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  • Temperament: Loyal, Dignified, Watchful
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 102 of 196
  • Height: 26-31 inches (male), 24-29 inches (female)
  • Weight: 150 pounds (male), 110 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 7-9 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Neapolitan Mastiff standing in the grass outdoors.
Okikukai/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images
Neopolitan Mastiff standing in profile facing left.
©American Kennel Club
Neapolitan Mastiffs together outdoors.
©Ricant Images - stock.adobe.com
Neapolitan Mastiff laying down on a stoop.
Salima Senyavskaya/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images
Neopolitan Mastiff head in profile.
©American Kennel Club
Neapolitan Mastiff standing in the snow.
©okikukai - stock.adobe.com
Neapolitan Mastiffs laying down outdoors.
©Christian Müller - stock.adobe.com
Neapolitan Mastiff at the AKC National Championship.
David Woo ©American Kennel Club
Neopolitan Mastiff coat detail.
©American Kennel Club
Neapolitan Mastiff standing outdoors in profile.
©Ricant Images - stock.adobe.com
Neapolitan Mastiff puppy laying down sleeping.
©Ermolaev Alexandr - stock.adobe.com

Find a Puppy: Neapolitan Mastiff

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.

GENERAL APPEARANCE

An ancient breed, rediscovered in Italy in the 1940’s, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy-boned, massive, awe inspiring dog bred for use as a guard and defender of owner and property. He is characterized by loose skin, over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. The essence of the Neapolitan is his bestial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude. Due to his massive structure, his characteristic movement is rolling and lumbering, not elegant or showy.

HEAD

Large in comparison to the body. Differentiated from that of other mastiff breeds by more extensive wrinkling and pendulous lips which blend into an ample dewlap. Toplines of cranium and the muzzle must be parallel. The face is made up of heavy wrinkles and folds. Required folds are those extending from the outside margin of the eyelids to the dewlap, and from under the lower lids to the outer edges of the lips. Severe Faults – Toplines of the cranium and muzzle not parallel. Disqualifications – Absence of wrinkles and folds. Expression – Wistful at rest, intimidating when alert. Penetrating stare. Eyes – Set deep and almost hidden beneath drooping upper lids. Lower lids droop to reveal haw. Eye Color – Shades of amber or brown, in accordance with coat color. Pigmentation of the eye rims same as coat color. Severe Faults – Whitish-blue eyes; incomplete pigmentation of the eye rims. Ears – Set well above the cheekbones. May be cropped or uncropped, but are usually cropped to an equilateral triangle for health reasons. If uncropped, they are medium sized, triangular in shape, held tight to the cheeks, and not extending beyond the lower margin of the throat. Skull – Wide flat between the ears, slightly arched at the frontal part, and covered with wrinkled skin. The width of the cranium between the cheekbones is approximately equal to its length from occiput stop. The brow is very developed. Frontal furrow is marked. Occiput is barely apparent. Stop – Very defined, forming a right angle at the junction of muzzle and frontal bones, and the sloping back at a greater angle where the frontal bones meet the frontal furrow of the forehead. Nose – Large with well-opened nostrils, and in color the same as the coat. The nose is an extension of the topline of the muzzle and should not protrude beyond nor recede behind the front plane of the muzzle. Severe Faults- Incomplete pigmentation of the nose. Muzzle – It is 1⁄3 the length of the whole head and is as broad as it is long. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is very deep with the outside borders parallel giving it a “squared” appearance. The top plane of the muzzle from stop to tip of nose is straight, but is ridged due to heavy folds of skin covering it. Severe Faults – Top plane of the muzzle curved upward or downward. Lips – Heavy, thick, and long, the upper lips join beneath the nostrils to form an inverted “V”. The upper lips form the lower, outer borders of the muzzle, and the lowest part of these borders is made by the corners of the lips. The corners turn outward to reveal the flews, and are in line with the outside corners of the eyes. Bite – Scissors bite or pincer bite is standard; slight undershot is allowed. Dentition is complete. Faults – More than 1 missing premolar. Severe faults – Overshot jaw – pronounced undershot jaw which disrupts the outline of the front plane of the muzzle; more than 2 missing teeth.

BODY

Neck, Topline, Body: Neck – Slightly arched, rather short, stocky and well-muscled. The voluminous and well-divided dewlap extends from the lower jaw to the lower neck. Disqualification – Absence of dewlap. Body – The length of the dog, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of buttock is 10 to 15 percent greater than the height of the dog measured from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground. Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog. Ribs are long and well sprung. Chest – Broad and deep, well muscled. Underline and tuckup – The underline of the abdomen is practically horizontal. There is little or no tuckup. Back – Wide and strong. Highest part of shoulder blade barely rising above the strong, level topline of the back. Loin – Well-muscled, and harmoniously joined to the back. Croup – Wide, strong, muscular and slightly sloped. The top of the croup rises slightly and is level with the highest point of the shoulder. Tail – Set on slightly lower than the topline, wide and thick at the root, tapering gradually toward the tip. It is docked by 1⁄3. At rest, the tail hangs straight or in slight “S” shape. When in action, it is raised to the horizontal or a little higher than the back. Severe Faults-Tail carried straight up or curved over the back. Kinked tail. Disqualification – Lack of tail or short tail, which is less than 1⁄3 the length from point of insertion of the tail to the hock-joint.

FOREQUARTERS

Heavily built, muscular, and in balance with the hindquarters. Shoulders – Long, well-muscled, sloping and powerful. Upper arms – Strongly muscled, powerful. In length, almost 1⁄3 the height of the dog. Elbows – Covered with abundant and loose skin; held parallel to the ribcage, neither tied in nor loose. Forelegs – Thick, straight, heavy bone, well muscled, exemplifying strength. About the same length as the upper arms. Set well apart. Pasterns – Thick and flattened from front to back, moderately sloping forward from the leg. Dewclaws – Front dewclaws are not removed. Feet – Round and noticeably large with arched, strong toes. Nails strong, curved and preferably dark-colored. Slight turn out of the front feet is characteristic.

COAT

The coat is short, dense and of uniform length and smoothness all over the body. The hairs are straight and not longer than 1 inch. No fringe anywhere.
Color: Solid coats of gray (blue), black, mahogany and tawny, and the lighter and darker shades of these colors. Some brindling allowable in all colors. When present, brindling must be tan (reverse brindle). There may be solid white markings on the chest, throat area from chin to chest, underside of the body, penis sheath, backs of the pasterns, and on the toes. There may be white hairs at the back of the wrists. Disqualifications-White markings on any part of the body not mentioned as allowed.

HINDQUARTERS

As a whole, they must be powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters. Thighs – About the same length as the forearms, broad, muscular. Stifles – Moderate angle, strong. Legs – Heavy and thick boned, well-muscled. Slightly shorter than thigh bones. Hocks – Powerful and long. Rear pasterns (metatarsus) – Heavy thick bones. Viewed from the side, they are perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, parallel to each other. Rear dewclaws – Any dewclaws must be removed. Hind feet – Same as the front feet but slightly smaller.

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Neapolitan Mastiff illustration.

About the Neapolitan Mastiff

Unless you’ve been to Jurassic Park, you’ve never seen anything like a Mastino. These majestic guardians of startling appearance are massive, powerful dogs. The U.S. Neapolitan Mastiff Club describes their dog’s head as “astounding”—and give them credit for hitting upon just the right adjective. The profuse hanging wrinkles and folds, and pendulous lips, make a Mastino look like a marzipan Mastiff that’s been out in the sun too long. And yet, the breed’s inner dignity and nobility can only be described as beautiful.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. Established in 1991, the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club is the official AKC Parent Club for the Neapolitan Mastiff.
Neapolitan Mastiff puppy laying down sleeping.
©Ermolaev Alexandr - stock.adobe.com

Find a Puppy: Neapolitan Mastiff

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.

Care

NUTRITION

The Neapolitan Mastiff should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Experienced Neapolitan Mastiff breeders recommend food that is slightly higher in fat and lower in protein, especially when the dog is young, as they grow so fast. Do not supplement with calcium.  Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a short-coated breed, so in general a bath now and again is about all you need. The eyes and ears should be checked and gently cleaned whenever necessary with a damp cloth or paper towel. You will find that you will need to keep a towel handy to dry the face and lips (and yourself!), especially after the dog eats or drinks. Nails should be kept short.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Every dog should have the opportunity to run and romp often, but don’t emphasize the running and quick turning, as joints can be easily damaged. This is a big, heavily built breed that overheats easily, so be careful in warm weather. The Neo puppy may want to play beyond when he should, so it is up to the owner to stop before the puppy gets too tired. Be careful about letting him go up and down stairs—many an exuberant puppy’s knee has been injured by a leap off a porch or a jump down those last few stairs. Breed experts do not recommend lots of tug-of-war games or violent wrestling, since the growing Mastino will quickly learn he is stronger than his smaller human friend and think that he no longer needs to listen.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

While most adults of the breed are calm animals who sleep a lot, Neapolitan puppies are as active, curious, cute, and cuddly as the most winsome toy puppy. And many people find that the adolescent Neapolitan, when awake, is an energetic, powerful animal. It is important to train the Mastino when he is young, so that when dealing with the strong, stubborn teenage personality stage, the appropriate hierarchy is already in place. By the age of 3 or 4, most Neapolitans demonstrate desirable laidback adult-type behavior. Neapolitans do not respond well to harsh training, and need an encouraging and rewarding atmosphere. Be patient and consistent.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
May be Stubborn

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Aloof/Wary

HEALTH

Neapolitans are generally hardy dogs. One minor problem that often occurs is “cherry eye,” where tissue in the corner of the eye becomes red and inflamed. In the vast majority of cases, there is no permanent damage. Despite the breed’s impressive wrinkles and loose skin, most do not have skin problems. There are health problems that are common in giant dogs to which the breed is not immune. Bloat is a sudden, life-threatening condition that can affect all deep-chested dogs. Its causes are not fully understood, but owners should learn the signs that bloat is occurring and know what action to take. As with all breeds, the Mastino can also develop hip dysplasia. It is important to discuss any health concerns with the dog’s breeder and veterinarian.

 

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Exam
  • Cardiac Exam
Neapolitan Mastiff exploring outdoors.
©Christian Müller - stock.adobe.com
Neapolitan Mastiff head in profile.
Neapolitan Mastiff laying down.
Neapolitan Mastiff head portrait.
Neapolitan Mastiff standing in a field.

History

If Mastinos look like strange visitors from antiquity, it’s because that’s exactly what they are. The breed might go back as far as 700 BC, with artifacts from several ancient civilizations depicting Mastino-like canines. In the Roman Empire, they found employment as war dogs, gladiators, and guardians whose bestial looks and huge frame were calculated to throw the fear of Jove into their adversaries. Today, those attributes are still terrifying enough to send an ill-willed intruder running for the hills.

Did You Know?

The Neapolitan Mastiff was recognized by the AKC in 2004 and is the club's 153rd breed.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is characterized by massiveness and loose folds of skin.
The Neapolitan Mastiff can weigh over 150 lbs.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed, rediscovered in Italy in the 1940s.
In Italian, the Neapolitan Mastiff is known as the "mastino napoletano."
The Neapolitan Mastiff was originally bred as a guard dog of owner and property.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

An ancient breed, rediscovered in Italy in the 1940’s, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy-boned, massive, awe inspiring dog bred for use as a guard and defender of owner and property. He is characterized by loose skin, over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. The essence of the Neapolitan is his bestial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude. Due to his massive structure, his characteristic movement is rolling and lumbering, not elegant or showy.

HEAD

Large in comparison to the body. Differentiated from that of other mastiff breeds by more extensive wrinkling and pendulous lips which blend into an ample dewlap. Toplines of cranium and the muzzle must be parallel. The face is made up of heavy wrinkles and folds. Required folds are those extending from the outside margin of the eyelids to the dewlap, and from under the lower lids to the outer edges of the lips. Severe Faults – Toplines of the cranium and muzzle not parallel. Disqualifications – Absence of wrinkles and folds. Expression – Wistful at rest, intimidating when alert. Penetrating stare. Eyes – Set deep and almost hidden beneath drooping upper lids. Lower lids droop to reveal haw. Eye Color – Shades of amber or brown, in accordance with coat color. Pigmentation of the eye rims same as coat color. Severe Faults – Whitish-blue eyes; incomplete pigmentation of the eye rims. Ears – Set well above the cheekbones. May be cropped or uncropped, but are usually cropped to an equilateral triangle for health reasons. If uncropped, they are medium sized, triangular in shape, held tight to the cheeks, and not extending beyond the lower margin of the throat. Skull – Wide flat between the ears, slightly arched at the frontal part, and covered with wrinkled skin. The width of the cranium between the cheekbones is approximately equal to its length from occiput stop. The brow is very developed. Frontal furrow is marked. Occiput is barely apparent. Stop – Very defined, forming a right angle at the junction of muzzle and frontal bones, and the sloping back at a greater angle where the frontal bones meet the frontal furrow of the forehead. Nose – Large with well-opened nostrils, and in color the same as the coat. The nose is an extension of the topline of the muzzle and should not protrude beyond nor recede behind the front plane of the muzzle. Severe Faults- Incomplete pigmentation of the nose. Muzzle – It is 1⁄3 the length of the whole head and is as broad as it is long. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is very deep with the outside borders parallel giving it a “squared” appearance. The top plane of the muzzle from stop to tip of nose is straight, but is ridged due to heavy folds of skin covering it. Severe Faults – Top plane of the muzzle curved upward or downward. Lips – Heavy, thick, and long, the upper lips join beneath the nostrils to form an inverted “V”. The upper lips form the lower, outer borders of the muzzle, and the lowest part of these borders is made by the corners of the lips. The corners turn outward to reveal the flews, and are in line with the outside corners of the eyes. Bite – Scissors bite or pincer bite is standard; slight undershot is allowed. Dentition is complete. Faults – More than 1 missing premolar. Severe faults – Overshot jaw – pronounced undershot jaw which disrupts the outline of the front plane of the muzzle; more than 2 missing teeth.

BODY

Neck, Topline, Body: Neck – Slightly arched, rather short, stocky and well-muscled. The voluminous and well-divided dewlap extends from the lower jaw to the lower neck. Disqualification – Absence of dewlap. Body – The length of the dog, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of buttock is 10 to 15 percent greater than the height of the dog measured from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground. Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog. Ribs are long and well sprung. Chest – Broad and deep, well muscled. Underline and tuckup – The underline of the abdomen is practically horizontal. There is little or no tuckup. Back – Wide and strong. Highest part of shoulder blade barely rising above the strong, level topline of the back. Loin – Well-muscled, and harmoniously joined to the back. Croup – Wide, strong, muscular and slightly sloped. The top of the croup rises slightly and is level with the highest point of the shoulder. Tail – Set on slightly lower than the topline, wide and thick at the root, tapering gradually toward the tip. It is docked by 1⁄3. At rest, the tail hangs straight or in slight “S” shape. When in action, it is raised to the horizontal or a little higher than the back. Severe Faults-Tail carried straight up or curved over the back. Kinked tail. Disqualification – Lack of tail or short tail, which is less than 1⁄3 the length from point of insertion of the tail to the hock-joint.

FOREQUARTERS

Heavily built, muscular, and in balance with the hindquarters. Shoulders – Long, well-muscled, sloping and powerful. Upper arms – Strongly muscled, powerful. In length, almost 1⁄3 the height of the dog. Elbows – Covered with abundant and loose skin; held parallel to the ribcage, neither tied in nor loose. Forelegs – Thick, straight, heavy bone, well muscled, exemplifying strength. About the same length as the upper arms. Set well apart. Pasterns – Thick and flattened from front to back, moderately sloping forward from the leg. Dewclaws – Front dewclaws are not removed. Feet – Round and noticeably large with arched, strong toes. Nails strong, curved and preferably dark-colored. Slight turn out of the front feet is characteristic.

COAT

The coat is short, dense and of uniform length and smoothness all over the body. The hairs are straight and not longer than 1 inch. No fringe anywhere.
Color: Solid coats of gray (blue), black, mahogany and tawny, and the lighter and darker shades of these colors. Some brindling allowable in all colors. When present, brindling must be tan (reverse brindle). There may be solid white markings on the chest, throat area from chin to chest, underside of the body, penis sheath, backs of the pasterns, and on the toes. There may be white hairs at the back of the wrists. Disqualifications-White markings on any part of the body not mentioned as allowed.

HINDQUARTERS

As a whole, they must be powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters. Thighs – About the same length as the forearms, broad, muscular. Stifles – Moderate angle, strong. Legs – Heavy and thick boned, well-muscled. Slightly shorter than thigh bones. Hocks – Powerful and long. Rear pasterns (metatarsus) – Heavy thick bones. Viewed from the side, they are perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, parallel to each other. Rear dewclaws – Any dewclaws must be removed. Hind feet – Same as the front feet but slightly smaller.

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Neapolitan Mastiff illustration.

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Blue Check Mark For Standard Color 037
Mahogany Check Mark For Standard Color 128
Tawny Check Mark For Standard Color 198

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Brindle Check Mark For Standard Mark 051
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