The Neapolitan Mastiff: A Protective, Smart friend

neapolitan mastiffNeapolitan Mastiffs hail originally from Italy. As is true for any mastiff from Europe, they are from the blood line of the Tibetan Mastiff with a direct link to the Roman Molossus. Named and recognized in 1949, it is commonly believed that this breed has ancient roots going back centuries before. This large dog has many qualities that should be understood by all prior to considering adding it to your family.

Mastiff’s are known for many things such as their size (giant-a full grown male can weigh upwards of 150 pounds), their habits (such as drooling), and their appearance with its large head adorned with plentiful folds and wrinkles. Neapolitan Mastiffs are characterized by their loose skin and abundant hanging folds of wrinkles over their entire body. The Neapolitan Mastiff was developed as a defender of property and family. They have an imposing attitude and size, and their head should be proportionately large for their body. The most common and preferred color is blue, and other acceptable colors are black, mahogany, tawny and shades of any of the aforementioned colors.

Neapolitan Mastiff History

Neo’s have been used in a number of different ways in the past. Their primary role has always been that of guard dog but they have done other jobs as well. This breed was used in wartime, to fight other animals as well as men. They were used in ancient Roman gladiator shows, by police, and by farmers to protect crops. They were used on hunts as well.


Neo’s (as Neapolitan Mastiff’s are affectionately referred to) can intimidate the most ardent dog lover. It’s size is such that it is assumed that it will be fearsome and aggressive. However, these dogs actually have a pretty low key, calm personality. For all their size, they are much quieter than you would assume, choosing to bark only when they deem an alarm needs to be raised. Even with their large size, they can sneak up on you quietly and catch you off guard.

This breed has a history of being a guard dog. It is their natural instinct to guard and protect the family and property. This protective nature should be trained and honed early on through obedience training and control. Owners need to be comfortable as the pack leader and being dominant. Without strong leadership, the Neapolitan Mastiff can become too protective and aggressive. This breed is smart and with early socialization can fit into the right family structure. The right owner with firm leadership can have an awesome protective family pet.


It’s no coincidence that the word “mastiff” has a Latin root of “massivus” which means massive. This breed is considered giant. The male will grow to a height of 26 to 30 inches and the female to a height of 24-28 inches. Their weight will range anywhere from 110-130 for females to 130-155 for males. The very largest can be close to 200 pounds.


The Neo is a short haired breed that can be found in a variety of colors. In most cases the coat is a solid color. Gray is predominant (and is often called blue), as is tawny(yellow or orange/brown), mahogany and black. For all these colors, there are variations in shading. Occasionally you will find brindling.

Although many times a Neo puppies eyes will be blue, they turn darker and will be amber or brown as an adult.


As with other giant breed dogs, the life expectancy is shorter, usually ten years. The most common ailment other than size related is cherry eye. This is easy to detect visually through the red mass that will be apparent in the eye. It can be treated. Other concerns would be hip and elbow dysphasia, hypothyroidism, cardiomyopathy, bloat and pyoderma (infections between the folds of the skin).

Additionally, since the puppy is undergoing so much growth between 4-18 months old joint pain can occur, which is known as pano-ostiosis.

The Neapolitan Mastiff can be a great addition to the right family. They need a strong leader and training but if they have both of these items, they can grow up to be a strong, protective, loving family pet.

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