Are Neapolitan Mastiffs Good Guard Dogs? Train Them on How to Be!

The Neapolitan Mastiff is naturally protective of his family which makes him a great guard dog. Often, people would think that a guard dog has an image of a canine violently yapping, growling, and readying to pounce at anyone at any moment. However, a confident Neapolitan Mastiff does not act like this. He is reasonable in every action.

Photo from: hyphys_crew (IG)

Training is a key component in raising your puppy into a dependable and excellent protection dog. The good news is, the process won’t be too overwhelming! If you are considering this wonderful Italian Mastiff breed, learn more about him as a guard dog and know what you can do to hone his natural ability to protect his family.

Why Neapolitan Mastiffs Are Excellent Guard Dogs

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Various reasons come into mind as to why Neapolitan Mastiffs were popularly used as guard dogs in the past. Even if they have transitioned into family companions now, their natural talent is still there. You can say that their guarding skills run in their blood, especially that they were bred to become the property and estate guardians. 

So what makes Neapolitan Mastiffs excellent at being guard dogs? The list below will tell you:


The wrinkly appearance was given to the Neapolitan Mastiff breed for a reason. Breeders did not focus on how he’d look but rather gave importance to practicality. The extremely loose skin was meant to protect the dog from animal attacks considering that he, being a guard dog, comes with many risks. He was also a field worker, and several kinds of predators are nearby farms.

With the presence of this intimidating canine, trespassers and wild animals would usually have second thoughts about whether they take a risk confronting this Italian canine or simply let go of the idea of threatening the safety that is highly valued by this dog.


As a Mastiff-type dog, it is already expected that the Italian breed will appear massive once he reaches adulthood. Females may be smaller than their male counterparts as they are around 24 to 29 inches tall only with a mass of 110 pounds, yet still, they are considered large dogs which appear to be menacing, especially if you see one in person. Meanwhile, male Neapolitan Mastiffs can be 26 to 31 inches in height at withers and would ideally be 150 pounds in weight.

The sheer size can knock anyone’s knees with fear all the more if he knows he did something the dog deems to be alarming. 

Protective Instinct

You may hear a lot of owners say that their Neapolitan Mastiffs are very affectionate as pets. This behavior, however, is exclusively shown to their family members and loved ones, and anyone they are not familiar with is sure to see a different kind. Neapolitan Mastiffs are very untrusting toward strangers. They suddenly become alert and observant in case the stranger will show abnormal behaviors.

If ever anyone dares to harm you or the kids, this dog will place himself in the middle. He’ll protect you no matter what is at risk for him!

Territorial Instinct

With proper training, a Neapolitan Mastiff should be able to react properly whenever he’s on guarding mode. Simply put, he does not like the sight of unfamiliar people in a place which he ought to guard. Whether it be his family’s car, garden, home, or even if someone unknown gets near your kids, he’ll show a certain behavior that is enough to warn you not to get nearer.

How to Raise Neapolitan Mastiffs as Guard Dogs

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Although Neapolitan Mastiffs are generally good candidates to guard, it does not mean that all of them are suited for it. Their nature to protect should be nourished by owners while they gradually mature if they want their canines to excel in such a field.

So how can you raise your Neapolitan Mastiff as a guard dog? Here are the basic things to incorporate in his training:

Basic Obedience

A good guard dog should be able to obey its owner. This gives you and those around him the confidence that he won’t cause harm to anybody. Teach him what “no”, “sit”, or “stay” means so that if ever he does something that he should not do, you can just stop him verbally without breaking too much sweat. 

Although the Neapolitan Mastiff dog is smart in his right, it can be a challenge to get him to obey your commands. He’s downright stubborn and would often try to dominate you. If you are experienced in handling dogs like him, basic obedience training will be a success in no time.


Socialization means taking your dog regularly outside to meet people and other dogs or animals. This experience should be seen as rewarding and positive, so your Neapolitan Mastiff will realize that interaction is beneficial for his well-being. Those who lack socialization training often develop fear-based aggression and this can’t give you the credence that he’ll become a dependable guard dog.

Positive Rewards

Using treats and rewards helps a lot in the success of every dog training. Associate his good behaviors with something pleasant to encourage him to repeat and eventually learn the skill that is being taught to him. If you tell your Neapolitan Mastiff to “sit” and he obeys immediately, offer him a treat right away. 


Doing the drill with consistency is a key to a well-behaved dog. It is highly suggested that you don’t compromise in training your Neapolitan Mastiff so he gets to have a firm grasp of the lessons that are instilled in him. Commit yourself to teaching your dog daily, but make sure that the sessions are not too lengthy to the point that they will bore or frustrate your dog. 

Eliminate Bad Behaviors

There are certain behaviors that may predominantly be exhibited by a certain breed. As for the case of the Neapolitan Mastiff, one obstacle that you have to eliminate is his stubbornness. Establish yourself as the alpha and help him understand that he has to submit to you. If he tries to disobey you and does something else instead, you can tell him to “stop” so he learns that you’re not pleased by his actions. 

Guard Dog Traits

A good guard dog should be alert at all times. The Neapolitan Mastiff should bark once somebody knocks on the door and stop immediately once he realizes that the person is not a threat. Furthermore, the dog should have an even and predictable temperament.

Get a Neapolitan Mastiff Guard Dog Only If…

  • You are experienced in training self-willed dogs.
  • You want a dog who would protect your home and family. 
  • You have an alpha attitude.
  • You can handle a dog of his size. 
  • Your kids know how to be gentle with him.

Don’t Get a Neapolitan Mastiff Guard If…

  • Your state placed a ban on owning Neapolitan Mastiffs.
  • You don’t have much time to train him.
  • You have very young kids or smaller pets.
  • You are a first-time owner.
  • You don’t know the breed too well.