The Neapolitan Mastiff or Italian Mastiff Owner's Manual. Neapolitan Mastiff care, personality, grooming, health and
The Neapolitan Mastiff or Italian Mastiff Owner's Manual

See the BOOKS & MORE section for more Neapolitan Mastiff merchandise.





Neapolitan Mastiff
Photos courtesy of Lexington Kennel

Breed Registries:

Note: The breed registries indicated above are the most recognized all-breed registries. The breed may also be recognized by other registries not indicated here. For further details about dog registries, please see the document: Dog Breed Registries in North America.

* — The FCI is the World Canine Organization, which includes 84 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 339 breeds, with each being the "property" of a specific country. The "owner" countries of the breeds write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.




Males — 26 to 30 inches at the withers;
Females — 24 to 27 inches at the withers


Males — Average 155 lbs but known to be as much as 200 lbs
Females — Average 120 lbs but can be as much as 175 lbs

Breed Profile:

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a direct descendant of the ancient molosser war dog and can be traced back as far as 5000 years. He fought alongside the Romans in war and was left at home to protect family and property. He was used in the Roman arenas to be pitted against lions, bears, and gladiators for entertainment.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the descendants of the Roman Molossian evolved into several different Mastiff breeds (English Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Spanish Mastiff, St. Bernard, Rottweiler).

The Italian Molossian, however, has remained the same since Roman times. He survived in the Italian countryside practically unchanged in appearance and personality. In 1949, he was named "Mastino Napoletano" in honour of those in Naples who were responsible for maintaining this ancient dog over the centuries.

The Neapolitan is a massive and heavy-boned dog with distinctly loose connective tissue on his entire body which forms wrinkles and folds on the head and a large dewlap under the neck. The coat is short, stiff, and dense but smooth. He comes in a variety of colours: Gray (Blue), Black, Tawny and Mahogany. The Blue is the most common and desired colour because of his work as a guardian dog and his ability to blend into the night shadows. The nose and lip colour matches the coat. The Neapolitan takes about 3 years to mature and there is a huge difference between the size of a two year old and a three year old.

He has a captivating and almost intimidating stare, one that would make an intruder turn and flee without even a growl. The Neapolitan has a steady temperament with a strong protective instinct — always the loyal guardian and defender of his home and family. He is intensely devoted to his family and wonderful with children when raised with them.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a very unique breed both in character and appearance and one of the most impressive breeds in existence today.

Health Issues

The Neapolitan Mastiff is known to be a sturdy and healthy breed. However, like all breeds of dogs, certain health issues are of concern and the following are some which have been seen in this breed:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Heart problems (Cardiomyopathy)
  • Cleft pallets, hair lip, and/or tails problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cherry Eye
  • Bloat — As with many of the large and giant breed dogs, the occurrence of Bloat or Gastric Torsion is a real possibility in the Neapolitan Mastiff. If you are not familiar with this condition, it is absolutely necessary to learn about it and know the symptoms — This is a real emergency and a life threatening condition that requires immediate Veterinary attention. See Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) — Bloat in the Health and Nutrition section of Canada's Guide to Dogs for more information and First Aid for Bloat for an article describing some of the things you can do if you are faced with this situation.

If you are considering the adoption of a Neapolitan Mastiff puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy's parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the main Breed Listing and Breeders page.)

Additional Health Resources:

468x60 Generic Banner

Breed Standards

Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.

Training Resources

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.

Training Tools & Equipment
Choose from a wide variety of items from

Additional Information

  • History of the Neapolitan Mastiff Breed
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.

Select from the following links to view Breeder listings; Breed Clubs; Rescue Organizations; as well as Books and other Merchandise specific to the breed:

Breeders  /  Breed Clubs  /  Rescues  /  Books & More