Like Miohippus, this species had three toes on each foot. However, Parahippus was the first Equid to carry its weight exclusively on the last bone of the central toe (the pedal bone). The claws gradually developed into hooves and the previously cushioning pads were incorporated into the hoof capsule, forming the frog and the heel bulbs. Some of the bones in the distal limb fused and thus provided more stability; this reduced the range for rotational movement of the limbs.
The muscles on the limb moved more closer to the trunk and long, strong tendons developed which reached into the distal limb, stabilised the latter and enabled an efficient transmission of muscle power to the limbs.
Parahippus is considered a mixed feeder, somewhere between browser and grazer. It had high-crowned molars and was probably one of the first horses that included a larger proportion of grass in its diet and lived to some extent on open plains. It is also assumed that Parahippus was one of the first horses where the teeth erupted throughout its life.
With a shoulder height of about 1m, it was the largest Equid to have evolved so far.