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BaxterBoo Blog
May 15, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Neapolitan Mastiff

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  • Height: 24"- 30”
  • Weight: 165 pounds, some males up to 200 pounds.
  • Historical function: Estate guard
  • Modern function: Guard dog, companion
  • AKC classification: Mastiff

Physical Characteristics:

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a giant, short-haired breed of dog that is rectangular looking with long, loose folds of skin encompassing the dog's frame. The extreme dewlap (fleshy folds hanging under the neck) is also a defining feature. They have a unique, lumbering gait. It has been said that this unique body type was developed purposely to look scary and ugly enough to deter intruders.

History of the Breed:

The Neapolitan Mastiff is also known as the Mastino Napoletano (Italian Mastiff.) This is an ancient breed originating in Italy as an estate guard. The breed was a descendant of the the Molossers which were created when Alexander the Great combined the Macedonian and Epirian war dogs with the shorthaired "Indian" dogs.


The Neapolitan Mastiff's history as an estate guard plays heavily into their temperament. They like to stay around the house and look after their charges and property. Because this dog is so large and bred to be a guard, this dog is not recommended for most families and especially not for first-time owners. They are generally calm, but they are quite protective and territorial. They are very devoted and this devotion can translate into jealousy. They look lazy, but will move with stunning agility when they sense something is wrong. They may inadvertently knock small children down and break decor simply with their lumbering size. 

  • Best suited for: Anyone needing a fiercely devoted, protective dog. Estate owners. Single women who never plan to bring home a date.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog is prone to heat stroke so does better in cooler climates.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The short hair can be groomed with a rubber brush. Care needs to be taken to clean out the folds of skin. This dog is a heavy drooler.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk, with the dog being made to walk to the side or behind the handler.
  • Life expectancy: Short, under 10 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to cherry eye, hip dysplasia and bloat. Puppies usually have to be delivered by caesarian.

Breed Club Links: United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club Perfect Pairings: Zoom Groom Natural Rubber Grooming Brush

Have any stories about a Neapolitan Mastiff? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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