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Neapolitan Mastiff - SaveARescue.org

Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff

  • Breed Group : WORKING
  • Origin : Italy
  • Average Height : 24" - 31"
  • Average Weight : 120 - 200 lbs.
  • Life Span : 8 - 10 years

Photo Courtesy of : Canine Rescue Coalition, Inc.

  • Size

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  • Energy

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  • Intelligence

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  • Ease of Training

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  • Hypo-Allergenic

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  • Shedding

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  • Good with Kids

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  • Good with Other Pets

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  • Guard Dog

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Neapolitan Mastiff Rescue Organizations

  • The slow, rolling gait of this unique breed is described as lumbering, and there's no mistaking the power in each stride. As they approach you their massive size, loose skin, and thick facial wrinkles evoke speechless awe, followed by the question, "What type of dog is it?"

    This striking gentle giant is the Neapolitan Mastiff, also known as the ‘Mastino’.
    All European mastiffs are descended from the Tibetan Mastiff - one of the most ancient members of the canine species.

    The Neapolitan Mastiff is history come to life.

    this Mastiff-type dog have existed for millennia. The first mastiffs are thought to have been developed in Tibet, some 5,000 years ago. The massive dogs were used in battle and served as guards, both tasks for which they were well suited.

    It is believed that they were brought to Greece from India by Alexander the Great around 300 BC, the beginning of the Bronze Age, when Upper and Lower Egypt were unified and the Mastiff-like working Guard dogs emerged in Tibet.

    The Greeks then introduced these dogs to the Romans - who adopted them enthusiastically and used them in circus combats.

    As an imposing guard dog, the Romans used the Mastiff to safeguard their villas, which were often numerous in the region of Campania.

    Neapolitans were even found in the courts of the Renaissance in Central and Northern Italy and used as a hunter of game like deer and wild boar.

    After the fall of the Roman Empire the dogs continued to habit the slopes of Vesuvius and formed a close link both with people who lived in the region. It was here that Piero Scanziani encountered the Neapolitan Mastiff. He fell in love with the breed - so much so that he committed to preserving the breed and whom we owe the modern existence of this magnificent breed today.

    They also doubled as an impressive guard dog, continuing the function which had made if famous among the Sumerians and the Mesopotamians so long before.

    While their appearance is unnerving, their looks are deceiving. The Neo, as they are often called, has a reputation for being an affectionate 200-pound lap dog.

    They are a constant guardian with an intimidating stare directed towards strangers. What’s interesting is this breed is far from being a fighting dog. Steady and loyal, their primary goal is to be with their people.

    He'll defend them with ferocity if need be, but he's typically not aggressive without reason.

    The Neapolitan Mastiff is a member of the Working Group.

    This Italian Mastiff is a direct descendant of the dogs that were used to fight in the Roman Coliseum.

    Over the past 2000 years it was refined to its present form as a guardian of the family and estates in northern Italy.

  • • Large and powerful and protective by nature this breed makes a great guard dog. Their size and deep bark will deter intruders.
    • Neo's drool after eating and drinking, snort, grunt and are notorious for ‘passing gas’.
    • A quiet dog, they do not ‘bark’ a lot, unless warning you of strangers approaching.
    • Although a large dog, they can live in apartments/condos that can provide sprawling space for their bulk.
    • Good family dog but wary of strangers.
    • This is a dog that will protect you, your family, and your home with all their strength
    • Even Temperaments and generally peaceful steady dogs.
    • Can be stubborn and shy.
    • Neo’s need lots of socialization with different people and environments.
    • These mastiffs require good training & to learn to respect their owners and to take commands respectfully.
    • Raising a Neo requires an awareness of how dogs think and behave, and a consistent sensible discipline.
    • This breed is not recommended as a 1st time dog for new dog owners.
    • An average shedder and requires weekly brushing.
    • Not recommended for timid first-time dog owners.
    • Neapolitan Mastiffs can be destructive if bored; they require regular exercise, social interaction, and training to keep life interesting.
    • Can be strong-willed and will test you if they don’t feel you are their leader.
    • They are not a dog to be left outdoors alone.
    • Good with older children, too large for tiny tots – which their body size/movement can knock over.


    The Neapolitan Mastiff is a breed that is wary of strangers but is tolerant of friends or acquaintances of the owner/family. The temperament should be steady and self-confident, loyal, courageous, vigilant, and intelligent with an air of superiority but not aggressive.

    The appearance of the facial expression should be fierce in so much to deter an intruder by his looks alone. The breed is forever watchful with an intense focus.

    Crate training is suggested as well as Mastino-proofing your house. The crate will not only keep your Neapolitan safe, it will also keep your valuables from being accidentally broken by the lumbering bump of a Neo in passing. Since the Neo can be a "Velcro" dog that loves to be with their owner at all times, it is suggested to use the crate to foster some individuality and independence or else the Neo may develop separation anxiety. A frantic, massive dog can be utterly destructive and could potentially harm itself.

    Being that the Neo has an inherent nature to protect its owner; it has an excellent balance of even temperament to deal with social situations.

    If Mastini are socialized at an early age, many of them will come to adore children and will not purposely hurt them. However, in play or sleep, owners must remember that the Neo is a massively large dog that may not know their weight or force. Children should always be supervised. If properly socialized around other animals, large or small, the Neos will be highly tolerant even though they do like to chase. It is recommended not to maintain the same sex because To keep a stable temperament, make sure to expose a young puppy to as many new people, places, and noise in a positive setting, so that the Mastini will accept new experiences and situations.

    Health Problems

    Neapolitans are a hardy breed and the main Health concern is "cherry eyes." Cherry Eye is a condition caused when the gland of the third eyelid of the dog becomes inflamed, swells up, and if it pops out of place it will become more inflamed, swollen and irritated such that it becomes bloody and ulcerated, and can cover 1/2 of the eye of the dog. If this occurs then the cherry eye is referred to as follicular conjunctivitis. In the Neos, it is recommended to remove the gland because of the massive wrinkles and excessive weight of the additional facial skin that folding down or any other cherry eye surgical correction procedure will only have to be repeated with the condition worsening each occasion. Despite the wrinkles and loose skin, the Neos should not have skin problems.

    In the first year of growth, many Neos grow very quickly and can develop panostetis, Growing pains. Also, many Neos are misdiagnosed with hip dysplasia; even though they can be prone to it. Many breeders attest to the fact that young mastini have a degree of looseness in the joints which attributes to the signature lumbering gait. Talk to your breeder and your veterinarian about these sorts of problems.

    Other health issues are Bloat, a mysterious illness that is usually fatal for large breeds; excessive Exercise can lead to over heating; and rough play can lead to accidents, joint injuries, and various precarious situations due to the clumsiness of a Neo puppy.

    Mastinos should be fed quality food with no by-products, no whole ground yellow corn, minimal to no wheat. The food should not be high in protein because it can lead to kidney failure and no extraordinary amounts of calcium or calcium supplementation which can lead to joint issues. Owners should know that an adult Neo can easily eat 8-10 cups a day. Puppies should eat 2-3 times a day and an adult 1-2 times a day.


    Owners must be prepared to deal with drool. Neos drool when they are excited, eating, drinking, or some (because of the massive folds of facial skin) drool constantly.
    Many Neo owners keep towels handy to keep the dewlap and folds dry and infection free.
    Many owners also state that the Mastinos have a distinctive odor which may be classified as woodsy. Grooming will not eliminate the scent. However, weekly brushing, ear, eye, teeth, and skin care are highly recommended. This is an average shedding breed; however, very easy to care for. The ears and tail are normally cropped.


    Due to the clumsiness of the Neo puppy, no extraneous exercise or rough play to include jumping, Frisbee chasing, tug of war should be used. Because of the high pain tolerance found in the Neo, unsuspected joint injuries that may cause permanent damage due to non-treatment can occur. However, walks are fine and yard runs are ok as long as they are tolerated well. Stopping such exercise prior to the dog tiring out also prevents injuries as well. Over exercise in a breed that grows so fast and so massively large can also result in hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and other joint diseases that are usually genetic.

    Owners must realize that the Neo continues to grow and change up to the age of three.

    : The Neapolitan mastiff is a loyal protector
    : Its droopy eyes and jowls soften its threatening size, but only experienced dog handlers should consider owning and training one of these Italian stallions of the dog world
    : The Neapolitan mastiff originated in Italy
    : The Neapolitan mastiff is also called a mastino Napoletano, and Italian mastiff and a Neo
    : The tough, powerful and drooling Neapolitan mastiff is a loyal companion for an assertive owner who is an experienced dog handler
    : The Neapolitan mastiff stands 24 to 31 inches tall and weighs 110 to 200 pounds
    : Neapolitan mastiffs have moderate energy levels
    : Neapolitan mastiffs require minimal grooming
    : The average lifespan for a Neapolitan mastiff is 8 to 10 years

    Training Your Neapolitan Mastiff

    Training this dog should be started at an early age to avoid dominance issues. The handler should always remain firm and consistent but not overly corrective or negative. Basic obedience is a must at about 4 months because this puppy will already weigh about 40 to 60 lbs.; therefore, imagine at 6-10 months you will be dealing with 100+ lb dog if you wait to start training basic commands. This breed is highly intelligent and will quickly learn all of the commands; however, the biggest issue is the time in which it will take for the Neo to complete the task if it so desires. Their willfulness does not diminish their love and protective nature of their owner however. The Neapolitan Mastiff should not participate in protection training or bite work because it possesses a natural protective temperament that does not need to be expounded upon or brought even further to the surface.

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