Everything about your Neapolitan Mastiff - LUV My dogs

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Everything about your Neapolitan Mastiff

  The Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy-boned, massive, awe inspiring dog bred for use as a guard and defender of owner and property. He is characterized by loose skin, over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. The essence of the Neapolitan is his bestial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude. Due to his massive structure, his characteristic movement is rolling and lumbering, not elegant or showy.


  With its massive size made even more imposing by its abundant loose skin and dewlap, the Neapolitan Mastiff may have the most alarming appearance of any dog, and some say this look was purposefully bred in order to scare away intruders without the dog having to act. However, when forced to act, the Neo can spring into action with surprising speed. Its massive muscular body can knock down almost any intruder. Its huge head with short, powerful jaws and large teeth can crush or hold an opponent. The skin is tough and hanging, adding to the imposing impression of size as well as formidable expression. 

  The Neapolitan Mastiff was bred for centuries to guard its family. As such, it is incredibly loyal and devoted to its family, watchful and suspicious of strangers, and tolerant of acquaintances. It is a stay-at-home-type dog. Although it is loving toward children, its sheer size can make accidents possible. It may not get along well with other dogs, especially domineering-type dogs. Because of its size, it should be carefully socialized at an early age.

  • Neapolitan Mastiffs do best in homes with a yard they can patrol. They are calm indoors however and can do fine in an apartment or condo big enough to accommodate their sprawl.
  • Neos are generally clumsy dogs who have trouble navigating more than a few stairs, especially as puppies.
  • The Neapolitan Mastiff is an average shedder and requires weekly brushing, plus close attention to cleaning his skin wrinkles and folds.
  • He's an excellent deterrent to intruders, but rarely aggressive without cause. Socialize him early and often so that he learns how to behave around other people and animals.
  • Neapolitan Mastiffs can be lazy and will become obese if he doesn't get much exercise. Make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight to avoid diseases that can significantly reduce his life span.
  • The Neapolitan Mastiff is not recommended for a timid or first-time owner. This breed needs a confident trainer who is consistent and firm but also loving. The Neo is strong-willed and will test whether you really mean what you say.
  • Neapolitan Mastiffs have a fearsome appearance and a deep bark, both of which are usually more than enough to deter even the most foolhardy criminals.
  • Neapolitan Mastiffs have a number of what some consider offensive habits: slobbering, drooling, wheezing, grunting, snorting, and flatulence.
  • This affectionate dog is not aware of his size and will happily cuddle up to you or on you. 
  • Neapolitan Mastiffs love the outdoors, but they also love being with their family. They should live indoors with their people, not alone in the backyard.
  • Young Neapolitan Mastiffs are rowdy, but it's important for their orthopedic development to prevent a lot of jumping or stair climbing until they reach physical maturity.
  • Neapolitan Mastiffs can be destructive if bored. Give them regular exercise, social interaction, and training to keep life interesting.
  • Neapolitan Mastiffs are good with older children, but can be too large for a toddler. They can knock over or step on small children without meaning to hurt them.
  • Never buy a Neapolitan Mastiff from a puppy mill, a pet store, or a breeder who doesn't provide health clearances or guarantees. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies and who breeds for sound temperaments.
Other Quick Facts

  • Everything about the Neo is massive. His face is deeply wrinkled and his body is covered in loose skin with a coat that is gray, black, mahogany or tawny, giving him the appearance of a scowling executive in an ill-fitting suit. He walks with a rolling, lumbering gait.
  • Many of the Neo’s unique traits — the wrinkles, loose skin, massive bone and lumbering gait — are the result of generations of selective breeding in the Neapolitan countrywide with little to no influence from other breeds. The result is an assortment of recessive genes, which can make breeding this dog successfully a challenge.
Breed standards
AKC group: Working
UKC group: Guardian
Average lifespan: 8 to 10 years
Average size: 110 - 154 pounds
Coat appearance: Short, smooth and glossy
Coloration: black, gray, mahogany, tawny, or tan brindle
Hypoallergenic: No

  The Neapolitan Mastiff’s roots go deep into Italian soil. He descends from Roman war dogs who, already big, were crossed with giant British mastiffs after the Roman invasion of Britain. The powerful dogs with their seriously protective nature were turned to new careers as estate and farm guardians after their masters had finished conquering the known world.   For 2,000 years, they were “the big dog of the little man,” but wars and industrialization nearly brought an end to them.  After World War II, however, Italian dog lovers made a concerted effort to save the breed. They were exhibited at a dog show in Naples in 1946, and a breed standard was written by Piero Scanziani in 1948. The Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the breed in 1949, and the breed standard was rewritten in 1971 to be more precise.
  By the early 1970s, the dogs were known in other European countries as well as in the United States. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2004. It ranks 113 th among the dogs registered by the AKC.


  Steady and solid as an oak tree, the Neo is a guardian rather than an attack dog. He's always alert and aware, even if it looks like he's relaxing.
If you aren't home, they simply won't let anyone onto your property. And really, who's going to argue with them?
  When you welcome someone, though, your Neo will accept that person as well, although he'll probably remain aloof. This isn't a "hail fellow, well met" kind of dog.
  The Neo is affectionate toward his family, but he's also strong-willed — and big enough to have his own way. Begin training early, be firm and consistent, and use positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise and food rewards.
  As with every dog, Neapolitan Mastiffs need early socialization or exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences. Socialization helps ensure that your Neo puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

  The average life span of the Neapolitan Mastiff is 8 to 10 years. Breed health concerns may include entropion, ectropion, cranial cruciate ligament rupture , eversion of the cartilage of the nictitating membrane, cataracts, vaginal hyperplasia, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, panosteitis, prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid  and halitosis . This breed is especially sensitive to halothane gas anesthesia; owners should discuss this with their veterinarian and suggest that isoflurane be used if their Neapolitan Mastiff needs to be put under general anesthesia. This breed does not tolerate hot weather well.

Exercise Requirements
  The Neapolitan Mastiff doesn’t require a ton of exercise. With a fenced yard, his patrolling duties will give him all of the exercise he needs. Brisk walks early in the morning or late in the evening will be beneficial as Neos can overheat in extreme temperatures.
  Although this breed makes a great companion for families with older kids, he is not the type of dog that will be out playing fetch or Frisbee. Neapolitan Mastiffs prefer lounging on the couch or sleeping in the bed with their families to doing anything athletic.

  Even though the dog does not need a great deal of physical exercise, it requires plenty of space to live. One cannot expect the giant Neapolitan Mastiff to force itself into small living quarters. The breed is fond of the outdoors but does not do well in warm weather.
  Just like other giant breeds, its veterinary, boarding, and food bills can be quite high. Obsessive house cleaners should also think twice before getting such a dog, as the breed often makes messes with its food and drink, and tends to drool.

Living Conditions
 The Neo will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is relatively inactive indoors and a small yard will do. Take extra caution in warm weather to provide shade, water and a cool place to lie.

  The Neapolitan Mastiff can be a stubborn dog. He needs a trainer who is confident and assertive. The Neo does not respond to aggressive training methods. Only positive techniques should be used and treats such as cookies or tidbits of meat are welcomed for a job well done. Obedience classes are beneficial as the Neo will become more socialized with other people and animals, which is necessary for this protective breed.

  The Neapolitan Mastiff has a short, dense coat with oily skin that has something of a musky odor. You may want to bathe your Neo regularly to keep the scent at bay. Brush or comb him daily to remove dead hair and keep the skin and coat healthy. Wipe out his wrinkles often with a damp cloth and dry them thoroughly to prevent skin fold infections.
   The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once every few weeks. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.

Children And Other Pets
  The Neo is suitable for families with older children, but he can be too big and clumsy to spend much time around toddlers. While he'll never intentionally hurt them, he can easily knock them over or step on them.
  Make it a rule that children are never to run and scream in a Neo's presence. The noise and activity can excite him, and he's simply too big to be allowed to chase children or play roughly with them.
  He may also feel the need to protect "his" children from other kids, especially if they're wrestling or otherwise appear to be fighting. Always supervise play so that he knows you're in charge.
  Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.
  Teach your child to never approach any dog while he's sleeping or eating or try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how good-natured, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
  The Neo is not fond of dogs he doesn't know, although he can learn to get along with those he's raised with. He can also get along with cats if he's raised with them.

Did You Know?
  The Neapolitan Mastiff is sensitive to heat. Don’t leave him outdoors in hot weather unless he has access to plenty of shade and cool, fresh water. Limit exercise to cool mornings and evenings.

In the media
  • Alan from the film Babe: Pig in the City.
  • Fang from the Harry Potter films .
  • Pansy from the Burke series of novels by Andrew Vachss.
  • Sweetie from Robert K. Tanenbaum's Butch Karp novels.
  • A Neapolitan was featured in the movie American Gangster as a domestic pet belonging to an Italian Mafia Boss Dominic Cattano.
  • A Neapolitan Mastiff appears in a scene in the movie DragonHeart.
  • A Neapolitan Mastiff appears in a scene in the movie "Belly".


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