Neapolitan Mastiff – Everything About This Massive Dog Breed.

Neapolitan Mastiff Dog

The Neapolitan Mastiff:  A formidable, devoted protector for the experienced owner

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a very impressive dog! Massive, heavy set and a little bizarre looking, these huge protective dogs are not to be messed with!

They need a huge amount of space indoors due to their sizable bodies and, puppies particularly, are very clumsy.

Neapolitan Mastiff on a beach
Neapolitan Mastiff

Personality And Temperament

They may prefer living outdoors provided they have a large, safe, enclosed garden with a big, warm, comfortable kennel to shelter in. Care should be taken to provide a shaded area for them too as they can overheat pretty easily.

They are messy eaters, loud snorers, excessive droolers and suffer greatly from flatulence!

Neapolitan Mastiff
Picture courtesy of

Although Neapolitans are protective of their family, which includes any children, they are not recommended as family pets.

They can knock over small children, hurt older children without meaning to and are suspicious of any visiting children who they don’t recognize no matter how much socialization they’ve been given.

They may display aggression to other dogs especially dogs of the same sex although they can be relatively tolerant of other household pets provided they are raised together.

Not suitable for apartments, inexperienced owners, families with children, multi-dog households,the elderly/infirm or hot climates.

Any trespassers (human, canine or other) can expect to be chased off a property when there’s a Neapolitan around!

Breed History

The Neapolitan Mastiff is descended from the Molossus, a now extinct Greek/Roman type of Mastiff dog which is in the ancestry of many other “modern” breeds such as Saint Bernards, Great Swiss Mountain Dog and the Rottweiler.

Neapolitan Mastiff

This type of dog was well known in Rome where it was used in Gladiatorial fighting and in war.

By the end of World War II, the Neapolitan Mastiff was virtually extinct. They were saved at the eleventh hour by Piero Scanziani.

Piero was an Italian painter who searched out and gathered various specimens of dogs. He then put together  to make the Nea’s a formal breed.

They were introduced to the UK and US in the 1970s and continue to rise in popularity each year.

Vital Statistics

  • Height:  61- 74 cm (24 – 29 inches)
  • Weight: 50 – 70kgs (110 – 154lbs)
  • Life Expectancy: 8 – 10 yrs


  • Blue (grey)
  • Black
  • Brown (ranging from fawn to mahogany)
  • Cream
  • Brindle
  • May have a white star on chest area and/or white toes

Ease Of Training

Neapolitan Mastiffs need a lot of training. They are stubborn and head-strong and dislike being told what to do as they are independent thinkers. 

However, they are intelligent so perseverance and patience will eventually pay off.

neapolitan mastiff
courtesy of

Training is crucial and totally necessary as a dog of this size and disposition needs to be under control at all times.

They need extensive socialization from an early age otherwise they become overly suspicious of strangers.

This can eventually become disastrous due to their huge size and strength.

Training using positive methods such as reward based training works best for these dogs. Using dominance or violence to try to train them will only bring out their more aggressive side so is NOT recommended.

As for exercise, these massive dogs don’t require a huge amount as they are so large and heavy that they have very little stamina. However, they do have short bursts of energy every so often.

Excessive exercise can cause a strain on their joints and puppies under a year old need limited exercise to avoid damage to growing bones.


These huge formidable dogs are fantastic protectors – in fact, they can be a bit too over-protective if care is not taken to socialize them properly.

They will fight to the end to protect their owners and property. 

Neapolitan’s rarely bark, instead they prefer to sneak up on any intruders without any warning.

neapolitan mastiff
courtesy of


Nea’s are pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Their short hair needs little more than a quick occasional brush. 

They molt twice a year and may require a bit more grooming than usual during this time.

An area which does require a bit more attention are in between the folds of their skin. This area needs regular cleaning and drying to stop infections.

Health Considerations

Neapolitan Mastiffs have been known to suffer from ailments such as:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Flatulence
  • Snoring
  • Heatstroke
  • Skin infections between the skin folds
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Sebaceous adenitis
  • Ectropion
  • Entropion
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
  • Bloating 
  • Eyelid Disorders
  • Cherry Eye
  • Lack Of Thyroid Hormone
  • Panosteitis (growing pains from 4-18 months

They have a very high pain threshold so it may not always be obvious when they are injured or hurt so they should be checked regularly.

neapolitan mastiff
flickr picture thanks to Jason Dunnivant

Famous Neapolitan Mastiffs

Alan – From “Babe – A Pig In The City”

Fang – Harry Potter Films

Sweetie – From the Butch Karp Novels

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