Breed of the Week - Neapolitan Mastiff

by Sharon Costello

The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed dating back some 40 centuries in history. At the time of Julius Caesar, the original Greek strain was supposedly bred with the mastiffs encountered during the military campaign in Britannia, which were most likely brought there by the Phoenicians.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a descendant of the legendary war dogs 'cane e presa' who fought alongside the Romans in battle and in arenas. Fortunately, following the decline of the Roman Empire the status of the breed survived the Medieval Ages, as witnessed by several authors who cite this dog in their works. During this time Molossian dogs were used for guarding castles and for wild boar hunting.

Today, the Neapolitan Mastiff looks and acts differently than it did in the past. The modern version of this breed was developed by Dr. Pierro Scanziani in the years following WWII when there were very few examples left of what is now the Neapolitan Mastiff.

Most Neapolitan Mastiffs respond well to steady, consistent training. Crate training is a must to use from the beginning. A crate will keep your home and your pup safe while you are away.

As a longtime breeder/owner I always recommend organized, group obedience classes. These classes are an extremely important tool for socialization! The dominant nature of some Neapolitan Mastiffs can generally be controlled with consistent, proper obedience training.

Most Neapolitan Mastiffs are good with children however; you must remember they are very large powerful dogs. Their size and nature mean they should never be left unsupervised with children, even when asleep.


The Neapolitan Mastiff grows rapidly in the first year of its life. It is important not to play rough with your new puppy. Possible damage to ligaments and joints may be incurred. Long walks are not recommended as the repetitive motions put strain on growing joints. Keep walks down to 5 or 10 minutes, increasing as the pup gets older.

Feed your Neapolitan Mastiff high quality foods. This is essential in maintaining a healthy coat and weight and to provide proper nutrition for the growth of this giant breed.

The Neapolitan Mastiff does have a musky odor. It is advised to bathe at least once a month in the hotter months. A waterless quick bath is suggested, with a terry towel rub down in the winter months.

Yes, Neapolitan Mastiffs, like most giant breed dogs, drool. They typically drool when hot, or eating and drinking. Keeping a few hand towels around is a good idea.

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