Breed Spotlight: Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff is truly a dog that looks out of place and time no matter the setting. This Italian breed is straight out of the history books as its ancestors can be traced back to ancient times.  Learn more about the Neapolitan Mastiff in the BestBullySticks Breed Spotlight!

History & Background: The Neapolitan Mastiff has ancient origins by way of its ancestor, the molosser-type dog, which was known to live around 3000 B.C. and originated out of Asia. Alexander the Great helped in developing the mastiff type and eventually the dog made its way to Italy during Roman Conquest. Molosser-type dogs were used as war dogs as well as in circus combats where they would fight lions, tigers and men. Mastiff is derived from the Latin word “masssivus” meaning “massive.” The Italians also call this dog the Mastino Napoletano. Over the centuries, this dog was bred to be a guard dog for Italian homesteads and earned the description “big dog of the little man.” Some even say the dog was bred to look alarming enough that their appearance alone would deter intruders.

During WWII the number of Neapolitan Mastiffs diminished greatly but by 1948 a group of dedicated Italians had built up the breed and qualified the Neo’s characteristics into a breed standard. In 2004, the AKC recognized the Neapolitan Mastiff.

Height: Males 26 to 31 inches; Females 24 to 29 inches

Weight: Males 150 pounds; Females 110 pounds

Coat: Short, dense and uniform in coverage, the Neo sports a smooth, straight coat no longer than 1 inch.

Color: Solid colors of gray, black mahogany, tawny and hues of these colors. Brindle is sometimes seen and the breed standard states this should be tan, reverse brindle. Solid white markings are common and appear on the chest, throat and toes. Eyes are amber or brown and the nose color matches the coat.

Appearance: Big-boned, very large and intimidating in presence, the Neapolitan Mastiff is best known for his loose skin, numerous wrinkles and size. The large head is full of skin folds, which is a differentiating characteristic from other mastiff breeds. The skull is flat between the ears and the frontal lobe is prominent. If you could see the Mastiff’s deep-set eyes hidden behind low hanging lids, you would see a contemplative expression. Ears are set above the cheekbones and are often cropped into a triangular shape. The stop forms a 90-degree angle with the muzzle and the nose is large with open nostrils. This breed’s lips are heavy, large and hang in an upside down “V” shape from the nose. This dog’s dewlap extends from the jaw to the neck. The Neo’s back is wide and strong and the chest is broad and deep. The tail is set slightly lower than the back and is carried straight up and curves over the back.

Temperament: As with many large breed dogs, the Neapolitan mastiff looks intimidating, but is very sweet and gentle. This breed loves its family and is intelligent and quick to obey. Though this dog isn’t naturally aggressive, the Neo must be socialized early with other people, children and other animals. This dog’s loyalty is seen in its watchful expression and restlessness to be on guard for its family.

Health & Grooming: The Neapolitan Mastiff can be prone to health problems like hip dysplasia, ectropion, entropion, elbow dysplasia, sebaceous adenitis, hypothyroidism, bloat, cardiomyopathy, PRA and other eye problems like cherry eye. This breed isn’t very active but does have short, powerful bursts of energy. This dog shouldn’t be pushed too much to be active as joints can suffer from the Neo’s weight. Although a long, leisurely walk will do this breed good. The Neo can live up to 10 years.

Grooming is easy. Remove dead hair with a rubber brush and is an average shedder.

Product Suggestions: The Australian Mega Bully Stick is a long-lasting and thick bully stick that is a perfect fit for the Neapolitan Mastiff. Australian Mega Bully Sticks are some of the largest Bully Sticks we have seen. They are thicker than your average full cane bully stick and range in length from 25 – 36 inches. Check out all of bully sticks, dog chews and treats to find the perfect all-natural match for your dog.

Do you know or own a Neapolitan Mastiff? Tell us your Neo story in the comments section below!

Curious about a dog breed? Check out our full list of Breed Spotlights to learn about some amazing dog breeds!

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