Height, Weight

Below you will find all the information you need regarding the history and details of this excellent animal. You can also enlarge any of the origin maps below by clicking on them.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a serious, powerful, looking dog. It is muscular with a rather rectangular body, massive head, and wrinkled face. The facial wrinkles continue under the chin and down the neck to form a prominent dewlap. The skull is broad and flat on top, and the nose is large. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite. According to tradition established when the dogs were used in combat, the ears should be docked short and the very thick tail is cropped by one third, although the ears may be kept natural. The short, harsh coat is dense and smooth. The most common coat color is blue, though black is the next most common color. Chocolate dogs are rare. The Neo can be either solid or brindle. The dark colors and brindles help the Neo blend into the night shadows as he waits for the unsuspecting prowler. A little white is permitted on the chest and toes. No white should be on the face. Puppies begin life with blue eyes, which later darken. Adult Neo eyes vary with the color of their coat. Dewclaws should be removed. The Neapolitan Mastiff has a loose, rolling, cat-like gait.

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Despite the beastly and even vicious appearance, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a peaceful and steady dog. It was developed to look and act fearsome when needed, but is affectionate with his family and the family's friends. Highly protective and fearless. It is extremely intelligent and somewhat willful. It does not require repetitious training. Neo's are very attuned to his master's wishes. This breed rarely gives trouble by excessive barking. They are serious, calm and quiet unless provoked. The breed is very wary of strangers. Males can be much more aggressive and dominant than females. The Female makes a better family pet, as she is more submissive to her master and better with children.

These dogs are, however, usually very loving with children, provided they do not tease them. Males do not get along with other males, but the Neo can get along well with non-canine pets if raised with them from puppyhood. The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed for everyone. They must have a dominant owner capable of controlling him properly. Owner dominance should be firmly established while the dog is young.

Thor & Mike

Children should be taught to respect these dogs. Neapolitan Mastiffs should be well socialized at an early age to avoid over-protectiveness. They will be quite protective even with extensive socialization. Additional protection training is unnecessary because they are naturally guard dogs. Thorough obedience training is highly recommended. Be sure you are consistent in approach and do not keep repeating commands it has failed to obey. These are not dogs for beginners but it is an exaggeration to describe them as difficult in their association with others. A calm handler with natural leadership will achieve the best results. With thorough training and an experienced, dominant owner, the Neapolitan Mastiff can be a good family dog. The Neo is generally very tolerant of pain due to the breed's early fighting background. Males often drool quite heavily. They tend to drool more in hot weather or after drinking water. Adult Neo's eat about 8-10 cups of dog food a day. If you are planing on showing your dog, be sure to select a puppy that has a good temperament so he can accept handling by strangers.

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Height & Weight:

Height: Dogs 26-30 inches (65-75 cm.) Bitches 24-28 inches (60-70 cm.)

Weight: Up to 165 pounds (74 kg.)
The largest male Neapolitans may be nearly 200 pounds (90 kg.)

Life Expectancy: Up to 10 years.

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Tibet, Click to Zoom

All European Mastiffs are descended from the Tibetan Mastiff, the most ancient member of the canine species. The first Asian mastiffs were probably brought to Greece from India by Alexander the Great around 300 B.C.

The Greeks introduced the dogs to the Romans, who adopted them enthusiastically and used them in circus combats. The word "Mastiff" derives from the Latin word: masssivus, meaning massive. English experts, however, have another theory. They contend that the mastiff was brought to Britain by the Phoenicians in about 500 B.C. and spread from there to the rest of Europe. In any case the Neapolitan Mastiff is a direct descendant of the Roman Molossus. While the breed became extinct throughout the rest of Europe, it continued to survive in Campania despite the perils of weather and war. One can therefore say that the Neapolitan Mastiff has existed in Campania for two thousand years, even though it was not officially recognized until 1946, and its standard was not set until 1949. The Neapolitan Mastiff was bred for use in war and in bloody Roman arena spectacles.

European Migration, Click to Zoom

Italy, Click to Zoom

Today this powerful breed has a well-deserved reputation as a formidable guard dog. Neos have been used by the Italian police and army and by that country's farmers, business establishment, and estate owners to protect people and property. Though the Neapolitan Mastiff was first shown in Italy in 1946, the breed is still quite rare in the United States.

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