Clydesdales originated in Scotland in the 18th century, when large Flemish stallions were imported to breed to local mares. They take their name from the Scottish lowlands district of Clydesdale, now known as Lanarkshire, where the horses were first bred to work on farms. In the 1800s, their popularity grew, and Clydesdales spread throughout Scotland and England.
The breed declined after World War I, when tractors replaced them on farms in Great Britain. Although their numbers have increased in recent decades and Clydesdales have been exported to many countries, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, a British preservationist group, lists them as vulnerable to extinction.