The Neapolitan Mastiff is directly descended from the ancient Molossian, with a heritage extending back two to four thousand years, making them one of the oldest recognisable dogs. The Neapolitan Mastiffs of today are “MADE IN ITALY”. Having suffered from the deprivations of World War II, the breed was restored in Naples in 1947, thanks to the efforts of Pierre Scanzio and others, who gathered Mastini from all over Italy and introduced the breed to the show ring. Neapolitan Mastiffs first arrived in Australia in the late 1980s, with the first litter born on Australian shores on 26 November 1992, under the Galesha prefix.
At first sight the Neapolitan Mastiff often causes a feeling of awe. A true molossian, the Neapolitan Mastiff retains all the characteristics of the ancient dog. They are a massive dog with a large wrinkled head and dewlaps. Powerfully built, with loose abundant skin and heavy boned, they are immensely strong and capable of explosive power, leaping head high from the ground. They are also as fast as some sight hounds, over short distances. An ever evolving ‘masterpiece,’ Neapolitan Mastiffs have distinct development stages: Baby, Toddler, Child, Adolescent, Young Adult and Mature Adult, to put it in human terms.
Large, heavy and massive dog with a bulky appearance. The length of body to exceed the height at the withers.
Important Proportions: The length of the body is 15% more than the height at the withers. The ratio skull-muzzle is as 2 to 1. Length of head is about 3.8/10 of the height at the withers. Neck is rather short. The circumference of the thorax is ample. (1)
As with all giant breeds, Hearts, Hips and Elbows may be issues. Puppies purchased from breeders who have health screened their breeding stock, raised and exercised correctly, will need nothing more than annual veterinary checks to have a healthy life, living to approximately 8 years of age. They are born at birth weights of 500 to 700grams, and will grow to about 60 kilograms in their first year.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are highly intelligent, loyal dogs, who are affectionate and gentle with family, steady, calm and very willing to please their owners. Protective instincts are fully intact and they will protect home and family. Being ‘alpha’ dogs, owners must develop a relationship of mutual respect, trust and love. A Neapolitan Mastiff will not be bribed and must be trained by his owner personally to develop the correct relationship.
As a family member, it is imperative that the Neapolitan is allowed to be an active contributing participant in your life, whilst knowing its place in the family hierarchy. Essential needs for a well balanced, happy Neapolitan are socialisation and training, moderate exercise, preferably with no stairs during the growth period. It is essential to have an appropriately fenced yard, with front door access for visitors and access to meter boxes and mail boxes, as the Neapolitan is unlikely to allow a stranger to enter the property when left home alone. Due to their large size and clumsiness when young, constant supervision with children is necessary. However, their kind and gentle nature is readily apparent with old or young people.
This is a breed who is first and foremost the best companion animal anyone can ever own. Their intelligence is legendary, their loyalty without peer and their willingness to participate in any activity their owner desires, is amazing.
Showing is the most common activity and Neapolitans can do very well. Australia has produced many Champions, several Grand Champions and one Supreme Champion to date. At this stage, only one dog has obtained Obedience and Rally O Titles, which is a major achievement for the breed. Others will be following in those footsteps shortly. Dog carting is a sport Neapolitan Mastiffs’ excel at, with several dogs participating in Pet Expos, Animal Companion Days and Christmas celebrations, by pulling a wagon and enjoying every moment of it.
Image supplied by Troy Grennan. Michael Trafford Photography.
Now you know a little about the Neapolitan Mastiff, you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Neapolitan Mastiff and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.