Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff Image courtesy of Anil Sharma

Welcome to our article all about the magnificent Neapolitan Mastiff! If you’re looking for a loyal and protective companion, then this breed might be the perfect fit for you. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history and origins of this breed, explore its size and appearance characteristics, discuss its life expectancy, temperament, trainability, and adaptability. We will also cover its exercise requirements and energy levels, grooming needs, health issues, and even highlight some comparable breeds. Additionally, we will showcase some notable dogs from this breed that have made their mark in history. So, let’s dive in and discover everything there is to know about the exceptional Neapolitan Mastiff!

History and Origins of the Breed

The history and origins of the Neapolitan Mastiff are truly captivating. This ancient breed has a rich heritage that dates back thousands of years. Let’s explore how the this breed came to be and the role it played throughout history.

Ancient Roots

The Neapolitan Mastiff can trace its ancestry back to ancient times, specifically to the Molossus, a large and powerful dog breed used in warfare by the Greeks and Romans. The Molossus dogs were renowned for their strength, loyalty, and protective nature.

Development in Naples

Over time, the Molossus breed made its way to the region of Naples, Italy. It was here that the Neapolitan Mastiff, as we know it today, began to take shape. The breed was initially used for various purposes, including guarding estates, livestock, and even as war dogs.

Guarding and Protection Duties

The Neapolitan Mastiff’s formidable size and fearless demeanor made it an ideal guardian and protector. These dogs were often found in the homes of noble families and used to safeguard their properties. Their imposing presence alone was often enough to deter intruders.

Decline and Near Extinction

Unfortunately, during the World Wars, the Neapolitan Mastiff, like many other breeds, faced a decline in numbers due to the devastation caused by the conflicts. By the mid-20th century, the breed was on the verge of extinction.

Revival and Modern Recognition

Fortunately, a dedicated group of breed enthusiasts worked tirelessly to revive the Neapolitan Mastiff breed. Through careful breeding and preservation efforts, the breed slowly regained its numbers and popularity. In 1949, the Neapolitan Mastiff was officially recognized by the Italian Kennel Club, and in 1973, it gained recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Today, the Neapolitan Mastiff continues to thrive as a beloved companion and guardian. Its impressive history and ancient origins contribute to its unique and noble character. Understanding the breed’s history allows us to appreciate the Neapolitan Mastiff’s significance and the qualities it carries from its ancestors.

Size and Appearance Characteristics

When it comes to size and appearance, the Neapolitan Mastiff is an awe-inspiring breed. Let’s delve into the specific characteristics that define this majestic dog.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a large and powerful breed, known for its massive build. Adult males typically stand between 26 to 31 inches (66 to 79 cm) at the shoulder, while females generally measure between 24 to 29 inches (61 to 74 cm). When it comes to weight, males can range from 150 to 200 pounds (68 to 91 kg), while females usually weigh between 110 to 150 pounds (50 to 68 kg).

Body Structure

This breed has a robust and muscular body, with a broad and deep chest. The Neapolitan Mastiff’s head is one of its most distinctive features, characterized by loose skin and abundant wrinkles. Their powerful jaws boast a strong bite force, making them excellent guard dogs.

Coat and Colors

The Neapolitan Mastiff has a short and dense double coat that provides protection in various weather conditions. The coat comes in a variety of colors, including solid black, blue, mahogany, tawny, and brindle. Some dogs may have white markings on their chest and toes, but excessive white is generally not desirable according to breed standards.

Facial Features

One of the most striking aspects of the Neapolitan Mastiff’s appearance is its expressive face. The breed has a well-defined, large nose, and its eyes are typically medium-sized and set deep within the facial folds. The ears are triangular and hang forward, contributing to the breed’s alert and vigilant expression.

Wrinkles and Skin Folds

Perhaps the most recognizable characteristic of the Neapolitan Mastiff is its loose skin and abundant wrinkles. These folds can be found on various parts of the body, including the forehead, cheeks, and neck. The wrinkle formation is unique to each dog and adds to the breed’s distinguished appearance.

Tail and Limbs

The Neapolitan Mastiff has a thick and powerful tail that hangs down in a natural position. As for its limbs, they are sturdy and well-boned, providing the breed with the necessary strength and stability to support its massive frame.

Overall, the Neapolitan Mastiff’s size and appearance are truly remarkable. Its imposing stature, distinctive head, and unique wrinkles make it instantly recognizable. Whether standing tall or gracefully moving, this breed commands attention and admiration.

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a Neapolitan Mastiff is an important consideration for potential owners. Understanding the average lifespan of this breed can help ensure that you are prepared for their long-term care and companionship. Let’s explore the factors that can influence the Neapolitan Mastiff’s life expectancy and what you can do to promote their health and well-being.

Average Lifespan

On average, the Neapolitan Mastiff has a life expectancy of around 8 to 10 years. However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may vary, and factors such as genetics, overall health, diet, exercise, and veterinary care can impact their longevity.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

Several factors can influence the lifespan of a Neapolitan Mastiff:

  1. Genetics: Inherited conditions and genetic predispositions can play a role in the breed’s overall health and lifespan. Responsible breeders take measures to minimize the risk of hereditary diseases through selective breeding practices.
  2. Health Conditions: Like all dog breeds, Neapolitan Mastiffs can be prone to certain health issues that can affect their lifespan. Common conditions include hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, bloat, eye problems, and skin infections. Regular veterinary check-ups and preventive care can help detect and manage these conditions.
  3. Diet and Nutrition: Providing a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for the overall health and longevity of a Neapolitan Mastiff. Feeding them high-quality dog food, appropriate portion sizes, and avoiding excessive weight gain can help prevent obesity-related health problems.
  4. Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for maintaining the physical and mental well-being of a Neapolitan Mastiff. Adequate physical activity helps prevent obesity, promotes cardiovascular health, and improves muscle tone. Mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys or training sessions, helps keep their minds sharp and engaged.
  5. Veterinary Care: Routine veterinary care, including vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental care, and regular check-ups, is vital for the overall health of a Neapolitan Mastiff. Regular examinations can help identify any potential health issues early on and allow for prompt treatment.

Promoting Longevity

While some factors affecting lifespan may be beyond our control, there are steps you can take to promote the longevity of your Neapolitan Mastiff:

  1. Choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs.
  2. Provide a balanced and nutritious diet, tailored to the specific needs of your Neapolitan Mastiff.
  3. Ensure your dog receives regular exercise and mental stimulation to maintain their physical and mental health.
  4. Schedule regular veterinary check-ups and stay up-to-date with vaccinations and preventive care.
  5. Monitor your Neapolitan Mastiff’s weight and body condition to prevent obesity.

By paying attention to these factors and providing proper care, you can help maximize the lifespan of your beloved Neapolitan Mastiff and enjoy their companionship for as long as possible.


The temperament of the Neapolitan Mastiff is an important aspect to consider when contemplating this breed as a pet. Understanding their typical personality traits can help you determine if they are the right fit for your lifestyle and home environment. Let’s explore the temperament of the Neapolitan Mastiff and what you can expect from this remarkable breed.

Protective and Loyal

Neapolitan Mastiffs are renowned for their protective nature and unwavering loyalty. They have a strong instinct to safeguard their family and territory, making them excellent guard dogs. These dogs are highly devoted to their owners and will go to great lengths to protect and defend them when necessary.

Gentle and Affectionate

Despite their imposing appearance, Neapolitan Mastiffs can be incredibly gentle and affectionate with their family members. They form deep bonds with their owners and thrive on attention and physical affection. They often enjoy being close to their loved ones and are known to be quite cuddly.

Reserved with Strangers

Neapolitan Mastiffs tend to be reserved and cautious around strangers. They are naturally suspicious of unfamiliar people and may take time to warm up to them. Early socialization and positive experiences with a variety of people can help them develop confidence and become more accepting of strangers.

Good with Children and Other Pets

When properly socialized and raised with them, Neapolitan Mastiffs can get along well with children and other pets in the household. They are generally patient and tolerant, making them suitable companions for families. However, due to their large size, supervision and teaching children how to interact respectfully with the dog is essential.

Calm Demeanor

Neapolitan Mastiffs typically have a calm and laid-back demeanor. They are not highly energetic or hyperactive dogs, preferring a more relaxed and leisurely lifestyle. This makes them well-suited for families or individuals who appreciate a more tranquil companion.

Early Training and Socialization

To ensure a well-rounded and well-behaved Neapolitan Mastiff, early training and socialization are crucial. Early exposure to various environments, people, and situations will help them develop into confident and well-adjusted adults. Positive reinforcement methods, consistency, and patience are key when training this breed.

Temperament Summary

In summary, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a protective and loyal breed that forms strong bonds with their family. They are gentle and affectionate with their loved ones but reserved with strangers. With proper socialization, they can get along well with children and other pets. Their calm demeanor and low energy level make them a suitable choice for those seeking a more relaxed companion. However, it’s important to invest time and effort in their training and socialization from an early age to ensure they grow into well-mannered dogs.

Trainability and Adaptability

Trainability and adaptability are important factors to consider when deciding if the Neapolitan Mastiff is the right breed for you. Let’s explore their trainability and ability to adapt to different environments and lifestyles.


Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for being independent and sometimes stubborn, which can present challenges during training. They have a strong will and may require an experienced and patient owner who can provide consistent and firm guidance. Early socialization and obedience training are essential to help them become well-behaved members of society.

Positive Reinforcement and Consistency

Positive reinforcement methods, such as rewards, treats, and praise, work best when training a Neapolitan Mastiff. Harsh or heavy-handed training techniques are not recommended as they can be counterproductive and potentially damage the bond between the dog and its owner. Consistency and patience are key when working with this breed.

Early Socialization

Early socialization is crucial for the Neapolitan Mastiff. Exposing them to different people, animals, environments, and situations from a young age helps to prevent fearfulness and aggression. It also helps them develop into well-rounded dogs who can adapt to various social settings.

Adaptability to Different Environments

Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for their adaptability to different environments, including urban and suburban settings. However, they are best suited to homes with ample space and a secure yard where they can move comfortably. Their size and protective nature make them well-suited for properties requiring vigilant guardians.

Climate Considerations

Due to their short coat, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not well-suited for extremely cold climates. They are more tolerant of moderate temperatures but may struggle in hot and humid weather due to their brachycephalic (short-muzzled) features. It’s important to provide them with appropriate shade, fresh water, and avoid excessive heat exposure.

Exercise Requirements

Neapolitan Mastiffs have a relatively low energy level and do not require excessive exercise. However, regular daily walks and mental stimulation activities are still vital to keep them physically and mentally engaged. They are not typically high-energy dogs and can adapt to the exercise routines of their owners.

Crate Training

Crate training can be beneficial for Neapolitan Mastiffs, providing them with a safe and comfortable space of their own. It also helps with house training and prevents destructive behavior when left unsupervised. Introducing crate training in a positive and gradual manner is recommended.

In summary, Neapolitan Mastiffs can be moderately trainable, but it requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement methods. Early socialization is crucial, and they can adapt to various environments, provided they have ample space. While not excessively energetic, they still require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Understanding their training needs and adaptability can help ensure a successful and fulfilling relationship with your Neapolitan Mastiff.

Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

The Neapolitan Mastiff has specific exercise requirements and energy levels that need to be considered to ensure their physical and mental well-being. Let’s explore the exercise needs and energy level of this breed.

Moderate Exercise Needs

Neapolitan Mastiffs have a moderate exercise requirement compared to some other breeds. While they are not highly active dogs, they still benefit from daily exercise to maintain their physical health and prevent boredom.

Daily Walks

Regular walks are essential for Neapolitan Mastiffs. Aim for at least one or two walks per day, with each session lasting around 30 minutes to an hour. These walks should be at a moderate pace to provide them with mental and physical stimulation.

Low Energy Level

The Neapolitan Mastiff is known for its calm and laid-back demeanor. They have a relatively low energy level, which means they are not hyperactive or constantly seeking physical activity. This makes them well-suited for individuals or families who prefer a more relaxed companion.

Mental Stimulation

While their exercise needs may be moderate, mental stimulation is equally important for the Neapolitan Mastiff. Engaging their minds through training sessions, puzzle toys, or interactive games can help prevent boredom and keep them mentally sharp.

Exercise Restrictions

Neapolitan Mastiffs have certain exercise restrictions due to their large size and potential joint issues. Avoid excessive jumping or high-impact activities that could put strain on their developing bones and joints. Consult with a veterinarian for specific exercise guidelines, especially during their growth phase.

Adjusting Exercise as They Age

As Neapolitan Mastiffs age, their exercise needs may change. They may become less active and require shorter or less frequent walks. It’s important to monitor their energy levels, weight, and overall health, and adjust their exercise routine accordingly. Regular vet check-ups can help determine any necessary adjustments.

Heat Sensitivity

Due to their brachycephalic (short-muzzled) features, Neapolitan Mastiffs can be sensitive to heat. They are prone to overheating, especially in hot and humid climates. Avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day and provide ample shade and fresh water when outside.

In summary, Neapolitan Mastiffs have moderate exercise needs and a low energy level. Daily walks and mental stimulation are important to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. However, it’s crucial to consider their size, joint health, and heat sensitivity when planning their exercise routine. By providing appropriate exercise and mental enrichment, you can help ensure a happy and healthy Neapolitan Mastiff.

Grooming Requirements

The Neapolitan Mastiff has specific grooming requirements to keep their coat, skin, and overall appearance in optimal condition. Let’s explore the grooming needs of this breed.

Coat Type

The Neapolitan Mastiff has a short and dense double coat. The outer coat is coarse and provides protection, while the undercoat is softer and helps with insulation. Their coat is relatively low-maintenance compared to breeds with longer or more intricate hair.

Regular Brushing

While Neapolitan Mastiffs do not require extensive brushing, regular brushing helps to remove loose hair, dirt, and debris from their coat. A weekly brushing session with a soft-bristled brush or grooming mitt is typically sufficient to keep their coat looking its best.


Bathing a Neapolitan Mastiff should be done as needed or when they become dirty or smelly. It’s important to use a gentle dog shampoo and warm water to avoid drying out their skin. However, excessive bathing should be avoided as it can strip their coat of its natural oils.

Wrinkle and Skin Fold Care

One of the most distinctive features of the Neapolitan Mastiff is their abundant wrinkles and skin folds. These areas require special attention to prevent the accumulation of moisture, dirt, and bacteria, which can lead to infections. Regular cleaning and drying of the wrinkles with a soft cloth or baby wipe can help maintain their hygiene.

Ear and Dental Care

Neapolitan Mastiffs are prone to ear infections due to their droopy ears. Regular inspection and cleaning of their ears are necessary to prevent wax buildup and moisture accumulation. Additionally, dental care is important to maintain their oral health. Regular brushing using a dog-specific toothpaste and regular veterinary dental check-ups are recommended.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trimming is essential for Neapolitan Mastiffs to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Long nails can cause pain when walking and may even lead to joint issues. If you are not comfortable trimming their nails yourself, consider seeking the assistance of a professional groomer or veterinarian.

Eye Care

Their droopy and wrinkled face makes Neapolitan Mastiffs prone to eye issues such as infections and irritation. Regularly checking their eyes for discharge, redness, or any signs of discomfort is important. Gentle cleaning with a damp cloth can help remove any debris or tear stains.

Professional Grooming

While Neapolitan Mastiffs do not require professional grooming on a regular basis, some owners may opt for professional services for assistance with nail trimming, ear cleaning, or coat maintenance. Professional groomers can provide additional guidance on specific grooming needs based on the condition of your Neapolitan Mastiff’s coat.

In summary, Neapolitan Mastiffs have moderate grooming requirements. Regular brushing, ear and dental care, wrinkle cleaning, and nail trimming are essential to keep them clean, comfortable, and healthy. By maintaining their coat and overall hygiene, you can ensure that your Neapolitan Mastiff looks and feels its best.

Health Issues

Like any dog breed, the Neapolitan Mastiff is prone to certain health issues that potential owners should be aware of. Understanding these common health concerns can help you make informed decisions regarding the care and well-being of your Neapolitan Mastiff. Let’s explore some of the health issues that are commonly associated with this breed.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia are common orthopedic conditions in large dog breeds, including the Neapolitan Mastiff. These conditions occur when the hip or elbow joints develop abnormally, leading to discomfort, pain, and potential mobility issues. Responsible breeders perform health screenings and use selective breeding practices to reduce the risk of these conditions.

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)

Bloat, also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), is a life-threatening condition that can affect deep-chested breeds, including the Neapolitan Mastiff. It occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists, leading to a potentially fatal situation. Feeding the dog smaller and more frequent meals, avoiding exercise after meals, and monitoring their eating habits can help reduce the risk of bloat.

Eye Problems

Neapolitan Mastiffs are prone to various eye problems, including entropion (inward rolling of the eyelids), ectropion (outward rolling of the eyelids), cherry eye (prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid), and dry eye (insufficient tear production). Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian and proper care can help prevent and manage these conditions.

Skin Infections and Allergies

Due to their wrinkles and skin folds, Neapolitan Mastiffs are susceptible to skin infections and allergies. Moisture and debris can accumulate in these areas, leading to bacterial or fungal infections. Regular cleaning and drying of the wrinkles, along with proper grooming and hygiene practices, can help prevent these issues.

Heart Disease

Certain heart conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), can affect Neapolitan Mastiffs. Regular veterinary check-ups, including cardiac evaluations, can help detect and manage any potential heart-related issues.

Other Health Concerns

Neapolitan Mastiffs may also be prone to other health problems, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), certain types of cancer, and heat sensitivity due to their brachycephalic features. Responsible breeding practices, regular veterinary care, and a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the risk of these conditions.

It’s important to note that not all Neapolitan Mastiffs will develop these health issues. However, being aware of the potential risks and proactively addressing them through proper care, regular veterinary check-ups, and a healthy lifestyle can help ensure the overall well-being and longevity of your Neapolitan Mastiff.

Comparable Breeds

While the Neapolitan Mastiff is a unique and remarkable breed, there are other breeds that share similar characteristics or may be of interest to those considering a Neapolitan Mastiff. Let’s explore some comparable breeds that you may want to consider.

English Mastiff

The English Mastiff shares many similarities with the Neapolitan Mastiff. Both breeds are large, powerful, and known for their protective nature. English Mastiffs are also gentle and affectionate with their family members, making them excellent companion dogs. However, English Mastiffs have a shorter coat and fewer wrinkles compared to Neapolitan Mastiffs.


The Bullmastiff is another breed that is often compared to the Neapolitan Mastiff. Like the Neapolitan Mastiff, Bullmastiffs are known for their loyalty, protective instincts, and gentle nature. They are also large and muscular dogs, but with a shorter coat and fewer wrinkles. Bullmastiffs are generally more active and require slightly more exercise than Neapolitan Mastiffs.

Great Dane

The Great Dane is a breed that shares the Neapolitan Mastiff’s impressive size but has a different appearance. Great Danes are known for their sleek and elegant build, with a shorter coat and a more athletic physique. They are gentle, friendly, and good-natured dogs, making them great family companions. Great Danes are generally more active and require regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is another breed that may be of interest to those considering a Neapolitan Mastiff. Like the Neapolitan Mastiff, Tibetan Mastiffs are large, powerful, and have a protective nature. They are also known for their loyalty and devotion to their family. However, Tibetan Mastiffs have a longer, thicker coat and a different appearance compared to Neapolitan Mastiffs.

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is a breed that shares many characteristics with the Neapolitan Mastiff. Both breeds are Italian Mastiffs and have similar protective instincts, loyalty, and affection for their families. Cane Corsos have a shorter coat and fewer wrinkles than Neapolitan Mastiffs but are still powerful and muscular dogs. They are generally more active and require regular exercise and mental stimulation.

It’s important to note that while these breeds share some similarities with the Neapolitan Mastiff, each breed has its own unique traits and characteristics. It’s recommended to research and interact with different breeds to find the one that best matches your lifestyle, preferences, and expectations.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

The Neapolitan Mastiff has produced some notable dogs that have made their mark in various fields. Let’s explore a few of these remarkable Neapolitan Mastiffs and their notable achievements.

“Ch. Allevamenti Del Gheno” – World Champion and Breed Standard Setter

Ch. Allevamenti Del Gheno, also known as “Baccio,” was a Neapolitan Mastiff who achieved great success in the show ring. Baccio won the prestigious World Champion title, showcasing the breed’s exceptional conformation and adherence to the breed standard. His impressive structure and temperament made him a true ambassador for the Neapolitan Mastiff breed.

“Ch. Iron Hill’s Caesar” – Therapy Dog and Canine Good Citizen

Ch. Iron Hill’s Caesar was not only a champion in the show ring but also excelled as a therapy dog and earned the Canine Good Citizen certification. Caesar showcased the gentle and affectionate temperament of the Neapolitan Mastiff, providing comfort and support to those in need. His therapy work highlighted the breed’s ability to bring joy and healing to others.

“Ch. Carnera Della Grotta Azzurra” – Working Dog and Champion

Ch. Carnera Della Grotta Azzurra, also known as “Caruso,” was a Neapolitan Mastiff who demonstrated exceptional working abilities. Caruso achieved success in various working disciplines, including obedience, tracking, and protection work. His versatility showcased the breed’s intelligence, trainability, and working potential.

“Ch. Black Pearl Guardiano Dei Reali” – Champion and Progenitor

Ch. Black Pearl Guardiano Dei Reali, also known as “Lupo,” was a Neapolitan Mastiff who left a significant impact on the breed. Lupo was not only a champion in the show ring but also a successful sire, passing on his outstanding traits to future generations. His contribution to the breed’s improvement and preservation made him a notable figure in Neapolitan Mastiff history.

These are just a few examples of the notable Neapolitan Mastiffs that have left a lasting legacy. Their achievements showcase the breed’s versatility, temperament, and potential in various endeavors. Whether excelling in the show ring, working as therapy dogs, or leaving a mark as exceptional sires, these Neapolitan Mastiffs have solidified their place in the breed’s history.

It’s important to remember that every individual Neapolitan Mastiff has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of their owners and those around them, regardless of their achievements or titles. Each Neapolitan Mastiff is a unique and remarkable companion, bringing their own special qualities to the lives of their families.

The Neapolitan Mastiff can trace its ancestry back to ancient times, specifically to the Molossus, a large and powerful dog breed used in warfare by the Greeks and Romans. The Molossus dogs were renowned for their strength, loyalty, and protective nature.

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