The Neapolitan Mastiff is a large, powerful, and somewhat intimidating dog, but despite the breed’s large size, they are sweet, gentle, and loving overall. These dogs may be somewhat wary of strangers and intimidating to would-be intruders, but they are fiercely loyal and loving to their owners and families.
Black, grey, tan, brindle
Experienced dog owners
Loyal, reserved, affectionate, reserved, quiet, placid, protective
Neapolitan Mastiffs — or Neos, as they are commonly known — are independent pooches for the most part, happy to spend long stretches alone and even preferring to be the only dog in the home. They are gentle giants that prefer to spend their days lounging in the sun, although they still do need their dose of daily exercise. Despite this gentle nature, they are protective animals when it comes to their families, and if their imposing appearance is not enough to scare off intruders, their loyal and protective nature certainly will be!
That said, these dogs are fairly low-maintenance and easy to care for, and they make wonderful companions for owners who don’t want a clingy, attention-demanding dog. If this gentle giant sounds like the breed for you, read on to find out more.
Neapolitan Mastiff Characteristics
Neapolitan Mastiff Puppies
Neapolitan Mastiffs are large dogs, and while they are fairly low-maintenance in terms of exercise and interaction, they take up a large amount of space! These dogs are not suited to apartment living, even though they are known to be easy-going while indoors, and they need a large backyard to lounge in. Their large size can also quickly cause everything within your apartment to come crashing to the floor!
The Neo Mastiff is notorious for drooling, especially after eating or drinking, and for passing gas! For these reasons, they are most suited to spending most of their time outdoors.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff is first and foremost a gentle giant, and despite their imposing appearance, these dogs are easygoing, docile, and rarely aggressive. Of course, they are supremely loyal and protective animals, and if their human family is threatened in any way, they will not hesitate to protect them. Still, they are guardians rather than attack dogs and are not typically aggressive toward strangers.
Having such a large and powerful dog requires a firm, confident hand in training, though, and these dogs have a strong will and independent personality that needs to be kept in check early on. Still, if it weren’t for their massive size, these pooches would be lapdogs, as they love to spend time with their owners, and some will try to be, despite their size!
Neapolitan Mastiffs are sweet, gentle, even-tempered pooches that are great companions and make formidable protectors too.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Neapolitan Mastiffs make great family pets in general, although if you have very young children, they can easily be knocked over by the clumsiness of the Neo. These are calm, passive dogs that are great with children and are rarely if ever aggressive unless they’re in protection mode. They are not overly energetic or easily bored, so they are ideal if you don’t have hours per day to dedicate to their exercise.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for being somewhat overprotective and territorial with other dogs, particularly males. This can be mitigated for the most part with early socialization — which should be an essential part of their training — but it’s something that’s commonly reported among Mastiff owners. They also have strong prey drives, so any smaller pets, like cats, will be seen as something to hunt and chase. Luckily, Neos are fairly lazy pooches and not that fast, but this prey drive can still be an issue if you have other pets around.
Things to Know When Owning a Neapolitan Mastiff
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Neapolitan Mastiffs are massive animals with massive appetites. These huge dogs need at least 3 or 4 cups of high-quality kibble per day, depending on their size. Surprisingly, overfeeding is a risk and a common health issue with these pooches, so make sure the food is free from fillers and too many grains. While these dogs are not overly energetic, they have a large metabolism, so feeding them lean meat occasionally is a great idea.
The best dog foods are those with an animal protein as the first listed ingredient, like chicken, beef, or turkey. Since Neos have such short life expectancies and are known to suffer from several health issues, it’s important to feed them the best food possible, such as one formulated for large breeds.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are not the most energetic dogs around, but they still need regular, daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. In general, 30–60 minutes per day is plenty for these pooches, but they’ll also need a nice large backyard to play in. These dogs have a long puppyhood, and it’s important to not subject them to too much intensive exercise during their formative years. This can strain their joints and result in joint issues later.
They are also sensitive to heat and cold, so it’s best to keep them out of the hot sun or extremely cold temperatures. Try to walk them in the early mornings or evenings during summer months and toward the middle of the day during winter. Also, Neos are not known for their swimming skills, so they are best kept away from the family pool!
While Neapolitan Mastiffs are easygoing, placid pooches, they are also headstrong and independent animals at times, making training a challenge, especially for novice owners. Since they are such large, powerful dogs, proper training is essential, though, and you should begin the process from the day that you bring your puppy home.
Training will take a great deal of consistency and patience. While these dogs don’t need much exercise, you’ll need to devote plenty of time to training them, especially in the first year. We always recommend reward-based training methods, especially with large breeds like Mastiffs, as you will gain their trust and respect quickly and form a tight bond, a crucial factor with such powerful animals. Socialization is also an essential part of proper training and will help you during the training process.
Grooming Neapolitan Mastiffs is a breeze because they have short coats that don’t need much brushing, and they shed very little. That said, you’ll need to pay careful attention to their large, loose folds of skin. Make sure to clean the inside of these folds of skin regularly, especially around the face and neck to avoid any potential infections. If your Mastiff gets wet, make sure to thoroughly dry them, especially inside these wrinkles.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Neapolitan Mastiffs, like many large breeds, are susceptible to several health conditions and have relatively short life expectancies. Joint issues are the main concern due to the breed’s massive size and weight, and this typically manifests in the form of hip or elbow dysplasia. Also, these deep-chested dogs are susceptible to bloat or gastric torsion from eating too quickly and swallowing air. It’s a good idea to use a slow feeder to feed your Mastiff or at least split their meals into two or three servings.
Male vs. Female
In general, male Neapolitan Mastiffs are usually taller than females by 2–3 inches and are typically heavier too. While both males and females are docile, males tend to be the more aggressive, especially toward other male dogs. Females are generally more independent and rarely aggressive toward other dogs. Spaying males and neutering females will help mitigate most hormonal differences, though.
When it comes to choosing a male or a female Neo, it’s important to remember that all dogs are unique individuals, and their personalities are far more affected by their upbringing and training than their sex.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Neapolitan Mastiff
1. They are an ancient breed
The Neapolitan Mastiff is one of the world’s oldest breeds, descending from the traditional guard dogs of Italy. These dogs have roots dating back to the time of Romans, although surprisingly, the breed was not accepted into the AKC until 2004. While their exact origins are largely unknown, the breed has been around in some form for thousands of years.
2. They are world record holders
A Mastiff named Zorba once held the record for the heaviest dog on the planet, weighing in at an astounding 345 pounds! He was also the longest dog in the world at the time and stood 37 inches at the shoulder, and was 8 feet and 3 inches long from nose to tail. Zorba sadly died in 1992, but he still holds the weight record.
3. They have a comparatively long puppyhood
Despite their large size and short lifespan (8–10 years), Neos are slow to mature and only reach full physical and mental maturity at around 3 years old, whereas most other breeds reach this point in 2 years or less. As puppies, they are susceptible to joint injury, so it’s vital not to give them too much rigorous exercise.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a large, gentle, and wrinkly pooch, with an imposing appearance but a gentle heart. They make excellent guard dogs with their intimidating size, but they can also be rather clumsy, making their large size somewhat of a disadvantage at times! They are great family dogs and ideal for owners who don’t have much time for exercising their dogs every day, although they make up for this by being fairly challenging to train, so you’ll need to put the time in for training.
In general, though, they are low-maintenance dogs that don’t require much grooming and are happy with an hour so of exercise and a large backyard. If you’re looking for an imposing but gentle guard dog, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a great addition to the family!
- Related read: Male vs Female Mastiffs: What Are the Differences?
Featured Image Credit: Christian Mueller, Shutterstock