The Neapolitan Mastiff Dog: A Mighty and Massive Pup!

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neopolitan mastiff in grassThe Neapolitan Mastiff is a massive dog with an appearance that can be deceiving! Yes, they are a big and strong dog breed – including their temperament. If you have already had a dog of this breed, you may feel they “own” you as much as you “own” them! Yes, they are also a guard dog.

This dog breed has a sense of stranger-danger is well and truly in their genes. But they can be kind and gentle as well. Read on to learn more about the majestic Neo mastiff!

What is the Neapolitan Mastiff?

This breed is a relative newcomer to the United States. However, the ancestry of the Neapolitan Mastiff stretches back thousands of years.

They are a working breed, developed to guard people and property. With proper socialization and training, this breed makes a loyal, calm, devoted, and loving pet. The Neapolitan Mastiff dog will be wanting and willing, to be by your side forever.

One Tuff Cookie! History of the Neo Mastiff

This mighty big breed of Mastiff is a survivor – and it’s no wonder!  Neos descend from the ancient Roman Molossus war dogs. Molossus dogs were used by the Roman Army to fend off their enemies during war. These dogs were also used for protection from tigers, lions, and bears in the wild!  All types of Mastiff breeds are said to descend from this ancient breed.

The Neapolitan Mastiff originates from Southern Italy. Bred as a guard dog, the working Neapolitan Mastiff dog protected farms, homes, and people. Numbers of Mastinos were low after the Second World War, so breeders sought to bring this wonderful dog back.

The Italian Breed Standard was developed in the 1940s. The Federation Cynologique Internationale registered the breed in the 1950s. Over the next few decades, the dog breed became popular elsewhere in Europe and the rest of the world. They were recognized as a dog breed in America in 2004.

Napoleon Mastiff or Neopolitan Mastiff? What’s in a Name?

Many of the Mastiff breeds have names that reflect their location of origin, such as the English Mastiff, and the Tibetan Mastiff—And, this proud Italian is no exception.  In Italian, their name is Mastino Napoletano.
The name Neapolitan Mastiff relates to the Neapolitan region around the city of Naples in southern Italy.

Why not Napletonian, Napolean, or Neopolitan? The word Neapolitan comes from ancient Latin Neapolitanus. So you could say when in Rome do as the Romans! Or when in Naples do as the Neapolitans, as it were!

Appearance and Personality of this Great Pooch

A much-loved feature of the Mastino dog is their rolls and folds of skin. These dogs just don’t just have wrinkled faces and floppy jowls on their massive heads. Their loose skin folds extend down their body and big neck size to match.  They have short-haired coats with dense and thick hair. This dog breed has deep-set eyes that are amber or brown colored.

Size wise, mastiffs are as big as humans, and males are larger than females. An adult Neapolitan Mastiff dog can weigh between 110-200 pounds (50-90 kilograms). Their height to their shoulder is 24-31 inches tall (60-79 centimeters).

Mastinos temperament may look big and tough on the outside, but they can be as equally big and soft-hearted on the inside.

From Brindle to a Blue Mastiff

There are four main colors in the Neapolitan Mastiff dog breed standard. These are:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Mahogany
  • Tawny

Their colors and markings on their coats may be brindled. Brindled coats have the main color interspersed with stripes or streaks of other colors.

3 Fun Facts You Have to Know About this Pooch!

  1. The table manners of a Mastino dog are not so perfect! They do drool from those droopy jowls. So have towels on hand, and look out if you are right next to a Neo when they shake their head! They can also have a tendency towards being a bit gassy!
  2. They may creep up on a would-be intruder before the intruder can do so to them. Their first instinct is to guarding and warn off strangers, rather than loudly and instantly attack.  The imposing sight of a Neapolitan Mastiff is usually enough to scare off a stranger!
  3. They don’t always understand just how big strong their powerful bodies are! Be prepared for unintentional clumsiness and small furniture displacement. Take care around young children especially with this breed of puppy.

neapolitan mastiff puppies playing in leaves

Watch those Wrinkles! Maintenance Requirements of the Neo Pooch

Those adorable velvety folds and wrinkles can be breeding grounds for bacterial infections. You will need to regularly wipe out the wrinkles on their face and body. Their folds and wrinkles need to be clean and dry.

Their skin can be oily, resulting in a musky odor, so a regular bathing schedule is a must. They shed in spring but are easy to maintain with gentle daily brushing. Other grooming requirements include regular nail clipping, ear care, and dental hygiene.

Stubborn but Obedient! Exercise and Trainability

This breed of dogs is very intelligent, confident, independent and strong-willed. They need to live and receive training with people who have experienced with big dogs.

You will also need to have a calm, but firm and authoritative manner to match! Early socialization is essential. There is no doubt they are adorable, cute and cuddly as a puppy, but remember this is a dog that will grow!

A Neapolitan Mastiff dog can initially want to be the boss. When boundaries are set and understood they will respect them. They are naturally wary and suspicious of strangers. It is important to socialize them with different people, objects, and your environment. Born guard dogs, they are protective and possessive of their owners and family.

Exercising Your Pooch

The exercise needs for Neapolitan Mastiff puppies are pretty much covered by play. As adults, they are best with exercise in shorter steady walks – and you might be the one who needs to instigate this. The Mastino’s home is their castle, and exercise isn’t one of their top priorities!

The Mastino is more of a walker than a runner.

That is not to say they can’t and won’t run when they need or want to though! Due to their size, they get described as having a lumbering gait and rolling kind of movement. Care is also needed to ensure they don’t overheat during exercise.

Is the Neapolitan Mastiff a Healthy Dog?

Mastinos are generally robust and hardy dogs. Like all dogs, there are some conditions they are predisposed to. Some of these include:

  • Cherry eye: With this condition, the tissue in the third eyelid (nictitating membrane) becomes red and swollen. It is resolved through surgery. Although unsightly, does not usually have any lasting damage once treated.
  • Bone problems: Elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia are two orthopedic conditions that can affect Neos. In their elbows, an anconeal process, or bony projection doesn’t fuse properly. With hips, their sockets and bones may not form and fit as they should. With both these conditions, there can be issues with bone and joint sockets that affect mobility.
  • Demodectic Mange: This is a skin condition in reaction to the demodix mite, carried by all dogs. Neo puppies get the mites from their mother. Because any reactions usually only occur when the puppy is young it is thought of as a puppy disease. However, older puppies and adult dogs can skin reactions to the mite.

black neapolitan dog in field

Short but Sweet: Longevity of this Breed

All big dog breeds do not have lifespans that are as long as smaller dogs. The average lifespan of a Mastino dog is eight to ten years.

Already Own A Great Neo Mastiff? 3 Tips for Mastiff Owners!

  1. Make sure your Neo has your regular company. These big softies do not respond well to feeling isolated, alone or excluded.
  2. Have a commitment to ongoing training and obedience. This majestic dog likes to be the king or queen of their domain.
  3. Connect with the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club, if you haven’t already. They are a great source of information and advice on sharing your life with the mighty Mastino!

If You Want A Giant Teddy Lap Dog, Then This Pooch Is Perfect for You!

That’s right, if your Mastino is not trying to lie on your lap, they are likely to be leaning on your legs. Or, sleeping across your feet!

Yes, this big breed likes to have affectionate and close physical contact with its human family! Neapolitan Mastiff dogs can make the perfect companion for a family with a big home, heart, and the strength and commitment to their care.

If you’re looking for Neapolitan Mastiff dog breeders, look for those with a good name. Breeders registered with the American Kennel Club or the Neapolitan Mastiff Club are a good start. Neapolitan Mastiff breeders are likely to ask you as many questions as you ask them.

They will want to ensure you can look after their puppy as it matures into a mighty dog. This breed can also be available for adoption from rescue groups and non-profit organizations.

Common Questions

How big can a Neapolitan Mastiff grow?
Do these Mastiff pups drool much?
Are Neo Dogs good to take on a walk or run?

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