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10 Strongest Horse Breeds in the World (with Pictures)

Oliver Jones

Horses have been an integral part of the progress of our society for thousands of years, from cart-pulling and transportation to farming and agriculture. This has led to the development and breeding of truly powerful horse breeds. When it comes to power and strength, draft horses, or “cold-blooded” horses, are the first that come to mind, with their unique combination of strength, stamina, and endurance.

Although the need for strong horse breeds has steadily declined over the past few decades due to the development of machinery and vehicles, draft horses are still widely employed today for farm work, carriage pulling, and transport. In this article, we take a look at the 10 strongest horse breeds in the world.

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1. American Cream Draft

American Cream Draft Horse
Image Credit: Just chaos, Wikimedia Commons
  • Height: 15-16.3 hands
  • Weight: 1,600-2,000 pounds

The American Cream Draft is the only draft horse breed developed in the United States that still exists today. They are a fairly new and rare breed, first developed in Iowa in the early 1900s. As their name suggests, they are typically cream in color, with amber eyes and a calm and friendly disposition. They are medium-sized horses that are still widely used for farm work, trail riding, carriage driving, and even show jumping.


2. Ardennes

Beautiful,Ardennes,Horses,Roaming,Field,In,Summer,,France
Image Credit: Kevin Carvalho, Shutterstock
  • Height: 15.3-16 hands
  • Weight: 1,500-2,200 pounds

The Ardennes horse originated in the Ardennes region of Belgium, Luxembourg, and France and is one of the oldest draft breeds in existence. They are heavy-boned, muscular horses with characteristically thick, feathered legs. They are known for being as gentle and friendly as they are strong. The breed has a history of being used as a warhorse before becoming popular as an agricultural animal, prized for their strength, hardiness, stamina, and easygoing demeanor.


3. Belgian Draft

Belgian Draft Horse
Image Credit: dendoktoor, Pixabay
  • Height: 16.2-18 hands
  • Weight: 1,800-2000 pounds

Originally from the Brabant region of Belgium, the Belgian Draft is a muscular, powerful, and heavy horse that is often referenced as one of the strongest horse breeds on the planet. They are typically a light chestnut, with a flaxen (lighter color than the body) mane and tail, making for a strikingly beautiful horse. They have relatively small and well-shaped heads, with arched necks and strong backs. They are still used today as working animals and are also popular show horses and pleasure riding horses.


4. Clydesdale

Clydesdale horse
Image Credit: Bonnie U. Gruenberg, Wikimedia Commons
  • Height: 17-18 hands
  • Weight: 1,800-2000 pounds

Originating in the Clydesdale valley in Lanarkshire, Scotland, the Clydesdale is a heavy and immensely powerful horse, although not as much as they were in the past. They are well-muscled horses, with an arched back, a broad forehead, and wide muzzle, and they are usually bay in color. They were originally used in agriculture and hauling work — mostly for hauling coal — and are still in use for farming, logging, and driving, as well as show riding and pleasure riding.


5. Dutch Draft

braided dutch draft horse
Image Credit: navatu, Shutterstock
  • Height: 15-17 hands
  • Weight: 1,500-1,800 pounds

The Dutch Draft horse originated in Holland after the first World War and was bred and developed for heavy farm work. These horses are massively built, muscular, and powerful animals with tons of stamina and a gentle and calm temperament. Their defining characteristic (besides their muscular frame) is their heavily feathered legs, making them a beautiful horse popular among recreational riders and show riders alike.


6. Friesian

Friesian
Image Credit: B0rder, Wikimedia Commons
  • Height: 14-17 hands
  • Weight: 1,200-1,400 pounds

Originating in the Netherlands, the Friesian is a comparatively small horse in terms of draft breeds. They were originally bred as agricultural animals, but with the advent of farm machinery, they adapted more toward dressage and pulling ceremonial carriages, as well as pleasure riding. They are a highly popular recreational horse, and an estimated 70% of horses in the Netherlands are Friesians. They typically have a striking black coat, leading them to sometimes be referred to as “Belgian Blacks.”


7. Percheron

Percheron horse
Image Credit: StratoArt, Pixabay
  • Height: 15-19 hands
  • Weight: 1,800-2,600 pounds

The Percheron originated in France and is a well-muscled, powerful horse well-known for their intelligence and ease of trainability. They were initially used as warhorses before becoming popular agricultural horses, and in the mid to late 1800s, they were one of the most popular draft breeds in the United States. The Percheron is still one of the most popular and well-known French draft breeds today and can be found being used in just about any discipline.


8. Shire

Shire Horse
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay
  • Height: 16-18 hands
  • Weight: 1,800-2,400 pounds

Native to England, the Shire is one of the oldest known draft breeds, dating back to the 16th century. They were once a common warhorse breed but have since become most well known for their ability in agricultural and driving work. They are typically black, bay, or grey and have previously held records for being both the tallest and largest horse in the world. Today, they are commonly used in more varying disciplines, including dressage and eventing.


9. Suffolk

Suffolk Punch horse trotting up
Image Credit: nigel baker photography, Shutterstock
  • Height: 16-17 hands
  • Weight: 1,900-2,200 pounds

Also commonly known as the Suffolk Punch, the Suffolk horse is one of the heaviest draft breeds originating in England. They are always chestnut in color. While they are typically shorter than most other draft breeds, they are massively built, having been bred largely for agricultural work. The breed is revered for their early maturation, being long-lived, their excellent work ethic, and the fact that they don’t eat as much as other draft breeds, making them highly economical to keep.


10. South German Coldblood

South German Coldblood_Shutterstock_Majonit
Image Credit: Majonit, Shutterstock
  • Height: 16-17 hands
  • Weight: 1,000-1,500 pounds

Originating in southern Germany, the South German Coldblood, or “Suddeutsches Kaltblut,” is a relatively small yet powerful draft breed. They are one of the few horse breeds in the world that display leopard spotting and are hardy, good-natured horses that have tons of stamina and a valued willingness to work. They are sometimes used in agricultural work, but their primary use is as show animals and carriage horses.

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Featured Image: Nicole Ciscato, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.