Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: November 24, 2009

The Albanian breed is named after its place of origin -- Albania. A common horse breed, the Albanian is ideal for riding detail but is also useful in light draft work.

Physical Characteristics


There were originally two types of the Albanian breed: the "Mountain Albanian" and the "Plain Albanian," a designation which came from the horses’ breeding grounds. The Mountain Albanian is from 12.2 to 12.3 hands (around 49 inches, 125 centimeters) high, while the Plain Albanian is taller at around 13.2 hands (53 inches, 134 centimeters) high.

Though smaller and lighter, the Mountain Albanian has better endurance and higher resistance to disease. It is also slightly more agile, livelier, and more spirited than the Plain Albanian. For this reason, the Mountain Albanian is preferred for riding.

The Plain Albanian, meanwhile, is heavier and taller. Due to its more massive form, it is mainly used for draft work; i.e., pulling carriages and light loads. Its gait is easy and natural, and it is quite strong for its size.

Due to crossbreeding, however, the differences between the Mountain and the Plain types have blurred through the years and are no longer clearly apparent. Generally, the Albanian horse is chunky and stocky; it appears in common colors like chestnut, black, or gray.

History and Background

The Albanian breed is part of the larger Balkan breed. As such, its physical characteristics are very similar to horses in the Balkan region. Specifically, their look and form is similar to those of the horses found in the mountains of Bosnia Herzegovina and the Rodope Mountain Range. When the Ottomans came and established the Ottoman Empire, the native Albanian horses were crossbred with Arab stock in the hope of improving the Albanian gene pool. Out-breeding with the Haflinger was also done to improve balance and ability to work in mountainous terrain.

While the Albanian was mainly bred in the past for riding and draft work, it is now often used for agricultural work. Recent crossbreeding efforts have focused on increasing the size of the Albanian to make it even more suitable as a farm horse.