Friesian Horse vs Clydesdale: In-Depth Comparison Guide

Are you having trouble deciding between a Friesian Horse or a Clydesdale? Look no further! In this in-depth comparison guide, we’ll explore the key differences between the Friesian Horse vs Clydesdale to help you make the best decision for your equestrian needs. Don’t miss out on this essential guide for any horse lover!

Friesian Horse vs Clydesdale

Friesian horse black suit with curly black mane


The Friesian horse, originating in Friesland, Netherlands, is among Europe’s oldest horse breeds, with possible existence dating back to 1000 B.C. They were mentioned by Roman historian Tacitus and have been used for various purposes throughout history, including as warhorses.

On the other hand, Clydesdale horses, originated in Scotland, are named after the River Clyde and its surrounding district. Like Friesians, Clydesdales have an extensive history and have been used for various tasks, such as agriculture and war, among others.


Friesian horses are known for their elegance and agility despite their large size. They have a well-defined small head with spread-apart eyes and short ears. Friesians also have long, arched necks and low-set tails, contributing to their overall impressive appearance.

Clydesdales, on the other hand, are more muscular and robust, with strong hindquarters and a thicker build than Friesians. They also have distinctive feathering on their lower legs, which sets them apart visually from their Friesian counterparts.

Size and Weight

Friesian horses are large, typically standing between 15.3 hands and 17 hands tall, according to Their powerfully muscled bodies and strong hindquarters add to their overall size.

Clydesdales are also large horses, but they tend to be even bigger and heavier than Friesians. As draft horses, their weight and size contribute to their suitability for pulling heavy loads and working on farms.


Friesian horses are known for their striking black color, with a thick mane and tail. They also have feathering on their lower legs, much like the Clydesdale breed.

Clydesdale horses also come in various colors, including black, brown, bay, and chestnut. Their long, silky-feathered lower legs and striking white markings on the face and legs make them easily recognizable.


Friesian horses have a friendly and gentle temperament, making them suitable for various equestrian activities. They are intelligent and responsive to their handler’s commands, making them easier to train and well-suited for dressage and other disciplines.

Clydesdales, like Friesians, have a calm and good-natured temperament. They are known for their willingness to work and are often used in team and individual pulling events.


Both Friesians and Clydesdales are trainable and intelligent breeds, excelling in various activities. Friesians can be powerful jumpers and often participate in show jumping events, while Clydesdales are more commonly used for heavy pulling competitions and farm work. However, both breeds can be trained for diverse activities according to their individual strengths and abilities.

In conclusion, Friesian and Clydesdale horses share some similarities but differ in their origins, size, color, and specific strengths. Whether one breed is better than the other at specific tasks is subjective, but both horses have unique and valuable qualities that make them beloved and valued in the equestrian world.

Health and Lifespan

Friesian stallion in wild

Health Issues

Friesian and Clydesdale horses, though both large and majestic breeds, have distinct health issues. Friesian horses are prone to genetic disorders which can lead to a shortened lifespan. For instance, they can suffer from dwarfism – a condition marked by a large head, broad chest, disproportionately long back, short limbs, hyperflexion of the fetlocks, and narrow, long-toed hooves. Additionally, Friesians are at risk of developing a genetic condition called Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM), which affects their muscles and metabolism.

On the other hand, Clydesdales are considered a hardier horse breed. However, they are not completely immune to health issues. As large horses, they may be more susceptible to joint problems and require regular health checks to ensure their well-being.


The average lifespan of Clydesdales and Friesians differs significantly. A Clydesdale typically lives for 20 to 25 years, making it one of the more durable breeds of horses (source). In contrast, Friesians have an average lifespan of around 16 years – shorter than many other horse breeds (source). This difference is partly due to the genetic disorders that Friesians are more prone to, as mentioned earlier.


Caring for both Clydesdales and Friesians involves providing sufficient nourishment, exercise, and healthcare. Clydesdales generally require more food and water than average-sized horse breeds due to their larger size. They can consume between 25 and 50 pounds of hay and 2 to 10 pounds of grain or feed daily. Their needs may fluctuate based on age and activity levels.

Friesians, being an ancient European breed with a long and storied history, are known for their strength and versatility. While they also require proper nourishment and exercise, owners should pay special attention to their health management in light of their potential genetic issues. Regular veterinary check-ups and appropriate care can help extend their lifespan and improve their quality of life.

In summary, understanding the health issues, lifespan, and care requirements for Friesian and Clydesdale horses is crucial for owners to provide the best possible environment for these majestic creatures.

Grooming and Maintenance

chestnut Clydesdale horse runs gallop


Friesian horses and Clydesdales both have feathers, which are the long, silky hairs on their lower legs. These feathers require regular care to prevent dirt buildup and potential infections. For both breeds, you may choose to trim or clip their feathers to keep them tidy and clean. Proper cleaning and grooming of feathers also promote good horse health and reduce the risk of skin issues.

Manes and Tails

Friesian horses and Clydesdales have thick, luxurious manes and tails that require frequent care to keep them looking their best. When grooming these horses, it’s essential to use items that won’t cause damage or breakage. For detangling, grooming oils are recommended as they condition the hair and make it easier to remove tangles than traditional sheen sprays. An appropriate comb, such as one without plastic or metal seams that could unnecessarily slice the hair, is also advised.

Manes and tails of both breeds should be checked and brushed regularly, adjusting the frequency and intensity depending on the horse’s hair type and level of dirtiness. It is important to note that more frequent grooming may be needed during shedding seasons or when a horse frequently rolls in dirt or mud.

High Maintenance Requirements

Both Friesian horses and Clydesdales have higher grooming and maintenance requirements than some other breeds due to their feathers, manes, and tails. Clydesdales, in particular, have unique needs due to their size. A Clydesdale horse typically requires more hay per day to maintain its weight compared to smaller horse breeds. Moreover, their larger hooves mean specialty shoeing and potentially increased costs as well.

In summary, proper and regular grooming is essential for maintaining the health and appearance of both Friesian horses and Clydesdales. This includes attending to their feathers, manes, and tails, and being mindful of each breed’s unique needs. Taking the time to care for these magnificent animals ensures their well-being while showcasing their beauty and grace.

Riding and Competitions

Big black Friesian horse in the autumn forest


Friesian horses are known for their majestic appearance and athletic ability, making them suitable for various riding disciplines, including dressage. Their desirable temperament makes them a popular choice for beginners and advanced riders alike, allowing riders to appreciate their impressive size and color while performing dressage tasks (source). On the other hand, Clydesdale horses can also perform dressage, but their draft nature may not make them the ideal choice for high-level dressage competitions (source).


When it comes to racing, Friesian horses have a noticeable advantage over Clydesdales due to their agility and top speed. Friesians can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour, making them agile and powerful racers (source). In contrast, Clydesdales have a recorded top speed of just 20 miles per hour, as they were historically bred for agricultural work and heavy towoing rather than racing.


Both Friesian and Clydesdale horses show versatility in their ability to participate in different riding disciplines and competitions. Friesian horses have been widely used throughout history as warhorses, and their agility and athleticism have made them highly suitable for dressage and racing (source).

While Clydesdales are not known for their racing abilities, their strength and endurance allow them to be used for riding, driving, and even promotional work (source). This breed also contributed to the development of other horse breeds such as the Gypsy Vanner.

In conclusion, both Friesian and Clydesdale horses display unique characteristics suited to various riding disciplines and competitions. While Friesians stand out in dressage and racing, Clydesdales prove to be versatile for riding, driving, and promotional tasks. Each horse breed possesses specific attributes that make them suitable for different riders and disciplines, leaving the final choice to individual preferences and requirements.

Cost and Pricing

Large brown female Clydesdale Horse

Price Range

Friesian horses are generally more expensive than Clydesdales. On average, a Friesian horse can cost between $12,000 to $25,000, with some purebred horses fetching prices over $100,000. In contrast, Clydesdales tend to have a lower average price, typically up to $5,000.

Factors Affecting Cost

There are several factors that can affect the cost of both Friesian horses and Clydesdales:

  1. Bloodlines and Pedigree: Horses from prestigious bloodlines and with strong pedigrees are generally priced higher.
  2. Inspection Results: Performance during inspections can affect the price. Horses with positive inspection results tend to command higher prices.
  3. Show Record: Horses that have performed well in competitions will typically have a higher value than those that haven’t.
  4. Training: The level of training a horse has received also influences the cost – well-trained horses are generally more expensive.
  5. Age: Younger horses may have a higher price tag, though this can vary depending on factors like training and competition records.
  6. Conformation: A horse’s conformation (how their body and skeletal structure is built and fits together) can also play a role in determining its value. Better conformation is often linked to higher prices.

Uses and Strengths

Two male Clydesdale horses grazing side by side

Friesian and Clydesdale horses have been admired for their various uses and strengths, making them ideal companions for different activities. This section explores how these magnificent breeds have excelled in specific duties like pulling carts, participating in parades, and serving as war horses.

Pulling Carts

Friesian horses, known for their muscular build, have a long history of serving as cart pulling horses. With their weight ranging from 1,200 to 1,400 pounds and heights varying between 15.2 and 17 hands, Friesians are strong enough to handle heavy loads, yet agile enough to maneuver in tight spaces (source). Their versatility has allowed them to carry out draft work with ease. Rivaling Friesians in this space, Clydesdales are one of the largest horse breeds in the world, with heights ranging between 16 and 18 hands and weights between 1,800 and 2,000 pounds (source). This size and power make them capable of hauling not only goods but also compete in various pulling events.


Both Friesian and Clydesdale horses are popular choices for parades, thanks to their striking presence and elegance. Friesians, with their powerful build and dark coats, create an aura of regality, while Clydesdales, characterized by their imposing size, feathered legs, and distinctive gait, draw admiration from spectators. The size of these breeds allows them to stand out among other parade participants like the Irish Draught, Morgan horse, and Oldenburg horses. Their ability to perform with grace and poise is unparalleled, making them stars of any procession.

War Horses

Historically, the Friesian and Clydesdale horse breeds have served as war horses, chosen for their power and resilience. In medieval times, Friesians were the preferred war horse for knights due to their strength, size, and speed. Their versatility and agility also enabled them to adapt to various combat scenarios. Clydesdales, on the other hand, were ideal for carrying heavily armored soldiers into battle due to their substantial stature and endurance. Although these breeds were not as widespread for warfare as the lighter and more compact Dales or Shire horses, their bravery and strength were highly valued on the battlefield.

To summarize, the Friesian and Clydesdale horses possess unique strengths and qualities that make them suited for various roles, such as pulling carts, participating in parades, and serving as war horses. Their combination of power, agility, size, and elegance sets them apart from other breeds, allowing them to excel in these diverse functions.

Friesian Horse vs Clydesdale

Friesian horses and Clydesdales are both impressive breeds that often capture the attention of horse enthusiasts. Each breed possesses its own unique characteristics, strength, and history, setting them apart in the equestrian world.

The Friesian horse is among Europe’s oldest breeds, with a history dating back over 1,000 years and possibly even as far back as 1000 B.C. They were noted by the Roman historian Tacitus as being powerful and versatile. Friesians are tall and big-boned, with a striking appearance due to their shiny black coat and long mane. One of their most notable features is their speed; Friesian horses can reach a top speed of up to 55 miles per hour. This agility made them great warhorses for centuries.

Clydesdales, on the other hand, originate from Scotland, specifically the Clydesdale or valley of the River Clyde. They are a breed of draught horse that was developed in the 18th century by mating Flemish stallions with local mares, and later integrating Shire bloodlines in the 19th century. Clydesdales are known for their large size and impressive strength. A typical Clydesdale stands notably taller than an average horse, with many reaching a height of 16.2 hands. In terms of speed, the top speed ever recorded for a Clydesdale is 20 miles per hour.

When comparing the two breeds, Friesians have a clear advantage regarding speed and agility, while Clydesdales are known more for their size and strength. Both breeds have unique coat colors and markings, with Friesians typically being black and Clydesdales displaying a variety of colors, often accompanied by bold white markings.


In conclusion, Friesian horses and Clydesdales are two majestic breeds, each possessing its own distinct characteristics, histories, and appearance. While Friesians are known for their speed, agility, and striking appearance, the Clydesdale breed offers unparalleled size and strength. Both breeds have a deep history and have made lasting contributions to the equestrian world, making them both fascinating subjects for horse enthusiasts to explore and appreciate.