What You Didn’t Know about the Neopolitan Mastiff

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Described by many as a ‘gentle giant’, the Neopolitan Mastiff is definitely a giant but not always so gentle when the situation calls for violence. And, ideally, he is considered an ideal family and guard dog thanks to its fearsome appearance and imposing size. However, there is so much more to the Neopolitan Mastiff other than just its size and looks. Here is a comprehensive overview of everything that there is to know about the Neopolitan Mastiff.


The most notable things about the Neopolitan Mastiff are its size and looks. At about 30 inches tall, and weighing an average of 165 pounds, the dog is certainly imposing at a first glance. Its broad face, coupled with overhanging wrinkles from the lose skin, gives it a fearsome reputation solely for its looks. Its eyes are deep-set, and its nose is large with wide-open nostrils. It often walks with its tail held high, but it is generally a calm and inactive dog.

A Brief History

The Neopolitan Mastiff has a long history as it descends from the Tibetan Mastiff, which is considered one of the oldest species of dogs. It is suspected to have spread throughout Europe through adoption by visitors such as Alexander the Great and European merchants. Its history in Europe dates more than 2000 years ago. At one point, the breed became almost extinct in all of Europe but its remnants survived in Campania. The Neopolitan Mastiff was utilized in war and infamously in Rome’s bloody gladiator tournaments thanks to its fearsome reputation. However, as the wars subsided and civilizations progressed, the Neopolitan Mastiff repopulated and was considered a suitable family dog.

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The Neopolitan Mastiff befits its nickname ‘gentle giant’ as it is generally inactive and not as aggressive as it looks. It fact, it tends to be loving and peaceful once it is used to its surrounding and its owners. However, the dogs tend to show some reservations when in the presence of strangers. This dog breed is very obedient and is always attentive to its owner’s commands. However, like every other dog, discipline lessons are necessary at an early age and the owner should always assert dominance. It is also gentle with children, but it is not as playful as kids would desire; however, children should be able to show that they are dominant to get the dog’s attention and obedience. It can also accommodate other pets provided they are not canines, but it has to get used to the environment from an early age to avoid complications.

The Neopolitan Mastiff is a guard dog at heart. To this end, it tends to be very protective of its owners and can become aggressive once it senses a threat. Its natural instinct to confront danger can make it dangerous, and the owner should always respond by commanding it to stand down if there is no real danger present. Additionally, it tends to be silent most of the time and barks only when there is a danger present.

In addition to being firm, the Neopolitan Mastiff requires regular exercising to keep it healthy and calm. Failure to exercise this dog will make it uneasy and this can result in aggression and poor health in the long term. The dog may get out of line at times, and it should always be disciplined immediately but not too harshly to make it learn its mistake.

Perhaps the most unappealing thing about the Neopolitan Mastiff is that it drools heavily. Males tend to drool more than females, and drooling increases when it is hot and whenever the dog takes water. This tends to make it difficult to maintain, but its cool temperament makes it an ideal family dog.

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Height and Weight

Males tend to be bigger and heavier that females, but the height and weight of each Neopolitan Mastiff dog depends on how well it is raised. The average height for males is 26 to 30 inches, while that of females is 24 to 28 inches. The average weight is 165 pounds.

Living Conditions

As mentioned earlier, the Neopolitan Mastiff is not very active and would do just fine in an apartment. However, it needs to be exercised and taken on walks regularly to keep it fit, calm, and healthy. Additionally, although the dog is hardy and adaptable to different environment, it should be kept out of the hot sun and provided with water as its drooling may result in dehydration.

Health Problems

The Neopolitan Mastiff is susceptible to an array of common dog diseases. The most common health problem is that females have difficulty giving birth perhaps due to the puppies’ large size; to this end, most puppies are born through caesarian section. The dogs’ deep-set eyes also tend to be susceptible to the Cherry Eye disease, which is basically the formation of a third translucent eyelid. Other diseases common with the Neopolitan Mastiff include hip dysplasia (common in old age), bloating, and pano-ostiosis.

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Save for drooling, this breed is relatively easy to maintain and groom as it is an average shedder. Lose fur can be removed using a comb every few days, and births should be administered occasionally to keep it clean and healthy.

Life Expectancy

Unfortunately, the Neopolitan Mastiff has a short life expectancy rate in spite of being a great companion. Most dogs live for about 10 years before dying out of natural causes. Its weight can compromise its health, so regular walks and exercising are recommended.


The Neopolitan Mastiff is recognized by numerous associations around the world. They include:

  • American Kennel Club (AKC)
  • American Canine Association, Inc. (ACA)
  • American Pet Registry, Inc. (APRI)
  • American Canine Registry (ACR)
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain (KGCB)
  • Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA)
  • National Kennel Club (NKC)
  • New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC)
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
  • United States Neopolitan Mastiff Club (USNMC)
  • Continental Kennel Club (CKC)

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The Neopolitan Mastiff is quite an exceptional breed in more aspects than one. It is large and heavy- built, making it ideal for every dog’s true purpose; providing security. It is also gentle and calm in spite of its fearsome looks, making it an ideal family dog. However, such a huge and protective dog necessitates good leadership skills, and the owner should always be authoritative. This, among other factors, discourages most people from getting one. However, it will prove to be a great companion if you have what it takes to be a pack leader.

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