Neapolitan Mastiff

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This Italian breed is a member of the working group. Known for its serious demeanor and guarding ability. They come in a range of colors, blue and black being traditional but also tawny and mahogany. White on paws and chest are acceptable as well as brindling on any of the above colors. Temperament can range, as well as size and wrinkle depending on the line.


Neapolitan Mastiff As its name implies, this famous mastiff breed comes from Naples and surrounding areas in Italy. Descended from the legendary wardogs of the Assyrians and Roman arena fighters, the ancestors of the Mastino Napoletano are believed by some to had been the legendary wardogs of Alexander the Great, but seeing how the old Molossers that Alexander took with him on his war campaigns were longhaired, mountain type dogs, like the breeds of Macedonia and Greece, such as the Hellenic Mastiff, Sarplaninec, Molossos tis Epirou, as well as his own famous strain of such dogs known as the Skilos tou Alexandrou, it is more likely that these large shepherd dogs came into contact with existing Roman cattledogs, guardians and fighting dogs and from then on went through generations of crossings and inbreeding, without much attention given to appearance or standards of purity, with ferociousness and working ability being the only qualities of importance.

It is claimed by some that the Romans brought old English mastiffs from the British Isles which were supposedly introduced to the bloodlines of their arena dogs, but it should be noted that the Mastin Espanol also played a much more important role in the development of the dogs of Naples, as did the Spanish and Sicilian working bulldogges. For centuries this breed was considered to be just one of the regional types of the working Cane e Presa population of Italy, alongside the Cane Corso, Bucciriscu Calabrese, U Vucciriscu and other varieties used for guarding, fighting and hunting duties prior to the World Wars. The Neapolitan Mastiff finally received its name in the 1940's.

Comments (4)
    • Thanks for creating this Neapolitan mastiff  group.

      • Does anyone have old photos of the Neo from back in the day before the AKC got hold of them.

      • Thank you for the invite. I love these dogs. I work with all types of dog breeds but always had a soft spot for Neapolitan's. 


        I would like to ask though, is it possible to predict the 'cherry eye' in puppies? Are there any signs that would give it away or does it come later on in their life when the wrinkles get heavier? Also would there be anything that can be done with the pup that would prevent the cherry eye from developing later on in life like neutering etc? 

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        The ancient Neapolitan Mastiff is an imposing breed. Share your old photos here.

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        The Neapolitan Mastiff is a breed of dog whose origins can be traced back to Italy. This large and imposing dog was originally bred as a guard dog and for being used by the armed forces of the Roman Empire.

        It is believed that the breed is a descendant of the Molossus breed, which was used by the Romans for hunting, guarding and fighting. The Neapolitan Mastiff became more prevalent in the region of Naples during the 16th century.

        The exact origins of the breed remain unclear as there are no written records of its development. However, the breed has been depicted in artwork that dates back to the middle ages, such as frescoes, paintings and sculptures.

        During the 1940s, the breed was in danger of becoming extinct due to the destruction that Italy faced during World War II. However, a group of breed enthusiasts worked tirelessly to save the breed from extinction by breeding and promoting the breed.

        In 1946, these enthusiasts formed the Societa Amatori dello Molosso Napolentano, and in 1949, the breed was officially recognized by the Italian kennel club.

        The breed was introduced to the United States in the 1970s, and the first Neapolitan Mastiff Club was formed in 1973. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2004.

        Today, the Neapolitan Mastiff is still used as a guard dog and as a companion. It is known for its loyalty, protectiveness, and affection towards its family members. The breed is recognized for its massive size, powerful build, and wrinkled face, which gives it its unique appearance.

        Overall, the history of the Neapolitan Mastiff is one of resilience and dedication from breed enthusiasts to preserve the breed for future generations to appreciate their temperament and majesty.

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