Canine Breed Menu



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Breed Organization
United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club
Native Country
Other Names
Mastino Napoletano, Neapolitan Mastiff, Italian Mastiff, Neo
Life Expectancy
Approximately 10 years or less.
Litter Size
Average 6-12 Puppies
Breed Group
Breed Appearance
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a serious, powerful dog. The body of this massive, rather rectangular looking dog has abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a very large dewlap. The wide, flat head is large in comparison to the rest of the body. The muzzle is 1/3 the length of the head and is as broad as it is long with a well-defined stop. The large nose has well-open nostrils and a color that coordinates with the coat. The teeth meet in a scissors, pincer or slight undershot bite. The deep-set eyes are almost covered by the dropping upper lids and come in amber to brown, depending on the coat color. Puppies begin life with blue eyes, which later darken. The ears may be cropped or left natural. Many owners opt out of docking and cropping, preferring the natural look, as it is painful for the dog. The tail is carried straight up and curves over the back. The round feet are large with well-arched toes. The straight, dense, short coat comes in gray, blue, black, chocolate, mahogany and tawny, sometimes with brindle and white markings. Chocolate dogs are rare.

Breed Description
Head: Short, massive, imposing. Broad, flat skull. Loose skin with wrinkles and folds. Pronounced stop. Broad, deep muzzle. Powerful jaws. Large nose. Thick, fleshy, pendulous lips.
Ears: Small, triangular, flat, lying against the cheeks. If cropped, they are the shape of an equilateral triangle.
Eyes: Wide set, round, of a darker color that that of the coat.
Body: Massive, longer than tall. Tapered neck with double dewlap. Broad withers (not pronounced). Large brisket. Ribs well sprung.
Tail: Broad and thick at the root, tapering slightly toward the tip. If left natural, tail hangs down reaching the hock joint. Typically, one-third of the tail is removed.
Hair: Short, harsh, hard, thick, and smooth (maximum length 1.5 cm).
Coat: Preferred colors: gray, lead gray and black, brown, fawn, stag-red, sometimes with small white spots on the chest and feet. All colors may be brindle.
Size: Dog: 65 to 75 cm Bitch: 60 to 68 cm
Weight: Dog: 60 to 70 kg Bitch: 50 to 60 kg

The Neapolitan Mastiff is descended from the Tibetan Mastiff through the large Roman molossus described by agronomist Columella in the first century. This breed fought with the Roman legions and was spread throughout Europe during the Roman invasions. The Neapolitan Mastiff has also been used as a circus dog. This breed was the progenitor of many mastiff breeds in other European countries. The breed survived for many centuries. Spanish mastiff blood was later introduced. The breed has been selectively bred since 1947.

This calm, loyal, devoted dog is very affectionate with his owners and gentle with children. Dominant with other dogs, he is courageous and suspicious of strangers. This breed is not aggressive and will not bite without cause. Formidable in appearance, he is even more fearsome if provoked. Early, firm training is vital. The Neapolitan Mastiff should not be trained to attack, because he could become overly aggressive and dangerous.

Prone to cherry eye, hip dysplasia, bloat, pano-ostiosis (joint pain from growth can occur at 4-18 months and usually goes away on its own). Pups are usually born via caesarian section.

This breed needs wide open spaces and a lot of exercise. The Neapolitan Mastiff should not be allowed to sleep on hard surfaces or unsightly calluses may form on his elbows and knees. Regular brushing is required. Special attention should be given to the folds in the skin and drooping eyelids.

This massive breed is often used as a guard and defender of family and property due to their protective instincts and their fearsome appearance. In Italy, the Neapolitan Mastiff has been used by police, army, farmers, business owners, estate owners, and of course anyone that wish to protect their property. The breed is very popular in Italy however; it is very rare in the United States.

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