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Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a truly massive dog, well-built and powerful, and dressed in an oversized skin that forms the iconic loose folds of dewlap and lips the breed is famous for. The coat should be short, dense and hard in texture with a good sheen. Skin should be loose, but not excessively so.

  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking an hour a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks, alerts and it's physically protective
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 8 – 10 years
Weight: 50 – 70kg
Height: 58 – 77cm
Colours: Blue, black, all shades of grey, brown, fawn red and brindle. Small white markings may occur on the chest and toes
Size: Large
Kennel Club Group: Working

Ratings

Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 3/5
Grooming needs: 4/5
Shedding: 3/5
Neapolitan Mastiff on a leash

Personality

Whilst the Neo’s background in fighting is long in the past, they remain a vigilant guarding breed. Loyal to family and well known friends, and generally even-tempered, the well trained Neo is still likely to treat strangers in a reserved and aloof manner.

In common with many larger breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff can be clumsy and seemingly unaware of their size and power, so caution is recommended when it comes to play and games involving wrestling or biting are not recommended at all. Often appearing serious and watchful, they can be affectionate, goofy and silly with their family. Drool is a serious consideration with this breed, it can be flung a long way!

The Neapolitan Mastiff can live happily with other animals if raised with them, but is better off with other dogs of the opposite sex, and due to their size, smaller animals are at risk even from well-intentioned play.

Neapolitan Mastiff with green colar

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Italy

The Neapolitan Mastiff’s origins lie in the heavy, loose skinned molosser types favoured by the Romans for fighting lions and humans, guarding all manner of property and even going to war. The modern Neapolitan Mastiff owes much to the Italian artist Piero Scanziani who created the accepted breed standard and was instrumental in gaining official recognition for the breed.

The Neapolitan Mastiff has been used as a police dog and guard dog, but is more typically found as a show dog and companion breed.

Health and Common Issues

As with many breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip and elbow dysplasia (joint conditions that can be painful and lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. They are also particularly prone to skin infections.

The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website.

Exercise Needs

Adults will not require huge amounts of exercise, several shorter walks totalling an hour being better for their joints than one long romp. The Neapolitan Mastiff is not an active, athletic breed and so freedom to trot at their own pace will be appreciated.

Puppies must be managed carefully as such a huge frame takes time to build and mature, and so avoiding long walks, uneven or steep ground and stairs is important.

Space Requirements

The Neapolitan Mastiff requires a huge amount of indoor space, clear of items that can be knocked over and ideally, wipe clean! This is not a dog who can turn in a small space, or fit into a small car. Everything you need to buy for a Neo will need to be specialist or extra-large.

Adult Neapolitan Mastiffs may manage a short flight of stairs once or twice a day, but puppies must avoid them, so sufficient ground floor space is required.

Outdoor access need not be vast as the Neo is not inclined to galloping around, so a medium sized garden will be sufficient.

Nutrition and Feeding

Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Neapolitan Mastiff is prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.

Grooming Neapolitan Mastiffs

Daily grooming is not troublesome - a stiff bristle brush can be used a couple of times a week or when needed for the coat, although you will need to wipe out any skin folds daily, and after meals and drinks.

Check paws daily for foreign bodies as whilst they are not particularly hairy, it’s easy for things to become lodged between toes or pads.

Full baths may be something you need professional help with due to the size, as this breed is unlikely to fit into the average bathroom.

Expect to clean up both dog and flooring after every drink, and have towels handy for wiping up drool.

Training Neapolitan Mastiffs

Despite looking like a big tough bruiser, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a surprisingly sensitive learner, so positive reinforcement and patient training methods are required. Training in short bursts and ‘as you go along’ will fit them better than extended training sessions.

Focus on socialisation and polite manners around people and other animals, as they are sufficiently large and imposing that they will receive none of the lee-way smaller breeds may get for bumptious or enthusiastic play. Also focus on lead walking so you are in control of such a large, strong dog when you are out and about.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Whilst loyal and affectionate with family, this is a slow maturing, extremely large breed and the associated chewing, jumping up and exuberant playing when young means that this is not an ideal breed for families with very small children or anyone who can be easily knocked over. This same caveat should apply to homes with much smaller dogs.

For those with the space, wipe clean home and large vehicle who want a larger dog with lower exercise requirements, the Neapolitan Mastiff can be an excellent member of the family.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Whilst the three headed dog ‘Fang’, loyal companion to Hagrid in the Harry Potter books was meant to be a Great Dane, in the films Fang was played by multiple Neapolitan Mastiffs. Nine dogs were used across the film franchise, and during filming and time on set they would enjoy huge amounts of chicken, tripe and steak every day (in fact they probably ate better - and more - than the actors).
  • Neapolitan Mastiff owners sometimes hold informal ‘drool’ or ‘goober’ competitions with awards for highest fling or longest drool string!
  • They’ve been nicknamed the ‘200-pound lapdog’ due to their affectionate natures.
  • The breed is also known as: Mastini, Mastino, Mastino Napoletano, Italian Molosso, Can’e Presa, Mastino Neapolitano and Italian Mastiff.
  • Due to their roots, they have very high prey drives so you’ll need to be careful when they’re off the lead as recall can’t always be relied upon.

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