The small head has wide-set eyes and alert ears. Most are close-coupled, with strong hindquarters and loins. The Dartmoor pony has short legs with a medium amount of bone, and tough feet. They have a free shoulder, with flowing gaits. The ponies have a full mane and tail.
The Dartmoor pony has a kind temperament, the ponies being reliable, gentle and calm. Under the breed standard, introduced in 1924, a Dartmoor pony should stand at no more than 12.2 hands (1.24 m), with most being between 11.1 hands (1.13 m) and 12.2 hands (1.24 m), and it should be bay, brown, black, grey, chestnut or roan. Piebald and skewbald exist but are not recognized by the breed society, and derive from interbreeding with other ponies; large amounts of white on legs or face are also frowned upon.
Although Exmoor ponies live fairly close geographically and markings are somewhat similar, evidence now suggests that Dartmoor ponies and Exmoor ponies are not related as was once thought.