Other names: Mâtin napolitain, Mâtin de Naples, Mastino Napoletano
The Neapolitan Mastiff is an extremely balanced dog - never unnecessarily aggressive, gentle and safe around children: they become challenging when provoked. They are mainly a guard dog, but also a companion and exhibition dog. Of all the Molosser guard dogs, the Neapolitan Mastiff has the calmest character.
Key facts about the Neapolitan Mastiff
Life expectancy :
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Origins and history
Like all Molossers, the Neapolitan Mastiff most likely descends from the old Tibetan Molossus: they lived in southern Italy for at least 2,000 years BC. At the time of the second world war, the breed was close to extinction: it was recovered and saved in 1946 by the Italian writer and dog lover Piero Scanziani, who reconstructed the breed from the few remaining dogs. The breed was officially recognised in 1956.
Physical characteristics of the Neapolitan Mastiff
Female : Between 24 and 27 in
Male : Between 26 and 30 in
Female : Between 110 and 132 lb
Male : Between 132 and 154 lb
Generally, the coat is grey, lead-grey or black. They can also be black, fawn or deer-red. All colours can be brindle.
Type of coat
The hair is short, even cropped.
The hair is dense, of a rather coarse texture and the same length all over the body.
Often, the iris is darker than the colour of the coat, except for softer coats, where the iris is clearer in this case.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a large dog, a Molosser, with thick, characteristically wrinkled skin, covered with short fur. Their head is enormous and short, with a round skull, but flattened between the ears. They have a straight muzzle, a big nose and thick, drooping lips. Their eyes are far apart, the opening of the eyelids is almost round. However, as the skin supporting the eyebrows is very thick, this opening appears actually rather oval. The ears are small compared to the dog’s body, they are triangular in shape and placed high above the zygomatic bone. The whole body is longer than it is tall, with a massive neck and dewlap; the hindquarters are wide.
Good to know
For future adopters, do not be surprised: the Neapolitan Mastiff drools a lot and is often very flatulent.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is very affectionate towards their family members, they can sometimes be too clingy and don’t hesitate to jump up on the sofas in order to get all the attention.
Although not full of stamina, this Mastiff enjoys short play sessions, especially with children. As a puppy, they are more dynamic and up for playing.
Very calm, the Neapolitan Mastiff can sleep for hours at a time, whilst keeping an alert eye on what’s going on around them. Undeniably, they can completely switch if they feel a danger approaching their environment.
The Mastino Napoletano’s (as they are known in their native country) intelligence is reflected in their ability to analyse situations. In fact, in a short time, they can judge the dangerousness of a situation and act accordingly. Put simply, they are never aggressive for no reason and do not rush without forethought.
Although they can pursue small prey in the garden, this Mastiff is not a great predator. They never cease to hunt harmful individuals on their property, but not necessarily to catch them, just to keep them away.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Very loyal to their family, the Neapolitan Mastiff is naturally suspicious of strangers. If they do not feel threatened, they will not be aggressive. On the other hand, if provoked, they can be very dangerous and can bite.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a dog that can be independent but still needs human contact to flourish. They are extremely protective, and their guardian side implies a strong attachment to their loved ones.
Behaviour of the Neapolitan Mastiff
Despite their tough appearance, this dog is particularly sensitive and needs to be around their owners to feel content. In fact, they absolutely do not tolerate being excluded from their social group. It’s therefore not a possibility to tie the dog up or to make them constantly live outside.
If left alone for too long, this dog can quickly develop some overbearing behavioural disorders: separation anxiety, destruction, aggression etc.
Easy to train / obedience
Able to be quite stubborn at times, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not to be put in the hands of a beginner, who could quickly be overpowered. Sometimes temperamental, this dog needs clearly defined boundaries from an early age. Given their imposing size when fully grown, the Neapolitan Mastiff puppy must conform to the needs of their adoptive family.
The key points to work on positively, consistently and early on are: walking on a lead without pulling, avoiding lagging behind the dog during walks and to prevent their very protective nature from excessively impacting their owner’s daily lives, especially during socialisation.
Although firm, training methods must always be positive. The slightest cruelty would only destroy the dog-owner relationship that must be based on mutual respect and trust.
The Neapolitan Mastiff has a very deep bark, but they aren’t excessively vocal with it. Their stature is often enough to intimidate anyone who has bad intentions.
Tendency to run away
Even if their outside area is not fenced off, this dog will stay quietly in their familiar territory in order to keep watch.
This Mastiff will only become destructive and chew up anything if they are extremely bored or not exerting themselves sufficiently. It’s therefore important to teach them to let go of objects so that they do not swallow anything potentially dangerous.
Greedy / Gluttony
A very big eater, it’s important to ensure that this giant doesn’t ingest too much food at once or helps themselves to food due to the potential risk of an upset stomach.
A dog with innate and remarkable guardian skills, they are willing to risk their lives to save their loved ones. Constantly alert, they are always on the look-out and allow no irregularity.
However, they act as more of a deterrent than an actual attacker. They become aggressive and biting only if provoked or if any of their loved ones are being threatened.
Their temperament, build and natural instincts require the handling of an experienced owner. Beginners could make the Neapolitan Mastiff dangerous due to a lack of effective socialisation and training.
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Neapolitan Mastiff in a flat
Despite this breed’s size, they don’t need much space as they don’t need a lot of exercise. However, this very clumsy dog is not suited to living in an apartment.
They prefer living in a house with a garden, so they can fulfil their duties and stretch their legs every once in a while.
Nevertheless, be aware, the Neapolitan Mastiff must in no way be a solely outdoor dog, they must be able to go inside, especially when outside temperatures are low.
Need for exercise / Sporty
This dog doesn’t need a lot of exercise; they are not the best athletes and can become quickly tired. One or two daily walks are good enough for them but must not be neglected. This Mastiff needs to satisfy their physical and sense-of-smell needs, and particularly their social needs.
Their walks must be gentle so as to preserve this giant’s fragile joints.
Travelling / easy to transport
This Mastiff’s giant size doesn’t allow them to follow their owners wherever they travel. However, for socialisation purposes, it’s recommended to take them around to as many different places as possible, so they encounter various different situations.
Neapolitan Mastiff and cats
Living with cats may be very complicated with this dog because, even when they are familiar with them, the Neapolitan Mastiff may tend to chase them around.
Neapolitan Mastiff and dogs
With a strong temperament, these dogs may have difficulty living alongside other dogs, especially of the same gender. Indeed, this Mastiff often needs to set the rules, and this doesn’t suit all dogs. Conflicts can then arise. It’s important to give this Mastiff, during their early years, many frequent, controlled and positive meetings with other dogs.
Neapolitan Mastiff and children
Quite gentle with children, this dog enjoys playing and spending time with them. Nevertheless, as with all dogs, but especially with very powerful dogs such as these, it’s crucial to remain alert and to never leave children alone around this dog without supervision.
Neapolitan Mastiff and the elderly
Although they are a calm breed, this dog is not built for a sedentary life, as this could make them aggressive in the long run by never (or too rarely) leaving the house. Moreover, their strength is not compatible with a potentially fragile senior.
The price of a Neapolitan Mastiff varies according to the origin, age and sex. A pedigree usually costs around £1,370.
Regarding the average budget needed to meet the needs of a dog this size, it would cost approximately £70 a month.
Maintaining this dog is absolutely not complicated but still needs to be rigorous to a certain extent. Their short hair doesn’t need to be brushed every day, but their skin folds must be closely monitored as they are often the cause of certain skin diseases.
Brushing at least once a week is enough to maintain the beauty of their coat. Their delicate eyes must also be monitored and cleaned regularly.
The Neapolitan Mastiff loses a moderate amount of hair, which remains the same during moulting periods.
Nutrition of the Neapolitan Mastiff
Their diet must be watched, especially when the puppy is growing because a mistake in their diet can completely slow the development of the Neapolitan Mastiff puppy.
It’s recommended to offer the Neapolitan homemade meals prepared with raw meat, starchy foods, cereals and fresh vegetables. Daily portions will vary according to the dog’s age, weight and daily activities.
Given their size, two meals a day are required to prevent the dog from ingesting too much at one time.
Health of the Neapolitan Mastiff
The life expectancy is estimated at approximately 9 years.
Strong / robust
For their size, this Mastiff is particularly robust, although they do not have the best longevity. The health problems they can encounter are often related to their size and morphology.
Originating from a warm country, this breed can deal with the heat rather well.
These dogs suffer from the cold. Ideally, these dogs will be able to go in the garden during daylight hours but will need to return indoors at night.
Tendency to put on weight
Since they aren’t the most athletic dogs, the Neapolitan Mastiff can put on weight. It’s therefore important to walk them every day (even if just at a leisurely pace) and to ensure a balanced diet.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Eye problems (entropion, ectropion, cataracts, prolapse of the Harderian gland)
- Skin problems (demodicosis, dermatitis etc.)