Neapolitan Mastiff (Mastino Napoletano)

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grey, leaden grey and black, brown, fawn and deep fawn (red deer), little white patches are possible
very large
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Recognized by:
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • friendly
  • excellent guard and watch dog
  • aggressive towards other dogs
  • needs an experienced dominant owner

The Neapolitan Mastiff has most probably come of the Roman dogs that were used for war purpose. The dog has memorable and unique appearance, which suites perfectly to its predominant role as a guard dog. It requires experienced master, who can earn the dog’s full respect and obedience.

The Neapolitan Mastiff has descended from the Tibetan Mastiff, the most ancient type of dog. One theory states that Alexander the Great initially imported the dog from India to Greece about 300 BC. Later on the Romans acquired the Asian Mastiff through Greeks and eagerly used it in circus fights. The word «Mastiff» is an altered Latin word «massivus», which is translated as «massive». The specialists from England offer the other theory and argue that the Mastiff arrived to Britain in around 500 BC and spreaded from there to the rest of Europe.

In subsequent centuries the Mastiff didn’t manage to strike the roots in the Europe, but it was successfully developed in southern Italy, especially near the Naples, from which it derives its name. The modern Neapolitan Mastiff was created by Neapolitan breeders. They concentrated on designing the dog, which should be bulky in size and has plenty of skin folds to defend it from serious wounds in the fight. They achieved this goal and developed the breed that was effective both on the battle field as a war dog and on the master’s premises as a guard dog.

The Neapolitan Mastiff went through harsh times during the World War II and has been re-discovered by western world in 1946. The journalist Piere Scanziana spotted the dog at a Naples dog show and right away turned into devoted fancier of Mastiffs. He made a great deal to attract public attention to this wonderful breed and actively participated in writing of its first standard. Shortly Italy’s National Registry gave the dog its recognition and official name Mastino Napoletano.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) registered the Neapolitan Mastiff in 1949. By the early 1970s the breed had earned more acceptances in Europe. The first Mastiff was brought to America by Jane Pampalone in 1973, although some specimens might have been imported there by Italian immigrants as early as the 1880s. The American Kennel Club (AKC) acknowledged the breed in 2004. Today is used both as guard dog and companion animal.

For millennia the breeders cultivated in the Neapolitan Mastiff the traits of a guard and watch dog. As the result, when some threat is detected this reserved and self-assured animal can turn into ferocious defender in an instant. It’s amazing how it is affectionate and amicable with those, who it granted the status of its masters. Correct and timely socialisation plays a key role in the up-bringing of the Neapolitan Mastiff puppy since it facilitates the elimination of possible dogs’ aggression towards strangers. It is worth to remember that the breed is somewhat more probably to bite than most other dogs.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is not the best option for the households with kids. The dog can unintentionally hurt the child in the heat of the game and the damage may be pretty severe due to the massive size of the dog. Moreover, very few children can become an unshakable authority for the dog, which is a must in communication with the Neapolitan Mastiff. In general, it won’t make a gentle and compliant family pet and does best in its original purpose as property and personal protector.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is known to have significant level of aggressiveness towards other dogs. The majority of breed members won’t put up with another canine animal of the same sex, and many of them will act aggressively also to the dogs of the opposite gender. The fact that the dogs have been reared together can’t be a guarantee to a successful co-habitation in the adulthood. The good news is that the Neapolitan Mastiff doesn’t possess intense hunting instinct and can be trained to live with other species such as cats and rabbits. It doesn’t free the owner from being extra cautious with strange animals since the dog may consider them as intruders into its territory.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• eye problems;
• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• hypothyroidism;
• heart problems;
• skeletal growth defects;
• gastric torsion;
• skin infections;
• anesthetic sensitivity;
• fold dermatitis/ pyoderma.

The Neapolitan Mastiff has short hair that doesn’t require much grooming. You should brush the coat of the dog at least once a week to maintain it neat and nicely looking. The Neapolitan Mastiff is a medium shedder but the huge size of the dog implies that it will lose a great deal of hair while shedding.

The skins folds of the dog are prone to get infected or irritated really easily since the dog constantly attracts debris and dirt in its wrinkles. Regular cleaning practices are essential in order to keep the your Neapolitan Mastiffs’ skin tidy and healthy.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is quick-witted but somewhat wilful dog. It shows high potential in training, which can be uncovered only by a firm and assertive handler. The dog should honour the master to follow its orders so it’s important to deserve its respect. The Neapolitan Mastiff always strives to take leader position and the trainer should from time to time demonstrate, who the chief of the pack is.

Naturally, the lessons should be repetitive, frequent and based on firm but gentle treatment. This dog does have some instincts deeply rooted in its nature that they can never be removed completely. The Neapolitan Mastiff will benefit from obedience training, which will assist in simplify many difficulties in its communication with outer world.

For such a big dog as the Neapolitan Mastiff it’s amazing that it demands only moderate amount of exercise. Everyday walk for an hour is suffice for the dog to be tranquil and relaxed at home. Under exercised dog tends to develop deviations in behaviour, for example destructiveness or extreme aggression.

However, the Neapolitan Mastiff should never be exercised too strenuously in the young age since it may lead to lifelong skeletal deformations. Moreover, the physical activity should be eliminated right after the eating to reduce the risk of a bloat.