Breed Standard & Registration

Shire Horse Breeders Australia dedicated to promoting the Shire Horse in Australia
The following standard of points for the breed has been carefully laid down by the Shire Horse Society and this has been amended when necessary,
to meet modern requirements.

A good Shire Stallion should stand from 17.0 hands (173 cms) upwards, and weigh from 900 kg to 1100 kg when matured, without being overdone in condition.


Black, brown, bay or grey. No good stallion should be splashed with large white patches over the body. He must not be roan or chestnut.


17 hands (173 cms) high at maturity. Average about 17.2 hands (178 cms).


Long and lean, neither too large or too small, with long neck in proportion to the body. Large jaw bone should be avoided.


Large, well set and docile in expression. Wall eyes not acceptable.


Slightly Roman, nostrils thin and wide; lips together.


Long, lean, sharp and sensitive.


Clean cut and lean.


Deep and oblique, wide enough to support the collar.


Long, slightly arched, well set on to give the horse a commanding appearance.


The girth varies from 183 cms to 244 cms according to size and age of animal.


Short, strong and muscular. Should not be dipped or roached.


Standing well up, denoting good constitution (must not be flat).


Wide across the chest, with legs well under the body and well enveloped in muscle, or action is impeded.


Long and sweeping, wide and full of muscle, well let down towards the thighs.


Round, deep and well sprung, not flat.


Should be as straight as possible down to pastern.


Hocks should be not too far back and in line with the hind – quarters with ample width broadside and narrow in front. “Puffy” and “sickle” hocks should be avoided. The leg sinews should be clean cut and hard like fine cords to touch and clear of short cannon bone.


Of flat bone 11 inches (28 cms) is ample, although occasionally 12½ inches (32 cms) is recorded. Hocks must be broad, deep and flat and set at the correct angle for leverage.


Deep, solid and wide, with thick open walls. Coronets should be hard and sinewy with substance.


Not too much, fine, straight and silky.
A stallion should possess a masculine head and a good crest with sloping, not upright, shoulders running well into the back, which should be short and well coupled with the loins. The tail should be well set up and not what is known as “gooserumped”.
Both head and tail should be carried erect. The ribs should be well sprung, not flat sided, with good middle which generally denotes good constitution. A Stallion should have good feet and joints; the feet should be wide and big around the top of the coronets with sufficient length in the pasterns. When in motion, he should go with force using both knees and hocks, which latter should be kept close together, he should go straight and true before and behind. A good Stallion should have strong character.

Modification or Variation of Stallion Standard
of Points for Mares


Black, brown, bay, grey, roan.


16 hands (163 cms) upwards.


Long and lean, neither too large nor too small, long neck in proportion to the body, of feminine appearance.


Large, well set and docile in expression. Wall eyes are acceptable except for animals in the Grade A and B registers.


Long and slightly arched and not of masculine appearance.


152 cms to 214 cms (matured) according to size and age of animal.


Strong and in some instances longer than a male.


Short, with short cannons.


9 (23 cms) to 11 inches (28 cms) of flat bone, with clean cut sinews.
A Mare should be on the quality side, long and deep with free action, of a feminine and matronly appearance, standing from 16 hands (163 cms) and upwards on short legs.
She should have plenty of room to carry her foal.

Modification or Variation of Stallion Standard
of Points for Geldings


As for Mares.


16.2 (168 cms) hands and upwards.


From 183 cms to 229 cms.


10 (23 cms) to 11 inches (26 cms) under knee, slightly more under hock and broadside on, of flat hard quality.

A Gelding should be upstanding, thick, well-balanced, and a very active and showy mover.

He should be full of courage and should look like and be able to do a full day’s work. Geldings weigh from 850 kg to 1100 kg.

Stud Book & Registration

The Parent Stud Book for Shire Horses was established in 1878 by the English Cart Horse Society. By the time the society changed its name to Shire Horse Society in 1883 the Stud Book was closed to Shires got by a registered Shire stallion and out of a registered Shire mare only. For about five decades registration numbers were huge – for example 699 Stallions and 3,408 females bred in the UK alone were entered in the 1916 Stud Book. From the late 1930s to the late 1950s horse numbers of all breeds declined due to a numbers of different reasons, and entries of UK bred Shires in the Stud Book fell steadily from 1102 females & 304 stallions in 1939 to 261 females & 76 stallions in 1947 to 11 females & 5 stallions in 1958. The Shire Horse survived those dark days, but was listed for decades on the Red List as almost extinct. Today the breed is still considered an endangered domestic breed.

22 stallions (including two bred in the UK but standing in Europe and four bred & standing in Europe) were registered in the Parent Stud Book in 2022 and 205 females (78% bred in UK, 6% in AUS, 1% in NZ and 15 % in other countries). This small population of Shires in the world bears the risk of increasing inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity, so it makes sense to keep as many Shire Horses as possible registered in the Parent Stud Book. Horses registered with the Parent Stud Book are eligible for any other Studbook in the world, but progeny of Shire horses registered with any other Studbook are not necessarily eligible for the Parent Stud Book. Shire breeders in Australia who register their horses with the Parent Stud Book could be enhancing genetic diversity in international Shire horse breeding offering access to Shire Horse bloodlines that are not or no longer available in other parts of the world. The other way to increase genetic diversity in the Shire Horse population is an open studbook.

In 1940, the Shire Horse Society decided to open the Stud Book with the introduction of the Grading-Up Register. In the early years, breeders were even urged if they had any mares or fillies, which lacked sufficient pedigree to enable them to be registered in the Stud Book, to enter them in the Grading-Up Register without delay.

The Grading-Up Register has two Books, with Register A open to females sired by a registered Shire stallion, and Register B open to females sired by a registered Shire stallion and out of a Grade A registered mare. In 1944, the B Register has also been opened to progeny of a registered Shire stallion and out of a registered Clydesdale mare. Since the very start of the Grading-Up Register all females by registered Shire stallions and out of dams entered in Register B are eligible for full and complete registration in Shire Horse Stud Book.

In 2022, Shire Horse Society has also introduced a new Part Bred Register. To be eligible for this new Register horses must have one registered Shire parent and one registered parent of another breed (excluding Clydesdale and SHS Grade A and B Registers which continue to operate under the existing Stud Book Rules). Certificates of service and DNA testing are required for Part Bred Registration. Progeny of horses registered in the new Part Bred Register will not be eligible for upgrading into the full register.