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Are you the right person to own a Neapolitan Mastiff?

Owning a Neapolitan Mastiff can be the beginning of a wonderful relationship with hopefully many years of happiness. However, it could also be the beginning of an overwhelming responsibility which you just weren’t prepared for! This information sheet has been compiled to help you and your family consider the Pro’s and Con’s of ownership and, with your own careful and honest consideration, will help to ensure that you and your family have enough understanding to reach an informed decision about ownership.

Living with a Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiffs are high maintenance, time consuming, smelly, slobbery and because of their size, are constantly under your feet! Neapolitans are also devoted, loving, loyal, charismatic companions, gentle giants with their family, fearful foe to the intruder. Neapolitans are generally very good with children especially if raised with them but, they can be a bit clumsy and at times excitable, so great care should be taken around babies and toddlers. Older children should always be involved in the training and socialisation of your puppy; this will encourage balance and harmony for your adult dog within your family unit. Socialisation and Obedience training is very important, you must be in control of your dog at all times. Training must NOT be based on punishment or negative reinforcement, but on instruction and repetition of commands, giving praise and reward for good behaviour will generally have the desired affect. If you do not have the time for training and socialisation regimes, then a Neapolitan Mastiff is not the breed for you.

Neapolitans can be very good around other dogs and cats, as long as they have been raised with them but as adult Neapolitans have a very high Alpha drive, can be intolerant of other dogs if not socialised as a puppy. If you already live with an adult male we urge you to consider a female as a companion and vice versa. If you have no previous experience of dominant alpha breeds, a Neapolitan is not the breed for you.

Neapolitan Mastiffs make wonderful companions, they are not dogs that should be left to their own devices outside or chained-up all day long. They are loving animals that thrive on human companionship. If your house is too small for a very large dog to interact with your family unit, then a Neapolitan is not the breed for you. Some Neapolitans naturally slobber more than others but, all Neapolitans slobber following eating & drinking. Are you prepared for wiping down floors & walls several times a day after your dog has shook his head and the slobber has flown everywhere? Slobber towels, kitchen roll and newspaper around water bowls are a must, as is the weekly chore of washing dewlap and wiping down of folds. If you haven’t the time for daily or weekly rituals, then a Neapolitan is not the breed for you. Some Neapolitans also snore very loudly, if you or your children are light sleepers, a Neapolitan is not the breed for you.

Once over their major growing stage, Neapolitans will eat two meals a day, preferably from feeding stands. Food must be good quality and in adulthood, low in protein; it does make all the difference if Neapolitans are fed the correct food. An adult Neapolitan can get through roughly £30-£50 worth of food in one month alone. Veterinary fees are more expensive for large breeds due to their size and weight, so health insurance is also a must, as is a vehicle large enough to transport a Neapolitan. If you are not prepared for financial commitment then a Neapolitan is not the breed for you.

Considerations of Health

The average lifespan of a Neapolitan Mastiff is approximately 7 years, although we all know of dogs that have lived to 9 or 11 years. As with all large breeds, there can be health problems that can occur during the optimum growing period, so a controlled diet is essential. Do not over feed at puppy stage as this places too much stress on growing limbs; a fat puppy does not make a large boned puppy. Neapolitans can suffer from hip dysphasia and elbow dysphasia but incidence of these conditions is no more so than any other large breed. Neapolitans can be, because of their lowered immune system, prone to infections of the skin especially during periods of stress, which they are also prone to suffering from. Neapolitans can also suffer with eye problems like cherry eye, entropion or ectropion, although the incidence of cherry eye in more recent years, has surpassed that of entropion or ectropion. All issues of health need to be considered, for the chances of your Neapolitan Mastiff living into old age without having suffered from any health problems, is highly unlikely. Have you considered all issues of Health?

Considerations of Exercise

It is very important that a Neapolitan Mastiff whilst growing, has only controlled exercise on a lead and for short periods of time with limited free running. However, free running time is a must provided you the owner do not allow the dog to over exert himself and damage limbs in anyway. Exercise & stamina should be built-up over a period of time in a controlled manner. Neapolitans are not jogging companions and should not be expected to be so, this puts enormous stress on joints. Walks around the neighbourhood, car boot sales, country fairs, the type of places where you do lots of short stops are best for the young dog, and your dog will get lots of attention and will invariably end up being well socialised. A daily walk is as much about quality time with your Neapolitan as it is about exercise; Neapolitans adore your full attention and will relish their daily stroll. Have you considered daily exercise?

Are you sure that you are the right person to own a Neapolitan Mastiff? And do you know what you are looking for in the Breed?

General Appearance – (Please see KC Breed Standard)

The Neapolitan Mastiff should be well boned, large, heavily built, strong and muscular (They should not look like a Great Dane). The height can range between 25.5 – 29.5 inches at the shoulder, with a weight from 110 to 154 pounds, although some are lighter and some are heavier. Neapolitans must also be balanced; it is not healthy to allow a Neapolitan to carry so much weight that it cannot move correctly.

The Neapolitan Mastiff must have a degree of loose fitting skin over the body and head but this must not be overly excessive so that it is detrimental to health. The head must be square and flat between the ears (Not round or have low set overly long ears). They must have a double dewlap and the required feature of the lips forming an upside-down ‘V’. There are four colours, all shades of grey, black, mahogany and ash blond, all these coats may be brindled.

Breed Characteristics

The Neapolitan Mastiff should be even tempered, loyal, vigilant, intelligent and slightly aloof. The movement is an important characteristic which could be compared to the motion of large mammals, when pacing the Neapolitan moves like a bear, and when trotting he moves like a lion. Neapolitan Mastiffs are not attack dogs and should never be trained to be so, Neapolitans will naturally guard their family and home and are apt at protecting by presence alone. However, Neapolitans can be very territorial and will protect their garden, home, car, and family, from people or other dogs, this is why socialisation and training is very important, if you accept someone into your house, your dog should accept that person also. It is your responsibility, your duty of care, to teach your dog what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour, and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are in full control of your dog at all time.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a Breed for everyone – Weigh up the Pro’s and Con’s very carefully.

Good Points Bad Points
Unconditional Love Slobber / Odour / Snoring
Unconditional Loyalty Size / Weight
Devoted Companion Dominant / Alpha
Majestic / Charismatic / Unique Stubborn / Headstrong
Intelligence / Trainability Life Expectancy
Will not Stray Health / Stamina
Protector / Guardian Food Bills / Veterinary Bills

Further Reading: (Please see Further Reading Reference Books): If you are still interested in Neapolitan Mastiff ownership and have considered the initial pro’s and con’s of living with a Mastino, Please! Please! Get the reference books out and undertake your own research..

Join the Neapolitan Mastiff Club (Please download Application for Membership), find out as much as you can about the breed by talking to the people who own them, know them, show them, breed them and love them. Do not buy a puppy from an unrecognised source. See the Dam and if possible the Sire, assess the health, type and soundness of the parents, ask as many questions as you need answers for, check the KC Documentation & Registration and when you are completely satisfied that the breeder has ticked all your boxes, only then, consider buying your Neapolitan Mastiff puppy.

The Neapolitan Mastiff Club Welcomes all enquiries about our Magnificent Breed, for more information, please contact us.