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 :
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.