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Breed Standard

The Breed Standard accepted by the Percheron Association is as outlined in the following paragraphs. This standard has been compiled from the book How to Select Percherons, Cook & Gonmley published by Percheron Horse Association of America and from Stud Book of Percherons in Australia, Vol.3.


The Percheron is essentially a heavy "cold-blood" horse, possessing great muscular development and ample bone of good quality, combined with style and activity, giving a general impression of refinement, balance and power. The coat should be fine, short and lustrous.

The Head

The head should be of medium size, and show quality with great bone definition, have a deep cheek and relatively fine muzzle showing an overall wedge shape, fairly broad between the eyes with an alert, pointed ear of medium size and not overly long from eye to nose, and lustrous coat. The eye should be large and kind. The vital strength of an animal is reflected in the eye. The jaw should be clean cut and never unduly heavy. The stallion should have a bolder more masculine appearance.

Slope of Shoulder

A slope of about 45 degrees is required for the horse to lift its head naturally. A shoulder that is too upright doesn't allow this and restricts foreleg movement and holds for a rough jolting pace.

Slope of Pasterns

The pastern that is fairly long and slopes at about 55 degrees is one that usually stays sound longer because it has more spring in the stride. Pastern and hoof should be at the same angle. Smoothness of the pastern is as important as slope and length. Rough pasterns may indicate the presence of sidebone. Long sloping hind pasterns not only makes for soundness but also better action, however, hind pasterns are always more upright than the front pasterns. When short and straight the hind pastern is more likely to become unsound than one with more length and with a 45 degree angle slope.

Amount of Bone

Percherons must have plenty of bone and it is of utmost importance in stallions. The cannon should be comparatively short but must appear broad as a result of the carpus (knee) and fetlock being wide. Lack of bone is a serious defect.

The Back

A relative short straight back is the optimum, coupled with a strong smooth loin. The long back is associated with weakness; however, strength and top line muscling is a more important indicator of strength than absolute length.

Depth of Body & Leg Length

The horse should be as deep from the top of the withers to the base of its chestline as from this point to the ground.

The Croup

The croup should be long and fairly level with a well muscled hip.

Set of Hocks

The hocks should be held relatively close together, both at the walk and the trot, as well as when standing and cannons must be parallel and more up and down like a pair of pistons with no sideways travel.

Set of Legs

The hind legs should be directly beneath the horse. Legs should not be wide apart at each corner. The hind feet should point slightly out so that there is no interference of belly or stifle. Front feet should move in a direct line without excessive paddling or plaiting.

The Feet

A large round hard black horn foot, with a minimum of white is required. It should be moderately deep at the heel with a good frog. A shallow frog usually goes with a narrow heel. The lack of size seems to go with lameness, side bones and ring bones. All four feet must be in a true line beneath the body without swingout of line (paddling). Toe out is likely to interfere and a pigeon toed horse frequently develops side bones on the outside corners. The front and hind feet should be sufficiently far apart to keep from striking either at the walk or trot.

Depth of Chest

A wide deep chest is essential. This gives greater lung and heart capacity. However, shoulder should fit in smoothly with the rest of the body and should not stand out or forward at the corners. A narrow chest in a Percheron is as serious defect as a hollow chest in a human.


Colour of the breed is grey or black, with a minimum of white, especially on the lower leg and feet. The colour chestnut occasionally appears when two animals carrying this colour are joined. Stallions of colour, other than grey or black, are not eligible for entry into the Stud Book.

The Body

The neck should be strong with good length of rein, and a full arched crest in stallions. The chest should be with deep well laidback shoulder. The back should be strong and short; wide ribs and be deep, at the flanks; hind quarters of good width and croup long from hip to tail; avoiding any suggestion of a goose rump.


Action is the essence of the Percheron. The walk is to be a long aggressive smooth and true stride. This shows determination and willingness. All joints should flex adequately; the hocks must be kept well together and under control and carried so that the cannons travel up and down parallel. The feet should be picked up with a reasonable degree of snap, carried forward in a straight line and then placed squarely on the ground. Action at the trot should show length, forwardness, trueness and smoothness of stride that is characteristic of efficiency. The hind feet should track up well and land on or in front of the hoof print.


Kind and docile with intelligent alertness and animated spirit, showing no sign of sluggishness or dullness. The Percheron has the ability to work and maintain condition because of its strong constitution and good temperament, which denotes an almost complete lack of nervous tension.


Minimum height for mares is 15.2hh, for stallions 16hh.

Minimum of White

Minimum of white - one white sock and/or a white star.

Information courtesy of the Percheron Horse Breeders Association of Australia Inc.

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