Neapolitan Mastiff Breed Guide

Breed Group:
Working Dogs

Middle Age: 4 years

Geriatric Age: 7 years

Life Span: 8 to 10 years

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Neapolitan Mastiff Background Info & History

Mastiff-type dogs are an ancient breed that has been around for the past 5,000 years. Originating from Tibet, these beastly dogs were used as trusty watch dogs and fierce companions on the battlefield. Throughout history, this dog has been bred to be tough and massive animals, one that could withstand an attack from invading warriors.

Later on, a similar breed was bred in Southern Italy, which is now the Neapolitan Mastiff we know today. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Neapolitan Mastiff breed gained popularity throughout the rest of Europe and eventually made their way to the United States. It wasn’t until 2004 that the Neapolitan Mastiff was finally recognized by the American Kennel Club. Today this breed is praised for their eye-catching appearance. their bulky body, thick skin, and massive head give them a commanding presence unlike any other breed.

Neapolitan Mastiff Temperament & Personality

Contrary to their appearance, the Neapolitan Mastiff personality is even-tempered and calm. Once they become close with their owner, they can be the most loyal and obedient pet that serves as protector of the household. Their defensive instincts make them suspicious of intruders or other animals.They tend to be wary of strangers and other dogs, which makes them a loyal and alert watchdog.

Make sure to have this dog trained to follow your command. They have the need to protect who they’re closest with and can turn aggressive if not properly trained. Neapolitan Mastiffs can be a great pet for the family. They develop a strong bond with the ones they are close with and will follow their owners wherever they go.

Despite their imposing size, this breed will still try to sit on the couch with the family, even when they clearly won’t fit. Their obedient characteristics may come at a cost. Some tend to develop separation anxiety if they are left alone without their owners.

Neapolitan Mastiff Trainability

Neapolitan Mastiffs can be temperamental if they have not been properly trained at a young age. It is especially important to enroll your dog in a puppy training course as soon as you bring them home. This will especially help to familiarize them with other dogs. A Neapolitan Mastiff can turn aggressive with other people and pets, so be sure to socialize them with as many experiences as possible while they are still a puppy.

Also be sure to establish your authority when training. It is a lot easier to control a Neapolitan Mastiff when they are still small compared to when they reach 200 pounds. Use firm and assertive commands while training your dog. Establishing respect early on is critical for them to obey you as their owner.

Exercise Requirements for Neapolitan Mastiffs

Even though they are a massive breed, they should only get a moderate amount of exercise on a daily basis. Their bodies are not meant for long, strenuous exercises, and should only be walked 20-30 minutes a day. Due to their massive size, swimming and running are highly discouraged. Avoid excessive physical activity while they are still young.

This breed grows quickly, and can easily injure themselves while their bones are still developing. Rough-housing with a Neapolitan Mastiff is not a good idea. They tend to forget their size and strength, and can easily injure someone during playtime. Make sure they have plenty of space to play outside. They are one of the largest breeds in the world and need to be able to move around as they please.

Neapolitan Mastiff Lifespan

Neapolitan Mastiffs typically live to be about 8-10 years old.

Popularity of Neapolitan Mastiffs

Due to their late introduction to the United States, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not a very popular breed. It wasn’t until 2004 that they were finally recognized by the American Kennel Club. Today these dogs are known to be a loyal guardian, faithful to only their close family members and suspicious of any outsiders. Today the Neapolitan Mastiff is ranked 99th most popular breed in the United States by the AKC.

Feeding Recommendations for Neapolitan Mastiffs

Good nutrition for your Neapolitan Mastiff is the first step for improving their overall health. Like previously stated, this breed is one of the largest in the world, and they have an appetite that correlates with their impressive size. They need 4-6 cups of high-quality food a day to satisfy their nutritional needs. This should be split into two separate meals at morning and night.

The amount of food will vary depending on their size, age, and metabolism. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian to create a set feeding regimen specific for your pet. Your dog food should be made with natural and organic ingredients. Stay away from corn, soy, grains, and preservatives as the main ingredients. Also, provide your pet with fresh water at all times. Neapolitan Mastiffs have a tendency to overheat, and can easily become dehydrated if they do not have a clean source of water available.

Grooming a Neapolitan Mastiff

These massive dogs have minor grooming requirements. Their unique folds and droopy skin need to be carefully cleaned and dried as often as possible. Moisture can build up between their folds, which can cause bacteria to grow and lead to an infection. Their thin coat comes in tan, black, grey, or mahogany, and is the same length around their entire body. Aside from attending to their folds and excess skin, a Neapolitan Mastiffs coat has minimal maintenance.

Brushing once a week will help keep their coat nice and healthy while also limiting the amount of shedding. Once a week, clean their ears with a veterinarian-approved cleanser to prevent wax build up or infection. Their teeth should also be brushed weekly to promote good gum and dental health. Normally a dog’s nails will be trimmed naturally from walking outdoors. If their nails become overgrown, trim them once a month.

Are Neapolitan Mastiffs Good With Kids?

Due to their enormous size, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not a great fit for children. This breed is gentle and kind, but can easily injure an energetic and needy child. Older children are highly recommended when handling this kind of animal. Once the child knows how to properly interact with your Neapolitan Mastiff, they can both live happily under the same roof without any issues. Just like with any dog, make sure a parent is there to supervise any child and pet interactions. Never allow your child to rough house with your dog, especially if it a Neapolitan Mastiff. This breed often forgets their powerful size, and innocent playing can turn into a serious injury.

Health Problems of Neapolitan Mastiffs

Cardiomyopathy: This heart disorder occurs when the lining of the heart thins and cannot contract properly. Adding pressure to the heart makes it enlarge and imposes on proper cardiac functioning.

Cherry Eye: Cherry Eye is a common health issue for Neapolitan Mastiffs. This occurs when the gland in their third eyelid protrudes from the inner eye, revealing a red and fleshy mass. This can cause tissue within the eye to dry out and become uncomfortable.

Cleft Palate: Just like in humans, a dog can be born with a cleft palate. This occurs when the tissues between the eyes and nose do not form together properly. A cleft palate creates an abnormal opening for the mouth and requires corrective services in severe cases.

Fold Dermatitis: Because of the Neapolitan Mastiffs excess skin, they are at high risk for fold dermatitis. This skin infection occurs when moisture accumulates between the skin. Frequently check your dog’s skin for moisture in order to prevent this from happening.

Demodicosis: This is caused by mites that irritate a dog’s skin. All dogs have a small amount of these mites naturally, however, if their immune system becomes weakened, the mites can spread to the rest of their body. Depending on its severity, demodicosis can be cured with oral or topical treatment.

Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow Dysplasia occurs when then the elbow joint forms abnormally. Elbow dysplasia can cause damage to the cartilage around the joint, leading to inflammation and arthritis.

More Resources

National Breed Website: United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club

Neapolitan Mastiff Rescue: Neo, Rescue Inc.

Health Issues Associated with this Breed: