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Neapolitan Mastiff
Cannon - Male Neapolitan Mastiff 1998.jpeg
Black Male Mastiff with cropped ears.
Other names Mastino Napoletano
Mastino
Neapolitan Bulldog
Italian Mastiff
Neo Mastiff
Nicknames Neo
Country of origin  Italy
Traits

The Neapolitan Mastiff, Italian Mastiff, Mastino or Mastini (plural) is a large, ancient dog breed. This massive breed is often used as a guard and defender of family and property due to the protective instincts and their fearsome appearance. The breed is reported to have been used to fight alongside the Roman Legions, by having bladed and spiked leather harnesses tied to their backs and being trained to run under the bellies of enemy horses, to disembowel them.

Two-day-old puppies Tawny and Mahogany in color.
A "blue" Neo puppy

Contents

Size and proportion

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards [1], male Neapolitan Mastiffs should measure 26–31 inches (66–79 cm) at the withers, weighing 170 pounds (70 kg), but can easily reach up to 200 pounds (90 kg) for larger males, while females/bitches should be 24–29 inches (61–74 cm) and weigh around 140 pounds (64 kg). Body length should be 10-15% more than that of the height.

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Temperament

The Neapolitan Mastiff is fearless and extremely protective of its home and family. They prefer to be with their family and to remain in and around the home at all times. The Neapolitan Mastiff rarely barks unless under provocation, renowned for sneaking up on intruders as opposed to first alerting them of their presence.

Neos, as a breed, are extremely intelligent dogs with a tendency to be independent thinkers. They learn quickly, which is both good and bad, since this guardian breed needs extensive proper socialization to learn to accept strangers, especially within the home; without proper early socialization and training, these dogs are likely to become aggressive towards strangers and unfamiliar dogs. Like with other breeds, forceful training methods, "alpha roles", and a general "dominance" mentality will not work with these dogs, especially since it is difficult to try to physically dominate a dog that is so large as an adult; if you want a well mannered dog, prevent problems before they happen by using positive training methods, beginning socializing early, and continuing socializing throughout life.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed for most people, and certainly not a dog for beginners. As a general rule, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not appropriate for homes with small children, as Neos are large, powerful dogs and don't always know their own strength. Additionally, young children have young friends, and even with extensive socialization and training, Neapolitans will be wary of strangers and protective of their family, which can be disastrous for small children.

Additional protection training is unnecessary because they are natural guard dogs and always have been. As with every breed, obedience training is very important. The Mastino is very tolerant of pain due to the breed's early fighting background and the fact the skin is loose on the body, so it is important to routinely check for health problems, as a Neo may not behave differently when injured or ill. They also are renowned for drooling especially after drinking or if they get excited.

The movement of a Grey Neapolitan Mastiff with cropped ears

Health

At ten years, this brindle Neo is a senior citizen of this breed

The Neo is generally hardy, but like all breeds, has some specific health concerns. The most common is Cherry eye. Others include:

Additionally, Neos do not do well in hot weather, and are prone to heatstroke. Like most giant breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not particularly long-lived, averaging 7 to 9 years, however, with a proper biologically appropriate diet, safe exercise, and proper weight maintenance, there is no reason that the average Neo cannot live beyond that.

Care and maintenance

Neapolitan Mastiff Head. Note the distinctive upside down V the dewlap forms and the thick wrinkle on the top of the cranium

When it comes to exercise, Neapolitans are not a very active breed as their energy tends to be short lived and their weight causes stress to their joints when excessive. They won't be running any marathons with you, but be aware that they can and will have short, extremely powerful bursts of energy and so will still require an area to run and play, especially as puppies and young adults.

Special care should be taken to prevent dogs under one year of age from jumping over or off of things, as this can cause irreparable damage.

History

Neo in mid-leap

The Neapolitan Mastiff is one of the Molosser type of dogs, which probably descend from a common stock; whether this was the Molossus attested in antiquity is controversial.Despite centuries of popularity throughout Europe, this type of dog was almost lost after World War II. Soon after the war, Italian painter Piero Scanziani established a breeding kennel to turn the mastiff-type dogs of Italy into a formal breed which was then named the Neapolitan Mastiff and English Mastiff was used to help in this process

Neapolitan Mastiffs in the media

  • Alan from the film Babe: Pig in the City.
  • Fang from the Harry Potter films (in the books, Fang is a boarhound, an old term for a Great Dane, while in the films he is a Neapolitan Mastiff).
  • Pansy[2] from the Burke series of novels by Andrew Vachss.
  • Sweetie from Robert K. Tanenbaum's Butch Karp novels.
  • A Neapolitan was recently featured in the movie American Gangster as a domestic pet belonging to an Italian Mafia Boss.
  • DJ Panther is often seen with many Neapolitan mastiffs in his music videos.
  • The dog that eats the Mercedes keys in Gone In Sixty Seconds is a Neo.

Notes

  1. ^ American Kennel Club Neapolitan Mastiff Breed Standards
  2. ^ Pansy Imprisoned,excerpted from Choice of Evil, by Andrew Vachss. Vintage, 2000.

A Neapolitan Mastiff appears in a scene in the movie Dragon Heart.

External links

Neapolitan Mastiff Information and Photos

Neapolitan Mastiff Rescue Websites

Neapolitan Mastiff Clubs in the World


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