The Neapolitan Mastiff dog breed is a family and guard dog who was developed in southern Italy. Today this massive breed is known as a gentle giant.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
Neapolitan Mastiff at a glance
With their imposing presence but loyal, affectionate nature with their family, Neapolitan Mastiffs make for excellent pets. This dog breed is comfortable in the house and has a laid-back temperament, but is more than happy to play. Their short hair means taking care of their grooming is easy. Because the breed was traditionally used as a guard dog, they can be highly loyal and protective.
Neapolitan Mastiffs can have trouble mixing with other dogs, especially larger, stronger breeds, and strangers. But the breed is loving and affectionate with family and children — just keep in mind its large size! Mastinos might not be a good fit for novice dog owners. But for experienced big-dog owners looking for something different, the Mastino is as different as it gets.
Thinking of bringing a Neapolitan Mastiff into your home or already have this kind of dog? You’ll find everything you need to know in this guide — from what to feed them to how to train them. At the end of this article, you’ll also find a list of genetic health risks Embark tests for that are particularly relevant for this breed.
About Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff has been growing in popularity since its rediscovery as a breed in the 1940s. The breed’s origins can be traced back thousands of years to Italy, where they were used as guard dogs (and even sometimes in war). Their heavy-boned appearance, along with their bountiful loose skin and wrinkles, was thought to frighten intruders — though if you find Neapolitan Mastiff puppies for sale today, you’re more likely to be impressed by their cuteness. For much of their history, they were bred in the Neapolitan region of Italy, which is how they got their name.
Males are typically between 25 and 30 inches in height and around 150 pounds in weight, while females are typically 23 to 28 inches in height and 110 pounds in weight. As long as they don’t impact the dog’s movement or proportion, heavier weights are common and even healthy.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are large with loose skin, a prominent dewlap, and typically dark coat colors that include gray, black, and mahogany. They have large heads and powerful jaws, and are generally hardy, though they’re prone to hip problems.
Their short, dense coat comes in solid colors that include gray, black, blue, mahogany, and tawny, with variations in shades. Some brindling is also common.
Neapolitan Mastiffs have a wide, thick tail that tapers gradually toward the tip and hangs straight or in a slight S-shape. Their ears are medium-sized and triangular and are typically set high above the cheekbones.
Neapolitan Mastiffs aren’t picky eaters, so any diet should work regardless of the dog’s age — whether it’s a puppy, adult, or gray-haired senior. High-quality dog food, either store-bought or homemade, will keep your Neapolitan Mastiff healthy and happy. If you’re going the homemade route, be sure to check with your vet and get his or her approval for your dog’s diet. Because Neapolitan Mastiffs grow so fast when they’re young, a lot of breeders recommend high-fat, low-protein foods early on.
Grooming your Neapolitan Mastiff is relatively low maintenance. They’re a short-coated breed, so giving them a bath every now and then will keep them clean and smelling fresh. One thing to keep in mind is that their heavy facial folds can often require wiping or drying with a towel after they’ve had food or water.
Exercise and training
Regular exercise is great for your Neapolitan Mastiff. Be careful in warm weather, though, as the breed’s large size can make it easy for them to overheat. You’ll also want to avoid too much running and any sudden turning since Neapolitan Mastiffs are prone to joint trouble.
Neapolitan Mastiffs can be stubborn. It’s important to get some good training in while your Mastiff is young so the appropriate hierarchies are in place by the time they get huge and energetic. They respond best to rewards and gentle, encouraging training.
Health and aging in Neapolitan Mastiffs
This breed’s average lifespan is 8-10 years.
An Embark Dog DNA Test looks at the following health conditions in Neapolitan Mastiff:
Do you own this breed or do you think your dog might be part Neapolitan Mastiff? Learn more about your dog with Embark’s Dog DNA Tests, the most accurate on the market.
Neapolitan Mastiffs on Embark
Explore some Embark dogs that share Neapolitan Mastiff ancestry.