Neapolitan Mastiff claims as its ancestors the war dogs that traversed Europe with the Roman Army. Since that time, Neapolitan Mastiffs have been used as guardians of large estates in Italy.
A male Mastino (a fancier’s term for a dog of the Neapolitan Mastiff breed) stands 26 to 29 inches tall and weighs 140 to 170 pounds. Female Neapolitan Mastiffs are slightly smaller. The body is longer than tall, and the Neapolitan Mastiff dog breed is massively built. The head is very large, with deep-set eyes and ears that are usually cropped upright. The tail is normally docked by one-third its length. A characteristic of the Neapolitan Mastiff dog breed is the loose skin all over the dog, including the head. The coat is short and dense. Primary colors are gray, black, and mahogany. Grooming is not difficult; the short coat should be brushed weekly. The wrinkles sometimes need care and cleaning, especially the ones on the face.
Neapolitan Mastiff dogs do drool, though, and can be messy. Most Neapolitan Mastiff owners keep a towel at hand to mop up the drool. Neapolitan Mastiff puppies can be quite active and playful. They should not be encouraged to run hard or jump for a ball; doing so could damage their growing bones and joints. Walks and playtimes are sufficient. Adult Neapolitan Mastiffs are generally calm. Since this breed was bred to be watchful and protective, early socialization to a variety of people, dogs, and other animals is vital. Without it, the Neapolitan Mastiff can be shy, and that is potentially dangerous.
Early training is also important, as this very large, powerful dog breed could easily overpower an owner. Neapolitan Mastiff owners need to assume the role of the dog’s leader. This breed needs an owner who understands what a mastiff is and can handle the breed’s natural protectiveness. Interactions with children must be supervised, as children could be inadvertently knocked down or hurt. Neapolitan Mastiff dogs are often dogaggressive, especially with dogs of the same sex. Health concerns include sensitivity to heat, eye defects, heart and thyroid problems, and hip dysplasia.