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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Neapolitan Mastiff


Neapolitan Mastiff Facts

  • Group
  • Working
  • Affiliations
  • Height
  • 26" - 29"
  • Weight
  • 140-170 lbs.
  • Lifespan
  • 10 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • Low - This breed requires little daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • Difficult to Train
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Easy
  • Colors
    • Black
    • Black / Brindle
    • Red-Brindle
    • Blue
    • Brown
    • Silver / Grey
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Can be trained as a watch dog or guard dog
    • Can be trained for defense
    • Good with children
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

Mastino Napoletano, Italian mastiff, Neo.


This breed originated in Italy.

Date Of Origin

The Neapolitan mastiff has existed since antiquity.


All European mastiffs are descended from the Tibetan mastiff, the most ancient member of the canine species. The first Asian mastiffs were probably brought to Greece from India by Alexander the Great around 300 B.C. The Greeks introduced the dogs to the Romans, who adopted them enthusiastically. The word mastiff derives from the Latin massivus, meaning massive. English experts, however have another theory. They contend that the mastiff was brought to Britain by the Phoenicians in about 500 B.C. and spread from there to the rest of Europe. In any case the Neapolitan mastiff is a direct descendant of the Roman Molossus. While the breed became extinct through out the rest of Europe, it continued to survive in Campania despite the perils of weather and war. One can therefore say that the Neapolitan mastiff has existed in Campania for over 2,000 years, eve though it was not officially recognized until 1946, and its standard was not set until 1949.

Another resource states that the Neapolitan mastiff is a descendant of the ancient mastiff war dogs used in the Middle East and by the Romans. It was developed as a versatile working dog, used as a herder, flock guardian, drafting dog, hunter, guard, and companion. Despite the breed?s antiquity, it has only been officially recognized since after WW II; Neapolitan mastiffs didn?t reach other parts of Europe and North America until the 1970?s.


The Neapolitan mastiff is a large, strong, powerful dog that is longer than it is tall. It has a massive, flat head that is covered with wrinkles and the muzzle is a wide and deep with heavy lips, causing the front of the mouth to look like an inverted V. It has deep-set eyes and a large nose. The small, triangular-shaped drop ears are cropped erect or left natural. The thick tail is docked to about two-thirds its length. The skin is loose, especially on the head, and the coat is smooth and short. It may be gray, lead, black or mahogany, tawny, tawny stag, or a brindle of any of these colors. Brown, pale, gray, and cream are accepted but not preferred. There may be small, white patches on the chest or toes. It has a distinctive lumbering, bear-like gait.


This is a strong, protective dog that is loyal to family. It is calm but independent-minded.


In the course of history, the Neapolitan mastiff and its ancestors have been used in war, as fighting dogs in the circus, as collaborators to criminals and aids to the police, as draft animals, companions and bodyguards. Today a trained mastiff makes an excellent guard for person and property.

Health Concerns

Cherry eye, heart problems, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, immune system disorder, sensitivity to heat.

Additional Information

It does best in a rural or suburban home with a dog-experienced owner who isn?t fastidious.
Keep in mind that you will need to be financially married to giant size needs with this breed.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000

Website: http://www.dk.com

Author: Bruce Fogle

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