14 Interesting Clydesdale Horse Facts

The Clydesdale is a horse breed that was originally derived from draught horses in the region of Clydesdale, Scotland. They are also one of the most recognizable horse breeds in the world today, thanks to their massive height and feathers around their hooves. It is a beautiful horse that offers a number of interesting Clydesdale horse facts so you can get to know this breed a little bit better.

#1. Clydesdale horses are one of the largest overall breeds in the world. 

The average height of a Clydesdale will generally exceed 18 hands in height. Many are also more than 6 feet in length. This means each horse will typically weigh over 1 ton.

#2. One of the largest horses in history is a Clydesdale. 

There is a Clydesdale named Poe who lives in Ontario, Canada who stands at 20.2 hands in height. He weighs in at an impressive 3,000 pounds. That’s just 0.3 hands off of what is currently considered to be the world record for the tallest living horse.

#3. Clydesdales have the strongest genetics for feathering. 

“Feathering” is the hair that exists around the hooves and ankles of the horse. In the history of this breed, it has always had this hair. It is believed that this trait was developed or evolved naturally in order for the horse to deal with the colder winter temperatures of Scotland. The strength of the feathering genetics is used by other breeds, including Shires, to improve the feathering in their own breed standards.

#4. It is relatively easy to own a Clydesdale today. 

Thanks to online resources, just about anyone who wants to own a Clydesdale can do so. Listings are consistently available, with most horses in this breed priced at $10,000 or less. Sometimes you can find them selling for as little as $1,000. That initial cost might seem tempting, but it is also important to remember that the average Clydesdale is going to consume up to double the amount of feed every day compared to other breeds. It is not unusual for an adult Clydesdale to eat 60 pounds of hay and 25 quarts of whole grains per day. 

#5. The Clydesdale used to be a popular war horse. 

When warfare involved using Calvary and horses as an advantage, this breed of horse was one of the most popular because of its weight and size. It also has a uniquely calm disposition, which meant that it could go into various situations without getting spooked. This is believed to be why it is still such a friendly and docile horse today, despite its massive size.

#6. Clydesdales are considered to be endangered. 

In 1975, the official number of Clydesdales in the world was just 80. Today there are more than 5,000 that have been registered for this breed. A number of different programs have helped to increase awareness about this breed to help save it, as well as several popular marketing programs. The Anheuser Busch company has long used Clydesdales as part of their branding image and the organization maintains stables specifically for this breed.

#7. The Clydesdale breed has an unusual breed standard. 

One of the features of the Clydesdale breed is a conformation that is considered to be undesirable in most other breeds. Often referred to as a “cow hock,” it causes the tarsal joint of the hind leg to be set inward. This creates a look that is splayed at the feet, making the horse seem like it is knock-kneed. Yet this feature also helps to create the unique high-stepping gait that is associated with the horse, allowing them to be streamlined to the extent that they can place one back hoof in front of the other as if they were walking on a balance beam.

#8. Clydesdales as a breed are prone to scratches and other dermatitis issues like rain rot. 

This is because of the thickness of their hair and the quality of their feathers. If a Clydesdale is let out into a wet or muddy environment and their legs are not allowed to properly dry, then moderate to severe scratches can happen frequently. Rain rot also tends to occur more frequently with this breed.

#9. The pulling power of a Clydesdale is absolutely incredible. 

A single Clydesdale may be able to pull up to 8,000 pounds for a short period of time. They can also pull a carriage which may weight 200-400 pounds for up to 8 hours per day. Clydesdales are not part of the pulling record, which is pulling 7.5 tons over 15-feet, but their overall pulling power is one of the strongest ever measured.

#10. A Clydesdale horse needs a double stall for comfort.

The average stall size for most horses tends to be 12 feet by 12 feet. The average stall for a Clydesdale should be at least double this size, or 24 feet by 24 feet. If the Clydesdale can’t be turned out into a paddock or pasture on a regular basis, then the stall should be even larger. 

#11. Clydesdales are a versatile show horse. 

You will find that Clydesdales perform equally well in hitch classes, cart classes, and halter classes. Because of their calm and willing nature, they also make great therapy horses. You’ll find them being used for trail riding, experiential programming, and children’s programs. They also perform exceptionally well in show jumping and dressage. 

#12. The US has the largest number of Clydesdales. 

There are about 600 new Clydesdales that are registered in the US every year. Canada, Great Britain, and Australia are also top countries for Clydesdale ownership.

#13. Newborn foals for this breed are quite heavy. 

A newborn Clydesdale foal might weigh up to 180 pounds and still be considered an “average” foal. To support such large offspring, a broodmare may be able to produce up to 100 pounds of milk every day. This means a growing foal can gain up to 4 pound every day during its weanling days.

#14. Clydesdales have enormous feet. 

One horseshoe for a Clydesdale is roughly the size of a dinner plate. It will weigh at least 5 pounds. That’s about 4 times the size of a horseshoe that would be use for a Thoroughbred. Special nails are also required to affix the shoe to the hoof, which are hammered through the hoof wall.

These Clydesdale horse facts show that this heavy horse is popular in many different ways. Not only is it a beautiful breed, but it is also strong, powerful, yet still quite gentle. Although there are high costs of ownership, the initial acquisition costs for a Clydesdale, even with its relative rarity, is quite low.

That means everyone who wants to own a Clydesdale will be able to do so and that’s a wonderful fact on its own.