The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed of dog used to guard families and property. The breed’s ancestry has been traced to around 168 BC. It is a Molosser type breed which was once used to fight bulls, boar, and lions in ancient Roman arenas such as the Coliseum. The breed was imported in order to do battles against beasts. They also fought alongside Roman legions in battle. The breed’s popularity eventually dwindled, but it was “rediscovered” in Italy in the late 1940s and introduced in the United States.
The breed is known for its loose skin all over its body, wrinkles on its head, and large dewlap. The Neapolitan Mastiff stands 24 to 31 inches tall and weighs 110 to 200 pounds. It is a good deal longer than it is tall. Its coat can be black, gray, mahogany, and tawny.
The breed is fearless and protective and loves being near its family. The breed is wary of strangers but rarely barks and will accept them if their master does. The breed can be incredibly stubborn and needs to be socialized and trained early on. Despite its obstinate nature, it is still teachable, and learns very quickly. The breed can tend to be dominant, so it needs to be shown dominance from its master. The Neapolitan Mastiff needs an experienced owner who can spend plenty of time with training and socializing the dog properly. The breed is very tolerant of pain, due to its early fighting background. It also is a breed that tends to drool a good deal. The breed needs room to play due to its large size but is not excessively active.
The breed is somewhat high maintenance due to its large body mass and excessive wrinkling. The Neapolitan requires some extra care in cleaning the face and body. The breed’s facial wrinkles and feet need to be kept as dry as possible in order to keep from being infected.
The Neapolitan Mastiff typically lives from 7 to 9 years, due to its size. It does not have an abundance of health problems, but like all breeds has some specific health issues. Some concerns are hip dysplasia, ectropion, entropion, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, cardiomyopathy, bloat, skin infections, anesthetic sensitivity, cherry eye, and heat stroke.