Once you have seen a Neapolitan Mastiff it is impossible to not recognize the breed. They are a massive, huge dog with a broad head, deep set eyes, pendant ears and noticeable lips and jowls. The dogs have a short, dense coat that is usually black, gray, mahogany, tawny or blue, and the front quarters of the dog, including the head and neck, seem to be encased in wrinkles and folds. The dog is very strong looking and thick through the chest and body. The feet are rounded and well formed and the tail is broad and flat, tapering to the end. Traditionally the tail was docked rather long, but many countries no longer allow this practice.
Temperament of a Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a very gentle and loving dog despite its huge size. It is very intelligent and does not do well with repetitive training; rather it needs to be challenged with new routines and expectations. Since they are so large they need to be trained from an early age and well socialized as both males and females can be somewhat dog-aggressive, although males are far more aggressive than females. Neos can be wonderful companion dogs to cats and other canines provided they are socialized as puppies. They can be independent dogs and make excellent watch and guard dogs. Usually the Neapolitan Mastiff only barks when necessary, but their bark is very deep and resonant. The breed is a heavy drooler and owners should understand this before bringing the breed into the house.
Grooming & Shedding of a Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff sheds very little and typically a grooming mitt or rubber brush is all that is necessary to keep the dogs looking shiny. Care needs to be taken to keep debris out of the folds and wrinkles around the face to prevent bacterial infections and skin irritations. It is also important to keep nails clipped short as the weight of the dog can cause lameness if nails become too long.
History of the Neapolitan Mastiff
Like all of the Mastiff breeds the Neapolitan Mastiff is a direct descendant of the Tibetan Mastiff. The short hair is likely a resolute of breeding with another large breed from India to result in the Roman Molossus breed of giant dog. The breed was originally used by the Greeks and Romans as a war dog and a sporting dog in fights. When the Romans invaded Britain in 55 BC, they crossed the Molossus with the British Mastiff, resulting in the Neapolitan Mastiff breed. In the Neapolitan area of Italy the breed was developed and standardize, and hence the name that is now used.
Health Issues with a Neapolitan Mastiff
Major Concerns: hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, demodicosis, pano-ostiosis