skip to content

English Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff


The Neapolitan Mastiff, also known as the Italian Mastini, remained hidden in the Italian countryside for centuries, its temperament and uniqueness being preserved. They were virtually unknown to the rest of the world until the 1940s. Italian immigrants brought some Neos over to the US in the early 1900s, but any major exporting of the breed didn’t happen until the 1970s. In 2004, they gained acceptance into the AKC and as a breed, the Neapolitan Mastiff is becoming very popular in the United States presently.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a guard dog and defense dog par excellence, of great size, powerful and strongly built, of tough yet majestic appearance, sturdy and courageous, of intelligent expression, endowed with correct mental balance and docile character. They are a loyal, peaceful and steady dog. But it is not uncommon for the Neo to be stubborn, headstrong, independent and strong willed. Most prefer to be homebodies and are not advocates of change. They have a very high tolerance for pain, so you must be careful that injuries don’t go unnoticed or untreated.

Breed Standards:

  • Working Group
  • Males are 26 - 31 inches at withers, average 150 pounds
  • Females are 24 - 29 inches at withers, average 110 pounds
  • Full height is usually reached by 1 year of age
  • Full body maturity is reached at 3 – 3 ½ years
  • Average litter = 6 - 12 puppies
  • Average life span is 8 - 10 years
  • Short, dense and uniform. Hairs are straight and not more than 1 inch long
  • Colors = Gray, Blue, Black, Mahogany and Tawny with or without brindling in all colors.

Everyday Care:

  • Exercise: Young Neapolitans should not be over-exercised, as this could harm their growth. Neos fatigue and overheat easily, so play time in the yard and short walks are all that are necessary as far as exercise goes.
  • Feeding: It is best to feed two or three meals a day instead of only feeding once. A Neapolitans should never be exercised one hour before feeding or for two hours afterwards. And they should never be allowed to gulp water. Be sure not to overfeed, as obesity can be a problem with this breed.
  • Grooming: No extensive grooming is required for the Neo, except during the two shedding periods, fall and spring. Because of the Mastinis abundant loose skin, they should get regular bathing. Ears should be checked weekly and cleaned if needed. And nails should be trimmed when you can hear them clicking as the dog walks across the floor. Mastiffs need to have their anal glands checked monthly and expressed when needed.
  • Attention: Neos seek the companionship of their masters more so than that of another dog or animal. They are definitely a dog who should live in the house with lots of attention from the family. And because they overheat easily, should not be left outside in warm weather. They need discipline and extensive training by someone who understands Alpha dogs and can always be in control.

Health Considerations:

  • Demodex Mite
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Cherry Eye
  • Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
  • Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligaments
  • Panosteitis or “Growing Pains”
  • Entropion
  • Very low tolerance for anesthesia and tranquilizers

Am I Right for You?

  • I tend to drool and snore
  • I am not a breed for obsessive house cleaners, as I am a very messy eater and drinker
  • I’m not the best breed for an apartment or house without a yard.
  • I am alpha by nature, and must be taught my place in the family by EVERY member of the family. If you are not able to consistently be the boss of me, you should choose a different breed.
  • I am really a breed intended for adults and older children. Households with young children are not the best place for me.
  • Social interaction is a MUST with me, as I can become over protective of my humans and my space.
  • I’m not a good option for first-time dog owners or someone who has never owned a Neo or other large, alpha temperament dog.
  • You must be willing to be consistent with obedience training and socialization
  • It is not advisable that I share a household with other dogs who have an alpha nature, and I should be housed separately from other dogs when left alone.
  • I love to chase and I’m known to take chase after small animals and joggers or bicyclists.