Difference Between Clydesdale and Shire

Clydesdale vs Shire

Clydesdale and Shire are two breeds of draft horses originated in two European countries. They look much similar, but the differences between them are not difficult to understand. One should be aware of their physical characteristic to identify correctly a Clydesdale from a Shire. This article discusses their characteristics, and emphasizes the differences between these two working horse breeds.


Clydesdale is a draft horse that originated in Clydesdale, Scotland in the 19th century. In fact, the breed is a result of the crossbreeding between imported Flemish stallions with local females of Clydesdale. In addition, they were originally used in agricultural purposes. Usually, Clydesdales are about 162 to 183 centimetres tall at the withers, and their average weight range is from 820 to 910 kilograms. Often, they are bay coloured, and have Sabino patterned white markings, but they are available in some other colours also, including roan, black, grey, and chestnut. The facial profile is important to notice as it is straight with a slight convex nature, and their forehead is broad and the muzzle is wide. Clydesdale horse has very strong and muscular shoulders with an arched neck. There is heavy feathering in lower parts of each leg. Breeders usually dock the tails of these horses. Their gait is very active, and they lift their hooves well while moving, and those are fine indications about the strength of Clydesdales.


Shire is a draft horse that originated in England. Shire horses are very strong animals, and they have been in use to pull carts, originally bred to pull carts in delivering breweries. They are available in different colourations including black, bay, and gray. However, there are not many white markings in their coat pattern. The coat of fur is smooth and silky, but they have less feathering on the legs. It is a tall breed with 163 to 185 centimetres of height at the withers, and the recorded top weight of a Shire is 1,500 kilograms. Their characteristic head is lean and long with large eyes. They have a long and arched neck with a wide chest and broad shoulders. They are powerful horses with a muscular back and long hindquarters. Their tail is long and usually not docked. They bear an importance as one of them being the tallest ever among all the horses, in 1850, with over 218 centimetres at the withers.

What is the difference between Clydesdale and Shire?

· Shires originated in England, but Clydesdales in Clydesdale, Scotland.

· Shires are heavier and taller compared to Clydesdales.

· Clydesdales have many white markings on their coat, but those are very few in Shires. In addition, Clydesdales are available in more colours than Shires.

· Clydesdales have docked tails, but Shires are not docked.

· Clydesdales have a wide face and muzzle, whereas Shires have a lean and long face.

· Clydesdales have more feathering in the lower legs than in Shires.