The Neapolitan Mastiff claims as its ancestors the war dogs that traversed Europe with the Roman Army. A male Mastino (Neapolitan Mastiff) has a body which is longer than tall, and the breed is massively built. The head is very large, with deep-set eyes and ears that are usually cropped upright. The tail is normally docked by one-third its length.
Neapolitan Mastiffs have been used as guardians of large estates in Italy.
A characteristic of the breed is the loose skin all over the dog, including the head. The coat is short and dense. Primary colors are gray, black, and mahogany. Grooming is not difficult; the short coat should be brushed weekly. The wrinkles sometimes need care and cleaning, especially the ones on the face. These dogs do drool, though, and can be messy. Most owners keep a towel at hand to mop up the drool.
Puppies can be quite active and playful. They should not be encouraged to run hard or jump for a ball; doing so could damage their growing bones and joints. Walks and playtimes are sufficient. Adults are generally calm. Since this breed was bred to be watchful and protective, early socialization to a variety of people, dogs, and other animals is vital. Without it, the Neapolitan Mastiff can be shy, and that is potentially a dangerous Neapolitan Mastiff. Early training is also important, as this very large, powerful breed could easily overpower an owner.
Owners need to assume the role of the dog’s leader. This breed needs an owner who understands what a mastiff is and can handle the breed’s natural protectiveness. Interactions with children must be supervised, as children could be inadvertently knocked down or hurt. These dogs are often dog-aggressive, especially with dogs of the same sex. Health concerns include sensitivity to heat, eye defects, heart and thyroid problems, and hip dysplasia.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is fearless and extremely protective of its home and family.
Neapolitan Mastiffs prefer to be with their family and to remain in and around the home at all times. The Neapolitan Mastiff rarely barks unless under provocation, renowned for sneaking up on intruders as opposed to first alerting them of their presence. Neapolitan Mastiffs, as a breed, are extremely intelligent dogs with a tendency to be independent thinkers. They learn quickly, which is both good and bad, since this guardian breed needs extensive proper socialization to learn to accept strangers, especially within the home; without proper early socialization and training, these dogs are likely to become aggressive towards strangers and unfamiliar dogs.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed for most people, and certainly not a dog for beginners.
Forceful training methods will not work with these dogs, especially since it is difficult to try to physically dominate a dog that is as large as an adult; if you want a well mannered dog, prevent problems before they happen by using positive training methods, beginning socializing early, and continuing socializing throughout life. As a general rule, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not appropriate for homes with small children, as they are large, powerful dogs and don’t always know their own strength. Additionally, young children have young friends, and even with extensive socialization and training, Neapolitans will be wary of strangers and protective of their family, which can be disastrous for small children.
Additional protection training is unnecessary because they are natural guard dogs and always have been. As with every breed, obedience training is very important. The Neapolitan Mastiff is very tolerant of pain due to the breed’s early fighting background and the fact the skin is loose on the body, so it is important to routinely check for health problems, as the Neapolitan Mastiff may not behave differently when injured or ill.
They also are renowned for drooling especially after drinking or if they get excited. Their temperament and protective instincts are noticeably sharper as compared to allied large and heavy breeds such as the Dogue de Bordeaux, the English Mastiff etc. and therefore they have been used as a breed component in the development of many modern protection breeds. This breed is not particularly dog-aggressive, but males are known to be very dominant and, at times, confrontational.
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