Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Horses > Percheron Horse: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Percheron Horse: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Percheron horse

Percheron horses are strong draft horses initially bred to be used in war times. They originated in France but are very popular in America today. Their strength, grace, and pride still show today, and they can often be seen pulling carriages and working on small farms.

The Percheron is known for their strong, muscular legs and body, long, graceful neck, black or gray coat, and flowing mane and tail. It’s admired by equine enthusiasts and respected by logging farmers. Percherons are an exquisite, versatile breed perfect for beginner riders, dressage, and draft work.

Breed Overview

Care Level Advanced
Temperature Intolerant of high temps. Most comfortable in 18°–59°F
Temperament Easy-going, gentle, docile, tolerant, proud, alert
Colors Gray, black
Lifespan 25–30 years
Weight 1900–2100 pounds
Height 64-68 inches

The Percheron is admired for its strength and versatility and is said to have descended from war horses ridden by knights in Medieval times. However, their history remains a mystery. This versatile breed is loved for its skills as a draft horse. They are adored by experienced and beginner riders, and their large size and friendly nature make them popular among breeders.

Percheron Horse Characteristics



What Are The Percheron Horses Used For?

Percheron horses are an incredibly versatile horse breed. They once carried knights into battle, but today, the same characteristics that made them battle horses make them ideal draft horses. They are often seen pulling carriages and are popular on farms.
Because they are sure-footed and high-spirited, they are mesmerizing in the dressage ring. The Percheron horse will impress riders who prefer larger, more confident horses. They can be ridden with English or Western saddles and are the ideal confidence builder for any new or apprehensive rider.

black percheron draught horse
Image by: Annabell Gsoedl, Shutterstock

Where Did The Percheron Horse Originate From?

The Percheron horse originated in France and is one of the oldest breeds in Europe. However, little is known about their history. Some historians suggest they are a mix of Barb and Arab warhorses from Normandy, while others believe that the Percheron is a descendant of the Boulonnais horse.
For centuries after being introduced to Europe, they were used on farms for pulling heavy machinery and carriages before cars appeared. In the 19th century, the Percheron was brought to North America, where they became instrumental as workhorses in the agricultural field.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Percheron Horse

Percherons are known for their docile, gentle, and easy-going nature, which makes them great for novice riders. However, a mounting block may be needed to get a leg up. They are a tolerant and versatile breed that is ideal for owners just learning the ropes.
They are easy to care for and can adapt to various conditions and climates. The Percheron doesn’t scare easily, and they are a proud and alert breed, which makes them great for parades or public venues. They have admirable stamina and a hard work ethic that farmers respect, making them highly valuable for farm work.

Image by: Annabell Gsoedl, Shutterstock 

Appearance & Varieties

Percherons are bred in several colors: gray, black, sorrel, roan, and chestnut. In the United States, they are often bred to be bay, chestnut, black, or gray, but in Europe, they are mostly black and gray. Percherons produced in France are usually born black and transition to gray as they get older, and no other color, except for white markings, is accepted in the registry.

Percherons don’t have feathering at the hooves like other draft horses, which makes their legs look more slender. However, they are heavily muscled. They have a broad forehead, upright head profile, small ears, and large eyes. They typically have long manes and tails, with a long, level back and round hips. Overall, the Percheron has a graceful but powerful stance.
horse shoe divider new do not use

Things to Know When Owning a Percheron Horse:

Habitat & Stable Requirements 🌾

The Percheron can adapt to different conditions and climates but require the same type of care as other breeds. They are also a large breed, and they will need adequate space. Their stall must be large enough for them to stand, lie down, and move around comfortably. They will require a large pasture and enjoy the company of other horses.

Food & Diet Requirements 🥕

The Percheron will generally eat more than an average horse because of their larger size and energetic nature. They can easily graze through about 30 pounds of grass and 5 pounds of hay in a day! You will need to ensure your Percheron always has access to pasture grass or hay and vitamin and mineral supplements if necessary.
Your vet can guide you on a suitable diet, portions, and supplements suitable for your Percheron. Six basic nutrient categories must be met when feeding horses: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. It’s common for feed producers to balance the first five nutrients for us, but it’s also crucial to remember water. In a typical 24-hour period, horses can drink between 5 and 15 gallons of water.

Exercise 🐎

The ideal exercise for the Percheron is frequent, calm, and even movements, which horses do when they graze, but occasional bursts of speed are beneficial. When allowed to exercise together in a paddock, healthy horses will voluntarily run around.
A reasonable starting point is 20 minutes of movement per day for horses. More demanding programs for competition conditioning can last up to two hours per day. A 5-minute warm-up should always come first and last.
Percherons are energetic horses that will benefit from regular, gentle exercise. However, this breed might not be a good candidate for rigorous workout regimens. They are more likely to overheat due to their bulky muscles, and respiratory issues might make it difficult for them to breathe while exercising.

Percheron Horse
Image by: Annabell Gsoedl, Shutterstock

Training 🐴

The Percheron has a natural desire to please and is considered relatively easy to train. They are cooperative, tolerant, and willing but can be temperamental sometimes. However, they develop quickly with experienced trainers, and if you are up for the challenge, a beginner can train a Percheron to be a loyal worker and companion.
Percherons are often used and trained for English riding, trail riding, dressage, and jumping, but because of the immense strength of this horse, trainers must be respectful and know when to end the training.

Grooming 🧽

Regular horse grooming is a crucial component of equestrian care. It allows you to get to know your horse better and ensure they are in good condition and prepared for a riding session. Many people try to groom their horses at least once a week, which is usually plenty to keep them happy and healthy.
For Percherons, a good grooming routine is essential. Their coats can become extremely thick and heavy, particularly when they are in a cold region. Also, germs are drawn to the hair on a horse’s legs, which can lead to skin infections and inflammation, so keeping this area clean and dry is crucial.
To care for their hooves, all horses should visit a farrier routinely. Their hooves require trimming every few weeks because they are constantly growing. When cutting the hooves of horses wearing shoes, the shoes should be changed.

Lifespan & Health Conditions 🏥

The lifespan of a Percheron can range between 25 and 30 years, and they are generally a sound and healthy breed. However, like other draft horses, the Percheron may be prone to health issues that owners must be aware of.

Minor Conditions
  • Shivers
  • Mud Fever
  • Sweet itch
Serious Conditions
  • Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSM)
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Laminitis

Most horses require vaccinations and preventative medicines to prevent parasites like intestinal worms. The types of vaccines you need depend on where you live and which diseases are prevalent. Your veterinarian can advise you on the vaccinations your horse needs.


Male vs Female

Some factors can influence the nature and behavior of a horse, whether it is a male or female, but there is no definitive answer as to which sex is the better one. However, seasoned horse riders and enthusiasts may develop a preference as they get to know the majestic animals.
Some horse owners prefer geldings over stallions because they are said to be more even-tempered than stallions, whereas some owners prefer stallions because they are noted to have more personality and zest than female horses. Some horse owners are more drawn to mares because they find them easier to train and more intelligent than stallions or geldings. They are also lighter and smaller, which can be more beneficial for certain tasks.
Generally, geldings are more prevalent than stallions at horse shows and riding competitions. One advantage of stallions in racing is that they are often faster and stronger than mares. Male horses frequently mature more quickly, making them better suited for activities like dressage or showjumping.
Female horses are typically more independent and subdued than stallions. Mares are great riding and training partners for seasoned riders and trainers, and they’re renowned for their beauty and grace in addition to their strength and power. Compared to male horses, female horses are typically more docile and simpler to teach but may be more prone to moodiness.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Percheron Horse

1. There Are More Percherons in the USA Than in Any Other Country.

2. Percherons Are Still Employed in Logging and Farming Today.

3. In 1915, a Percheron Was Considered the Largest Horse in the World.

new horse shoe divider

Final Thoughts

The Percheron draft horse has a reputation as a gentle beast due to its large size and graceful nature. Many people are pleasantly surprised to discover how amiable, tolerable, and gentle these immense horses are. Today, Percherons are mostly employed for carriage pulling, as well as for draft work on farms. They are also frequently used for riding and have a significant presence in dressage. They are prized for their versatility, and despite their large and intimidating size, they are great for beginner riders. The Percheron Horse is ideal if you’re seeking a horse with a rich history, all-around versatility, and a confident, graceful, and gentle nature.

Featured Image Credit: StratoArt, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets