Neapolitan Mastiff vs Rottweiler: A Mastiff Breed Comparison

Many people are continuously becoming obsessed with the different Mastiff breeds. Two of the most famous dogs on the list are the Neapolitan Mastiff and the Rottweiler. They both share certain qualities, but they can differ in some other areas. Size, strength, and nature are bound strongly to these canines, and if you have a penchant for pets like these, you must get to know them first before you ultimately bring a puppy into your home.

Find out their history, temperament, needs, and more through this comprehensive article!

Breed Origins

Neapolitan Mastiff

The pride of Naples, Italy is no other than the Neapolitan Mastiff who’s believed to have been around 700 BC. In its creation, if there’s anyone to thank for, it would be Alexander the Great who crossed his renowned massive Roman war dogs with the Indian short-haired canines which we better know as the Molossus. 

This massive ancient dog was, later on, developed further to become a breed that can be useful in combat. He was mated with the other large canines and out of this came the Neapolitan Mastiff or also known as the Mastino. The Mastino was then selectively bred by farmers to have loose and saggy skin, but with short, smooth hair. They focused more on his temperament so he’ll become a loyal and suitable guard dog. 

He eventually became Italy’s national treasury and Piero Scanziani drafted the first breed standards. The Mastino’s fame grew all over Europe in the 1970s and gradually reached America.


The exact origin of the Rottweiler is unknown until today, but what’s certain is that he’s part of the Mastiff family and is closely related to the Roman war dogs. Originally, the Rottweiler served as a livestock herder for the army. When he got further developed, the dog transitioned into a cattle dog. It was in the German town of Rottweil where the breed was improved hence the name “Rottweiler”. At one point in his history, the Rottweiler was hailed as the Butcher’s Dog of Rottweil.

The dog almost got diminished when modernization took place, but before he got pushed to the brink of extinction, he became a police dog or a military companion. He served as a Red Cross dog, a messenger, and many other things that greatly helped the army. Due to his hard-working nature, the Rottweiler’s popularity exploded and spread throughout various parts of the world. Until now, he’s a top choice as a police dog.

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff is famous for its excessive amount of skin which is more prominent on his face and other parts of the body like the dewlaps. He has a gentle expression with eyes that are nearly covered by his saggy eyelids. Due to how his face is predisposed to look, the Italian Mastiff is prone to heavy drooling. 

If measured according to his height at withers, the Mastino can be 24-31 inches. This is then complemented by his weight that can ideally reach 110-150 pounds. Since he’s a large dog, it is expected that puppies will gain weight rapidly in a short period. Of course, his full maturation will take some time before they complete the phase of growth. 

The breed is known to have brindle markings or four natural colors which are:

  • Tawny
  • Mahogany
  • Blue 
  • Black 


Photo from: bigboy.bullet (IG)

The Rottweiler is known for its stocky build and intimidating appearance. His common trademark might be the two tan points on his eyebrows. He is compact, strong, and longer than tall. The desired height for this dog is anywhere between 22-27 inches. Meanwhile, the best weight that complements his towering height can be around 80-135 pounds, 

This medium-to-large dog has a huge head, strong jaws, a wide muzzle, and a scissor bite. His brown, almond-shaped eyes look alert and keen to observe everyone around him. His double coat is shiny, flat, coarse, dense, and water-resistant. Rottweilers have black as their natural color with brown shades in certain parts of their bodies such as the chest, dewlap, and lower feet. 


Neapolitan Mastiff

When raised properly, the Neapolitan Mastiff will grow up to be the most loyal pet. He is a guard dog by nature and he may become too protective of those he considered his family. Intruders will have a difficult time dealing with the Mastino and the appearance of this dog alone can be terrifying enough for them. 

Behind this tough persona, don’t be surprised to know that he is extremely affectionate. It is alright to let him bond with kids but this should only happen when the children are older and someone supervises them. The dog won’t intentionally hurt them, but the size of him can cause mishaps. 

He is moderately friendly, especially if he was brought up in a sociable environment. Playing is not particularly interesting for him, but he won’t be saying no to it all the time. 


There is a misconception that Rottweilers are dangerous and aggressive due to their current status as police dogs. However, the contrary is true since they only act out when there is a reason. A well-trained dog knows how to behave and when to show belligerence.

As a family dog, he is high on affection. He does well with kids, but not much with other dogs. This is a naturally dominant dog. Socialization can make him more open to bonding with other pets and training can also have a huge impact on his general behavior.

Intelligence is his excellent trait, so giving him drills won’t be that overwhelming for you. 

Exercise Needs

Neapolitan Mastiff

The breed doesn’t require a lot of exercises, but this remains important to manage his joint health and weight. He can sometimes act like a couch potato, but don’t stop encouraging him to go out with you for a walk.

As a puppy, you have to know when to stop him from playing. Too much exercise can damage his joints, so try to limit his running and jumping activities. Always keep an eye on him whenever he’s outside and take note of the weather. The Mastino is prone to overheating and shouldn’t be under the sun for too long.


The Rottweiler breed is a highly energetic one. He would need vigorous exercise daily that can last up to 2 hours. Divide this into smaller sessions so he won’t be over-exhausted. For those who live in apartments, the Rottweiler won’t do well on such a type of living. He will need a yard where he can constantly run around to keep his energy released. 

Grooming Requirements

Neapolitan Mastiff

It can be quite challenging to maintain a Mastino’s hygiene so proper dedication to it is needed. To manage his constant shedding, use a high-quality brush and thoroughly run it through his coat. This will make his body much cleaner and in a lesser need for baths. Washing him must take place every 6-8 weeks.

Regular cleaning of his ear, teeth, and nail-trimming are also needed to keep him healthy. Also, don’t forget to wrap a bib around his neck to catch the slobber!


Basic grooming care is what the Rottweiler would require. He sheds moderately, but the amount will start to vary once the spring or fall season starts. Use high-quality and canine-appropriate brush and grooming tools to keep him clean, neat, and tidy. 

Since this dog likes to move around, his nails can naturally be trimmed down, but do check for any signs of overgrowth. Ear and oral care should not be compromised to improve his overall health.

Health Problems

Neapolitan Mastiff

There are several ailments on the list which the Neapolitan Mastiff is particularly susceptible to and they are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Bloat 

Proper diet and nutrition along with regular vet check-ups are essential in keeping him away from various serious medical conditions.


Hereditary issues are common to the Rottweiler breed. Although responsible breeders work hard to minimize health problems, it’s still possible that the Rottie develop one or more conditions like the following:

  • Osteochondrosis
  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Entropion 

Breed Popularity

The American Kennel Club’s Breed Popularity index currently places the following breeds in their respective ranks out of 200 recognized dogs:

Neapolitan Mastiff: 102nd

Rottweiler: 8th

Which Mastiff Is Best Suited for You?

Although both discussed breeds are from the Mastiff family, it is clear that either one of them isn’t for everyone. Rottweilers need firm owners who can commit a huge chunk of their daily time training and exercising their pets. Meanwhile, Neapolitan Mastiffs are less demanding when it comes to their needs in exercise, but training requirements remain to be high.

Both dogs are great family companions. Determine which of them complements your lifestyle and see as well if you can adequately provide their exigencies.