Photo by kenjonbro

Neapolitan Mastiff - Breed Profile:

Origin: Italy
Colors: Grey (blue), black, mahogany and tawny
Size: Extra large
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Little
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
Dominance: Very high
Noise: Not a barker

Physical characteristics

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a massive, heavy-boned dog with a muscular body and wrinkled face. The skull is broad and flat on the top. The muzzle should be about 1/3 the length of the entire head; its width should be equal to its length. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is very deep. Its outside borders are parallel, which gives the face a "squared" appearance. The facial wrinkles continue under the chin and down the neck, forming a prominent dewlap. The lips are heavy, thick and long. The nose is large; its colour should match the coat colour. The eyes are set deep and almost hidden beneath drooping upper lids. Their colour should be shades of brown or amber. For health reasons, the ears are usually cropped to small equilateral triangles, although they may be left natural as well. The teeth should meet in a scissor, level, or slightly undershot bite. The tail is very thick and tapering; it is set a little lower than the topline, and generally docked by one third. The gait is slow and lumbering; it is often described as lion or bear-like.
Neapolitan Mastiffs weigh about 150 pounds. Their height is 24 to 31 inches. Females are usually smaller.


Neapolitan Mastiffs are highly protective and fearless, yet peaceful and steady. They are not aggressive unless there's a reason. Somewhat wilful, so training will require a lot of patience and variety because these dogs don't appreciate repetitiveness. Serious, calm and quiet. In spite of its imposing look, the Mastino is affectionate with its family and family friends. Males tend to be much more dominant than females. It's not recommended to keep two adults of the same gender as they may not get along well. Nevertheless, this breed can get along well with cats and non-canine pets if raised with them from puppyhood.
The Neapolitan Mastiff must have a dominant owner capable of controlling such a large and spirited dog. Meek and diffident people should consider another breed as the Neo will never obey them. Proper human leadership and discipline should be established at an early age, while the dog's size is still manageable. Proper socialization is also a must to avoid over-protective behaviour. The Mastino has naturally strong protective instincts that should not be intensified, so protection training is not necessary at all. Thorough obedience training is highly recommended and important. A well-balanced Mastino can make a wonderful family pet.

Coat and grooming

The coat is short, dense, and smooth. It comes in solid grey (blue), black, mahogany and tawny. Small white spots are permissible on the chest, the underside of the throat and body, on the back of the pasterns, and on the toes. Little grooming is necessary.
Photo by Tim Dawson


Neapolitan Mastiffs are prone to cherry eye, hip dysplasia, bloat, pano-ostiosis ("growing pains", a condition which may occur when the dog is 4-18 months old and go away on its own). Males often drool quite heavily, more in hot weather or when they are drinking a lot of water. To handle this problem, many owners keep a towel with them. The lifespan is rather short - under 10 years.

Other interesting facts

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a very old breed whose lineage can be traced back to ancient Egypt, Persia, Mesopotamia and Asia. The breed later existed on farms in northern Italy, bred to have an impressive look and work as a defender of the owner and his property.
The Mastino is generally very tolerant of pain, due to the breed's early fighting background.
The breed is also known as the Italian Bulldog, Italian Mastiff, and Italian Molosso.