Compare Shire Horse Vs Clydesdale – What’s the Difference?

Shire horse vs Clydesdale are two breeds of draft horses originated in two European countries.

Both breeds look similar but still have the ultimate differences in some ways. What are those? Our post will provide you with their characteristics to identify them correctly.

Compare Shire Horse Vs Clydesdale

Comparison between Shire Horse Vs Clydesdale


As mentioned before, Shire horse vs Clydesdale are draft horse breeds and are originated in European countries.

Both are strong enough to pull heavy weight and generally kind enough that everyone can safely work with them as well.

Like Clydesdales, Shires have distinctive and long strands of hair below their hocks and knees. High hocks are also found in both breeds and in America, you’re likely to see that they have a longer leg and higher action because of the market’s demand. However, they still differ in many ways.


Shire horses Clydesdale
shire horse How much does a Clydesdale weigh
Origination – England – Clydesdale, Scotland
Lifespan – about 28 years – 20 to 25 years
Average Weight – 1,700 to 2,000+ pounds – 1600 to 2400 pounds
Average Height – 163 to 185 centimeters – 162 to 183 centimeters
Colors – black, bay, and grey are common – bay or brown are popular

– can be black, sorrel, or roan, grey, and chestnut

Markings – has not many white markings in the coat pattern – has many white markings through the coat (white blaze and stockings which extend from hoof to knee)
Temperament – docile, equable, hardworking – alert, active, gentle, responsive
Uses – Ago: heavy loads pulling (up to 45 tons);


+ crossed with hunters and thoroughbreds to create tall, heavy riding/jumping horses.

– Today: normally used for forestry work, leisure riding and promotional work.

– Ago: agricultural purposes (heavy draft, pulling freight wagons or plowing steep, rough hills);

+ crossed with thoroughbreds and quarter horses to produce strong, heavier-boned riding horses.

– Today: normally popular in the in shows and parades and used as fancy carriage horses

Body Type
Body – muscular and powerful – more streamlined with strong and muscular shoulders
Face – lean and longer with large eyes – wide (normally has a white stripe on the face), straight with a slight convex nature, intelligent-looking eyes
Tails – long, not docked – docked
Neck – long, arched, muscular, but refined – long and well-arched, shows more crest
Hindquarters – not quite bulky – bulky
Hooves – fairly massive – larger and round (around five pounds each)
Feather – smooth and silky

– has less feathering on legs

– finer

– has heavy feathering in lower legs

Generally, the Shire horse is bigger than Clydesdale. Clydesdales are slightly smaller, which results in a lighter weight, less stress on their joints, and greater agility.

Clydesdales are also available in more colors than Shires. They have more feathering in the lower legs than those in Shires as well.

In a word, those are the similarity and the difference between clydesdale and shire horses. You may consult them to recognize two breeds when needed.


Lastly, we hope the above comparison between Shire horse vs Clydesdale will help you to identify those two breeds easily, especially when deciding to own one.


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