The shire is a large draft breed from the UK. In Europe, it is commonly known as the largest horse breed in the world, though it may have to share first place with the American Belgians.


Black is the most popular colour, but bay and brown (commonly referred to as dark bay in the breed) also appear. Grey is present in several lineages. Due to strong selection for dark colours, the chestnut allele has become very rare, but still exists within the breed.

In the US there is one known family carrying the cream gene. It probably found its way into the breed before the studbook was completely closed and has managed to remain hidden as smoky black until very recently.

Shire horses have an abundant amount of white. The favourite pattern with breeders is four white legs up until just below the knees, though it is becoming far more common to see horses with white above the knees and large belly spots that sometimes even cover a large amount of the body. Such patterns are similar to those of the related Scottish Clydesdale horses, and though frowned upon, they are slowly growing in popularity.

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