for a horse that could work fields and pull heavy loads grew, people began to breed for stronger horses. This led to the development of draft breeds, which are known for their incredible size and strength.

The strongest horses are the Belgian, Shire, Suffolk Punch, Ardennes, Percheron, and Percheron. Out of them all, Belgians are considered by most to be the strongest horse breed.

All of the strongest draft horse breeds have been selectively bred over centuries to pull heavy farm equipment and industrial machinery.

Today, some draft horse breeds are still revered for their amazing power, which is often showcased in pulling competitions. To find out more about a horse’s strength, see our guide on how much weight a horse can pull.

Here are the 6 strongest horse breeds in the world:

Belgian

Belgian draft horse, the strongest horse breed
OlesyaNickolaeva / Shutterstock.com

Belgians often stand between 16.2- 18 hands tall and weigh between 1,800-2,000 pounds, though Brabants are usually shorter. American Belgians are often sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail, though, like the Brabant Belgians, they can come in chestnut, black, bay, or roan.

Belgians have powerful, muscular builds, with arched necks, refined heads, and strong backs. The American Belgians have a lighter, leggier and taller build than Brabants.

Originally from the Brabant region of modern Belgium, Belgians got their start as mighty warhorses before making the transition to agricultural work. Today, they are considered by many to be the strongest breed of horse, as they hold many modern pulling records.

Belgians first arrived in America in the 1800s from Brabant, also known as Belgian Heavy Draft. American Belgian horses have been bred to have a lighter, taller build than the heavier, thicker Brabants, which have the classic Belgian style.

Until recently, they were recorded in the same registry before splitting off into two. Today, all Brabant horses are Belgians; however, not all Belgians are Brabants.

Shire

Strong Shire horses pulling a plough in a field
jennyt / Shutterstock.com

A Shire horse stands between 16 to 18 hands tall and weighs between 1,800 to 2,400 pounds. The record for the most weight ever pulled by a horse is held by a Shire, who in 1924 pulled a whopping 58,000 pounds.

The Shire is native to England and is one of the oldest draft breeds. The first mention of the name Shire traces back to the 16th century from King Henry VIII, with the breed becoming official in the 18th century.

Once a common warhorse breed, people began to use Shires for farm work and pulling carts. Shire horses are usually black, bay gray, or brown in color, with a muscular build, slight roman nose, elegantly arching neck, and feathering on their legs.

Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch muscular strong horse breed
nigel baker photography / Shutterstock.com

Suffolk Punches stand between 16-17 hands tall and weigh between 1,600- 2,200 pounds. They are always chestnut in color, ranging from light golden to dark liver.

The Suffolk Punch originated in the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk in England. First bred to be heavy workhorses on farms, their incredible strength and stamina allow them to plow through the English countryside’s tough clay soil.

The Suffolk Punch is one of the oldest horse breed registries, with the first studbook published in 1880. They have short, muscular legs, powerful arching necks, and round, strong bodies, which is ideal for agriculture work and driving, and logging.

Ardennes

Ardennes horse roaming around a field
Kevin Carvalho / Shutterstock.com

The Ardennes horse breed stands between 15.3 to 16 hands tall and weighs between 1,500-2,200 pounds. Ardennes have compact, heavily muscled bodies, with a short back, arched neck, and feathering on their legs. Ardennes are often bay, roan, chestnut, gray, or palomino in color.

Though they are not popular in North America, the Ardennes is one of the oldest and most powerful draft breeds. Native to the French and Belgian Ardennes regions, this sturdy breed has roots as a warhorse before being bred for agriculture, particularly in rough terrain.

The development of these mighty horses traces all the way back to Ancient Rome. Napoleon was a big fan of the breed, using them to invade Russia and even crossing in Arabians to the breed.

Percheron

Percheron horse pulling farm machinery

Percherons horses stand between 15-19 hands tall and weigh between 1,800 to 2,600 pounds. They have a muscular build, with a well-arched neck, fine heads, and supple gaits. Percherons are often gray or black in color but can also be roan, bay, or chestnut.

Originating in the Normandy region of France, Percherons were once mighty warhorses before switching to agricultural work.

Percherons first arrived in America in the mid-1800s and in the early 1900s, they were the most popular draft breed in the US. In addition to agriculture, they have been popular driving horses and even riding horses thanks to their strength and stamina.

Dutch Draft

Dutch Draft horses stand at 15-17 hands tall and weigh around 1,500-1,800 pounds. They have large, muscular builds, compact legs with feathering, and strong, arched necks. Dutch Drafts are bay, chestnut, roan, and sometimes black in color.

Originating in Holland after WWI, the Dutch Draft is bred for heavy farm work, but they are also lovely driving and riding horses. Their strength and stamina allowed them to work long hours plowing through tough clay and sand soils.

Dutch Drafts are from crosses of heavy draft mares from Zeeland with breeds like the Ardennes and Brabant.

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Comments

Diane M Podlogar

Saturday 25th of September 2021

I am in awe of the majestic giants. When I've seen some of them up-close, I am overwhelmed with emotion.

Andy

Sunday 19th of September 2021

This "draft horses used to be war horses" is, I am afraid, a totally debunked myth.

MARILYN MINTER-NEWSON

Friday 9th of July 2021

horses are just the most wonderful creatures on God's earth. along with dogs. I'm so lucky to have had both in my life.

Gloria

Friday 9th of July 2021

Where do the Clydesdales fit into this picture?

Joan Holt

Friday 9th of July 2021

What about the Clydesdales?

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