Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff

Group: Working Group

Origin: Italy

– Males: 26 to 30 inches at the withers.
– Females: 24 to 27 inches at the withers.

– Males: Avg 155 lbs but may be as much as 200lbs.
– Females: Avg 120 lbs but may be as much as 175lbs.

Neapolitan Mastiff
Photos credit Lexington Kennel

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Breed Profile

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a direct descendant of the ancient molosser war dog and can be traced back as far as 5000 years. He fought alongside the Romans in war and was left at home to protect family and property. He was used in the Roman arenas to be pitted against lions, bears, and gladiators for entertainment.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the descendants of the Roman Molossian evolved into several different Mastiff breeds (English Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Spanish Mastiff, St. Bernard, Rottweiler).

The Italian Molossian, however, has remained the same since Roman times. He survived in the Italian countryside practically unchanged in appearance and personality. In 1949, he was named “Mastino Napoletano” in honour of those in Naples who were responsible for maintaining this ancient dog over the centuries.

The Neapolitan is a massive and heavy-boned dog with distinctly loose connective tissue on his entire body which forms wrinkles and folds on the head and a large dewlap under the neck. The coat is short, stiff, and dense but smooth. He comes in a variety of colours: Gray (Blue), Black, Tawny and Mahogany. The Blue is the most common and desired colour because of his work as a guardian dog and his ability to blend into the night shadows. The nose and lip colour matches the coat. The Neapolitan takes about 3 years to mature and there is a huge difference between the size of a two year old and a three year old.

He has a captivating and almost intimidating stare, one that would make an intruder turn and flee without even a growl. The Neapolitan has a steady temperament with a strong protective instinct — always the loyal guardian and defender of his home and family. He is intensely devoted to his family and wonderful with children when raised with them.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a very unique breed both in character and appearance and one of the most impressive breeds in existence today.


Health Issues

The Neapolitan Mastiff is known to be a sturdy and healthy breed. However, like all breeds of dogs, certain health issues are of concern and the following are some which have been seen in this breed:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Heart problems (Cardiomyopathy)
  • Cleft pallets, hair lip, and/or tails problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cherry Eye
  • Bloat — As with many of the large and giant breed dogs, the occurrence of Bloat or Gastric Torsion is a real possibility in the Neapolitan Mastiff. If you are not familiar with this condition, it is absolutely necessary to learn about it and know the symptoms — This is a real emergency and a life threatening condition that requires immediate Veterinary attention. See Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) — Bloat in the Health and Nutrition section of Canada’s Guide to Dogs for more information and First Aid for Bloat for an article describing some of the things you can do if you are faced with this situation.

If you are considering the adoption of a Neapolitan Mastiff puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the main General Information page.)

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

  • History of the Neapolitan Mastiff Breed
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.

Breed Listing

*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

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