Sweet and loyal to family members yet wary of strangers, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a huge, astounding breed built for guarding. The Neapolitan Mastiff, also known as the “Mastino”, has intimidated intruders since ancient Rome. In fact, Mastinos may have been around since 700 B.C., as depicted in several ancient artifacts. The Roman Empire used the breed as war dogs, gladiators, guardians, and tools of intimidation to spite fear into their adversaries. The Neapolitan Mastiff is still used as a family and property guard dog today due to their protective nature and fearsome appearance.
Characteristics of the Neapolitan Mastiff
Let’s take a look at the appearance and temperament of this awe-inspiring breed.
Profusely wrinkled as he is large and powerful, the Neapolitan Mastiff males stand between 26 and 31 inches tall, while the females stand between 24 and 29 inches tall. The males grow to 150 pounds in weight and the females are smaller, weighing only 110 pounds. As a member of the Working dog group, the Neapolitan Mastiff was built to guard and intimidate, and his appearance makes no question of that fact. The body of the Neapolitan Mastiff is covered in loose, wrinkly skin. The coat is short and can be seen in black, blue, mahogany, and tawny.
Fiercely protective of his home and family, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a fearless breed with no patience for strangers or intruders. He prefers to be with his family at all times and, though he doesn’t bark much, the Neapolitan Mastiff makes an excellent guard dog due to his tendency to sneak up on intruders rather than first alerting them of his presence. Affectionate towards his family members, the breed can suffer from separation anxiety when not around his family.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is an intelligent breed that learns quickly. They tend to be independent thinkers and can be extremely aggressive towards other unfamiliar dogs- large and small- and strangers if not given proper obedience training and socialization as a puppy. They do not always know their own strength and must be trained as puppies to be gentle around children. However, even with proper socialization, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not a great dog for households with children. Even if your Neapolitan Mastiff understands that the children in your home are part of your family that he should protect, he will not be so understanding of your children’s friends and will protect his owners with his life against the perceived threat. Although the Neapolitan Mastiff is a fairly inactive breed, this breed is not the best for apartment living because of his tendency to perceive strange dogs and people as a threat to his home.
Unfortunately, the Neapolitan Mastiff only lives between 7 and 9 years of age on average.
Caring for the Neapolitan Mastiff
Let’s take a look at the proper way to care for the Neapolitan Mastiff.
Your Neapolitan Mastiff will need to be fed a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for his age. Treats can be a valuable tool to use during training but avoid feeding your pet too many treats as this can cause obesity, which can lead to many other problems. Experienced breeders and owners of the Neapolitan Mastiff recommend that you feed your pet a dog food that is higher in fat and lower in protein than most standard dog foods. This is because the Neapolitan Mastiff grows so quickly, especially as a puppy. It is important to note that this breed should not be fed calcium supplements. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a low-active breed but will still require exercise to remain healthy. A short daily walk will do the trick. Due to his large size, the Neapolitan Mastiff should not be made to run too quickly or make swift turns, as his joints can be easily damaged. This is especially important for Neapolitan Mastiff puppies when going up and down stairs, or when playing, as the puppy will want to play beyond his energy level. It is not recommended to play tug-of-war and other such games with your Neapolitan Mastiff as he will begin to realize that he is stronger than his human and will no longer need to listen.
Neapolitan Mastiff puppies are curious and cuddly, but the breed becomes more stubborn and powerful during the adolescent years. Therefore, it is important to provide your Mastino will obedience training and puppy socialization classes when he is young so that you already have control over him by the time he is big enough to overpower you. It goes without saying that this huge and powerful breed is for experienced dog owners only. Neapolitan Mastiffs do not respond well to harsh training methods and must be consistently rewarded and praised so that they don’t give up or become stubborn during training.
The coat of the Neapolitan Mastiff is very short and does not require much grooming at all. Your Neapolitan Mastiff will not usually need to be brushed. A bath every month or so will be sufficient to keep him looking his best. After washing the face and lips, you will need to keep a towel hand to hand dry your pet because he has a high tendency to drool, especially after drinking water or getting his face wet. His nails should be kept short and his eyes and ears should be checked regularly and cleaned with a damp cloth or paper towel whenever necessary.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are generally healthy dogs. However, one common health ailment in the breed is “cherry eye”, a condition in which the tissue in the corner of the eye becomes red and inflamed. The is usually no permanent damage if the condition is treated properly by a veterinarian. Bloat and hip dysplasia are also common in the breed, as in most other large dog breeds. Despite his abundant wrinkles and folds of skin, the Neapolitan Mastiff does not have skin issues. Always consult your pet’s veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about your dog’s health.