Shire Horse: The Absolutely Cool Facts About Them!

Some horse breeds share similar features and characteristics. One of those horse breeds is the Shire horse breed. This is a giant, muscular and tall horse just like the Clydesdale horse breed. Shire horses also have large hooves with heavy feathering.

Some magnificent horses of this breed have made records of being the tallest horse breed in the world. However, their calm and docile nature makes them perfect for all types of riders.

Shire Horse Breed Information


History and Origin of the Shire Horse

The origin of the Shire horse lies in England. The history of Shire horse dates back to 1056 when their cold-blooded ancestors were brought to England. These horses helped in the development of the Great English horses of the medieval time.

At the beginning of the 16th century, special attention was paid in increasing the size and weight of this horse breed to make them usable in the battles and carry the knights with their armor.

At the end of the 16th century, these large muscular horses were used to pull carts and wagons and help in road transportation. The Friesian horses were imported from Holland in the first half of the 17th century and used for heavy work.

These Dutch horses with feathered legs influenced this Great English horse and had a great influence on the development of the Shire breed. They were used for breeding and the new horses were sold into Leicestershire, Staffordshire & Derbyshire.

Hence the Shire horse originated from the shires of England in the mid 17th century and got recognized in 1770.

In the 18th century, the Shire horse breed was imported to different parts of the world like the USA, and Australia. The breed was near to extinct after world war 2 but it was revived again in the second half of the 20th century.

Today, the Shire horse is found in the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and many other countries.

The Personality of the Shire Horse

Like the Clydesdale horse, the Shire horse is also known as the Gentle Giant for it is one of the most friendly, calm, and gentle horse breeds. They are cold-blooded that shows their extreme inclination towards doing work. They are always ready to work, no matter how hard it is.

Their docile, easy to go, and patient temperament makes them ideal for the trainers to train them easily. They do not spook quite easily. They are also suitable for all kinds of riders. The Shire horses are eager to please their owner. They show tolerance for the other animals around and stay calm even with loud voices, children, cars, and water flow.

Physical Features of the Shire Horse


The Shire horse is a massive horse breed. They have a strong muscular body same as the Clydesdale. Their back is short and strong.

They have a lean and long head with a broad forehead and large eyes. Their neck is long, thick, and slightly arched having sensitive, long, and sharp ears. The shoulders of the Shrine horse are deep and wide, with a long mane, a long and thick tail, and wide feet. Their hindlimbs are strong, feet are solid and deep with large hooves covered with thick fur.

Life Span

The life expectancy of a great companion like the Shire horse is about 25 to 30 years.

Height and Weight

The Shire horse is a Giant horse with a high and tall body. The average height of a Shire horse is about 64 to 72 inches. Some tall horses are found to be 76 inches tall. The average weight of this giant horse is about 1800 to 2400 pounds.

Coat and Colors

The most common colors of the Shire horse are bay, brown, black, and grey. Chestnut, roan, and sorrel colors are also acceptable for the Shire horse. There are white markings on the face and legs of the horse. Excessive markings are not required for this breed.

Nutrition and Feeding

The health of the Shire horse requires the nutrition and feed of a standard horse like high-quality grains, hay, fresh grass, some fruits, and vegetables. However, the quantity will be high because of the bigger size of the Shire horse. It is suggested to add a more high-fat diet to the nutrition of this horse to overcome several diseases.

Health Issues of the Shire Horse

Generally, the Shire horse is an easy go, healthy and active horse but it is prone to some health issues that are common for the heavy horse breeds.

Chronic Progressive Lymphedema

This is a common disease of draft horses that is serious and complex. In this disease, the lower legs become progressively swollen. This disease increases the skin of the legs that take the form of foldings. This disease can not be cured and can result in causing ulcers. The only treatment is to slow down the progression of this disease through medicines.

Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy

This is a less common disease of the Shire horse. In this disease, the glycogen stored in the muscles is accumulated abnormally and results in an energy deficit which is a dangerous situation for a horse like the Shire.

Uses of the Shire Horse

This beautiful, giant, and friendly horse has many uses.

  • Before the wars, the Shire horses were used in the fields, to pull wagons, and as farm horses.
  • The Shire horse has been used in the battles of history to carry the knights with their armor. They have also been used in the first and second world wars.
  • This beautiful horse breed is perfect for the carriage horse post.
  • A pair of shire horses could be used to pull a cart carrying weight more than 45 tons.
  • The Shire horses are also used as the eco-friendly replacement of tractors on farms.
  • These beautiful giant horses can be used for dressage and parades.
  • Many exhibitions and shows use the Shire horse for the presentation of beauty.
  • The forestry and timber extraction areas need strong horses like the Shire. They are used for logging the tree barks.
  • Because of its friendly and calm demeanor, it is also used for pleasure riding and as a pet horse.

Grooming and Cleaning

It is a bit difficult to clean and groom this giant horse. It is very tall and needs extra grooming care and attention. It will need a ladder to reach the top of the head to clean and groom.

The coat of the Shire horse is easy to clean but the thick fur over the hooves needs regular grooming and cleaning to protect the horse from skin infections and irritation. The fur must be dried properly after washing so that bacteria and fungi do not find a damp place to live.

Although Shire horse is an easy to train breed that can be handled even by a less experienced person, its huge and massive size can make the up keeping expensive. More feed and more time are required to take care of this breed and keep it healthy. If time and money do not bother you, then the Shire horse is a breed that can be your best companion.

Also Read:Best Horse Breeds in the world


Gokce Karin

Gokce Karin

Gokce's love and passion for farm animals stem from growing up on a farm in Mexico. After receiving Bachelor's degree in Equine Sciences & Livestock Farming, she started working at her own farm. Today, while managing her farm animals, she also contributes to - where she shares her experiences as well as helps people deal with their animals the best way.

About Me

Aamir Iqbal, the devoted owner of PetsBeast blog website, has an extraordinary bond with animals. His deep affection and attachment to furry companions inspire him to share invaluable insights and create a loving community.

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