Neapolitan Mastiff 101: The Essential Guide

OriginItaly
SizeLarge
Height           24 to 31 inches
Weight110 to 150 pounds
Life Expectancy7 – 9 years
Breed GroupWorking Group
Affection Level⭐⭐⭐
Friendliness
Activity Level⭐⭐
Barking/Howling Level
Pet Friendly
Kid-Friendly⭐⭐
Shedding⭐⭐
Easy to Groom⭐⭐
Easy to Train⭐⭐

Origin

The first Mastiffs started to exist originally in Tibet and some other parts of Asia. It is believed that they are already around for more than a thousand years and they gradually developed into different Mastiff breeds. One among these is the Neapolitan Mastiff dog which flourished in Southern Italy in the area of Naples, hence the dog’s similarity in name. He’s a descendant of the Roman war dogs and the massive British Mastiff.

The breeders of the Neapolitan Mastiff focused on having a large dog with an extreme amount of loose skin that would prove beneficial in case the canine gets attacked. Of course, they also have in mind that the dog should possess traits such as being loyal and loving toward his family. For countless years, the Neo was deemed as a treasure as he diligently guarded large estates and properties. 

Unfortunately, despite his mild and affectionate temperament and protective instinct, this dog almost went extinct during World War II. Industrialization also made a big impact upon the Italian dog’s existence. Thankfully, Italy is determined to save the breed.

Around 1946, this dog was reintroduced in a show at Naples. An Italian journalist named Piere Scanziana took note of this breed and worked on making it become recognized and well-known. He was a key figure in writing the breed standards and, later on in the 1970s, the Neo was scattered all around Europe and the US.

Although the dog was known for its excellent guarding duties in properties and farms back then, the Neos of today are now commonly regarded as housepets. Having this enormous dog inside your home can guarantee that your place is well-protected.

Appearance

Photo from: tannersarge (IG)

The Neapolitan breed’s most striking feature is its size- something that is a shared feature among the Mastiff family. He has a lot of loose skin folds and wrinkles, but his body remains to give off the impression that he is powerful. The extra skin is prominent in various parts like in his head and dewlap. 

The nose complements the coat color and is large. The eyes, although seemingly alert and observant, look sleepy. They can be brown or amber, depending on how dark the dog’s coat is. What completes the features are his large, drooping ears that rest gracefully on the sides of his face.

Meanwhile, the coat may come in different shades which may include the following:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Mahogany
  • Tawny 

White should never appear on the face according to breed standards, but he may have white markings which may commonly appear on the chest or toes. 

As for his measurements, this sizable dog boasts of his intimidating height and weight. The overall proportion varies upon gender, just like most other dog breeds. 

GenderHeightWeight
Male26 to 31 inches150 pounds
Female24 to 29 inches110 pounds

Temperament

At a first glance, no doubt, anyone would take a step back upon seeing the Neapolitan Mastiff. For some, they might even think the dog is menacing and would end up making premature judgments about the breed. Truth be told, however, this massive guard dog has other more qualities that are worth acknowledging such as his capability to become a family companion. 

Understand him better by reading more below!

Affection

Most Neapolitan Mastiffs, as some owners noticed, are affectionate dogs. Some could be more snuggly than others while others would show extreme clinginess toward their family members. If they want attention, they wouldn’t hesitate to jump on sofas or do anything silly in front of their family. Of course, considering they are all individual dogs, the personality would vary. Generally, though, an ideal Mastiff should be able to show his loving nature. 

He is often dubbed as a gentle giant. He’s sweet and good-natured at home yet he remains to be an effective and alert protector. The appearance alone of the Neapolitan Mastiff is enough to make intruders have double thoughts before breaking in. 

There are countless ways the Neo could show his love for his owner. The tail, for example, would wag depending on the type of mood he’s in with you. The eyes can tell a lot too. If he makes eye contact with you, his soul-piercing stare would be conveying a lot of emotions he feels toward you. If you want to know how your dog feels, you can mainly observe his body language. 

Friendliness

Growing up, the Neapolitan Mastiff puppy will slowly develop a strong bond with his family. Out of this relationship sprouts an unbreakable friendship. There is not much concern about introducing your kids to this dog. Just as long as they are old enough and they know how to be gentle toward the dog, your children and your pet will get along just fine. Of course, supervision is still necessary.

If you frequently have guests coming over to your house, you have to make sure your dog is thoroughly socialized and that introducing them to each other is done properly. The same is applicable when your dog meets other pets. The Neapolitan Mastiff won’t immediately or instantly act cheerful around the visitors but would remain aloof most of the time. 

As for strangers, a well-trained Neo should be able to decipher who’s bad and who’s not. He can mainly tell it through actions. If the dog’s chilling and nobody is at home, an unknown person who ends up in his territory will be considered a threat. The dog’s untrusting behavior will kick in and he won’t take the stranger’s presence very lightly. 

Activity Level

Photo from: any._.616 (IG)

The Neapolitan Mastiff may be large, but this does not mean that he has high energy levels. Even if he is still a puppy, his low motivation to move is already evident. Despite this fact, he should still be encouraged to do tasks to keep him mentally and physically stimulated. Just avoid leaving him outside, especially when the weather is hot and intolerable.

Large dogs can overheat very quickly since their body cannot regulate their temperatures well. If ever you want your Neapolitan Mastiff to venture outdoors in your yard, make sure he has free access to fresh water and that the surroundings are filled with trees that can provide the dog some shade. 

In giving him activities to do, the ones appropriate for him are those that won’t damage his bones and joints. Encourage him not to doze off on his couch all day since he tends to laze. Unless there is an intervention, the Neapolitan Mastiff can end up becoming obese.  

Care

It is a common misconception that large dogs are usually high in maintenance. But, how true is this regarding the Neapolitan Mastiff? Let us find out below:

Grooming

In taking care of the Neapolitan Mastiff, do know that he is quite low on maintenance, but blowing off his coat happens all year round. He would still require regular baths and brushing to ensure that his hygiene is not compromised. 

Depending on his lifestyle and activity level, you can indulge him for a wash weekly or every 6 to 8 weeks. His coat is dense and short, but keeping a schedule on when he needs to be groomed will make a huge difference in his shedding rate as well as in the quality of his coat and skin.

Since there are a lot of things involved in the process of keeping him clean, you can either watch tutorials or bring him to your local grooming center. If you prefer doing things yourself, just make sure you don’t skip the essential steps as well as forget about cleaning his ears, teeth, and trimming his nails.

Food and Diet

Photo from: trisha_l (IG)

The large Mastiff dog of Italy should be consistently fed with high-quality dog food formula that is designed for dogs of his size. The amount will largely vary depending on his weight, gender, health, metabolism, and activity level. Be careful not to overfeed nor give your Neapolitan Mastiff free access to food. Perhaps, out of boredom, he might keep on preoccupying himself with food and this may lead to obesity.

Typically, around 6 and ½ cups of dog food is enough for an adult Neapolitan Mastiff. The amount has to be divided into two meals daily. You can also consult your vet so he can exactly determine how much food your dog would need. 

Always be meticulous regarding your buddy’s build and mass. Since he’s predisposed to be large, this gives him higher chances to accumulate more fats. Match this with his low energy levels, it would be challenging to encourage him to lose all the extra weight.

Exercise

Photo from: llrvisuals (IG)

Not much exercise is needed by the Neapolitan Mastiff. At least 30 to 45 minutes of steaming off daily are enough to keep the weight down. Drills and activities need to be done regularly until he perceives exercise as part of his daily routine. If he is allowed to be immobile and inactive, the lifestyle will end up becoming detrimental to the Neo’s well-being. 

On another note, if he has a lot of pent-up energy and he has no outlet to pour all that in, bad behaviors such as unnecessary and excessive growling, barking, or chewing off of furniture may show. 

Taking into consideration that the Italian Mastiff only gets to live an average of 7 to 9 years, not compromising on his need to sweat off may add up to more years to his life expectancy. To make exercise a fun moment, you can incorporate training as well.  The game of fetch is a fun way to help him develop his obedience skills. Taking him out for a walk would also be a great means for you to teach him how to properly stroll on a leash.

Training

As a puppy, the Neapolitan Mastiff’s primary need is to be socialized. His first interaction happens around his siblings and mother hence why he shouldn’t be separated until he’s about 8 weeks old. This has to continue until he matures so his protective instinct won’t show in situations where it is not needed. Encourage him to play with other dogs and get used to being petted by your kids or people. 

Moreover, teach him basic commands such as “sit”, “stay,” or “no”. He has to follow you without hesitancy and that’s when you’d know he respects your authority. The Neapolitan Mastiff is not for first-time owners. He’d need an experienced owner who can handle him firmly since some are stubborn and dominant. 

Other pieces of training must include crate training. Some dogs can be prone to separation anxiety. If your Neapolitan Mastiff happens to have the same kind of issue, giving him his own space can drastically change his overall mood and behavior. 

You can hire a dog trainer and work with an animal behaviorist if you want to be guaranteed that your Neo grows up to be well-trained, but always remember that nothing compares to him having you as his coach. Training time is another opportunity to understand each other more and to deepen the owner-and-dog relationship.

Health Problems

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a healthy breed as long as he’s not a product of backyard breeding. Sadly, just like some other dog breeds, he remains susceptible to various diseases. Take note, a Neapolitan Mastiff won’t get any or all of these medical conditions, but it remains to be important that an owner or someone who’s considering getting this breed is aware of what these are:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Dental disease
  • Parasites
  • Bloat
  • Cataracts
  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
  • Allergies
  • Thyroid problems

Bringing him to the vet for his scheduled check-up will help your dog avoid some of the diseases he can possibly get or have those that have already developed, treated. It is highly advised that before you take your puppy out, he has to be complete in shots so he won’t acquire certain diseases stray animals could be carrying. 

Pros and Cons of Having a Neapolitan Mastiff

Pros

  • He is an excellent guard dog
  • Does not require an overwhelming amount of exercise
  • Grooming will not take too much time
  • He is great with family
  • Extremely devoted to owners
  • Generally restrained; calm
  • Brave and intimidating

Cons

  • He takes up a lot of space
  • He can be overly protective
  • He’s too challenging to train
  • The Neapolitan Mastiff can’t live well in hot places
  • Several health issues can strike the Italian breed
  • He drools a lot due to his loose jowls
  • Tends to be lazy
  • On rare occasions, he can potentially show aggression

Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Neapolitan Mastiff?

Yes! The prestigious American Kennel Club (AKC) just recently recognized the Neapolitan Mastiff as a breed in 2004. Several other clubs and organizations have acknowledged the dog much earlier than AKC like the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) which did it in the year 1949 and the Neapolitan Mastiff Club of America (NMCA) which was formed in 1973. Other more associations and clubs were formed eventually such as the American Neapolitan Mastiff Association around the 1990s. 

Cost

On average, the Neapolitan Mastiff puppy may cost you $2,600. The price may increase or decrease depending on quality, age, sex, breeder’s reputation, demand, location, and season. Neapolitan Mastiffs that are considered to be of show quality are known to be pricier. A breeder can charge you up to $5,500 or more!

Meanwhile, a pet-quality Neo will be reasonably cheaper. If you’re low on the budget, think about getting him from an adoption center! They’ll only ask for a fee of $300 to cover up the dog’s expenses. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Neapolitan Mastiff

Thousands of Italian Mastiff dogs are waiting to be taken to a warm and loving home. If you think this is the breed for you and you are in search of the perfect place to get your puppy from, I have listed down below several reputable websites for you to check out whether you want to adopt or connect with a trusted breeder:

BUY

ADOPT

Once you’ve chosen where to get your Mastino, thoroughly research first before you close a certain deal. Beware of pet scams that are rampant nowadays. On a side note, be prepared once you bring home this even-tempered giant. This quirky Mastiff will surely give you lots of fun and challenges you’ll surely find entertaining!

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