Everything You Need to Know About the Clydesdale Horse

Posted by Allie Layos

The Clydesdale horse is one of the most beloved breeds of horse, thanks in part to its gentle nature.

The Clydesdale is a draft horse that originated from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland. Known for its large size, high-stepping action and calm temperament, the first breed registry was formed in 1877.

The breed combines strength and style, with very distinctive movement. Instead of the shuffling action customary to many draft breeds, the Clydesdale lifts each foot cleanly from the ground, so that the bottom of each hoof is visible from behind.

Clydesdale horses are used for agriculture, logging, driving, and are also ridden for both show and pleasure. A number of Clydesdales also make up the famous Budweiser Clydesdales hitch, made popular by Budweiser at the end of Prohibition.

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General Appearance

Clydesdales typically stand 16 - 18 hands tall and weigh 1,800 - 2,000 pounds. The breed combines size and weight with a distinctly regal appearance.


An arched neck, high withers and short back make up the conformation of the Clydesdale. They should have broad, sharply developed hocks, with forelegs planted under the shoulders, straight legs, and durable feet with extensive feathering on their lower legs. 


Bay (brown with a black mane and tail) is the most common color for the Clydesdale, but they can also be found in roan, black, grey and chestnut. Since they have sabino genetics, Clydesdales often bear white markings on their face and legs as well as roaning and body spotting.


Clydesdales have a straight or slightly convex profile and broad forehead.


Calm, gentle, intelligent horses, Clydesdales are well-suited to therapy work as well as the promotional work required by the Budweiser hitch.



Though they are generally healthy horses, dirt and moisture can become trapped in the Clydesdale's feathers causing  a disease known as "scratches," or chronic, seborrheic dermatitis, on the rear surface of the pastern and fetlock. Mild cases can often be treated by clipping the affected area, scrubbing it with Betadine and applying a topical ointment such as Corona.

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