Neapolitan Mastiff

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About Neapolitan Mastiff

120-200 lb
8-10 years
AKC Working
Best Suited For
Families with older children, active singles, houses with yards, experienced owners
Devoted, loyal, calm, loving
Comparable Breeds
Bullmastiff, Mastiff
24-31 inches
Neapolitan Mastiff Basics

Although not aggressive by nature, the Neapolitan Mastiff has the look that will scare off any intruder. This breed is truly a gentle giant and an honorable gentleman. He has no clue that he is huge and always considers himself to be the perfect size to sit on your lap! The Neapolitan Mastiff is a brave and loyal companion and is well-suited for families with children who are sturdy enough not to be knocked over by his immense size and clumsiness.

Affectionately known by enthusiasts as the Neo, this dog’s ancestry is richly embedded in the past. His all-knowing gaze makes the Neapolitan Mastiff appear to not only be mysterious but god-like.

Although not aggressive by nature, the Neapolitan Mastiff has the look that will scare off any intruder.


The Neapolitan Mastiff originated in the Southern region of Italy, in and around Naples. It was bred to be loving and loyal to his family members but stand watch over the estate on which he lived as well.


It is believed that the Neo is a direct descendant of the well-known dogs of war that were used by the Roman Empire. His ancestors are said to be from Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt and Asia. Not truly popular until the 1970s, the first Neapolitan Mastiff was brought to the United States in 1973. Slowly, his popularity has increased and is now ranked as the 112th most registered dog by the American Kennel Club.


Simply by looking at the impressive Neapolitan Mastiff, you can tell that he eats a lot. It is very important that he has a well-balanced, high-quality diet of dry food. Dry food is best because wet food can cause tooth decay, gum infection and bath breath in dogs. Because of the Neo’s size, he should be fed twice daily or free fed to avoid gastric torsion, more commonly known as bloat. Gastric torsion can cause death, so smaller meals or free feeding is indicated.

The Neapolitan Mastiff can be a stubborn dog. He needs a trainer who is confident and assertive.


The Neapolitan Mastiff can be a stubborn dog. He needs a trainer who is confident and assertive. The Neo does not respond to aggressive training methods. Only positive techniques should be used and treats such as cookies or tidbits of meat are welcomed for a job well done. Obedience classes are beneficial as the Neo will become more socialized with other people and animals, which is necessary for this protective breed.


The average male Neo weighs somewhere between 150 and 200 pounds and is from 26 to 31 inches tall. Females are smaller and tip the scales between 120 and 175 pounds while standing between 24 and 29 inches tall.


The Neapolitan Mastiff’s temperament should be rock solid and even. Although he is an excellent guardian; he is in no way, shape or form an attack dog. Even when the Neo appears to be relaxing or napping, he is still alert and very aware of what is going on around him and his family. This breed is reserved around strangers but will accept them once they have proven that they are not planning to harm his family.

Because the Neapolitan Mastiff is huge and has a mind of his own, he can overtake the house and family in a heartbeat. Training will make the Neo understand his place in the home and make him a wonderful companion.

Common Health Problems

Neos are predisposed to issues such as elbow and hip dysplasia. The occurrences of these debilitating problems can be decreased by not allowing the puppy to over exert himself or to jump on the furniture. Falls on slick surfaces can also exacerbate these problems. Other common issues are cherry eye, cleft palate, cardiomyopathy, fold dermatitis and demodicosis.

Life Expectancy

The average life span of a Neapolitan Mastiff is from 8 to 10 years.

Exercise Requirements

The Neapolitan Mastiff doesn’t require a ton of exercise. With a fenced yard, his patrolling duties will give him all of the exercise he needs. Brisk walks early in the morning or late in the evening will be beneficial as Neos can overheat in extreme temperatures.

Although this breed makes a great companion for families with older kids, he is not the type of dog that will be out playing fetch or Frisbee. Neapolitan Mastiffs prefer lounging on the couch or sleeping in the bed with their families to doing anything athletic.

The Neapolitan Mastiff’s temperament should be rock solid and even.


The American Kennel Club says this about the Neapolitan Mastiff: “Large and powerful, Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for their massiveness – massive head, massive bone, and massive body. Despite their fierce appearance and serious demeanor, Mastini are generally peaceful, steady dogs. The breed’s trademark is the loose skin that covers their bodies, the abundant wrinkles and folds on the head and their rolling and lumbering gait.” The AKC recognized the breed in 2004.


The loose and heavily wrinkled skin of the Neapolitan Mastiff’s face is covered with soft and velvety fur. A short coat of less than an inch in length covers the rest of his massive body. The coat can be tawny, tan brindle, mahogany, gray or most commonly, black. White markings on the head are a disqualification for the dog show ring, but have no bearing on the quality of companion they can be.

The main part of grooming a Neo is regular cleansing of the folds. Without the folds being washed and dried properly, the dogs can get skin infections which are known as fold dermatitis. A weekly brushing is enough to keep the Neo’s coat looking good. Baths are only needed seasonally or when the dog becomes malodorous.

It should be mentioned that Neapolitan Mastiffs drool and they drool bucket loads. Slime will be on your floors, walls, furniture and all over you too! It’s best to keep a washcloth with you to cut down on the amount of housecleaning you will need to do. When you see the drool stretching down from the dog’s jowls, simply wipe it off with a cloth.


Neapolitan Mastiff puppies are big, gorgeous and mischievous. They require early supervision to get them accustomed to a variety of people and situations. Puppy kindergarten classes should be started as soon as possible. Be sure he is properly vaccinated before allowing him to be around other animals. It is best to keep a Neo puppy crated at night as he very well might chew on electrical cords and cause harm to himself or your household.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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