Among guard dogs for sale, the Neapolitan Mastiff is one of the heftiest. This short-haired breed descends from the Molosser guard dogs that were also used for hunting in ancient Babylon and the Assyrian Empire. Although today’s Neapolitan Mastiffs still function as personal protection dogs, they are docile and affectionate toward family and friends.
History of the Neapolitan Mastiff
Ancient Greeks were actually the first to identify these dogs as Molossers. By the time the Romans began to develop this mastiff into its modern breed, it could be found all over the Mediterranean basin. The Romans found many uses for the guard dog. It guarded their houses and yards, helped with hunting, provided entertainment in the Colosseum, and was an asset during wartime and sieges.
Eventually the Italians developed two distinct varieties of mastiffs, the Cane Corso and the Mastino Napoletano. The latter became a group fine guard dogs. The Roman Empire’s patrician class, especially in Campania, put them in charge of guarding their villas. This mastiff variety could be found near Naples long after the Fall of Rome. By the Renaissance, the guard dogs were being used in Italian courts as well as on hunting expeditions. The nickname “Mastinari” referred to the owners of these dogs who worked to preserve the breed.
By 1945, however, mastiffs were practically extinct. Only through the efforts of an Italian painter, Piero Scanziani, was the Mastino Napoletano breed sustained. He was able to gather a few of the guard dogs from the countryside around Naples and have them bred at the Rome Zoo. In time, the Italian Kennel Club recognized this mastiff variety.
The Mastino Napoletano was then interbred with the English Mastiff to develop a larger guard dog with a more prominent head. The new variety, the Neapolitan Mastiff, was exported worldwide.
Neapolitan Mastiff’s Physical Characteristics
Since Neapolitan Mastiffs are large and forceful, they make excellent family guard dogs. They are solid and unique with each characteristic warranting a detailed description.
Head: The head is wide, flat, and large in comparison to the body. With a muzzle that is equal in length and width (and is one third the size of the head), this breed’s face looks square.
The wrinkled skin that hangs from the head forms a number of dewlaps. Since the Neapolitan Mastiff drools a lot, he often has saliva dripping from the folds. The guard dog’s deep-set eyes are small and round with drooping lids. They are blue at birth but then turn brown or possibly amber. This breed has large nostrils and a high nasal bridge. At the base of his thick, heavy lips, a mucous membrane is visible.
You may prefer to keep the guard dog’s hanging ears natural rather than having them cropped into triangular shapes. The teeth usually come together in a scissors or level bite; sometimes they are slightly undershot.
Body: With heavy bones and a rectangular body, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a massive breed. He has long shoulders and ribs, a broad chest, and muscular legs. His large, rounded front feet are bigger than his hind feet, and he walks with a slow gait much like a bear or lion.
The body is only 10% longer than the dog’s height at the shoulders. His back is almost a straight line with a slight curve at the loins. The thick, tapered tail, which is set just below the topline, is normally cut by one-third when docked. It is horizontal when the dog is in motion.
This breed produces males between 65-75 cm (25.6-29.5 inches) tall at the shoulders. Female Neapolitan Mastiffs normally grow to 60-68 cm (23.6-26.8 inches) in height. Although male dogs can weigh as much as 90.7 kg (200 pounds), most reach only 50 and 70 kg (110 and 154 pounds). Females usually stay in the range of 42-60 kg (92.4-132 pounds).
Coat and Color: The dense coat is made up of fine, smooth fur that rarely grows beyond 1.5 cm. The most common color is bluish gray, but many dogs have black, gray, reddish, or even chocolate-colored coats. When they act as family protection dogs, a dark solid or brindle coat helps them to blend in with their surroundings. As show dogs, they are permitted to have a little white on their toes or chests but not on their faces.
Neapolitan Mastiff’s Guard Dog Temperament
The highly intelligent Neapolitan Mastiff has a calm, steady temperament but reacts to strangers with distrust. He normally barks only when provoked. If you’ve trained him with soothing dominance and socialization, then he will give you affection and fearless protection at the appropriate times. He will be friendly with your children as long as they do not tease him. Breeders with guard dogs for sale look for potential owners who have dog training experience. Obedience training is highly recommended.
Generally females are preferred as pets because males are more dominant and aggressive toward other dogs. Both can be raised with non-canine pets. The trainer of a young Neapolitan Mastiff should take him many different places for exposure. As a puppy he needs to learn to not pull on his leash. The breed can adjust to nearly any environment, even apartment living, as long as he gets enough exercise. He does not enjoy extremely long walks but likes to play without too much stimuli.
How To Care For a Neapolitan Mastiff
Since these personal protection dogs have short hair, they require little grooming. Just keep their nails clipped, their teeth and ears clean, and their coats brushed once a week. Brush upward from the chest with soft bristles; when your dog is shedding, remove loose hairs with a rubber glove. You may need to clean his wrinkles daily with a damp cloth.
A dry, draft-free area is the best place to keep a Neapolitan Mastiff. The surface under him should be soft so that calluses do not form on his pressure points.