Neapolitan Mastiff Dog Breed information: Facts, Traits & More

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The Neapolitan Mastiff Club of America was founded in 1973. However, the breed wasn’t accepted in the American Kennel Club’s official ranks until 2004. Of the 197 breeds of dog that are recognized, the Neapolitan Mastiff is currently in the 100th to 110th position in terms of popularity. This breed is a massive dog, and they need a house with enough space for his large, meaty body. Training this dog is difficult, so Neapolitan Mastiffs are only suitable for knowledgeable dog lovers. As with many large dog breeds, they are susceptible to health issues that are exacerbated by their massive weight. Additionally, they have a very short lifespan and are expected to live for only 7 to 9 years.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is an Italian Mastiff since it came from Italy. However, it is not to be confused with the “real” Italian Mastiff called  Cane Corso. With his unique infinite skin folds and low-swinging cheeks, it’s not difficult to distinguish him from any other dog.

The giant breed dog is a strong and powerful guard dog. Few people have the skills or the knowledge to allow this dog into their homes. They can be quite fierce, but they can also be great family pets with the right owner.

Are you in love with these gorgeous dogs but are unsure if you would be a great match? You’ve found the right spot! In this Neapolitan Mastiff guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to learn about this dog breed. So, let’s get started!

Neapolitan Mastiff Dog

Breed History and Background

The Neapolitan Mastiffs are dogs that were born 5,000 years ago. Through the years, travelers had their big protecting Mastiff with them and brought the Mastiff love throughout Europe, as did those who had the English Mastiff and the French Mastiff.

For those who love history, this dog resembles those of the Mastiffs of Epirus that were with Paulo Emilio, the Roman consul Paulo Emilio. It is believed that the breed is a descendant of the said dogs.

A lot of breeders refer to this dog as Neo, as well as Mastino, to mean “short.” The breed was developed in the southern part of Italy, particularly in the region that is Naples. He was designed to be a huge farmer capable of pulling massive carts to give their master a hand.

They were also bred to be brave guardians of the family and estate. The loose, scaly skin of the dogs was specifically developed into the breed to guard them against serious injuries in the event of an attack. It’s not just an attractive face!

The farmers who were isolated kept their dogs a secret from the public up to the late 1940s. A dog-friendly journalist named Piere Scanziana stumbled across this elegant dog at an event in Naples. He set out on a mission in life to share his love for the Neo with the rest of the globe. With the help of local breeders, he standardized the Neo breed and developed the official standard for breeds.

The journalist’s dedication and devotion to the dog meant that the entire world could eventually be a part of his world. The first Neos arrived in America around 1973 with a woman named Jane Pampalone. However, historians believe that Italian immigrants may have brought their Mastinos in the 1880s.

The Neapolitan Mastiff Club of America was founded in 1973. However, they weren’t accepted in the American Kennel Club’s official ranks until 2004. Of the 197 breeds of dog that are recognized, the Neo is currently in the 100th to 110th position in terms of popularity.

The Neo was brought into the spotlight because of the Harry Potter film series in which he was portrayed as Hagrid’s dog, Fang.

Size and Appearance

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a massive dog breed. Females weigh at least 110 pounds, while males weigh at least 150 pounds. The scales are often topped with 200 pounds! Females can measure up to 29 inches, from shoulder to paw (not including their impressively big head!), while males can measure up to 31 inches. Therefore, we can say that this dog breed he requires plenty of space.

Neapolitans can be described as Marzipan Mastiffs that have been too long in the sun and appear to be melting! The most noticeable feature of his is their loose skin. The skin rolls that he wears around his face are smooth and are the most evident on his neck and face. The dewlaps that are affixed to his jaw and his neck create lots of doggy saliva!

Their head has been described as “astounding” by their breed club, which is an accurate description. If you’re searching for a large, muscular head to lay in your lap, this guy has the job done. A lot of people say their eyes look sad, but it’s really due to the loose skin around the eyes. Their ears are drop-down triangles, but some people choose to cut their ears. Their tails are medium-length as well.

These are dogs that have low limbs and look imposing in general, and have a slouchy walk. They’re not graceful and certainly not elegant! If you’re looking to display your dog in the conformation ring, you’ll need to meet what’s known as the Neapolitan standards for breeds. But if you’re looking for a pet to be a member of the family, the appearance of your pet isn’t that important.

Coat and Colors

Over the skin folds is an extremely short, tight, and thick coat which is straight and smooth in texture. He’s an average shedder, and his hair is never more than an inch long. But his loose skin needs extra attention (and we’ll discuss this in the section on grooming.

The Neo comes in four official colors: blue, black, mahogany, and tawny. There is also the option of brindle markings. Certain Neos have an unmarked black spot that is visible on the heads (however, this isn’t permitted in the show ring).

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Neapolitan Mastiff is scary looking, isn’t it? If you aren’t familiar with him, you might think so. However, we’ll reveal a little secret. This dog is a gentle giant that is extremely sweet and affectionate with his family members.

If you’re searching for an enormous cuddle bug that could also serve as a blanket (really, his skin is so loose!), this is the pet for you! When he meets strangers, he’s peaceful and quiet, so long as they behave.

Of course, it is within his DNA to defend his family members in the face of danger. He was designed to serve as a guard dog in the first place. However, he rarely has to protect his home or family.

Animals and humans alike aren’t allowed to attack him! He doesn’t really bark also because, as I said, it’s not necessary. He prefers a simple life, and his impressive appearance is a testament to this.

This dog breed is quite temperamental, which is why it is best to be looked at by a seasoned dog owner. He won’t get up from his slumber when he doesn’t wish to. This makes the training process difficult, but we’ll discuss this in more detail in a moment. Just know that if a dog isn’t trained, it can be a snooty and violent dog. And at a minimum of 110 pounds, it’s not a good thing for anyone!

Still, the guy has a charming personality and is also hilariously funny. However, his desire to rest makes him not the ideal choice for people seeking a fitness partner or a regular yard game player.

Does he prefer fetch or nap? He’ll always pick nap time. This is ideal for families that want a gentle pet that’s not very active.

Exercise Requirements

As with most Mastiffs like them, this one is a moderate to low-energy dog. It will require between 30 to 45 minutes of exercise daily to stay healthy, content, and stimulated. The slow and the steady are the Neo’s fitness motto. No vigorous jogging for him, please! It’s not just that it doesn’t appeal to him, but the impact of exercise could be harmful to his joints (particularly during his development stage).

The Neo is a doggy with invisible anchors which he can release when he doesn’t want to take a stroll. Don’t give in to his flimsy diva-like behavior since he’ll continue to try to win if you do. Their body requires regular fitness to remain healthy, regardless of how much he screams. He is susceptible to heart disease and obesity, so exercising is to his advantage.

Between his outdoor workout sessions, he may want to play a bit in the backyard at times. If he’s interested, play with him. It’s unlikely that he’ll do it as often, but it will stimulate his brain and build an even stronger connection between you. If he’s looking to stimulate his brain without triggering the body and body, a huge chewing toy makes for a perfect choice.

Living Space Requirements

The ideal type of house for Neo is one that is large and has enough space for his large, meaty body. The dog would prefer an area where he can enjoy the sun’s rays; however, this isn’t an absolute requirement. If he has access, ensure that it’s secure due to his instinctual protection.

The family-oriented doggo enjoys spending moments with his family. He also is a fan of the youngest members of the family. He’ll let kids use his backrest for sitting in front of the television. However, due to his size and his inability to concentrate, he’s not the ideal choice for families with children under the age of 5. He can throw them off or lie on them and not even realize what he did it. As with all dogs, you must always be watching this adorable animal when they are with children.

Being socialized as a puppy is crucial to alleviate the dog’s anxiety. If he has been raised with other dogs, he’ll likely be able to get along with them. Every dog is different, But don’t expect this dog to be the best option for homes with multiple pets. The same is true for all other pets.

Training and Socialization

Training a Neapolitan Mastiff is difficult, and that’s why Neapolitan Mastiffs are only suitable for knowledgeable dog lovers. It’s also a lifetime commitment that requires a lot of dedication and patience. However, the right family can unleash the best in the dog. This is all part of his charm that you’ll come to appreciate, however.

Begin all aspects of his education from day one. Set the rules for the home and ensure that the whole family agrees. If you do not want him to lie on your bed once the weight reaches 200 pounds, do not allow him to do that as a puppy. Be firm but fair with him.

Positive reinforcement is the most effective method of training him. Giving treats is the best way of motivating him; however, be careful with them to prevent the risk of weight gain or dependence.

Socialization is essential for him to develop into a gentle Neo. A reliable breeder will start the process by bringing him up with his littermates, parents, and other humans who visit. It is your responsibility to carry on the good work.

Bring him to dog parks whenever you can, and allow him to play and interact with people. The most crucial time for socialization is between 3 and 12 weeks. If he doesn’t attend this program, it’s likely that the puppy will become a bit naive and disruptive.

Obedience training is also important. Don’t let him break the rules due to him being an obstinate dog who will keep pushing the limits. Sending him to expert puppy training classes can be a good idea. A puppy obedience course isn’t too costly and can yield dividends over the long term. It also doubles as a socialization boost!

Another great tip for training we’ve received is to let him walk on a leash as a puppy. He’s strong enough as a puppy, but wait until he’s mature! He’ll knock you off your feet when he pulls on the leash, which is why it’s crucial for you to teach him proper leash behavior.

Start early, and benefit later on. Of course, you’ll need to be fit and strong regardless. However, it will make walking more enjoyable. A sturdy harness is a good idea to distribute the weight safely.

Grooming Requirements

One of the main reasons to love this huge dog breed is the very simple grooming regimen. The sleek, glossy coat only requires brushing every week during the entire year to ensure that he is looking at his best. He’s also a typical shedder all throughout the year.

The most effective brush is a bristle or rubber brush. These can remove dead hair and distribute his natural coat oils all over.

He doesn’t require that much bathing, either. Cleanse him every 2 to 3 months at most. Do not go beyond this due to his delicate facial skin and folds. While washing him, make certain to clean the creases of his skin to get rid of any grime, sweat, or bacteria. Use a gentle shampoo for dogs or medication recommended by your veterinarian. It’s equally important to wash and dry between each fold completely because the suds and dampness can lead to infections.

Make sure to keep his eyes and ears free of infections; apply a moist, clean cloth at least once a week. Clip nails as you feel them pounding across the ground. Cleanse his teeth regularly using dog toothpaste. It is best to practice getting your Neo familiar with the grooming routine as a puppy. It could be a daunting task if your Neo doesn’t like it. Doggy drool is a part of the Neo owner’s course, and so wiping stations in the house are a must.

Nutritional Requirements

The typical Neapolitan Mastiff can eat about 6 cups of food each day. The amount of food you give your Neo will depend on various variables. This includes age, sex, weight, and lifestyle, as well as the type of kibble you select. Always follow the feeding instructions on the package to figure out the best amount to feed your dog.

The dog is susceptible to being overweight, so it’s crucial to keep track of his weight frequently by using scales. It’s easy to think that your dog is just a bit sloppy; however, you must be aware of what’s happening beneath. The extra weight could lead to other health issues related to weight and place extra stress on joints and the heart. Make sure you switch him to a weight-management diet if you have to, and also monitor the amount of treats he eats.

Always give your Neo the highest quality of food you can afford, as it will go a long way to ensure that he’s in optimal condition. The food you give him has to be appropriate for his age and designed specifically for large breeds of dogs. This is particularly important in the early years of puppyhood as it will regulate the growth of his bones. This can reduce the risk of skeletal issues like joint dysplasia.

As with all large dogs, the Neo is more at risk of developing a condition called gastric torsion. It’s more often referred to as bloat, and although it may not sound like a serious issue, it could be fatal within 30 minutes. The precise causes aren’t understood, but dogs that eat huge meals right before or after exercising are at greater risk of suffering from it. Give him a few smaller meals per day instead of one big meal.

Health Issues

As with many large dog breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff is susceptible to health issues that are exacerbated by his massive weight. Additionally, he has a very short lifespan and is expected to live seven to nine years.

Therefore, it is important to be concerned about his health and do everything you can to ensure that he is healthy. Maintaining his fitness by exercising regularly, providing the right nutrition, and staying current with his vet checks are essential.

Below are the top Neo health issues you should be aware of. Breeders with good reputations will conduct tests for many of these diseases when they can. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it’s an excellent place to begin your search as you become a Neo fur parent. Find out about the condition and its symptoms to know what could be ailing your dog.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

These joint disorders are among the most frequent skeletal issues affecting large breeds of dogs. It could be passed down from the parents, which is why it is essential to get high health scores from breeders. It could also be the outcome of the rapid and uneven growth of bone in the early stages of a puppy. It can affect his mobility and the symptoms can include pain, a sluggish gait, and difficulty in standing, sitting, and climbing.

Cardiac Conditions

As with many breeds of giants, this breed is prone to various cardiac issues. The most frequent is called cardiomyopathy. It occurs when the heart lining is unusually thin and cannot contract normally. The symptoms include an irregular rhythm in the heart, weakening, decreased appetite, and depression, as well as irregular breathing and coughing, as well as fainting. The sooner this condition is recognized and treated, the better.

Eye Conditions

Eye problems are common among all breeds of dogs. The most frequent eye problems that affect the Neo are ectropion and the cherry eye. All of them affect the eyelids as well as the surrounding skin. While it’s not a serious condition when treated in the early stages, it could be extremely painful and can cause irreparable damage to his eyes. If the look of his eyes changes, then bring him to the doctor to have a thorough examination immediately.

The Neapolitan Mastiff Dog as Family Pets

Below is a recap of what to expect from your Neapolitan Mastiff dog should you decide to get one.

  • The Neapolitan Mastiff is a Gentle Giant in all senses of the word.
  • He is an absolute sweetie but is also a guard dog by nature.
  • The mere appearance of his face can scare intruders off.
  • As a member of his family, he’s an enormous snuggler (literally!).
  • He’s aloof around strangers but doesn’t bark all the time.
  • This is a strong and dominant breed of dog.
  • He can live with other dogs if he is raised by them. In other cases, he would prefer to be alone.
  • This breed requires a big house, particularly one with children of a certain age only.
  • He may be extremely lazy, yet he should be able to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • This breed is quite hard to train because of their stubborn nature.
  • He’s an extremely drooly dog due to his pendulum cheeks.
  • Prepare yourself for the endless doggy saliva!
  • He’s also a frenzied puppy and will devour all things and everything.

Breeders and Puppy Prices/Costs

It is believed that the Neapolitan Mastiff is one of the rarest breeds of dogs in America. Therefore, based on the location you reside in, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to travel to locate a reliable breeder. It is essential to do your research before committing to a breeder. The best place to begin your search is the AKC’s Neapolitan Mastiff breeder’s page. You can also ask your veterinarian for advice. They may be in a position to recommend a reputable breeder.

Breeders who are responsible will try all they can to improve the health of their breed in general. They accomplish this by creating the most healthy puppies by examining their parents for health issues. They’ll also attend to the medical needs of their puppies and start the process of socialization early on.

Your puppy will get the best possible start in life if you get them from a reputable breeder. Also, always meet your pups in person before making the final decision. It’s also crucial to be comfortable with the breeder and their processes.

The starting cost of a Neapolitan puppy purchased from a reputable breeder is approximately $1500. Other costs associated with a puppy should also be thought about, such as the puppy-proofing of your home and buying everything puppies require. Additionally, this hefty dog needs plenty of food throughout his life and all the XXL items. It’s not the most affordable pet to take care of, and you should consider this thoroughly.

A poor-quality puppy mill or breeder will draw you in with low prices for puppies. They’ll then pressure you into buying and make it difficult for you to meet the puppies in their natural environment. Most often, they’ll ignore the essential requirements of a puppy, which can result in poor health and unsocialized puppies. Unfortunately, pet stores usually get their puppies from unreliable breeders, so beware of them too.

Rescues and Shelters

A brand-new pup from a breeder is not always the ideal choice for a family. You might consider adopting one instead of shopping. Unfortunately, many families adopt these dogs, not knowing how much is involved in caring for one. If you know what you’re getting into with this breed, a handful of Neos is waiting to find their own forever home in rescues and shelters.

It is advisable to visit the local shelters to check whether there are Neos. Talk to the staff as well. They will not only guide you through the process of adopting and help you with the adoption process, but they may be able to help you find a Neo within the surrounding region. You can also visit their Mastino Rescue Inc website. They offer Neapolitan Mastiff rescue shelters across the states across the nation.


One thing is certain, this Neapolitan Mastiff is a massive dog. However, his heart is as large as his body, which is quite a lot! Anyone who can give Neo all the things he requires will get the most adorable dog that is possible.

He requires a committed and knowledgeable owner, plenty of space, and a caring family. He also needs the basic needs of a typical dog – which is the love and care of a human companion.

If you can see beyond his extreme petulance and doggy drool, it’s likely that you’ll never live without this canine companion ever again

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