Neapolitan Mastiff vs Pitbull: What Are Their Differences?

The obvious differences between the Neapolitan Mastiff and the Pitbull are their physical appearance, size, temperament, and history. However, both canines share the same trait- they are fearless. 

If you are looking for a new family addition and you are not sure whether to get a Neapolitan Mastiff puppy or a Pitbull, this post will put into detail their profiles so you’d see which one resonates with your lifestyle more. Read more below…

Breed Origins

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo from: ccjodi (IG)

The Neapolitan Mastiff is all over the world but its root goes back to its native Italian soil. He first appeared within the vicinity of Naples. Records show that the Neapolitan Mastiff is one of the many breeds that descended from the renowned Roman war dogs. The large British Mastiff also has a significant contribution to the creation of the Neapolitan Mastiff.

The said breed is known to have an extreme amount of loose skin. Breeders did not give much focus to making his beauty conform to societal standards but rather gave more importance to utility. 

This oddly beautiful canine almost went extinct during World War II but was successfully reintroduced, later on, thanks to the effort of Piere Scanziana.


Photo from: pitbull_train (IG)

The history of Pitbulls can be traced back to the United Kingdom in the 1800s. Documents prove that they have come from the old English Bulldogs who have a similar appearance to the American Bulldogs of today. The Pitbull canine gained massive popularity in the British Isles due to its heavy involvement in bull-baiting. One or two canines are set out in a ring and their purpose is to harass the bull until the animal cannot bear it any longer, much to the entertainment of the struggling classes. You can say that bull-baiting was a favorite pastime back then. 

In 1835, the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 was passed into law and bull-baiting waned. People looked for other ways to satisfy their thirst for amusement and switched to ratting and eventually, dogfighting.

Nowadays, several organizational groups strive to put the Pitbull in a positive light. Unfortunately, criminal gangs popularly use this type of canine as part of their security. Nevertheless, Pitbulls who end up with the right and responsible owners show that they can be suitable companions. 

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

Neapolitan Mastiff

No feature of the Neapolitan Mastiff is more striking than his size. As a Mastiff, it is just given that he is massive! He ideally weighs about 110 pounds to 150 pounds with a height at withers of 24 inches to 31 inches. As a puppy, you’d notice him grow fast in just one year. This is because his body catches up with the predisposed size.

There are so many wrinkles in this dog breed. The saggy skin is often prominently found on his jowls, face, armpit, and chest. His eyes look gentle despite his menacing build and these are sometimes hidden by his heavy eyelids. The nose is color-coordinated to his coat which comes in various colors such as:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Mahogany
  • Tawny

He can have brindle and white markings on some areas excluding his face. Commonly, white patches are seen on the chest and toes. 


You can easily identify a Pitbull just by looking at his massive skull and solidly built body. Most of them are muscular and the small eyes are enough to intimidate you. There is no exact look for the Pitbull, but generally, some can be lean while others look wider and chunkier. 

The almond-shaped eyes of the Pitbull come in different striking colors such as green, hazel, and dark brown. He has a wide, strong jaw and a chest so muscular. To give the Pitbull an added scary appearance, owners would often subject their dogs to having their ears cropped. A more alert and sinister look is often the result of such a process. This is deemed unnecessary and painful for the Pitbull.

The size of the Pitbull ranges from medium to large. His coat is short and comes in natural colors like the following:

  • Grey
  • Black
  • Brindle
  • Fawn
  • White 
  • Red


Neapolitan Mastiff

Something you won’t expect from the Neapolitan Mastiff is his inclination to act like a lap dog! He is an excellent protector and would never compromise your kid’s safety at the sight of an intruder. He barks stronger than he bites, but his voice alone can ward uninvited guests off your home.

Since the Neapolitan Mastiff’s history as a guardian remains strong, socialization is highly needed. A trained dog should know how to react properly in various situations. He must not see other dogs as a threat nor show aggression to unfamiliar people. 

By making sure that your dog is well-socialized, he’ll grow up to be even-tempered, gentle, and kind to others, especially to your kids. 


There are many words to describe a Pitbull. He is affectionate, intelligent, clownish, gentle, loyal, obedient, and courageous. Although he is often put in a bad light due to various Pitbull attacks worldwide, such cases are often the result of bad ownership. 

Although, of course, it is worth noting that genetic temperament exists and that two Pitbulls with bad behaviors can reproduce offspring with the same temperament. Nevertheless, if this is the case, more commitment and dedication to training the dog is needed.

A Pitbull raised in a loving family can become an ideal pet. He will require lots of positive reinforcements and socialization to encourage him in showing good personality traits. Harsh discipline and punishments do not hone him for the better. If you introduce new pets or people to him, do so properly to avoid him from showing aggression.

Exercise Needs

Neapolitan Mastiff

Letting your Neapolitan Mastiff run and play around is essential, but minimize romping and other movements that can damage his joints. Remember, this is a heavy dog that is prone to dysplasia. He overheats quickly too so mind the warm weather. Additionally, this is the kind of dog that will play with you if you want. He has moderate levels of energy and would typically need an hour of exercise daily.

Puppies may want to move around more than they should. Simply monitor them and stop their play before they get too tired.


A 1-2 hour exercise helps the Pitbull in exerting his pent-up energy. This has to be done daily so he doesn’t get bored indoors. It is best if you have a yard where he can play or have you as his playmate often. Drills that are physically and mentally challenging make him fit and healthy, so you can add in some bits of his training lessons.

Be careful not to over-exhaust this dog nor leave him out in the sun.

Grooming Requirements

Neapolitan Mastiff

Keep a towel handy to keep your Neapolitan Mastiff’s mouth and face dry from his constant drooling. When it comes to his short coat, a bath here and there is enough to keep him clean. You can do it every 6-8 weeks or more often than that depending on his lifestyle. Inspect his eyes and ears regularly and clean them with a damp cloth when needed. Keep his nails short as well.


The Pitbull is a low-maintenance dog. His coat can be washed only when it’s dirty. Brushing him a few times weekly is still a prerequisite. Other routine checks must be done as well to keep him clean and free from infections and parasites. Always trim his nails when they grow too long and inspect his ears for wax build-up. 

Health Problems

Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiffs are generally robust and hardy dogs. Despite the extremely loose skin, most dogs of this kind are free from skin problems. There are various health problems common to giant breeds and the Neapolitan Mastiff is no exception. Some includes:

  • Gastric torsion
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism 


Despite not being an official breed, the Pitbull is healthy for the most part. If there are health problems that may develop in him, they are mostly the following:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Thyroid problems
  • Congenital heart defect

Breed Popularity

Out of 200 recognized dog breeds, the American Kennel Club (AKC) puts the Neapolitan Mastiff at 102nd place. Meanwhile, the Pitbull is not an official breed. He remains to be popular, however, since 20% of the entire dog population in the US are Pitbull-type dogs.

Which Dog Breed Should You Get?

Evaluate your living condition, preference, and lifestyle. The Neapolitan Mastiff is a big doggo and would need a considerably larger space than the Pitbull. On the other hand, the Pitbull’s exercise needs a longer period to sweat off than the Neapolitan dog. They vary in temperament but difference shows more in looks. Life span may be a factor too, so see which dog ticks the box!