The Neapolitan mastiff is a large Italian dog breed with an imposing appearance, which was historically often owned as a watchdog, guard dog and personal protector. They stand up to 31” tall at the withers, and can weigh up to 155lb, making them imposing and proving a great deterrent to uninvited guests!
They have short, harsh and straight coats that are single layered, covering loose skin that is thick and hardy. Their most defining feature, other than their size, is their expressively wrinkled faces, with long, droopy lips and a pronounced dewlap. Due to the conformation of their faces, they do have a tendency to drool excessively, and can often be seen with twin “shoe laces” hanging from their mouths!
As a strong, bold and protective dog, the Neapolitan mastiff requires a confident, experienced owner that can manage the traits of a potentially dominant dog, and is experienced in the care and handling of a very large, strong breed. For these reasons, the Neapolitan mastiff is not usually recommended as a good choice of pet for the first time owner, and even experienced dog owners should undertake a significant degree of research before deciding whether or not the breed is right for them.
In this article, we will look at the temperament and core traits of the Neapolitan mastiff in more detail. Read on to learn more.
The Neapolitan mastiff is widely regarded as an incredibly fearless dog that has a very high tolerance to pain, and will defend their family and property to the death. They like to be around their families all of the time, guarding them and remaining ever-watchful to potential threats.
They are known as a quiet breed of dog that rarely barks, and rather than serving as a watch dog and deterrent by making a lot of noise when someone approaches, they tend to creep up on their targets and catch them by surprise!
The breed as a whole is very intelligent and also rather independent, and more than capable of patrolling their territory on their own without ever being taught to do so. They are fast learners that are always watching and assessing the things going on around them, and soon learn new skills with the minimum of repetition.
They require experienced, confident handlers, and are generally not advised as a good pet for the first time dog owner.
The Neapolitan mastiff is not one of the breeds of dog that like to spend hours and hours out and about running around and playing high energy games, and they are not particularly fast on their feet. A couple of moderately paced, medium length walks per day is generally sufficient to keep dogs of the breed happy.
The breed as a whole is intelligent, independent and can be prone to stubbornness, and while it is important for their trainer to firmly establish themselves in the alpha role, the dog needs positive reinforcement training, rather than bossing around. It is important to instil good manners into the dog, as their large, powerful builds mean that getting into a power struggle with them will almost certainly ensure that you come out on the losing side!
Training should be begun early on, and continued throughout the life of the dog, with any problems being nipped in the bud quickly before they get out of hand.
The breed has a natural propensity to guarding and protecting their homes and families, which needs no reinforcement, and may in fact necessitate training to ensure that these traits do not get out of hand.
The Neapolitan mastiff is one breed of dog for which plenty of early socialisation with other dogs (and people) is absolutely vital, as otherwise, they will tend to see the approach of any stranger, canine or human, as a potential threat.
If they are not properly socialised, trained and managed, they have a tendency to become aggressive with strange dogs and people, both inside and outside of the home. When properly socialised and particularly if introduced at an early age, the Neapolitan mastiff may be able to live happily side by side with another dog.
The Neapolitan mastiff is not a breed that is widely recommended for families with young children, as their sheer size and strength may mean that they inadvertently knock over or hurt small children. While they bond strongly with their families and are apt to be very protective of any children within the family, they can be rather dominant, and also, will not tolerate childish behaviour that bothers them.
While they may be suitable to house with older children that are familiar with dogs, it is important to remember that children generally like to bring their friends home with them from time to time, and the dog should always remain under adult supervision when this occurs, due to their general distrust of strangers.
With the right home, family and management, the Neapolitan mastiff can be a hugely rewarding and very loyal companion, but they are nevertheless a strong, independent and very defensive breed, all of which are traits that should not be considered lightly.