Schleswiger Heavy Draft

The Schleswiger Heavy Draft originates from the north of Germany. It is of middle size and weight and was influenced especially by the introduction of the Jutland Heavy Draft and other heavy horse breeds. Until the sixties the Schleswiger served as a working horse. Nowadays it is on the list of the endangered domestic animal breeds from the society for the protection of old domestic animal breeds. (GEH,

Description of the breed
The Schleswiger Heavy Draft is of middle size and weight. It stands at approximately 154 - 162 cm. The stallions are an average bigger than the mares.

The 3 year old price winning stallion of the year 2003 (Photo: Bernd Lühr )

The legs are strong and dry, lightly feathered. The round hooves are of a good quality. The back should be short and well muscled. The head is short and straight with a broad forehead. The neck should be well proportioned.

The Schleswiger is usually chestnut colour seldom though, black, grey and bay occur. The Schleswiger is an excellent mover with an astounding walk and trot.

The Schleswiger has a good placid character an is very willing to learn. Versatile and agile and of great endurance, easy to keep and feeding problems are virtually unknown to this breed.

Hard work in the wood: Th. Isenberg hauling timber with the stallion Konsul in the "Rantzauer Forst" (Photo: R. Welzel).


In 1888 the earlier breeders association of Schleswig Holstein decided to separate the breeding of warm-blood and heavy horses. In 1891 the Schleswiger Horse Breeders Society was founded. The brandmark with the letters "V.S.P" in an oval, that still today is used to brand the horses on the right back leg.

The brandmark with the letters "V.S.P" in an oval, that still today is used to brand the horses on the right back leg. (Photo: Bernd Lühr )

Through the introduction of different breeds, Oldenburger, Holstein and Suffolk Punch the desired results in breeding couldn't be fulfilled. In 1862 Jutland stallions were imported. Since 1930 virtually all Schleswiger are related to the "Oppenheim" (Shire or Suffolk Punch) son "Munkedal".

The height of popularity was reached in 1949. In the Studbook there were approximately 25.000 mares and 450 stallions registered.

Owing to the progress in agriculture and the usage of machinery the Schleswiger as all German heavy horse breeds suffered. In 1976 the breed reached an all time low - only 35 mares and 5 stallions remained. In the same year the old society was dissolved and the breed was incorporated in the Stud Book Schleswig Holstein / Hamburg. In 1991 the society of Schleswiger Heavy Draft Horse Breeders was founded with the aim to nurture and preserve the breed. Today the society has about 200 members. There are now over 200 mares and 30 stallions registered in the stud book. Inspite of the aspirations of the society the breed is now on the list of the endangered domestic animal society (GEH,

Areas of occupation

Since the beginning of the 20th Century the Schleswiger was mainly used as a working horse in farming and hauling timber, also though pulling omnibuses, in industry for military usage and as brewery horses.

Nowadays they are mainly to found pulling covered waggons and for pleasure purposes. Also in farming , timber hauling and in nurseries are popular places to find them.


The breed is found predominantly in the most northern state of Germany, Schleswig Holstein, at the same time a certain amount are to be found in Lower Saxony. Single animals have been sold to other German States.


Text: Dr. Bernd Luehr
English: Barbara Hopf
Fotos: Bernd Lühr & R. Welzel

H. Drechsler drives his four Schleswiger Heavy Horses. (Photo: Bernd Lühr )

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Updated: October 2005.