Husbandry of The Neapolitan Mastiff:
The Neapolitan Mastiff Club encourages all Mastino breeders to: adopt health-screening programmes prior to breeding ensuring that, all breeding is carefully planned with the health and the temperament of the sire and dam being of primary Importance and, to breed only from registered dogs and bitches that are clear from known hereditary conditions and diseases and that conform as closely as possible to the breed standard. To this end, it is hoped that Neapolitan Mastiff puppies will have come from parents that were selected based upon their genetic disease profile, that the dam will have been vaccinated, regularly boosted, free of all internal and external parasites and properly nourished throughout her life, she would have had a stress free environment in which to rear her pups and would have equipped them with the necessary components to see them through their first few months of life. The husbandry of our Neapolitan Mastiff puppies is then entrusted to their new guardians.
Prevention is Better than Cure: Without a shadow of doubt, prevention is better than cure; It is much easier, less costly, and more effective to practise preventative medicine than to fight continual bouts of illness and disease. Preventative Medicine can be described as good Husbandry and husbandry of the Neapolitan Mastiff is a common-sensical affair that includes: Inoculating, worming, housing, feeding, caring, exercising, training, and socializing, with a whole lot of love thrown in for good measure. Attention and routine are key elements in the husbandry of the Mastino. The Mastino thrives on attention and the attention afforded him in his husbandry routines cannot fail to help him flourish.
Inoculations and Worming: Essential to the husbandry of all dogs. As are regular boosters and follow-up visits to the veterinary surgery, thus enhancing rapport with vet and ensuring that health is regularly monitored. Your vet should note low immunity and intolerance of high doses of anesthetic & antibiotics.
Housing: Some Neapolitans happily reside inside, some happily reside out, dependent upon dog and owner. What must be remembered for dogs that reside outside is, the interaction with family unit. A Neapolitan Mastiff cannot be expected to spend his entire life on the outside looking in and denied access to his family, without it having a detrimental effect on his health. Sleeping arrangements are again dependent upon dog and owner but start as you mean to go on. Kennels should be dry and warm in winter, cool in
summer, Bedding should provide adequate insulation and help to prevent calluses from forming.
Feeding: Feeding the Neapolitan is a matter of trial and error; all owners and breeders have their own opinions on what and how to feed and all puppies differ in their requirements. The golden rule with Neapolitans is, once happy and settled on a completely balanced diet and feeding regime, stick to it, as any change can upset your youngster’s metabolism. Neapolitans do not advocate change. It is a mistake to overfeed a puppy and allow it to become too heavy, too soon, as noted above, excessive weight will put too much stress on the rapidly growing joints and encourage digestive problems. As a very rough guide it is recommended that you should be able to feel the ribs in a growing puppy but should not be able to see them. It has been noted that, like most pups, Neapolitan Mastiff puppies do very well on diets containing protein levels of approx. 30% but at about 4 months aim for levels of 27%, at 6 to 9 months around 25% at approx. 12 months 23%, and by about 18months of age the Mastino should be quite balanced on protein levels of approx. 20%. This would help the puppy to keep his weight down as a youngster and build it up as an adult. Weight loss or weight gain without decreased or increased intake requires further investigation. The best indicator of how well the puppy is adapting to his feeding regime are his stools. The colour, consistency and odour of puppies’ stools, will indicate how well his body is functioning on his diet. In general, stools should be brown in colour, darker rather than lighter, quite small well-formed links, moist but not wet, firm but not hard, and it should have an odour, but it should not smell offensive. Persistent diarrhea is cause for concern and requires further investigation. As Neapolitans continue developing, up to the age of 3 to 4 years, a completely balanced nutritious diet, is absolutely necessary, to maintain his health, condition and humungous growth throughout this period.
Caring: As noted above: Neapolitans in general, do not have very strong immune systems. The immune system can be caused to function poorly by many different factors including stress. A Neapolitan, stresses out very easily, such things which cause stress are: separation anxiety, excessive heat (heat exhaustion), moving to a strange place, teething in puppies, seasons in bitches, whelping and lactation, and any type of change to their routine. A happy, unstressed, dirty Neapolitan will be far more resistant to infection, than a stressed-out clean Neapolitan. If Neapolitans are kept clean and parasite-free, they do not really have severe problems with their skin, but the potential for skin problems exists because of
their lower than normal immune system. Dewlaps and chins are usually always moist and warm from perspiration or drool, add a little dried on food and you have the perfect media for bacteria and fungi. Bacteria and fungi cause infection, infection causes irritation, irritation causes the dog to scratch, the scratching causes inflammation and stress, the perfect breeding ground for the demodex mange mites. Regular grooming ensures that skin can be monitored and maintained. Any persistent scratching or skin eruption requires further investigation.
Exercise, Training, and Socialisation: As much about quality time with your Mastino as they are about husbandry. As reiterated above the Neapolitan thrives on attention, he is quite easy to train because he’s intelligent and he picks things up quickly as he’s very eager to please. Exercise regimes should begin the moment inoculations are complete and should be increased gradually from a five-minute wander to two-mile hike over a period of 18 months (2 mile hike is an example, exercise is dependent upon dog, age, health & stamina). Any lameness, muscle weakness, inability or reluctance to exercise is cause for concern & requires further investigation. Obedience Training is a must, as is Voice control, and a definite asset to the Neapolitan owner, emphasize the tone of your voice, if he pleases, annoys, or amuses you, emphasize it, he soon picks it up, and as he ages, he uses his knowledge and understanding of the tone of your voice to act accordingly. The socialization of your puppy is an absolute necessity if you are to live harmoniously with your adult Neapolitan. Never allow your puppy to behave in an aggressive manner to anyone, a puppy that learns that he can assert his authority over people by growling, will be an uncontrollable liability as an adult. socialisation will in no way diminish the Neapolitan Mastiffs ability to guard. A bad temperament is cause for concern and requires further investigation.