Would you like to own a dog? How about a large, muscular breed with a square-built, massive head, and wrinkled appearance that is intimidating and fierce? Most mastiff-type dogs fit this description perfectly and perhaps, the king of all mastiffs is the American Molossus. However, the Molossus breed is almost extinct but another breed that comes close to it, both in looks and temperament, is the Neapolitan Mastiff. So let us study some of the Neapolitan dog’s characteristics, fun facts, size, temperament, and what it entails living with a Neapolitan Mastiff.
Fun facts about the Neapolitan Mastiff
- Neapolitan Mastiff was developed from hunters and war dogs, mainly the Roman Mastiff. It is heavily prized for its unique physical characteristics. The breed originated in the Vesuvius region of Italy, but today has reached all corners of the world.
- It is believed that even Julius Cesar was fond of the massive ‘Roman mastiff’ giants and used to breed them for war. He is said to have used these dogs when he invaded the British Isles.
- The Italian Kennel Club was the first to recognize the Neapolitan Mastiff and called them Mastino Napoletano.
- The Tibetan Mastiff is the forerunner of all Molosser type dogs and may have been used in the breed’s development. Another Italian breed, the Cane Corso, may also have been used in the mastiff’s development.
- Like all mastiffs, the fully grown Neo is very large. Mastiffs are the largest among all dog breeds. Neapolitan Mastiff size: 76 to 80 cm (29 inches) at withers. Weight is about 150 lb. Female Neos are smaller. Neos take a long time to mature. Your puppy will reach full height and weight only at 3 years of age.
- They are brachycephalic dogs with short muzzles. Their head is massive and flanked by drop ears which some breeders choose to crop. The jowls, forehead, and muzzle are heavily wrinkled.
- The double coat is straight and coarse with a thick and short undercoat. Preferred coat colors for show dogs are black, gray, or a combination of leaden black and gray. You can also find them in fawn, tawny red, deep fawn, hazel, brindled, dove-gray, Isabella, or brown colors. Sometimes, white markings may be present.
Living with a Neapolitan Mastiff
Do not let his massive size fool you; this is an affectionate dog that will kill to protect you and your family. They make super pets and are quite good with children provided you socialize them from an early age. Naturally, it is never safe to leave a child unsupervised with any dog, irrespective of the breed. And this is even more important when there is a massive dog like the Neapolitan Mastiff involved. The characteristic breed temperament is calm, laid-back, easy-going, and loyal.
However, some breeders have indiscriminately bred these dogs leading to behavioral issues, aggression, and other temperamental problems. Many dog owners also want these dogs to be ‘aggressive’. If that is the case, this is really not the breed for you. Inherently, these dogs are very loving and affectionate and they aren’t prone to biting without reason. Many Neapolitan Mastiff owners say that these are the best dogs ever! These are vigilant, noble, gentle giants that are loving companions to their families and only slightly wary of strangers.
Where to find a Neapolitan Mastiff
Look for a good breeder or an owner having Neapolitan Mastiff puppies. You can also visit the official club website of the American Neapolitan Mastiff Society. This will point you to good breeders near you. Try and visit several kennels. Take a look around the facility: is it well-kept, clean, and well-ventilated? Ask to meet the parents of your potential puppy. Do they appear well-groomed? Are they friendly, calm, and well-fed?
Your breeder will also ask you several questions as to why you want a Neapolitan Mastiff as a pet. For example, you may only want a dog for taking along on walks; one that makes a great companion dog for your family. Some potential dog owners, on the other hand, may be looking for show-quality dogs. Depending on these needs, the breeders change the training protocols. After all; the dog has to meet different physical and temperamental standards to meet these requirements. So be prepared to answer several questions about your household. Note that this breed isn’t right for new pet owners. The price of a Neapolitan Mastiff varies from breeder to breeder, your location, the dog’s pedigree, and also its coat colors. Be prepared to shell out anywhere between $1000 and $2000 for a purebred Neapolitan Mastiff puppy.
Your Neapolitan Mastiff puppy needs plenty of exercise to keep him physically and mentally stimulated. Walk your pet twice a day and also give him the opportunity to run around and play a few times in a fenced-yard. Proper levels of exercise encourage muscle growth and bone development in young pups. Never let your puppy jump from a height as this could injure his joints. Instead, find activities that include running and walking rather than jumping.
Neos are brachycephalic dogs and that makes them susceptible to breathing issues. So always exercise them during the cooler parts of the day. They are also prone to heat strokes and exhaustion. If your Neo pants excessively, move him to the shade, hose him down, let him rest, or give him some cool water to drink.
The main reason behind canine obedience training is so that you and your pet speak the same language and understand each other. Through training, you and your Neo will relate to each other. Because this breed is massive, training becomes all the more important and it should start from the moment your pet first comes to your house. Unless you are experienced with dog training, it is best to outsource this activity to an obedience school or a dog handler.
Choose a trainer based on the method of training s/he utilizes. Is it clicker training? Does s/he use rewards or punishment? It is best to use gentle, positive, reward-based, and consistent training to train your Neo. Obedience classes and lots of positive training at home will help you develop a loving companion dog that you have always wanted.
The Neapolitan Mastiff breed is a unique dog and he needs regular grooming to keep his wrinkled coat clean and odor-free. To keep shedding hair from becoming problematic, use a brush to comb it out. If needed, go for professional grooming during shedding spells. This will ensure that dead hairs are disposed of in an appropriate manner. Experiment with different products and grooming tools until you find a method and product that suits you and your pet. Appropriately heated and cooled environment will keep your Neo free from bacterial, viral, and parasitical infections.
Large breeds like the Neapolitan Mastiff are prone to hip dysplasia where the hip bones do not fit into the sockets properly. Entropion or turning in of the eyelid is also seen in some of these dogs. Cherry eye is also common. Neapolitans cannot tolerate the heat and they could suffer from heat exhaustion and strokes when overheated. Neapolitan Mastiffs are also sensitive to anesthesia and tranquilizers. The lifespan of this large breed is about 8-10 years.