Neapolitan Mastiff is amongst the oldest of breeds. More than likely they have probably descended from the great mastiffs
that Alexander the Great regarded so highly in Greece, the early Neapolitan Mastiffs are described in literature of the Roman
era as having been used in Rome as gladiator dogs in the arena and in war, as well as in homes as guardians. Alexander probably
acquired ancestors of these dogs in his conquests of lands stretching from India to Macedonia. A clay relief of a Sumerian
Molossan bitch suckling her pups (2025-1763BC) and a Terracotta statue of a Mesopotamian mastiff dog dating from the second
millennium BC show a remarkable resemblance to the Mastino of today. This helps substantiate the thinking that today’s
Neapolitan is a living relic of 5000 years ago. The preservation of the Neapolitan Mastiff and its entry into the show ring
was mainly due to Piero Scanziani who, recognising the value of the breed, began breeding the best Neapolitan Mastiff stock
he could obtain in Italy at his kennels in Rome in the 1940’s. The Italian Kennel Club accepted a breed standard proposed
by Scanziani. Excellent Neapolitan Mastiff stock is being bred in Italy today, but is often very difficult to obtain if one
is an outsider, especially a foreigner, and is very expensive. Fortunately, as quite a few Neapolitan Mastiff enthusiasts
have close ties to Italy, some of Italy's best bloodlines are available. A well-bred dog is still fairly expensive, but really
no more than any well-bred show dog.
Conformation: The Neapolitan is a massive dog, powerfully built, strong and of majestic appearance. When first
seen, the dog's great volume and large heavily wrinkled head should be striking. A grown male stands 65 to 75cms at the withers
and weighs 70 to 90 Kgs. Females are a little smaller, 60 to 68cms at the withers and weigh 50 to 70kgs. The ears are not
cropped in New Zealand,Australia or UK, but in Italy and other countries often severely cropped. Tails are cropped to 2/3
of original length. Body length is 110% or more of the height at the withers
Temperament: The Neapolitan is a guard dog by breeding and is protective by nature. Early socialisation is a
must! These dogs are generally not overactive, always content to lie at the master's feet, although when necessary this dog
can move with incredible speed and cover ground in very short time. He is courageous with an even temperament of a docile
laid back nature, not aggressive but a totally loyal defender of his people and property. The Neapolitan is loyal
to his family and visitors need to be introduced and re-introduced each visit. A mature Neapolitan will rarely accept food
from a non-family member and will never be bribed.
Health Issues: The health problems of the Neapolitan Mastiff are due to two main factors. Firstly the Neapolitan
shares the problems of all giant breeds- hips, hearts, and heat. Secondly today’s Neapolitan's are descendants of a
small gene pool used in their "reconstruction". Hypothyroidism does occur in this and many other breeds of dogs. Some feel
that this defect is "part and parcel" of the Neapolitan body type. Many of the most "typey" Neapolitan's alive in the world
today have healthy normal thyroid function. Mastiffs are not statues and their hips tend to be looser in general. In fact
loose joints seem to go with the loose skin. Neapolitan puppies can appear to be double-jointed. A zero hip score rating is
uncommon. The breed average is currently 30/46. Many breeders believe that any score under 44/106 is breed worthy. Rough housing
with a pup, either by children or older dogs, can lead to permanent injury to the hips and elbows. If you think that your
puppy should go on long runs with you, get a different breed. Most breeders will recommend against frequent trips up and down
the home staircase. On maturity of course a Neapolitan can accompany you on long walks and tolerate vigorous exercise but
during growth until at least 18 months of age all exercise and play should be in moderation. Overexertion, before or after
a meal, can lead to torsion, bloat, and death. This applies more so in hot weather. Prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid
"cherry eye" is common in the Neapolitan. Those with experience insist that removal of this tear gland is the only proper
treatment. The procedure is best done under general anaesthetic by a Vet. Many Vets, totally unfamiliar with this breed, will
insist upon "tacking" the gland back inside the lower eyelid. In general, this does not last long and another surgery to remove
the gland must be done. Removal of the gland frequently costs less than $300 NZ . Skin problems are relatively scarce in the
Neapolitan Mastiff. Annual change of coat and bare patches and flaking skin can give the appearance of skin problems - however
this resolves when the coat change is complete. Humid climates can cause a bacterial build up especially around the dewlaps
- drying and cleansing will help lessen this problem. Callous and bursars on elbows and hocks are common, especially in heavy
males. These can be prevented or minimised with the correct bedding and general environment.
How much do they cost? This depends on the age, quality, breeding, and colour of the pup under consideration.
A pup of "pet" quality can cost from $1000. Perhaps an unwanted spot of colour, a kinked or damaged tail, or some other minor
fault prevents this dog from being shown. This doesn't mean it can't win your heart and that of your family! A pup of show
quality and of proven show quality parents can start at $2000. Expect to pay somewhat more for a full-grown dog than for a
pup. After all the previous owner has absorbed the risk of the unknown pup and growing any large dog is an expensive proposition.
Females are usually more expensive than males.
What is the life expectancy? Eight to ten years is considered an average life expectancy but some have been
known to live a couple of years more .
What are the colours of the Neapolitan? Grey (also known as blue) is the most common colour. It can vary from
a charcoal to a very light hue. Black is becoming more common these days. Mahogany is rarer but is growing in popularity.
Tawny is a term applied to a light fawn colour. All colours may also show brindling.
General The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed for everyone. Due to their large size and “mastiff”
characteristics they are not a dog for inexperienced owners. Training and socialisation are musts if you are to have a happy
and friendly Neapolitan. First and foremost, the Neapolitan is a super-loyal family dog. While the breed is generally suspicious
of strangers and politely tolerant of friends, it becomes enamoured of its human family, particularly to its one master. Children
and Neapolitans can and do get on very well together but as with all dogs supervision is a must. Please bear in mind that
the Neapolitan is an “alpha” animal and as such must learn that all family members are higher in the pack. The
Neapolitan is also an extraordinarily intelligent dog. Don’t let the droopy face of the Neapolitan fool you into thinking
that the dog is dull. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As a deterrent against crime the Neapolitan Mastiff is as perfect as a dog can be. Its overall
appearance, both head and body, suggests a potential for unprecedented brutality and, while the dog is exceptionally gentle
around its family and friends, this brutality can easily be realised should the Neapolitan's home or family be seriously threatened.
Its size is also a substantial deterrent. Every inch of the dog suggests terrific power, which is put to work even as the
dog moves casually. Everything about the Neapolitan Mastiff, often called the Mastino, Italian Mastiff, or simply the Neo,
suggests top-notch suitability as a guard dog. Functionally, the Neapolitan Mastiff is even more capable than its appearance
suggests.When you examine a Neapolitan closely, you will realise that, in spite of its heavy appearance and deliberate movement,
this is a dog that can really spring into action like a shot should something unexpected happen. Its heavy muscle is very
obvious, even though its tough skin is loose and does not connect to the underlying tissue, as does the skin of other dogs.
The head of the Neapolitan is huge, the jaws are short and powerful, and the teeth are big and strong. In general, this is
most definitely not a dog you want to find yourself face to face with as you step through a stranger's window in order to
burglarise his home.
Do They drool.? The Neapolitan has the well-deserved reputation
of being the King of droolers! However lovers of the breed have been heard to refer to this as Neo Nectar rather than drool.
The problem arises mostly at feeding time and after exercise. When shown in the ring, most handlers carry a cloth in the rear
pocket with which to mop up. Neapolitan's can spend considerable times inside with you without a drool problem if you take
the simple precaution of wiping their mouths & jowls before entry and not feeding or allowing them to drink inside the
house. Puppies take a fair amount of time to become expert droolers.