The Neapolitan Mastiff or Mastino Napoletano is a large sized, short coated, robust, muscular dog that was developed in Italy. The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed that the Romans used for guarding the house and yard, and was even used in siege. Nowadays the Neapolitan Mastiff is a watchful show and family dog, but is occasionally still used as a real protect dog.
Neapolitan Mastiff History
The Neapolitan Mastiff, like other mastiff breeds have ancient predecessors, Molosser dogs can be seen on ancient Babylonian relics (around 2000 BC) and Assyrian sculptures (around 650 BC). These large dogs were used as war dogs, and used to protect property and livestock from the attacks of lions which were common in that region at the time. The Greeks were next in line that prominently used these dogs and gave the Molossers their name.
It were probably the Phoenecians who spread this type of dog in the Mediterranean basin, in their many travels. The Romans used these dogs for many tasks, for war, as guardians, hunting dogs and even in the arena. Eventually different types were developed, in Italy two familiar breeds were developed. One as a powerful manstopper a guardian of all (Mastino Napoletano type), the other as a athletic and fast hunter for large game (Cane Corso type). Both breeds had the power to stop most intruders, man or wildlife.
In his "De Re Rustica", Columella defines the Mastino dog as an excellent guardian of house and property, anticipating its current use by almost 2000 years. They were huge, savage dogs, large enough to normally keep lions at bay. They could fiercely fight intruders, be they human or animal.
Precisely because of this natural adeptness as a guard dog, the Roman patrician class used the Mastiff to safeguard their villas, which were numerous in the region of Campania at one time. After the fall of the Roman Empire the dogs remained, forming a close link both with the land and the people who lived on the slopes of the Vesuvius.
As the Mastiff was used in Roman times as a guardian, weapon of war, and in combat against wild animals in the arena's, it was later to be found in the courts of the Renaissance in central and northern Italy as a guard, and sometimes used alongside Cane Corso type dogs, as a hunter of large game (deer and wild boar).
Despite centuries of popularity throughout Europe, this type of dog was almost lost after World War II. Soon after the war, Italian painter Piero Scanziani, at a 1946 dog show in Naples, Italy recongised the breed and established a breeding kennel to turn the mastiff-type dogs of Italy into a formal breed. Which was then named the Neapolitan Mastiff or in Italion Mastino Napoletano. In this process English Mastiff stock was used, for example to further square the head and increase mass and height.
Neapolitan Mastiff Appearance
Body: the Mastino Napolitano is a powerful and muscular dog with a country like majestic appearance. The skin is loose, especially at the head. His body is about 10% longer than the shoulder height. The wide back when viewed fromt he side shows a straight line, which is broken only by the withers. When viewed from the side there is a transition visible between the loins and back as a slight curve. The sides are slightly raised and the wide and muscular croup is slightly tilted. The powerful tail is docked in countries where it is allowed, cut off to one third of the length. If the dog is moving, the tail is horizontal or slightly above the backline. The very muscular chest is broad and extends to the elbows or just below. The long and oblique ribs are well arched and long. The muscular shoulders are long and slightly sloping. The legs have strong bones are well muscled and well angulated and must not have dew claws. The feet are oval, very large, well placed and arched. The hind feet are smaller than front feet. The neck is short and stocky and very muscular, with loose dewlaps.
Head: the massive, short head is wider between the cheeks than the length of the head. The stop is pronounced and there is a clear furrow and forehead lump. Seen from the side the skull and broad nasal bridge run parallel. The length of the optically square muzzle is approximately one third of the total length of the head. Very typical of the breed are skin folds that run from the corners of the eyes to corners of the lips. Seen from the side, the generous nose does not protrude the lips. The lips are thick, fleshy, heavy and drooping. At a frontal view the corners of the mouth appear to be the lowest point of the lips and they show mucous membrane. The triangular ears are relatively small and are carried hanging. The eyes are more or less circular in shape, but the weak skin on the scalp makes them seem smaller and more oval. They are deep and the eyelids should lie snugly against the eye. Mastino have a scissors bite or a level bite.
Height at Withers: the dogs have a shoulderheight of 65 up to 75 (25.6 to 29.5 inches) centimetres and bitches measure 60 up to 68 centimetres (23.6 to 26.8 inches).
Weight: for dogs it's between 50 to 70 kg (110 and 154 lbs) and bitches are between 42 to 60 kg (92.4 to 132 lbs).
Coat: the coat is short (not longer than 1.5 cm), dense, smooth and fine.
Colors: by far the most common color for the Mastino is a bluish gray, but gray, black, brown and fox-red are also allowed. All colors can be brindle. A little white on the chest or on the tips of the toes is allowed.
Neapolitan Mastiff Temperament
Character: well trained Mastino's are balanced well-behaved, fairly quiet and calm dogs. They bond closely with their families and their boss, to which they are reliable, friendly and yielding. They are affectionate towards their people and sensitive to their moods at home. Nevertheless, they are not easy dogs to have, they are courageous and hardy, fairly dominant and confident, this is especially true in males. The breed naturally imposes territorial behaviour and adeqately senses if a person means harm. They are very watchful and defend their homes well. If the dog sense that his people are threatened or uninvited guests emerge during the absence of the housemates, he will intervene without doubt. The kennel life is not useful for these dog's character. They belong at home, surrounded by their people and involved in daily affairs this creates a happy good charactered dog.
Social Build: males can sometimes be dominant over other dogs in the street and house, bitches on the average show much less need for self-assertion. Towards children, these giants are generally friendly and good-natured, if the children do not tease the dog. If have a positive experience with cats and other pets when young, there are no problems to be expected later on. Acquaintances of the family are kindly met, but towards strangers these dogs initially react vigilant. The dog does not like all too freely behaving unknowns. He first looks for a while how the wind blows and await the right time to make contact.
Neapolitan Mastiff Socially
Care: the grooming of a Neapolitan Mastiff is quite simple. About once a week, you can brush the coat with a soft bristle from the chest upwards. In the shedding period a rubber glove can help to easily remove dead and loose hairs. Because of his low-hanging and open mouth this dog breed is more prone to drooling. Mastino's prefer a place that's without draft and dry, but above all should be soft to avoid ugly, permanent calluses on the pressure areas. Keep the nails short.
Education: besides a good genetic base the character development in a Mastino depends on a proper education and proper socialization. These large molossians should be raised in a balanced, fair and harmonious way and very consistent. A peaceful boss that is consistent and has a natural superiority brings out the best in the Mastino, but the reverse is also true, do not purposely tease or anger the dog. Mastino's aren't beginner dogs and they are not suitable for people who are nervous, pressuring, indulgent or fickle. A Mastino naturally protects you and your belongings and does so with abandon. He surely does not need additional stimuli or commands to do so. Take the young dog along as much as possible and help him get possitive experiences with all kind of organisms, people, animals and situations, so he gets the chance to grow into a reliable stable dog that responds well to all kinds of impressions. Teach the dog at a young age that he was not allowed to pull on the leash.
Activity: Mastino's have an average daily need of exersize. They like to romp and play, but these dogs do not enjoy to be out for hours of walking. The young growing Mastino should receive dosed exercise. He should not be allowed to tire himself too much. Avoid rough games at this stage and just make sure that all his energy goes to good use to build muscle and bone. At home these dogs are usually very quiet, almost lazy.
Usability: the breed is particularly popular as a watchful companion.
Neapolitan Mastiff Quotes / Trivia