A large and imposing breed, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy and splendid dog originally bred as a guard dog by the Romans. This dog breed is a popular family dog because of its affectionate and loyal nature. It is a giant, muscular and powerful dog that weighs 120 to 200 pounds and stands 60 to 78 centimetres at the withers. Neapolitan Mastiffs have lifespans of up to 10 years.
Are you searching for a majestic-looking guard dog? Read on to learn more about this native Italian dog.
The Neapolitan Mastiff was believed to have descended from the giant war dogs of Asia and the Middle East. These are ancient dogs, large, powerful and muscular, bred to guard homes, livestock and fight lions, elephants and men. In 356 B.C, Alexander the Great brought some of these native war dogs to regions he conquered where they were cross-bred with shorthaired Indian dogs, developing the "Molossus," the ancestor of several modern breeds.
When the Romans conquered Greece among the spoils of war were the Molossus dogs that they cross bred with the courageous mastiffs of Britain in 55 B.C. Crossing these two breeds resulted into the "Mastini," which were soon further developed in the Neapolitan area in Italy. The Mastinis served as guard dogs of homes and estates.
In 1946, the breed was displayed for the first time at a dog show in Naples where it enamoured the breeder, Dr Piero Scanziani, who later established the breed standards and renamed the breed "Mastino Napolteno" or the Neapolitan Mastiff. It is Kennel Club registered.
Appearance and Grooming
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a strapping, imposing and often powerful dog. It is heavy-boned, and its body is longer rather than it is tall. It weighs 120 to 200 pounds and stands 60 to 78 centimetres at the withers. Its large head is wrinkled with folds extending from the outside edges of the eyelids to the dewlap, and from below the lower lids to the external edges of the lips. The muzzle is moderately long against the head and should just be as wide. It has a large nose matching the colour of its coat, while its ears form small triangles and are either natural or cropped. The tail is set low and often docked.
The Neapolitan Mastiff wears a short and dense coat that is smooth to touch. Its coat comes in shades of blue, black, mahogany, reverse brindle, or tawny. Despite its large form, is low maintenance when it comes to grooming, thanks to its short and glossy coat. However, the folds and wrinkles around the face must be checked, cleaned and dried regularly to avoid bacteria setting in and developing infections.
Like most dogs, Neapolitans shed throughout the year and more during spring and autumn, which may require frequent grooming. It's also important to pay close attention to other basic grooming needs. Check the dog's ears regularly and clean them when necessary to avoid ear infections. Brush its teeth often to keep gum disease and bad breath at bay. Also, make sure to trim its nails to prevent overgrowth, splitting and cracking, often painful for the dog.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Neapolitan Mastiff is the perfect guard dog and family companion. Its large and imposing figure is enough deterrent to people with evil intentions. However, its fierce loyalty and protectiveness is also a force to be reckoned with. Neapolitans are real gentle giants that crave the company of its human family. They love nothing more than to be a part of a loving environment, though they are not ideal for first-time owners as well as owners who live in small city apartments. Their size alone requires a steady hand for consistent training and a huge living space and preferably a back garden, so they can roam as they please.
Neapolitan Mastiffs crave human contact and will develop negative behaviours when left alone for too long. Thus, they are more suitable for homes where one family member stays at home. Then again, this large dog breed is not suited to families with toddlers because of its size, which can easily knock down small children. They have more affinity with older children who know how to behave around big dogs, although any interaction must still be supervised.
In the presence of other male dogs, the male Neapolitan Mastiff may become a little aggressive. However, female Neapolitans tend to get on well with all dogs especially when they are socialised from a young age. With regard to small pets, care should be taken when around the Neapolitan Mastiff as it won't hesitate to chase cats, rabbits and other small furry creatures. Although this dog breed seems to co-exist with family cats that they grew up with.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Neapolitan Mastiff is 4 to 6 cups of high-quality dog food daily, equally divided in two to three meals. When you are not entirely certain about your dog's diet, do not think twice to consult a veterinarian.
Typical daily calorie needs of an adult Neapolitan Mastiff that weighs 150 pounds:
- Senior and less active: up to 2655 calories daily
- Typical adults: up to 2990 calories daily
- Physically active/working dogs: up to 3320 calories daily
Large dogs like the Neapolitan Mastiff will need more calories compared to other breeds. However, its diet must focus on the quality of the food rather than the quantity. Be sure to buy commercial dog food rich in protein or prepare a home-cooked, all-natural-food diet. It's all about balanced nutrition.
Health and Exercise
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a healthy dog despite its size and its loose skin, which on occasion can be a cradle for fungal infection. However, like all breeds, this dog is predisposed to health conditions that are either genetic or acquired. These health conditions include Hip Dysplasia, Entropion, Cherry Eye, OCD, Arthritis, Bloat, heart conditions, and skin problems.
Neapolitan Mastiffs must be provided with the right amount of exercise daily. They will require at least a minimum of 60 minutes a day so they can maintain their health. Adult Neapolitan dogs are often sedentary indoors and need a little coaxing to get up and move around. Take them for walks and let them play in the yard but make sure to stop before the dog shows it is tired. Neapolitan Mastiffs are known to ignore pain and may overexert themselves needlessly.
Cost of Ownership
If you are interested in purchasing a well-bred Neapolitan Mastiff puppy, prepare to spend around £800 to more than £2,000. Other than the initial purchase, you also need to consider getting a pet insurance, which can cost anywhere from £40 a month for a basic cover up to £55 a month for a lifetime cover. These are the quotes for year 2020 for a 4-month old puppy. These prices also vary depending on your dog’s health and age, size and weight, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Food cost is another matter to consider since you need to ensure that your dog stays healthy and well-fed at whatever age. For high-quality dog food, you will have to spend around £70–£80 a month. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £1500 annually. On average, caring for a Neapolitan Mastiff will cost about £110–£140 a month, depending on the type of insurance. This is exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might want to use at times.
Neapolitan Mastiff Breed Highlights
- The Neapolitan Mastiff is a giant and muscular dog that weighs 120 to 200 pounds.
- It is the perfect guard dog and family companion.
- It is a real gentle giant that craves the company of its human family.
- It is more suitable for experienced dog owners and those living in spacious city apartments.
- Neapolitan Mastiffs are low maintenance when it comes to grooming.
Are you sure the Neapolitan Mastiff is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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