The Neapolitan Mastiff: Origin | Breeds | Characteristics| Fun Facts | How To Care | Health – Learn all this and a lot more about one of the best pet that man could ever have.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is highly appreciated by dog lovers from all over Europe for its monumental appearance associated with a seraphic charm. However, those who choose a dog of this breed should have already gained a lot of experience in terms of dogs and have a lot of space to be able to best breed this demanding guard dog.
Mostly even a layman immediately realizes that this dog is a member of the muscular and massive Molossian family: the heavy and robust Neapolitan Mastiff can reach a maximum height of 75 cm at the withers and an adult male can weigh up to 70 kg. . The head is very large, even powerful, which is further accentuated by the heavy jaw and triangular-shaped ears that adhere to the cheeks.
The skin is rather loose throughout the body and forms folds especially on the neck. The short, glassy coat is very thick and can be gray, black, brown, falbo and fawn in color. All cloaks can be brindle. Although dogs of this breed overall appear a little heavy, slow and therefore very calm, they can demonstrate a remarkable alertness.
The Neapolitan Mastiff boasts a very long family tree: it is assumed that its ancestor was the Roman Molosser, the guard dog of the legionnaires’ camp, which also accompanied the soldiers on the battlefields as a war dog. Over the centuries it has proved to be an excellent shepherd dog in southern Italy, where it is still widespread as a guard dog. Since 1947 the breed has been bred in a targeted way, however initially the breeding presented some difficulties that still have repercussions on it today: many breeders belonged to low social classes and did not attach much importance to the protection of the dog’s health.
Furthermore, even today the appearance of the Neapolitan Mastiffs is still relatively uneven, since the breed is still quite young. In the eighties of the twentieth century the Neapolitan Mastiff reached the peak of notoriety in several European countries, but this did not always represent an advantage for the breed: many “breeders” advertised the strength of this dog and did their best to make it look more extraordinary possible. An even more consistent mass and a greater number of folds gave it not only a grotesque appearance, but also caused damage to the health of this breed. In addition, when marketed as a “panzer of antiquity”, this dog often ended up in the wrong hands. Fortunately today the Neapolitan Mastiff is again far from being a fashion dog, Bred only for its out of the ordinary appearance – but it represents a breed for true connoisseurs. In the highly acclaimed Harry Potter films, a Neapolitan Mastiff enchanted crowds of spectators by playing the role of the half-giant’s faithful companion Hagrid: a special dog for a special master!
Character: protective and self-confident
For this imposing dog, the monumental aspect is enough to keep away “unwanted guests”; however, in case of danger, he will not hesitate to effectively defend his home. This is a further demonstration of how an expert master is needed for the Neapolitan Mastiff: one must reflect on the very territorial and protective character of this breed before deciding to adopt a Neapolitan Mastiff, a courageous and independent dog that acts lightning fast, when its territory or loved ones are threatened. However, under the imposing aspect there is also a quiet and friendly dog, which can also strike the observer for its imperturbable tranquility. He will always be loyal and loving towards his owner, but with strangers he is very reserved and even when he meets his fellows he remains rather aloof, if not downright hostile; therefore it is very important to make him socialize as a puppy!
Education is indispensable
From the moment of choosing the breeder, care must be taken that the puppy has been socialized. In fact, the first weeks of life are decisive for defining its future behavior with respect to other dogs and also towards humans. If, for example, you want to raise your Neapolitan Mastiff with cats, you should look for a breeder who already accustoms puppies to the presence of cats.
Then you can continue the socialization process by having him first attend a school for puppies and then a school for dogs, experiences that will allow him to get to know as many dogs of other breeds as possible. Thus your initially unsociable Mastiff will become a socially compatible companion. If a Neapolitan Mastiff grows up with another dog, normally once they become an adult they will get along very well with them. Try to be very correct and consistent in educating him from the beginning, because this proud dog will only recognize you as a pack leader if you behave as such.
Livestock farming as the first form of prevention
Due to the not always correct way in which the Neapolitan Mastiff is raised in the first years of life, it is often believed that dogs of this breed are predisposed to disorders of the motor system: they tend to suffer from hip dysplasia in dogs, dysplasia of the elbow and arthritis. Eye problems can also occur. If you are interested in buying a Neapolitan Mastiff, contact serious breeders, who stand out for the attention they pay to the prevention of any diseases and who, for their breeding and reproduction programs, select only animals for which the absence of joint problems.
Due to their loose skin, dogs of this breed tend to be prone to skin infections which you can, however, prevent by paying close attention to dog hygiene. Make sure your Mastiff is never exposed to too intense cold or excessive heat, as it can hardly handle such extreme conditions. If you pay attention to his needs, this muscular giant can reach ten years of age.
Feeding a Neapolitan Mastiff
Obviously, a dog of this size needs a large amount of top quality food. This rather obvious thing should take into account every potential owner, as feeding a Neapolitan Mastiff in a suitable way involves expenses that should not be underestimated. The quality of nutrition is crucial for a long and healthy life. It is preferable to choose dog food for large breeds, of which a puppy variant is also available, so you will ensure that the dog is getting exactly the nutrients it needs depending on its size and age.
Additionally, large breed puppy foods are designed to prevent young dogs from growing too fast, as this could damage their musculoskeletal system. Quality foods are distinguished by the presence of meat at the top of the list of ingredients. Like all other dogs belonging to large breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff is also subject to the risk of gastric torsion. It is advisable to divide the daily ration into several meals and to give them moments of tranquility, in order to minimize the risk of gastric torsion.
How to keep a Neapolitan Mastiff busy
The Neapolitan Mastiff’s favorite occupation is land control, so you should offer him the chance to take care of it. In the garden there should be some shaded areas, as dogs of this breed do not tolerate the heat wave very well. Furthermore, the area must be properly fenced, since its strong instinct for protection means that the Mastiff does not stop at nothing, not even the postman or other visitors. Keep in mind that a dog of this size often frightens people and don’t forget it even during daily walks.
The Mastiff willingly participates in trips, even if it is not a particularly sporty dog. With adequate training, an adult Neapolitan Mastiff will be able to accompany you while you jog or short bike rides, but you will have to adapt to its speed. Some Mastiffs also consider swimming from time to time. If you take into account the stubborn character of the dogs of this breed and you have a lot of patience, you can also have your Mastiff also follow training as a track dog.
A dog for connoisseurs
This self-confident dog is good for those who already have experience in dog love, and for those who are able to give the Neapolitan Mastin a loving but at the same time firm and consistent guide. Only in this way will the Neapolitan Mastiff accept you as a pack leader. It is not a dog breed suitable for living in an apartment, especially in a city apartment, because as a “guardian” it needs a territory to keep an eye on. If you are looking for a companion who will carry out your every order by wagging his tail, then this breed is not for you. This dog with a strong personality will never bring you back a cane unnecessarily but will only do the tasks that seem sensible to him.
In any case, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not among the dog breeds suitable for the family, because it appreciates a single reference person much more than the pack. Growing it in a home with small children is not entirely recommended and, if this happens, the interaction between the dog and the child must always be monitored. However, a Neapolitan Mastiff who has socialized sufficiently as a puppy can very well make friends with children. As soon as you seriously start thinking about the possibility of adopting a Neapolitan Mastiff, first check if by chance in your region having this type of dog implies particular administrative burdens.
Prepare for the dog’s arrival
Before your Neapolitan Mastiff arrives home, you can already organize everything in order to offer him a comfortable home. If you already have experience with dogs, you will certainly know which basic accessories to buy.
When shopping, you have to take into account the future size of your new roommate. While the harness and collar will be bought back later, you can already orient yourself according to the size of the adult dog for blankets, baskets and kennels for travel by car. The most suitable bowls are those with adjustable height, which also allow the dog to eat and drink comfortably. A voracious dog bowl can also be helpful in avoiding a possible stomach twist.
Choose who will take care of him before his arrival if you are unable to do so due to illness or during your holidays.
For example, if you opt for a hiking holiday you can also take it with you, because today there are numerous hotels and holiday homes where dogs are welcome.
In case your dog has to stay at home, which for some destinations is definitely the best choice, you will need an experienced dog-sitter, who knows the particularities of this breed. Before buying a puppy it is advisable, especially if you choose such a monumental breed, to calculate the future periodic expenses: quality food for such a large dog has its cost, and it is also necessary to plan periodic veterinary visits.
Where can I find my Neapolitan Mastiff?
If you are looking for a Neapolitan Mastiff puppy you should definitely turn to a serious breeder and registered with an association, who will have laid the best foundations for a healthy and happy life that your future dog will be able to appreciate next to you. In this sense, the main presupposition that precedes the birth of the dog consists in the choice of healthy parents with a stable character.
Subsequently the puppy, until it reaches eight weeks, will grow up with the breeder who trains it and makes it socialize. By the time he arrives at his new home, he will have already been wormed several times, identified with a microchip and even provided with a passport. Neapolitan Mastiff farms are now found almost everywhere, but you may still have to go a little way to find the right breeding and the puppy of your dreams. Do not be discouraged by the trip and, before choosing, chat calmly with the breeder to inform you about the preventive health measures adopted and the nature of the dog in question. An expert breeder will be able to tell you if the Neapolitan Mastiff is suitable for you and your lifestyle. He will also ask you a couple of questions and you should provide him with all the information requested,
Those who want to share their home with an adult Neapolitan Mastiff are unlikely to come across such a dog at a nearby kennel, as the specimens of this breed are not so numerous. However, it is worth a visit to the local kennel where there may be similar dogs looking for a home that you might fall in love with at first sight. Otherwise, even the specialized Molosser Associations represent a good point of reference, because they often do a lot to find adult dogs. There are also associations that deal with dogs in difficulty, including Molossians.
The animals supplied by these associations often still live with their owners, who for various reasons must separate from them, or with foster families. Try to get detailed information about the dog’s background and disposition and visit him before making a final decision to make sure that together you can form a real team.
We wish you many happy years with your impressive Neapolitan Mastiff!