Lusitano Vs Andalusian Horse: What’s The Difference?

It can be tricky to know what sort of horse you are looking for, even if you spend a lot of time researching the different breeds, as some of them are pretty similar! Take the Lusitano vs Andalusian, for instance – both eye catching horses with a lot of things in common, but enough differences to make them two distinct breeds. Let’s take a look at some of the differences.


lusitano horse
Lusitano Horse; Source:

The Lusitano is a Portuguese horse, sometimes known as the Pure Blood Lusitano (PBL) or Puro Sangue Lusitano (PSL). It originated on the Iberian Peninsula, where horses have been known to roam wild as far back as 25,000 years ago, with evidence from cave paintings showing this.

Studies comparing modern and ancient horse DNA have proven that the ancestor of the Lusitano as we know it today was among the first wild horses used by ancient humans.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, horses were moved frequently between Spain and Portugal, with Spanish horses being used to improve the studs of Portugal. Today, Lusitanos are bred primarily in Portugal and Brazil, and both the purebreds and the crosses enjoy huge popularity.

Until the 1960s, the Andalusian and Lusitano horses were considered to be one and the same. It was only in 1966, when the Portuguese and Spanish stud books split, that the two were identified as separate breeds.

Also known as the Pura Raza Espanola, or PRE horse, the Andalusian shares a common ancestor with the Lusitano, namely the wild herds of horses who roamed the Iberian Peninsula up to 30,000 years ago.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the breed was affected by disease, crossbreeding and warfare, and numbers dropped significantly, to the point that exports of Andalusians from Spain were restricted until the 1960s.

All Andalusian horses today can trace their ancestry to a small group of horses which were carefully protected from disease, theft and interbreeding at a monastery in Cartuja. Despite the struggles faced by the Andalusian, the breed has thankfully recovered and is now popular and thriving worldwide.


Lusitanos generally stand between 15.2 and 15.3 hands, though some are over 16 hands.

Andalusians are slightly smaller, with stallions and geldings averaging 15.1 hands and mares 15 1/2. The minimum height for registration set by the Spanish government is 15 hands for males and 14.3 hands for mares.


Generally, Lusitanos are gray, bay or chestnut, though black, dun and palomino are also allowed. Any solid color is permitted, and you tend not to find many white markings on the face or the legs.

The Andalusian is generally bay or gray, though in the past most coat colors were found – even spotted patterns. The vast majority of Andalusians in the US are gray, with bay taking a close second. Unusual colors such as buckskin, pearl and cremello are rare, but are allowed as colors registered to the breed.


andalusian horse
Andalusian Horse; Source:

Lusitanos have narrow, well proportioned heads with a slightly convex profile. The neck is thick and arched, leading to muscular shoulders and a deep sloping chest. They have short, strong backs, rounded croups and low set tails. The legs are sturdy and well muscled.

Andalusian conformation has remained largely unchanged for centuries. They are elegant and strongly built, with medium length heads whose profiles should be straight or very slightly convex.

The neck is long and broad, and runs into a massive chest and clean legs. The back is short and broad, and the croup well muscled leading to strong hind legs. The main and tail are excessively thick and long, but the breed has little to no feathering on the legs.


The Lusitano’s gait is agile and elevated, and is generally thought to be comfortable to ride. They possess the same ability to turn their hooves to the “high” schooling ass the Andalusian, and as such some are produced exclusively for high school dressage.

The Andalusian has an elevated, extended way of moving which is extremely pleasing to the eye and to the rider. There is a balance of roundness and forward movement, and they are extremely agile and well known for learning difficult moves, such as turns on the haunches and advanced collection, with great ease.


The Lusitano is noted for its intelligence. Along with that, it has generations of bravery bred into it, and a propensity to remain calm under pressure, so they are generally excellent horses for just about anything. Lusitanos are also known for their warm, affectionate natures, which make them ideal for a long term riding partnership.

Andalusian horses have been described as “unnervingly intelligent”, and it is true that they are bright horses who are extremely quick to learn. They tend to be docile types, with a sensitivity and responsiveness that is a great plus point in their character. This intelligence and docility makes it easy for their riders to bond with them and they develop close relationships with people.


As the Andalusian and the Lusitano were once considered one and the same, it is probable that both their ancestors were also once used as war horses.

The more recent ancestors of the Luistano were used for driving, bullfighting on horseback and classical dressage, and while they are still used in a form of bullfighting today (a form where the bull is not killed, and every effort is made to ensure the horse is not injured), they are becoming increasingly popular in the driving world.

Because of their remarkable athleticism, Andalusians are used for a range of disciplines, including riding, driving and dressage. Throughout their history they have been prized as war horses, because of their remarkable strength and stamina, and their great speed and willing natures.

In the old days of peace they were used as stock horses, partly due to their calm natures and ability to deal with the aggressive Iberian bulls. These days they are still used in bullfighting, but dressage is becoming more and more the selected discipline for the eye catching Andalusian.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Are Lusitanos Good For?

Traditionally, this striking Spanish horse was used for driving, bullfighting and even as a war horse. Nowadays, with their beautiful looks and airy gaits they are prized for classical dressage and driving, and many of them are prominent competitors in the Olympics in these disciplines.

2. Can Andalusians Jump High?

Traditionally, this striking Spanish horse was used for driving, bullfighting and even as a war horse. Nowadays, with their beautiful looks and airy gaits they are prized for classical dressage and driving, and many of them are prominent competitors in the Olympics in these disciplines.

3. Are Lusitanos Good Dressage Horses?

In a word, yes! Lusitanos are similar to the Andalusian in their appearance and gait, and both these horses are used for the famous discipline. Their elegance, striking looks and ability to collect well and turn on a sixpence makes them ideal for the dressage ring.

4. Are Andalusians Hot Blooded?

Andalusians are not actually considered one of the hot blooded horses, which are generally thought to be Thoroughbreds and Arabians. However, they are called warm blooded because of their abilities and refined appearance, and the fact that in times long gone by they would have been crossed in with larger, cold blooded horses.

5. Which Horse Is Better Andalusian Or Lusitano?

Although these horses are pretty similar and can be used for the same sorts of thing, they have marked differences in personality which can affect what they are used for. Lusitanos tend to be a little “hotter” than the Andalusian, which has a more calm and docile temperament.

6 thoughts on “Lusitano Vs Andalusian Horse: What’s The Difference?”

  1. The above sounds like an advertisement for the breed, and the worrying aspect is what it does not say. So let’s peel back the promotional material and reveal a few truths. Firstly, they are not generally big magnificent movers, on the same scale as, for example, Hanoverians, or Oldenburgers. These German horses, along with the Dutch warmbloods, are big, stunning, correct moving animals par excellence.

    The Iberian horses cannot be compared to Thoroughbreds in terms of speed and stamina.
    The Iberian horses will not jump big jumps cleanly, and when put to less formidable jumps, can exhibit an awkward style.

    As a fine specimen of a horse, just like Freisians or Selle Francais, there are some really good types, but there are a lot of very average nags going around.
    Like the man who once showed me his Cleveland Bay, which was a stringy chestnut, some Lusitanos and Andalucians are difficult to identify as such, bearing no resemblance to the animals featured on . So many of them are extremely unprepossessing. So buyer beware, your Iberian horse in open company may just not measure up!

    • Lusitanos and Andalusians ARE fantastic dressage horses. They may not have the extended trot of a German or Dutch warmblood but they have a natural ability for collection. Collection is the ultimate goal of dressage, not extended trot.
      As in every breed, there are good individuals and bad ones. Just because you are not familiar with good Iberians doesn’t mean they don’t exist. They can even do airs above the ground, which is more spectacular and skillful than extended trot.

  2. You did not mention there ability to side step 1- 2 meters at considerable speed! Almost like ‘teleportation’! It takes a little getting used to! Obviously a trait extremely useful in the melee of battle or when hurding bulls!

    • Regarding the first comment:
      There are “nags” in every breed of horse. It takes years for a lovely warm blood to gather up and be collected where any iderian has control of there young body with in a few sessions of starting them. And yes NO breed can almost run in any direction excepting the Iberian. And I would challenge any bread to be as in tune to humans as an Iberian. Concerning jumping: the small group I own love to jump….three feed and climbing…but they have a strong lusotano tendency. And yes Iberians are not known for jumping…who cares. If you want a big jumper go get a warm blood. But no breed is as easy to experience and train like the ancient Iberian.
      The big warm blood are so special and no dough big wonderful movers who are tuff competitors but they are not bread to love people like the Iberian.


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