Westphalians are bred to the same standard as the other German warmbloods and in particular exchange a great deal of genetic material with the nearby Rhinelander and Hanoverian. The standard for all German riding horses calls for an appealing, long-lined, correct riding horse with bold, expansive, elastic gaits, suitable for all types of riding due to its temperament, character, and rideability. The Westphalian's type is less refined than that of a Thoroughbred, but less coarse than that of a "cold blood". Westphalians usually stand between 15.2 to 17.2 hands high at the withers and weigh between 1000 and 1300 lbs.
The Westphalian registry, or verband, does not discriminate on color or markings, however, colors other than black, bay, chestnut, and grey are rare. The best way to identify a Westphalian is by the brand on the left hip: a crowned shield containing the letter "W" which Westphalians receive when they are awarded their papers at a foal show.