When you first look at a Neapolitan Mastiff, you might think, “How wrinkly! How… HUGE!” And you’re not wrong. Neos (as they’re affectionately called) were born to guard their families and homes—something they’re capable of doing with a look and a (deep) bark. But these extra-large pups are more than their massive build—they love their families unconditionally! And they often show that love with drooly kisses… and they may try to crawl into your lap.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are best for experienced pet parents and families with older kids, and they need a larger-sized home (these are giant-sized pups!). They can do well with cats if raised with them as a puppy, but they need to be your only dog.
Neapolitan Mastiff Traits
Neapolitan Mastiff Temperament
Neapolitan Mastiff dogs (aka Mastinos or Neos) love their families. Despite their extra-large size, you may find your gentle giant trying to snuggle up on your lap! And these lumbering pups do well as playmates with older children. Even though they’re not as active as a Border Collie, they may knock over a toddler accidentally due to their sheer size.
Neos are wary of newcomers, but they are rarely aggressive unless they feel their family is threatened. (They have a powerful bite force when needed.) But their massive size and deep, throaty bark are usually enough to keep unwanted visitors at bay. Early socialization is important to help teach them the difference between friends and foes.
Neos may be aggressive with other dogs, so it’s best when they’re the only dog in the home. They may do OK with a family cat if raised with them through puppyhood, but some Neos will chase cats.
Mastino puppies are energetic and playful. As adults, they’re the ultimate couch potatoes and live to lounge near their people. Because these are large-breed dogs, they do better with older children. Even though these pups are less active than some, they still may knock over a toddler with their sheer size.
How to Care for a Neapolitan Mastiff
Caring for a Neapolitan Mastiff isn’t as time-consuming as they may appear. This chill dog doesn’t need a lot of exercise or grooming—but pay attention their skin folds to prevent infection and keep a towel to clean up their drooling. The bulk of your time will be spent in training this powerful, large-breed pooch.
Neapolitan Mastiff Health
The Neapolitan Mastiff has a life expectancy of 7 to 9 years, and the breed is prone to a lot of health issues. But this shouldn’t stop you from considering this wonderful pup. By knowing what these health issues are, you can help your dog live the longest life possible.
- Cherry Eye: Dogs have three eyelids, and sometimes the third eyelid slips out of place and swells, giving their eye that “cherry” look. Surgery is necessary and is the only treatment.
- Dysplasia: Mastinos are large dogs, and their bones are heavy, making them prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Dysplasia is a hereditary condition where the joint is malformed and rubs, causing your dog pain and, eventually, arthritis. Keeping their weight in check is the most proactive way to prevent these conditions, especially when they are puppies and their bones are developing. If your pup is suffering from dysplasia, treatments range from weight and exercise management to physical therapy to surgery.
- Periodontal Disease: The high-slobber factor of Neapolitans places them at risk for developing tartar and gum disease, which can lead to other health problems if left untreated. Daily teeth brushing is ideal, but make sure you scrub those pearly whites at least two to three times a week and get them professionally cleaned by your vet every year.
- Facial Fold Infections: The nooks and crannies of your Neo’s folds are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can develop into yeast infections. Keep an eye on folds particularly around the mouth and underbelly while bathing and grooming and contact your vet if irritation develops so antibiotics can be prescribed before the issue gets worse.
- Gastric Dilitation Vovulus: GDV (bloat) is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. To protect your pup from GDV, feed your dog smaller meals throughout the day through with a slow feeding bowl and wait an hour before and after mealtimes before exercising.
- Demodetic Mange: Demodetic mange is an inflammatory skin disease caused by mites. Lesions can be localized or widespread. It’s likely to resolve itself, but medication can be used to treat the condition.
Neapolitan Mastiff History
The Neapolitan Mastiff’s history dates back to Ancient Rome (and maybe as far as 700 B.C.), where their ancestors’ strength and girth made them ideal war dogs, gladiators and guards of hearth and home. These original pups (the Molossus) were later bred to be more… family-friendly… and the Neapolitan Mastiff came to be. (They are named for Naples, where they originated.)
By the 1940s, Neapolitan Mastiffs were nearly extinct, but thanks to a concerted effort by Italian breeders, the Neapolitan Mastiff Renaissance was born. Also known as Neos or Mastinos, Neapolitan Mastiffs continue to make excellent protectors for their families, and in 2004, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed and included them in the Working group. (The group of dogs bred for a specific job, like guarding or search and rescue.)
Are you looking to add a Mastino to your family? You can find reputable breeders on the AKC website. Neapolitan Mastiff puppies cost about $1,500 to $2,500 but can exceed $5,000, depending on the lineage. But for that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. If you’d like to adopt a pup, connect with a Neapolitan Rescue organization or look out for the breed at your local shelter.
What is the difference between a Neapolitan and an English Mastiff?
Neapolitan Mastiffs and English Mastiffs are different breeds. While they share an ancestor, English Mastiffs are taller and heavier than Neapolitans. Mastinos are stockier in build and are distinguished by their wrinkly, drooping folds of skin.
Do Neapolitan Mastiffs shed?
Yes, Neapolitan Mastiffs shed moderately, so don’t put your vacuum away for too long!
How big do Neapolitan Mastiffs get?
Neapolitan Mastiffs get very big! They can get up to 31 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 150 pounds.
Are Neapolitan Mastiffs aggressive?
Yes, Neapolitan Mastiffs can be aggressive with other dogs, and they can be wary of strangers, but rarely are they aggressive without cause. (They are very protective of their families.) Their physical presence and their deep bark is usually more than enough to cause intruders to think twice about breaking into a home with a Neo. With proper socialization and training, starting while they’re puppies, Mastinos can become well-behaved members of the family who know the difference between friend and foe.
Are Neapolitan Mastiffs good guard dogs?
Yes, Neapolitan Mastiffs are good guard dogs; they are very loyal and protective of their families. The Romans bred these dogs to use as war dogs, gladiators and guard dogs. Their astounding presence alone makes them ideal for guard duty.
What are the most common Neapolitan Mastiff mixes?
- Neapolitan Mastiff-Pitbull mix (Pitbull Mastiff)
- Neapolitan Mastiff-Great Dane mix (Neo Daniff)
- Neapolitan Mastiff-Cane Corso mix (Neo Corso)
- Neapolitan Mastiff-American Bulldog mix (American Neo Bull)
- Neapolitan Mastiff-German Shepherd mix (German Shepherd Mastiff)
Neapolitan Mastiffs are ginormous pups ready to curl up by your side. When properly socialized, these gentle giants love nothing more than being with their families. Neos aren’t ideal for super-active people; they’re better suited for leisurely strolls around the neighborhood. These dogs were bred to protect their family and home, and their massive appearance and deep bark are usually enough to keep any would-be intruder at bay.
Expert input provided by veterinarian Dr. Christina Haney, DVM, founder of Alicia Pacific Vet Center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., and certified dog trainer Ali Smith, owner of www.rebarkable.com.
Photo credit for “How do I look?” AKC.org
Search for Adoptable Neapolitan Mastiffs Near You
Top Neapolitan Mastiff Names
These are the top Neapolitan Mastiff names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!