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Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff, Italian Mastiff, or Mastino is a large, ancient dog breed. This massive breed is often used as a guard and defender of family and property due to the protective instincts and their fearsome appearance. The breed is reported to have been used for fighting against Lions in the Colosseum and other ancient Roman arenas.

Neapolitan Mastiffs are characterized by the loose skin over their entire bodies, with wrinkle and folds on the head; and a large dewlap. Some breeders produce Mastino with vast amounts of skin and wrinkle, large bone size and this is known as W.H.A.M meaning Wrinkle Head And Mass, while others detest this type preferring a more lean athletic appearance[citation needed]. There are 4 coat colors; Black, Grey(Blue), Mahogany and Tawny(blonde) , each color may also come with reverse brindling appearing as brown silver or beige. They can sometimes also have white on the chest and feet. White anywhere else on the body is a fault. Ears can be cropped or uncropped though since January 1 2007 it is now banned to crop ears or dock tails in Italy as it is in the rest of Europe.

Size and Proportion
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards [1], male Neapolitan Mastiffs should measure 26–31 inches (66–79 cm) at the withers, weighing approximately 150 pounds (70 kg), but can easily reach up to 200 pounds (90 kg) for larger males, whilst females should be 24–29 inches (61–74 cm) and weigh around 140 pounds (50 kg). Body length should be 10-15% more than that of the height.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is fearless and extremely protective of its home and family. They prefer to be with their family and to remain in and around the home always. They are not a dog to go and wander off. As a guardian breed, they are very wary of strangers, but usually if seeing that their master is relaxed, will soon accept them. The Neapolitan Mastiff rarely barks unless under provocation, renowned for sneaking upon intruders as opposed to alerting them of their presence first. As a breed the Neapolitan Mastiff can be extremely stubborn, but learns things very quickly. Once it understands what its master wants, it obeys. They have a very dominant attitude and must be taught from puppyhood that its master is the boss, not the other way around.

Males tend to be much more aggressive and dominant than females and at maturity can make another attempt at dominating their master. Females are usually more easy going and tend to be the choice of families with children. Though both sexes are, however, usually very loving with children. Males do not get along with other males of any breed, but the Neapolitan can get along well with non-canine pets if raised with them since puppyhood. Trying to introduce a new pet once your Neapolitan is matured can be extremely hard work as many can be jealous of the new arrivals.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed for everyone and certainly not a dog for beginners. Children should be taught to respect these dogs. Neapolitan Mastiffs should be well socialized at an early age either at ring craft or puppy clubs organized by your veterinarian to avoid over-protectiveness. They will be very protective even with extensive socialization. Additional protection training is unnecessary because they are natural guard dogs and always have been. Obedience training is very important in this breed. The Mastino is generally very tolerant of pain due to the breed's early fighting background and the fact the skin is loose on the body. They also are renowned for drooling especially after drinking or if they get excited.

The Neo is generally hardy, but like all breeds, has some specific health concerns. The most common is Cherry eye. Others include:

Hip dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia
Progressive retinal atrophy
Skin infections between skin folds called Demodex
Anesthetic Sensitivity


Neapolitan Mastiff
Other names: Mastino Napoletano, Mastino, Italian Bulldog, Italian Mastiff, Neo Mastiff
Nicknames: Neo
Country of origin:

Additionally, Neos do not do well in hot weather, and are prone to heatstroke. Like most giant breeds of dogs, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not particularly long-lived, averaging 7 to 9 years. But some very healthy neos have lived up to 11-12 years.

Care and Maintenance
Due to the extensive wrinkles and large body mass of the more "overdone" type, these Neapolitans will require extra care and maintenance as far as bathing and cleaning the face and body. Neapolitans are droolers and if the wrinkles are not cared for properly the Neapolitan Mastiff will smell. The areas on the muzzle can form acne due to the infections. Worse, demodex can enter the feet area as it will be a warm damp place for the mites to thrive. The Neo then licks at the feet, transferring the mites to the face and then on to others parts of the body. So for these reasons it is important to keep the "overdone" type Neapolitan's face and wrinkles as dry as possible.

When it comes to exercise, Neapolitans are not a very active breed as their energy tends to be short lived and their weight causes stress to their joints when excessive. They won't be running any marathons with you, but be aware that they can and will have short, extremely powerful bursts of energy and so will still require an area to run and play, especially as puppies and young adults.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a descendant of the Molossus. Not many decades ago, "molossian of Epirus" was still a term to be found in some Greek glossaries on dog breeds, more so than others as a term of historical reference[citation needed]. Epirus was one of the states of Ancient Greece, between Corfu and Pindus, neighboring Albania and Molossia or Molosside, whose inhabitants in the fourth century BC provided them with the reigning dynasty. It was described by Oppiano[citation needed]as a dog of large size, snub-nosed, truculent with its frowning brows,v not speedy but impetuous, fighter of great courage and incredible strength, to be employed against bulls and wild-boar, undaunted even when confronted with a lion. Quite clearly Oppiano here is precisely referring to the Molossian[citation needed]. Then Oppiano alludes to the corrugations of the skin in the area of the forehead - another characteristic peculiar to the Molossian.

The Romans, who in 168 BC defeated King Perseus of Macedonia - and who also made Albania one of their provinces in 148 BC - imported dogs of great power from those very areas into Rome[citation needed], which were instantly called Pugnaces Britanniae as they were so ready to do battle against any wild beast. It was frequently used in the Roman arenas pitted against lions, bears, and gladiators for entertainment. Strabone[citation needed] wrote in about 30BC, that it required four molossians to confront a lion.

As dogs of war, they fought alongside the Roman legions, and in this way they were spread throughout Europe. Eventually the descendants of the Roman Molossian splintered into several different Mastiff breeds known across Europe.

The ancestral form of the Mastino was a favorite breed of Alexander the Great, he received 150 trained molossus from Indian King Sopietie and later a pack of the dogs were given to Alexander by King Porus or Paurava who was not King of Albania, but rather sovereign of a territory to the east of the River Idaspe (now Jhelum) in present day Punjab, between India and Pakistan. Porus was defeated there by Alexander in 326BC. Plutarch wrote that Cynopolis was built in honour of the courage of his favorite molossus.