The giant, lumbering Neapolitan Mastiff has inspired awe throughout history. Don’t let that gait mislead you into mistaking this breed for a slow, lazy one; this is the confidence they have in the power of their stride. That said, Neos do have one little identity crisis: their affectionate nature often leads them to believe that they are massive lap dogs. For a well brought up Neo, no lap is small enough to curl up in, no human tiny enough to cuddle up to. Neos are a family’s unwavering guarding, with stares more fearful than their intentions. They are quick to protect their family, but are rarely fearsome without good reason.History
Often referred to as ‘the big dog of the little man’, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a large piece of history that seems to have simply lumbered into the present. Their ancestry is thought to date back to 3000 BCE, the beginning of the Bronze Age. Mastiff-type dogs have existed for millennia and the first mastiffs are believed to have been developed in Tibet about 5,000 years ago. The giant dogs were bred to be used in battle and as guard dogs, both tasks well suited to their loyal personality and natural guarding instincts. The dog we now know as the Neapolitan Mastiff was developed in Naples, Italy, from which region the breed gets its name. The massive size helped with intimidation, the loose folds of skin protected them from attacks and the natural loyalty of the breed was developed to grow their guarding instinct along with their ability to love and protect their families. Piero Scanziani, the Italian painter, is credited with the Neos’ present-day popularity. After World War II, the Neo might have faded into oblivion but for a chance visit that Scanziani made to a dog show in Naples in 1946. In that moment, the painter recognised the breed as a remnant of the Roman Empire, perhaps a descendant of the mastiffs of Epirus. Scanziani took an immediate interest in the breed and worked to make it more popular, starting the first kennel for Neos in Naples and also writing the breed standard.Unique Aspects
The Neo’s most defining feature is its numerous luscious folds of skin. This may be a challenge while grooming, but adds to that wise, all-knowing aura of this brave dog. When you’ve gotten over the Neo’s coat, you will arrive at a puddle of drool that will keep you occupied for a lot of the Neo’s life. Cleanliness freaks need not apply to live with a Neo. The deep muzzle with the overhanging flesh produces a constant supply of excess saliva. Like quite a few of the giant breeds, the Neo does not need lots of exercise. They are slow moving dogs and definitely need their daily walks, but this breed does not prefer to run for miles or play endless games of fetch. They make great guard dogs, although they are not quick to bite or physically harm strangers. Neos are known to be silent, stealthy dogs that are more capable of creeping up unbeknownst to an intruder than barking a warning ahead of appearing in all their massive glory.
Although Fang from the Harry Potter novels is a boarhound, in the movie, he is a Neapolitan Mastiff. Several other movies – like Alan in Babe: Pig in the City, American Gangster, Dragon Heart and Hotel for Dogs – also feature this breed. Celebrity Neo Mastiff owners The Neo has a strange mix of famous owners, from petite Hollywood beauties, Gillian Anderson and Kate Hudson, to the military commander Hannibal and King Henry VIII.
Grooming your Neapolitan Mastiff is not an easy task. Their short coat keeps the grooming to the minimum, but the loose skin and wrinkles can trap a lot of dirt and microbes. These have to be cleaned regularly to prevent diseases. Besides the coat, the regular and generous quantities of drool that a Neo produces means the area around the jowls and neck will have to be cleaned regularly, to prevent bacterial infections.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are prone to some hereditary health issues, most notable amongst them, hip dysplasia, a condition in which the thigh bone does not fit properly into the hip joint. While this is a hereditary problem, external causes like overfeeding and not exercising the Neo regularly can worsen the problem over time. Similarly, elbow dysplasia, which occurs because of differing growth rates of the three bones that make up a dog’s elbow, is also common among Neos. It can cause painful lameness, but can often be corrected with surgery. Because of their droopy eyes and the folds of flesh around them, Neos can often contract cherry eye, in which the third eyelid or the nictitating membrane bulges out of the eye, appearing like a cherry. Cherry eye needs immediate treatment and can easily be corrected through surgery. Neos are also prone to cleft palate, a condition in which a cleft runs unilaterally or bilaterally in the dog’s palate, causing a cleft. This condition can also be surgically fixed, if the vet thinks the cleft is large enough to have to be surgically closed. Finally, Neos also suffer from Fold Dermatitis, a skin infection peculiar to animals with loose and wrinkled coats, caused by moisture trapped in the folks of the skin. Redness, soreness and a sickly sweet odour are all symptoms of the condition. Mild cases are usually treated with topical ointments or antibiotics, however, severe Fold Dermatitis may require surgical removal of the folds or amputation of the tail, in case the condition manifests itself on the tail. Keeping the Neos’ wrinkles moisture-free is vital to their health.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a great dog, loyal and protective, yet never quick to attack. However, training and socialisation is important from an early age, if the Neo needs to be comfortable with children and other pets. Neos are not good for first time pet families, as bringing them up can be tricky, if you haven’t done it before. Neos are very wary of strangers, which is great if they are to be guard dogs, but something of a challenge if yours is the kind of household where a variety of people and animals visit regularly. Because of their clumsy size, Neos are not considered the best pet to have around very small children. Mastiffs are territorial animals and this sense of possession can extend to a specific family member only, if it isn’t dealt with from puppyhood. Socialization is vital for the Neo. It is essential to ensure that your Neo does not become suspicious or fearful of people or a new environment. They do not bark much, but can steal upon a stranger without a warning.Environment
Neapolitan Mastiffs are large dogs but they are not an athletic breed. While this might make them suitable for apartment living, they still need a lot of space due to their sheer bulk. A young Neo will have bursts of energy and activity, which means a house with a yard is the ideal place to bring up a Neo. The Neo may not be the perfect breed to bring up small children around, as they are clumsy and their large frame can knock down a toddler easily. This breed does best with older children and families. They are not ideal dogs for outdoor living, especially in places with hotter climates. They cannot stand extreme heat and require a lot of shade and cool spots, if out in the sun for long periods.Training & Intelligence
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a fairly intelligent breed, but training is not exactly a breeze with them. Don’t be deceived by those wise eyes; they are slow learners. This does not mean that they are not trainable. A firm yet patient training routine with lots of positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviour is the best way to a well-behaved Neo. Neos are not fond of too much activity. While they may not need a lot of exercise, regular walks and outdoor time is a must, for a well-adjusted Neo. Your Mastiff does not like to exercise but you will have to exercise them on a regular basis to ensure that they are lean and healthy though there are soft growing bones and joints and if there are over stressed it can be damaged so you have to understand that though training is important you should know how much is required. It is important to socialize Neos from the beginning as they were bred to be protective of their family and don’t naturally take to new people or animals.
These slow-moving giants do not have many complications with regard to their breeding. They are adorable as puppies and grow up to be friendly and handsome dog, when brought up well. However, their large heads can make C-sections a very common affair. Average male and female Neapolitan Mastiffs attain sexual maturity anywhere between six to nine months of age, although they are still too young to breed at this age. A Neo takes around 18 months to reach his or her full height and structure. It is advisable to breed your dog after at least two years of age. If you are first-timer at breeding, then taking a vet’s opinion is advisable.Puppies
Neo puppies can grow fast and retain their big head size even when they are very young. They love to chew and explore new tastes and textures, so be sure to keep safe toys and chew sticks around them. It is very important to start training and socialisation during puppyhood, for a Neo who will be required to be friendly with several people and animals. If this is taken care of, your Neo will be a happy-go-lucky puppy and a loyal, loving adult.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is known for its large frame and a coat with voluminous folds. The average male is between 26 inches to 31 inches tall and weighs between 130 to 155 pounds (59 to 70kg), while the average female is between 24 inches to 29 inches tall and weighs between 110 to 130 pounds (50 to 59kg). The loose-fitting double coat has a coarse, short and straight outer coat and a short, dense undercoat. The Neo’s skull is two-thirds the size of its muzzle. The skull is flat and parallel to the muzzle. The muzzle is deep and square and the head has loose skin. The nose is large with open nostrils, and the lips are fleshy and thick. The eyes are clean and set forward, and the rims are tight. The ears are small when compared to the size of head and are triangular and fall flat towards the cheeks. The shoulders are long, slightly sloping and have well-developed muscles. The hindquarters are broad at the loin and have well-developed muscle with arched toes. The nails are hard and dark coloured.