Neopolitan Mastiff

Written by: Jamie
Updated: November 25, 2020

Prized during the Roman Empire, the Neopolitan Mastiff is enriched in Italian history. Read on for all the information on this breed.

Neapolitan Mastiff on a meadow

Height: Male 26-31 inches, female 24-29 inches
Weight: Male 60-70 kilos, female 50-60 kilos
Lifespan: 7-9 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Check out the Neopolitan Mastiff’s pros and cons below:


  • Won’t wonder off on an exploration
  • Low grooming and exercise needs
  • Ideal guard and watchdog, highly protective
  • Devoted and loyal companion


  • Not a good choice for first-time owners
  • Prone to weight gain
  • Lots of slobber and drool
  • Training can be tough


Neopolitan Mastiffs are fearless guard dogs, although some do describe them as ‘gentle giants’. The breed today has a balanced temperament, allowing them the possibility of becoming fantastic family pets. These canines require a strong leader with experience due to the Neopolitan Mastiff size and headstrong personality. They aren’t suitable for first-time owners.

These dogs can be well mannered, calm, and gentle when indoors. Whilst they prefer a garden they can keep watch, this breed can also live in a large apartment provided their exercise needs are being met. Typically, this dog is low maintenance, the most attention needed is on their training and socialization.

Female Neapolitan Mastiff Dog Eat A Raw Bone

Like some other large breeds, a Neopolitan Mastiff puppy will take longer to mature. They also tend to be rather clumsy as they get to grips with their fast-growing size. This dog won’t be fully matured until at least 18-24 months. Mentally this could take a little longer.

Whilst the Neo Mastiff is a vicious guard dog, they won’t become aggressive for little to no reason. Growing up they can be cheeky, rowdy, and destructive when bored. Time, patience, and consistency will be needed to grow this pooch into the well-behaved guard dog treasured by Italians.


The Neopolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed originating from Naples, Italy. Similar looking canines are featured in artifacts dating right back to 700BC.  Bred as guard dogs, these ferocious canines are embedded in the history of the Roman era. The Neo Mastiff is closely related to the Cane Corso.

During Alexander the Great’s reign, he produced the Molossus, descended from his warfighting dogs. The Romans then continued to use these dogs for war and hunting, crossing them with larger breeds, creating the Mastino. They were used as gladiators, protection dogs, and war dogs.

It was the Italian farmers of Southern Italy who further developed the Mastino Napoletano. Their aim, to produce saggier skin designed to protect them from attack and also create a more family-friendly temperament. Neo Mastiffs became more noticeable after their appearance with Piere Scanziani at the first-ever Naples dog show in 1946.

Scanziani played a significant role in the breed’s registration and recognition from that year onwards. Their popularity boomed across Europe and America during the 1970s. It led to the creation of the Neopolitan Mastiff Club of America in 1973, however, the AKC only recognized the breed in 2004.

Today, Neopolitan Mastiffs are still popular working dogs in their native country. They protect land and livestock across Italy and still work alongside the Italian police and army.

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Neopolitan Mastiff Temperament:

Neopolitan Mastiffs are devoted, loyal, and highly protective of their family. They have a strong affectionate and loving side, but you may have to dodge the slobber when they come over for cuddles! These canines don’t like to be away from their owners and could form separation anxiety if left alone regularly.

Head-strong and stubborn, this pooch isn’t for the inexperienced. Some can find their personality demanding at times. Give them the love and attention they desire, with the firmness and consistency needed to turn them into a well-behaved companion.

Are Neopolitan Mastiffs Good With Strangers?

No, this breed can be standoffish with strangers. As a guard and watchdog, the Neo-Mastiff will always be alert for anything out of the ordinary. Whilst they shouldn’t respond aggressively, if this pooch lacks socialization it could become a problem.

Mastino Napoletano on white background

Are Neopolitan Mastiffs Good With Children?

The Neo Mastiff can be good with children but again this depends on how it has been brought up. They can be calm, gentle, and laid back, and whilst they will happily play with children, they make better playmates in their younger years. Due to their size, this breed is recommended for older children due to potential accidental injuries.

Are Neopolitan Mastiffs Ok With Other Dogs?

The Neopolitan Mastiff dog breed could react aggressively to canines they don’t know. They can live with other household pets including dogs but should be introduced from an early age.


As an adult, the Neopolitan Mastiff is generally laid back and loves to snooze. Ideally, an hour’s worth of exercise should be given each day. These can be split into multiple walks. A Neopolitan Mastiff puppy could probably do with a longer activity time.

This large breed can get overheated and tired in the hot weather. It could cause health complications. Be sure they aren’t over-exercised and are walked at cooler times during the hotter months. Always have water on hand and don’t stray too far from home.

Close Up Of An Massive Neapolitan Mastiff Dog Eating A Huge Bone

A small to medium-sized garden will be fine for a Neopolitan Mastiff. Puppies need to be watched whilst growing as their joints can easily damage through excessive play or stair jumping. Try to switch up the areas in which your dog is exercised. It’s a good way to socialize them.

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Find out the breed-related health conditions of the Neopolitan Mastiff below:

  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus- The stomach twists trapping food and gases within. This can be fatal and immediate veterinary attention will be required.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy- As the wall of the heart thins, the body isn’t able to pump blood around the body as effectively.
  • Hip Dysplasia- Mostly seen in large breeds, poor development of the hip joint will cause inflammation, pain, lameness, and swelling. Arthritis will follow.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease- Wear and tear on the spinal disc will cause irritation and pain.
  • Hypothyroidism- An underactive thyroid can cause bodily functions to slow down. Weight gain, a dull coat, loss of fur, and a lack of tolerance to the cold are all symptoms.
  • Epilepsy- This is the most common neurological condition in dogs. It will cause unprovoked seizures that could be mild or severe.
  • Entropion- The eyelid rolls inwards causing the lashes to scratch at the surface of the eye. It can lead to pain, conjunctivitis, and infections.
  • Ectropion- The eyelid rolls outwards exposing the eye’s inner tissue. This will lead to dryness, discomfort, and pain.
  • Cherry eye- The third eyelid sits in the corner of the eye that slides across the lens to offer protection. The gland within (used to produce tears) pops out and will need to be surgically corrected.

Intelligence & Training

Unfortunately, the Neopolitan Mastiff isn’t known for its trainability. They can be increasingly stubborn and for this reason, aren’t recommended to first time owners. The breed holds an average intelligence level and will need a patient, dominant owner to take the lead. Start training from around 10-12 weeks of age.

This Mastiff is known to be more sensitive than others. Harsh training techniques won’t work on this pooch and could lead them to feel emotional. Positive training methods followed with rewards are the best route to take. As the Neopolitan Mastiff is prone to weight gain, food treats will need to be given with caution.

Establishing your leadership should be the first step, then respect training can begin. Once you feel your dog is listening to you and adhering to basic boundaries, obedience training should follow next. Neopolitan Mastiff puppies aren’t as laid back compared to their adult years. Prepare for their excitable, dominant, and curious nature!

Encouragement and enthusiasm is a way to positively influence your dog towards their training. Neopolitan Mastiffs aren’t known to be very dog-friendly so they could benefit from puppy training classes. Socialization needs to begin as early as possible to prevent them from becoming standoffish and possibly aggressive to other dogs and strangers.

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The Neopolitan Mastiff doesn’t require excessive grooming attention. A quick brush once a week is all that’s needed. The best tools to use is a bristle brush, a rubber-type brush, or a slicker brush. This breed is an average shedder and will need brushing multiple times a week during their shedding seasons.

Neapolitan Mastiff Female Grey Dog Chewing A Large Raw Bone

Bath times should be given every 6-8 weeks. Possibly sooner depending on how dirty your dog gets. Focus on cleaning the folds of the skin as these will be some of their dirtiest areas. The Neopolitan Mastiff is a big drooler so towels should be on hand to clean their slobber.

Eyes will need to be wiped every once in a while to remove any discharge. Check and clean the ears weekly. As these are long, airflow won’t reach the canal effectively, so infections could become an issue if cleansing is forgotten. Remember to brush their teeth multiple times a week, although vets do recommend daily brushing.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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