Neapolitan Mastiff

Breed History

Neapolitan Mastiff in grass

Neapolitan Mastiff is a huge breed that features big bones and very loose skin. Appearance of this dog is rare and hard to find. Due diligence with breeders over the years have made distinct characteristics for a dog of this size.

Serious guard dog that has an impressive intimidation factor. Invaders recognize this dog as an immediate deterrent making their homes a difficult target to steal from. A pack of wolves would leave this dog alone due to its size and massive structure.

Guard dog on estates and farms for centuries. Some areas have a hard time controlling other animals from killing their livestock get getting easy meals. Large working dog that had the ability to fight off large animals such as lion and tigers.  

Coming from Italy they still have roots in Ancient Rome because of their ancestors. Like all Mastiffs this dog is a descendant of the Molossus breed that is famously in documentation from Ancient Rome in the statues and art artifacts.

One of the richest histories of serving in wars of different sides of armies. Roman armies have these dogs in images making contributions. Due to the unique features of these dogs there is agreement among many historians that these are the ancestors to the Neapolitan Mastiff.

Rumor has it that they wanted to have a dog that wasn’t pretty with a rough imagine and that’s the reason for the imagine of the dog. They may have accomplished this mission with the response these dogs still receive.

20th century saw some changes to the breed standard, and it has been the same for many decades now. They are still in use for guard dog duties and excellent family companions.


In 2004, they got their recognition from the American Kennel Club and are still popular in the U.S.A. Almost top 100 in dog registration they have lost some ground, but smaller dogs are gaining more popularity with the renters in the nation.

Working or Guardian Group are the only places to put them with the other Mastiffs. Some Mastiffs had more jobs than this one, but they are exclusively in this group.

Here are the major Kennel Clubs and their breed standards for this dog.


Male Height: 27-31 inches

Female Height: 24-29 inches

Male Weight: 150 pounds

Female Weight: 110 pounds

Unlike other breeds the males are bigger than the females by epic proportions. One look and you can tell you are looking at a man instead of a female dog. Big breeds tend to have that affect but this breed is the epitome of the difference in size.

Litter Size

8 puppies are the average litter size for the Neapolitan Mastiff. Mothers can easily carry up to ten plus puppies and sometimes in the mid-teens. Breeders must prepare for a large influx of puppies to care for up to eight weeks on average. There are no known birth issues for the mother.


  • Blue Black
  • Mahogany
  • Tawny
  • Markings – Brindle

Solid coats are the only ones that are acceptable, and some brindle markings are all acceptable as well.


$1,000-$5,000 is the average price for these dogs. The prices vary depending on a lot of different factors. Those factors are country, currency exchange, supply, demand, championship bloodline, and others that can increase or decrease the price. Dogs with papers will cost more than dogs without papers.

Without papers you are looking at paying much less for your dog. These dogs will still cost you around $400-$500 on average. Not having papers can almost ensure you some crossbreeding and less quality overall.

Knowing the dogs breed standards and making sure all the parents and every available puppy is within these guidelines can really help you avoid obvious faults.


  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Having such a short coat will help you with not having an aggressive grooming process with your dog. Shedding is a small part of the dog’s life in comparison to other dogs. Brushing once a month should be enough.

Combing is not really a requirement and the coat will not have a dire effect on the dog’s health or coat health. In other words, no grueling grooming session will await the dog in the future.

Bathe the dog as you see fit as the owner. Bathing the dog on a schedule is a great option. Another option that is popular is to bath the dog when dirty. Once a month should be often enough.

Ears should get a cleaning often. Twice per month should be good but make sure to increase if you live in a desert environment. Avoiding a costly vet bill that is preventable is a good decision to make.

Nails should be trim in a natural way during exercise. Exercising the dog will be better than alternative methods. If you choose to not exercise, which we don’t recommend, cut them with dog clippers.

Professional help is not a recommendation for this dog due to the low maintenance and expert knowledge is not needed to groom them.

Life Span

7-8 years is the average lifespan. That is a short amount of time in comparison with some of the other dog breeds. Knowing this information can help an owner prepare for a possible departure date or help you decide to adopt a dog that is five years old.

Health Issues

Bloat – one of the main killers for large size dogs is bloat. Don’t take this condition lightly. When the dog stomach over expands and puts an immense amount of pressure on different areas of the body the results can be sudden death.

Hip Dysplasia – hips are a big issue with dogs that are bigger breeds. Dislocation of the hips can occur and cause discomfort and pain on routine exercises. Get an examination at least 24 months into the dog’s life.

Elbow Dysplasia – Growth of the elbow will be a sign of elbow dysplasia. Stiffness and other symptoms will show the owner they should take a vet trip and see the type of treatment your dog should receive.

Cardiac – big dogs require big diets and that leads to heart issues. Eating kibble to maintain 150 pounds and you will have a heart problem in a few years.

Breed Group

Proud members of the Working Group or Guardian group. These dogs are some of the most popular in the world. Known for conducting many jobs that humans either couldn’t do or their assistance was of great help.

Pulling, sledding, guardians, rescues, and other activities is a small list of what these dogs are capable of all throughout history.

Here are some of the dogs in the working group

Exercise Needs

Neapolitan Mastiff is a calm dog that needs daily exercise. Some people will confuse a calm attitude with no exercise. All dogs need exercise regardless of personality. Here is how to figure out how much they need.

Bad behavior is a good rule of thumb for increasing the exercise daily. Boredom will usual be the reason why your dog does 95% of the undesirable behavior. A complete understanding of this relationship will help tremendously in your quest to stop bad behavior.

As you start to exercise as much as humanly possible you will notice the behavior will change and you’re enjoying the dog much more. Those are the signs you want to see from a strong exercise program.

Here is a basic recommendation

Morning: Hour (run, walk, or treadmill)

Evening: 30 minutes (run, walk or treadmill)

Taking the time to run them more often when the behavior is bad is the best option. In emergency situations I would run the dog twice a day for two 30-minute sessions and notice a world or difference right away. Younger dogs need this type of program and some younger adult dogs.

Mature adult dogs will see a decrease in exercise needs. Running can have them resting for the next two days so it is important to use more walks around this age.

When the dog is a senior it is hard to give them a run without it really making them exhausted for multiple days. Walking these dogs can have the same affect. Walking them more often is a much better option.

Wanting to exercise them so that they are nice and calm while behaving is the goal. Overexerting the dog is not what we want to do. Most owners will never have this issue and will under exercise.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Every house is built on a solid foundation and there is no foundation more solid than a daily exercise program. Benefits are huge and there is little to no catches to the method. It is a very natural way to domesticate your dog while providing them with what they need from a physical and mental standpoint. Owners who exercise always have a better-behaved dog.

You ever see a homeless man with a dog? That dog is listening, walking off leash, social and not aggressive at all. No treats and no dog tricks being done only good old fashion exercise. Expect to spend most of your time with your dog exercising.

Commands are a small part of the program. At the beginning you will teach them these commands with a lot of repetition and then it is time to maintenance them.

Socialization is important with this dog after they receive the outlet they deserve. Although people want to go to the dog park to exercise you should exercise and bring them to the dog park to socialize. When you bring the dog for exercise you are asking for a lot of trouble.

Correcting the dog should be done verbally, on-leash, or with the hand off leash. At all times the dog should know that you can and will correct. Remember, only correct when the verbal command isn’t given, or they are breaking a strict rule. For example, lunging at a baby should get an immediate correct without verbal. Some actions should be taken more seriously than others.

Are Neapolitan Mastiffs Aggressive?

No, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not born aggressive they become aggressive with the wrong owner. Failure to find this excellent guard dog an outlet can become a grave mistake due to the size and amount of destructive they can possibly cause.

Take the time to exercise the dog and show them the correct way to channel that energy. Aggressive behavior with an exercise program will decrease dramatically. Corrections when body language becomes erect is the best second action to take.

When the dog ears are up, hair standing up, growling, or any other behavior that shows the dog looking tough should get a correction. Failure to correct the behavior can possible cause an escalation.

Although we make it complicated that’s all the dog needs. An owner that won’t make any excuses about exercising them every day, take them on plenty of runs throughout the week, correct the wrong body language, and behavior.

When someone is willing to do all the above the dog will have a place to let go of aggression, know the owner disagrees, and the dog can always just enjoy their life without defending.

Additional Resources