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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.

8 – 10 years
50 – 70kg
58 – 77cm
Blue, black, all shades of grey, brown, fawn red and brindle. Small white markings may occur on the chest and toes
Kennel Club Group
The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Potential health risks
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed has a higher risk of health issues

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a brachycephalic breed; problems associated with this condition include:
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome: a condition in brachycephalic breeds (those with a short nose and squashed face) where breathing is obstructed and can lead to reduced ability to exercise, or even severe respiratory distress.
Skin inflammation/infection: brachycephalic breeds have a short nose and a normal amount of facial tissue. This means there is often excess skin around their face which leads to skin folds. The skin inside these folds can become sore and infections are prone to develop. 
Eye ulcers: ulcers are painful erosions on the surface of the eye. They are more common in brachycephalic breeds due to their conformation, as their eyes tend to be more bulbous.
The breed is also prone to:
- Hip dysplasia.
- Elbow dysplasia. 
- Gastric dilatation volvulus. 
- Entropion and/or ectropion which are painful conditions where the eyelids turn inwards or outwards, this happens as a result of excessive skin around the eyes.
- Cherry eye which is where a gland within the third eyelid pops up in the corner of the eye.  
- Dilated cardiomyopathy¹ which is a condition where the heart muscle becomes progressively weak and cannot beat properly.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing:
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme 
- Eye screening scheme 
- Breed club - heart testing
- Check inbreeding calculators 

¹M. Borgarelli at el, 'Prognostic Indicators for Dogs with Dilated Cardiomyopathy', 2006, Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine 


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.

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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