American Molossus vs Neapolitan Mastiff: A Battle of the Bigger Dogs

There is a certain confidence you can carry around while walking with you a large dog. They are eye-catching and show-stopping! With so many dog breeds you can choose from, not all of them are right for you. But, have you considered the American Molossus or the Neapolitan Mastiff as your new buddy?

These dogs are rooted from the ancient Roman war dogs and if that’s not fascinating enough, learn more about their temperament and everything that makes each of the breeds unique! Read more below…

Breed Origins

American Molossus

The American Molossus is an attempt of American modern dog breeders, specifically the AKC Neapolitan breeder named Marcus Curtis, to resurrect the ancient and famous Greek dog known to be the Molossus. They have crossed the Neapolitan Mastiff with other Mastiffs to produce an oversized Neapolitan Mastiff as an effort to emulate the Mesopotamian Molossus. 

Despite the claims that the past relic has been successfully revived, there is insufficient evidence that would tell us about the original Molossus. It’s certainly possible that despite the hard work, the American Molossus is nothing compared to the original dog. 

Commonly, the American Molossus functions as an excellent guard dog that has a stable temperament. There is also a vast amount of criticism regarding Curtis’ work- a show of genuine concern for the dog.

Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff was named after the city of its origin which is Naples, Italy. This large dog is a descendant of the great Roman war dog and the large British Mastiff. There is a reason why his look is unconventional to many of us. The exaggerated amount of loose skin in his face was purposefully included on how he would be bred as it serves as a defense if another animal attacks him. 

He is a guardian at heart and the duty involves many risks. What puts him at an advantage compared to other guardian-type of dog breeds when it comes to defending flocks against wild animals is that his loose skin will mostly receive all the hits instead of being completely inflicted through the muscles and bones.

World events like wars have threatened this breed’s existence. With food shortages and other crises happening during those times, maintaining a Neapolitan Mastiff became a burden. Pierre Scanziana, however, did not give up on the Mastino. The breed standards he wrote and his efforts paved the way for the Neo to spread all over the West.

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

American Molossus

Heavy-boned and enormous. Two words to describe the American Molossus. He is intimidating, imposing, and dignified as well. The looks make him a very suitable guard dog. He retains most of the Neapolitan Mastiff’s features like the big and square head and the loose skin. He has pendulous lips and dewlaps that hang freely.

Upon seeing him, you’ll feel like you’re watching a dog from the past. He exhibits a barbaric and powerful image, mesmerizing for most dog lovers. Despite him not being athletic, his appearance alone can shake a man who has ill intentions.

Measures-wise, the dog is 27 to 35 inches in height and 150 to 200 pounds in mass. He has to be black or black and brindle with a few white markings like on the chest or chin.

Neapolitan Mastiff

There are several distinct characteristics manifested by the Neapolitan Mastiff. The most striking is his prominently saggy skin that has countless folds, especially on the face. The dewlaps also have excess flappy skin. Sometimes, due to how extreme his appearance can be, you can barely see the eyes. If ever you do, you’d notice it to be either brown or amber.

His nose color usually matches the coat. There are four possible nose shades which may either be gray, black, isabela, or brown. Meanwhile, the coat color can be black, blue, mahogany, or tawny. 

Build-wise, the Neapolitan Mastiff is considered to be large. He’s 24 to 31 inches in height and 110 to 150 pounds in weight, ideally. 


American Molossus

The Neapolitan Mastiff’s contribution to the American Molossus runs strongly. The temperament remains to be calm and gentle and there have been no reports indicating that he has an unstable personality. Although he is a guard dog, the American Molossus does not show aggression or attack any unfamiliar person without any reason. He’s always wary, however, and would never permit anyone to show disrespect on his territory.

He can be a good family companion, but his presence can be a danger to toddlers. This massive dog can cause mishaps, especially if his interaction with kids is not supervised. As with any other dog, the American Molossus can be dangerous only when he’s taught to be.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Solid and reliable. The Neapolitan Mastiff serves better as a defense rather than an attack dog. He’s unmoveable and persistent in guaranteeing the safety of his loved ones. His protective instinct is strong, therefore, meeting strangers would instantly make him feel skeptical. He’s alert and aware of the surroundings- traits that are to be expected from a guard dog.

Even though his imposing image protrudes, a different side of him shows when it comes to his family. He’s deeply affectionate and loyal, but his stubborn personality shows at certain times. His natural dominance means that he’d need a stronger leader who will teach him how to obey. Someone who will not give in to the dog’s demands. 

Furthermore, socialization and other pieces of training are vital. The Mastino must learn how to be friendly around new dogs and people.

Exercise Needs

American Molossus

Size can affect the amount of exercise a dog would need. The American Molossus, in particular, is not a highly energetic dog. Although, when he’s provoked, he can move quickly in a short time. You can talk to your vet and let him determine the right amount and the kind of drills this dog would require. 

Of course, sweating off needs to be done regularly since his size can make him vulnerable to obesity. 

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo from: amaya2873 (IG)

Tailoring an exercise plan for the Neapolitan Mastiff is done by observing and assessing his activity level, health, age, and metabolism rate, to name a few. Generally, a healthy adult Mastino would need at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise daily. Drills don’t have to be overwhelming. 

Since he’s a large and heavy dog, you can opt for mild ones such as a long walk around the park or let him explore at a fenced area.

Grooming Requirements

American Molossus

A bath must be done only when it’s necessary. If the American Molossus likes to play in the mud or his body starts emitting odor, that’s an indicator that you have to wash him right away. Brush his coat to remove all loose hairs. Check as well the folds of his skin and clean them constantly to avoid the development of yeast infections. Other routine checks are imperative such as nail trimming and teeth and ear cleaning. 

Neapolitan Mastiff

Due to his dense and short coat, the Mastino would need regular baths and brushings. Washing him can take place anywhere between 6 to 8 months or depending on how clean he is. 

Before you lead him in the tub, it is recommended to run a slicker brush throughout his body first to speed up his shedding. Once you’re done making him clean, use a facial and soft cloth to wipe out each of his folds. These areas are prone to infection if left unchecked.

Health Problems

American Molossus

Not a dog breed in this world is free from health problems. When it comes to the American Molossus, the medical issues he’ll most certainly have can be linked to his size. This includes:

  • Spondylosis
  • Wobblers syndrome
  • Joint issues
  • Kidney problems

Neapolitan Mastiff

There are some issues common to the Italian Mastiff breed. Although not all Neos will get all conditions they’re susceptible to, the risk remains high. Some of which includes:

  • Gastric torsion
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Visceral leishmaniasis
  • Entropion/ectropion

Breed Popularity

The Neapolitan Mastiff which was recognized in 2004 by the American Kennel Club (AKC) is 102nd out of 200 officially listed dog breeds. On the other hand, the American Molossus is a relatively new breed that is yet to be tested if he’ll make it to the AKC’s list. His popularity doesn’t show much yet, but what’s certain is that families all over the US are starting to go for this dog. 

Which Dog Is Right for You?

Assess which dog can your home welcome. The American Molossus would need a bigger space and an owner dedicated enough to take care of him without ignoring the responsibility that comes with his size. Meanwhile, the Neapolitan Mastiff is great for those who want a non-extreme sizable dog with the same gentle temperament.