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Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff Books

Group: Working - Breed Standard


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a large, ancient breed of dog that can be traced back to about 100 BC. This dog is a massive, awe-inspiring breed often used as a guard and defender of owner and property. The Neapolitan Mastiff is a descendant of the Molossus, the mammoth war dogs of the Middle East, and was frequently used in the Roman arenas pitted against lions, bears, and gladiators for entertainment. As dogs of war, they fought alongside the Roman legions, and in this way they were spread throughout Europe. Eventually the descendants of the Roman Molossian splintered into several different Mastiff breeds known across Europe.

The ancestral form of the Mastino was a favourite breed of Alexander the Great, who was given a pair by the defeated Asian king, King Porus, in northern India in the year 326 BC.

In the 1940s, this breed was rediscovered near Naples in Italy, and is now beginning to make a comeback.


Neapolitan Mastiffs are characterised by loose skin over their entire bodies; abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head; and a voluminous dewlap. Coats can be Gray (Blue), Black, tawny and mahogany, each color may also come with reverse brindling . They can sometimes also have white on the chest or feet. Ears usually are half pricked. It has a large blocky head and a rolling gait.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a fearless protector when it needs to be but is affectionate with its family and the family's friends; as a guarding breed it is quite wary around strangers but relaxes once it gets to know the person. It does not bark excessively and indeed only barks when something provokes it. Males can be much more aggressive and dominant than females. A female works best in a home with a family, as she is a bit more docile and better with children. These dogs are, however, usually very loving with children, provided the children do not tease them. Males do not get along with other males, but the Neopolitan can get along well with noncanine pets if raised with them from puppyhood.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed for everyone and not a dog for beginners. Children should be taught to respect these dogs. Neapolitan Mastiffs should be well socialised at an early age to avoid over-protectiveness. They will be quite protective even with extensive socialisation. Males often drool quite heavily. They tend to drool more in hot weather or after drinking water.

Breed Health

The Neo is generally hardy, but like all breeds, has some specific health concerns. The most common and worrisome is hip dysplasia. Other include: Ectropion, Entropion, Cherry eye, Elbow dysplasia, Progressive retinal atrophy, Hypothyroidism, Cardiomyopathy, Bloat, Skin infections between skin folds. Additionally, Neos do not do well in hot weather, and are prone to heatstroke. Like most giant breeds of dogs, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not particularly long-lived, averaging 9 to 11 years.

Breed Care

Due to the extensive wrinkle and large body mass Neapolitans do require extra care and maintenance for bathing, cleaning the face and body. Neapolitans also drool while excited, while eating and also drinking and they do make a mess. People that own or have owned a drooling breed have ample supplies of drool rags or towels that are not only around the home and kennel but carried with them at all times as well. If the wrinkles are not cared for properly the neapolitan mastiff will smell, can form acne due to the infections. A neapolitan's face and wrinkles should be kept as dry as possible in order to prevent such infections from forming.


Don't let the Neapolitan's size or laid back look fool you, they have bursts of energy like any other dog especially while young so they need to have room to run and play. When it comes to exercise, Neapolitans are not a jogging breed as their energy tends to be short lived and their weight causes stress to their joints when excessive.


As a breed the Neapolitan Mastiff can be stubborn, but it does not require repetitious training — once it understands what its master wants, it obeys. It has a dominant attitude and must be taught from puppyhood that its master is the boss, not the other way around. Additional protection training is unnecessary because they are natural guard dogs and have been for ages. Obedience training is very important in this breed. See our books on training

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Last link added: 29 Nov, 2006