English Mastiff vs Neapolitan Mastiff: Breed Quirks and Features

Being a big fan of the Mastiff family isn’t easy for dog lovers who are thinking of getting a new puppy. There are plenty of Mastiff breeds to choose from, but if all else aren’t the right fit except for the English and Neapolitan Mastiff, more thorough decision-making should be done. 

Both breeds share lots of similarities outside their huge sizes. They are both intimidating to look at yet they remain to be naturally tender and gentle beings which put them on the top list of dogs considered to be great family companions.

However, no matter how excellent they can be, not everyone is suited for these dogs. This prompts us to write an in-depth guide to assist you in determining which between the two is your missing puzzle piece. Let’s find out which breed that is!

Breed Origins

English Mastiff 

Photo from: kevin_theenglishmastiff (IG)

If we study closely where the roots of the great English Mastiff originated from, that would be from Tibet or Northern India where his ancestor, the Molosser, started to exist. This eminent forefather has brought down to his line his massive size which the Mastiffs are currently known for.

Some of the features such as his robust and solid build as well as his short muzzle are also evident on other dog breeds such as the Rottweiler and the Pug. When the English Mastiff emerged in civilization, men from the past largely used him as an aid in wars and even in entertainment. Fights were popular back then where bears and lions are pitted in the arena with this large canine.

Later on, the English Mastiff reached England, where he got further developed as a breed. Currently, there is the Lyme hall, a museum filled with arts and sculptures whose only subject is the Mastiff. This dog was a popular choice for guarding huge properties day and night.

The size was an obstacle to his survival during World Wars I and II. Fortunately, two Canadian English Mastiffs were available to reignite the near-extinct breed.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo from: lauraktay (IG)

Thousands of years ago, travelers settled with their large dogs as they made their way across several parts of the world such as Europe and Asia. Like all other Mastiff breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff, which is also called the Mastino, came from large war dogs presumably from Tibet. 

He was originally used as a field hand and farm protector in Naples, South of Italy. Remarkably, a journalist named Piero Scanziani, who had a penchant for dogs, discovered the Mastino and decided he would preserve and standardize the breed. Eventually, his hard work paid off as several canine registries accepted this as a distinct breed.

When he arrived in the US in 1973, the Neapolitan Mastiff Club of America was established in the same year. Other Neapolitan Mastiff clubs and associations eventually formed too after this well-loved dog breed got widely introduced. 

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

English Mastiff 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has only set a minimum height requirement for the English Mastiff which is 27.5 inches for the female and 30 inches for the male. This is because English Mastiffs can grow incredibly taller than what we may expect. Perhaps, this is also why this breed is considered the most massive of all known dogs.

As expected, this Mastiff is predisposed to weigh 120 to a whopping 230 pounds or more. 

Spotting this dog in the park is easy. He has a broad and large head with a black mask taking up most of the space on his face including his extremely loose and saggy jowls. His ears are of the same shade and it’s mostly matching with his paw pads. He is sturdy and muscular, making him capable of taking down anyone by just using his mass. His hind legs are strong, thick, and between them is his tapered tail which is docked in some instances.

There are only three AKC recognized coat colors for the English Mastiff and they are:

  • Fawn
  • Brindled
  • Apricot

Neapolitan Mastiff

In height range, the Mastino can be 24 to 31 inches tall, ideally. He should also weigh at least 110 pounds or not more than 150 pounds as per the breed standard set by the AKC. If the scale and the measuring tape are put aside, the Mastino won’t be seen as significantly smaller than the English Mastiff due to his build.

Looking at his features, one thing you would instantly notice from the side is his very loose skin on the neck. He was intentionally bred to have that feature so when an attacker bites, he could only get to damage the loose skin. This powerful beast is born with blue eyes and they gradually turn into brown or amber as he matures.

Another thing we should learn is that the Mastino was purposefully developed to look ugly and threatening hence the several folds present on his face. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Mastino lovers would see these folds as a wholly captivating feature. 

Neapolitan Mastiff colors usually include:

  • Blue
  • Black
  • Tawny brown
  • Mahogany
  • Brindled 


English Mastiff 

English Mastiffs are not aggressive by nature. They are calm, relaxed, and gentle, especially when kids are around. They love to form genuine relationships with their owners which is why most of them like to stick or go wherever their human is. 

Owning an English Mastiff means having to deal with his weight. He will sometimes forget about his size and lay on your lap for long periods, but don’t forget to keep your blood circulation going! 

Since he used to be a working dog, it is best if your Mastiff gets to have a company in the house. Having other dogs or pets will keep him from developing bad habits and this will improve his mental health as well. Naturally, if you expect visitors to come, a well-socialized pet will know how to treat guests nicely. However, if he feels that something is not right, he won’t hesitate to meddle.

Neapolitan Mastiff

It can be quite a handful to own a Neapolitan Mastiff if the owner doesn’t have much experience with large dogs. The Mastino is a smart breed who will run the show if he senses that it’s possible to do so. However, if he grows up to be a disciplined boy, a home full of love and affection with less tension will sprout. 

Just be wary that before getting a Neapolitan Mastiff puppy, you should be prepared to clean daily the floors, windows, or wherever he’ll end up slobbering. Despite the drooling tendency, this breed is by far, one of the most loyal dogs you can ever get. He’s naturally protective and highly territorial making him a dependable guard dog whenever you’re not at home.

Trainability & Intelligence 

English Mastiff 

The difficulty level of training an English Mastiff highly depends on the owner. It is best if you get creative in structuring pieces of training you want your dog to undergo since he can instantly get bored when the tasks are far from stimulating. 

If you train him with repetitive tricks, you will witness a stubborn Mastiff. For him, after he’s successfully done the challenge, doing it again is pointless. Also, even if you are a top-notch trainer, things might be very different if you deal with the English Mastiff. Aside from making him obey your commands, you’ll also have to constantly wipe off his dribbles. Overall, the Mastiff is an intelligent breed who just needs a little push so he can maximize his potential to learn.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo from: tannersarge (IG)

As mentioned, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a highly intelligent and territorial dog. Early socialization is essential every time you bring home a Mastino puppy so he’ll become more tolerant with the presence of new dogs or visitors. 

Moreover, the Neapolitan Mastiff will more likely become a sweet and affectionate dog only if he gets the right training he needs. That means he’s best-suited for experienced owners. This dog has an innate dominance within him and strongly believes he’s not a pushover. Being firm with the rules and never compromising on areas that might make him think that repeating an undesirable behavior is fine. 

Exercise Needs

English Mastiff 

Puppies shouldn’t be over-exercised since their bones are not fully developed. If they are exhausted daily, there is a chance that bone or joint issues will appear later in their lives. Since these are heavy dogs, it is suggested that owners bring their pets out for a 20-minute walk on average daily, morning and afternoon. Refrain him from running for too long, jogging excessively, or jumping since all these can be harmful to his health.

Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff needs little exercise! This low-energy dog will mostly be snoozing throughout the day. Even though adults would prefer lazing on their comfy dog beds, owners should still take them out for a walk as exercising always proves to be beneficial to their overall health. You can also make him play games to help him feel zestful, but avoid rough activities like wrestling as he might want to continue the habit even if he’s reached 150 pounds already. 

Maintenance Level

The English and the Neapolitan Mastiff are heavy droolers. Every owner should invest more in wet wipes, bandanas, or towels to maintain the look and hygiene of both dogs. They also shed a significant amount, especially during spring and fall so a high-quality brush should be ready in your grooming kit. To minimize their hair fall, these dogs can be bathed every 6 to 8 weeks depending on their activity level and lifestyle.

Health Issues

English Mastiff 

Cancer is currently the number 1 killer of this breed. There are no health screenings that can detect the onset, but checking your pup’s ancestry will help you in predetermining the health of your four-legged companion. Talk with your breeder if the parents or grandparents experienced the following conditions which your Mastiff will also be prone to:

  • Cherry eye
  • Bloat
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Hip & elbow dysplasia

Neapolitan Mastiff

Orthopedic issues are what usually strikes the Neapolitan breed. They are generally healthy as long as they were bred ethically, but this line remains to be vulnerable to certain conditions which may include:

  • Demodicosis
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Entropion 

Breed Popularity

As per the AKC’s breed popularity rankings, the following Mastiffs are placed on their respective current standings out of 200 dog breeds:

English Mastiff: 29th

Neapolitan Mastiff: 102nd

Fun Facts

English Mastiff 

Photo from: maximus_the_englishmastiff (IG)
  1. Aicama Zorba was an English Mastiff who broke the records as he weighed 343 pounds and measured 8 feet and 3 inches from nose to the tip of his tail!
  1. The Mastiff ranks 72nd in Corey’s The Intelligence of Dogs book.
  1. He was a bait dog during medieval times!
  1. This is one of the breeds which is considered expensive to own.
  1. The English Mastiff grows incredibly fast in just a few months!

Neapolitan Mastiff

  1. He’s got several nicknames aside from Mastino such as Italian Molosso and Can’E Presa.
  1. This dog is not very tolerant of cold and hot climates.
  1. Mastinos are sometimes referred to as ‘Giant Lap Dogs’.
  1. Fang in Harry Potter was a Neapolitan Mastiff!
  1. The Neo typically moves slowly and heavily.

What Mastiff is Better?

Considering these large breeds as potential future pets should mean that you are capable of training whichever dog you end up going for. Size-wise, the English Mastiff wins it, but if you prefer a large dog in a smaller package, the Neo would be a great choice. In personality, the Neo is mostly more serious about his guarding duties while the English dog is moderately protective.

Bearing all the information written and contemplating on your lifestyle, only YOU can determine which Mastiff is right for you!