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Discussion of the Neapolitan Mastiff by Giuseppe Alessandra

Arch Giuseppe Alessandra: Breeder (dell Albriz),International FCI All-breeds Judge, Founder & President of the International Technical Neapolitan Mastiff Association (A.T.I.MA.NA.), Lecturer, Author: (Extract from Lecture in 1997): (Ref: Extracts taken from: Discussion of the Neapolitan Mastiff 1997).

Let me start by saying again that this is a unique breed and we must understand clearly one thing: the Neapolitan Mastiff is not like any other breed of dog, it’s not alike in type, it’s not alike in build, it’s not alike in movement, it’s not alike in terms of temperament or character. For this reason, it may be the most difficult breed to breed, to rear, and to judge. It’s a very ancient breed, being 4000 years old, and when you see a Neapolitan you see history with the dog. You could say that: the Neapolitan Mastiff is an archaeological find in modern breeding.

It’s a dog that must appear massive. It must appear heavy. The legs are like columns in a building that must support a powerful animal. Just to give an example: a Neapolitan Mastiff must look like a Greek Temple, where you have huge columns, which support all the architecture, which is extremely heavy. The Neapolitan Mastiff is a Greek Temple even now, because it is a very harmonious dog. If you look at an ancient Greek Temple from any side, it’s always a harmonious construction and the Neapolitan Mastiff must be the same way. There must be harmony between the muzzle and the head, harmony between the head and the body, harmony between the body and the legs. With that, it must be clear to all of you that, it should never look light. It must never look weak. It must never NOT appear harmonious.

The neck must be extremely powerful and very noble. It cannot be straight, because if the neck is straight, then the shoulder also becomes straight. It should come out from the withers with a nice arc up to the back of the head.
The chest must be very broad and never narrow or slab-sided. The shoulders must have an angle of about 70 degrees. The depth of the chest must be more than half of the height of the dog. The front legs must look like two columns. The feet must be compact, as compact as you can get them. And the pasterns cannot be too weak, it cannot have a very sharp angle.
Topline as straight as possible. Again, it is wide and powerful. And the croup must be a continuation of the topline, slightly inclined. The tail must be attached in a continuous line from the croup. The tail could be held slightly over the topline, never straight up like a pointer, because this would be a disqualification.

The rear end must be extremely powerful. The minimum size for a female is 60 cm, and the maximum for a dog is 75 cm. A dog that is 75 cm’s in the best condition could weigh up to 220 pounds. The rear end must be that powerful to propel a Neapolitan Mastiff of that size. It must never be too much of an angle, if it had too much of an angle it would be too difficult to support that kind of weight. You see the very large mammals, they have a shoulder that goes at an angle but have a straight posterior. The Neapolitan Mastiff is another large mammal.

The relationship between the height at the withers and the length of the body is another of the basic characteristics of the breed. The length of the body is about 10% more than the height at the withers. In my personal opinion, I prefer a dog that is slightly longer rather than see a Neapolitan Mastiff like a square. The length of the body, the angle of the shoulder and the type of angle of the posterior, which gives in the Neapolitan Mastiff, the typical movement motion, which is a step that is sort of a glide, that makes it very similar to the motion of a lion. It’s incredible to see how when he paces, he moves like a bear, and when he trots, he moves like a lion, even down to the movement of the shoulders and a little pigeon-toed.

In judging the Neapolitan Mastiff, ideally you would like the perfect dog, but since the perfect dog does not exist, first weigh the qualities of the dog and then the faults. You have to come up with a balance of what a large dog such as a Neapolitan Mastiff should look like, keeping in mind that, a dog that weighs 80-90 kilos is fundamentally different from a dog that weighs 20-30 kilos.