Neapolitan Mastiff Overview

Dog Breed:
Neapolitan Mastiff
Breed Group:
Loyal, dignified, suspicious, watchful and protective
24-31 inches
110-150 pounds
Life Span:
7-9 years
Coat Colors:
Black, Blue Mahogany, Tawny
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Experienced owners/Large, fenced-in yard/Owners who are not too house proud!
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Neapolitan Mastiffs
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Neapolitan Mastiffs

Neapolitan Mastiff Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Neapolitan Mastiff

  • A dog of massive proportions

  • An ancient breed going back to 3,000 BC

  • Loving with their family, aloof with strangers


When you have a Neapolitan Mastiff, you’ll quickly become used to complete strangers stopping you in the street. That’s because their rolling gait, massive size, and folds of skin give them a totally unique appearance which cannot help but draw the eye towards them.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is also known as the Mastino or the Neo and is an ancient breed going right back to 3,000 BC. Then they were working dogs providing an imposing welcome for any visitor. However, this is not a fighting dog, their sheer appearance is generally enough to put off both people and other dogs from causing any trouble.

In the home with their family, this is a loving and loyal breed, with those they don’t yet know, they are aloof and disinterested. Slow to mature, they’re often two or three years old before they become a more sensible and mellow adult. Not too surprisingly, this is not the right choice of breed for apartment living, nor for the house proud as the Neo does tend to be a drooler, especially after eating and drinking.

Neapolitan Mastiff Breed History

  • Developed in the Naples area of Italy

  • Used both in battle and as guards

  • Arrived in the US in 1973

The Mastiff type dog is one that has been around for thousands of years. Believed to have been developed in Tibet over 5,000 years ago, they were used both in battle and as guards.

The Neapolitan Mastiff was developed in the Naples area of southern Italy. The breeders wanted to create a dog who was both huge in size and who had heavy loose skin, which protects them should they be attacked. They also wanted a companion who could live within the family as a loyal and loving pet.

During World War II, the Neo almost became extinct but for a chance meeting at a Naples dog show in 1946. This was when a journalist, Piere Scanziana, saw the magnificent breed for the first time. He took a great interest in the Neo and decided that they needed to become better known across the world.

Piere went on to become a key figure in the writing of the breed standard and helped the Neo to become recognized by Italy’s national dog registry. This was when the dogs were given the breed name of Mastino Napoletano.

By the 1970s, the Neo had gained popularity in Europe, and the first one to be imported to the US arrived in 1973. This was also when the Neapolitan Mastiff Club of America (NMCA) was formed. It was over thirty years later before the breed became formally recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Neapolitan Mastiff Size & Weight

  • A massive breed who needs a well-considered home environment

  • Males up to 31 inches and an average of 150 pounds in weight

  • Females up to 29 inches and an average of 110 pounds in weight


Massive, is how the Neapolitan Mastiff is most commonly described. Even the breed standard produced by the AKC talks about their ‘massive structure.’

Males should be between 23 and 31 inches, with an average weight of 150 pounds. Females should be 24-29 inches, with an average weight of 110 pounds. Many Neos are much heavier than this with the breed standard encouraging heavier dogs as long as they are well proportioned.

With the sheer size of the Neo, there has to be some serious consideration as to whether your home, life, and car are capable of meeting the needs of a dog who may weigh more than you do.

Neapolitan Mastiff Personality & Temperament

  • Generally, a peaceful and steady breed

  • Very affectionate with family and aloof with strangers

  • Does not tolerate extreme weather conditions well


Despite the Neos’ fierce appearance, they are actually a pretty peaceful and steady dog. They have an even temperament and are both loyal and affectionate with their family.

With youngsters, they can be excellent companions, but care is needed if you have a home where your children’s friends and are in and out of the house, your Neo will consider them to be a stranger. The Neo has a natural wariness of anyone they don’t know, and even once introduced, they don’t feel the need to rush up and say hello. With this in mind, early socialization and training are essential.

Careful consideration is needed before adding a Neo to your family if you already have dogs in the home. Their sheer size as pups means that even well-natured play can put very small dogs at risk. For existing dogs who are confrontational towards others, you could find yourself with real problems on your hands by adding a Neo to the mix.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed that tolerates extreme climates well. They struggle in both very hot and very cold conditions, and utmost care needs to be taken when exercising them in summer months.

Neapolitan Mastiff Health & Grooming

  • Hardy dogs who tend not to become ill

  • Responsible breeders will test their dogs for genetic conditions

  • Minimal grooming needs


Despite their short life span, Neapolitans are generally hardy dogs with little illness during their life. All those rolls of skin look as if they may cause problems, but it tends not to be a common problem in the breed.

The National Breed Club recommends that breeders carry out the following four health tests on all dogs which they use within their breeding program:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Exam
  • Cardiac Exam

As a short-coated breed, the Neo needs just a weekly groom to remove dirt and loose hair from their coat. During shedding season, it’s recommended that this increases to a quick daily brush to prevent your home from becoming covered in discarded hair.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a dog who drools, and while this isn’t constant, you will find they create quite a mess after eating and drinking. Most Neo homes have strategically placed towels in different rooms, ready for mop-up duties.

Neapolitan Mastiff Training

  • Early enrolment to puppy classes is recommended

  • Very capable of learning basic obedience commands

  • Tends not to have a strong prey drive


The Neo is unlikely to be the breed of choice for performance dog sports such as obedience. However, they are very capable of learning all the behaviors needed to become a well-mannered member of the family.

Attending well-run classes will also provide an opportunity for them to socialize with a wide range of people and meet other dogs in a controlled environment. It’s recommended that Neos attend puppy classes as soon as their vaccination schedule allows.

The Neapolitan tends not to be a breed to disappear on a hunting expedition; however, all dogs can be tempted to take chase when the temptation is placed before them. Off-leash exercise should then always be within a safely enclosed area.

Neapolitan Mastiff Exercise Requirements

  • Early enrolment to puppy classes is recommended

  • Very capable of learning basic obedience commands

  • Tends not to have a strong prey drive


Daily walks are needed to provide your Neo with both physical and mental stimulation. Many are happy with a casual stroll around the neighborhood, accompanied by the opportunity to run leash-free a few times a week within a fenced area.

Care needs to be taken when exercising young dogs. Their developing joints can become damaged by too much exercise, and so repetitive games to retrieve toys should be avoided.

Exercising in the summer months will need to be carefully scheduled as the Neo can quickly overheat on warm days.

Neapolitan Mastiff Diet & Feeding

  • Speak to your vet for professional advice on your dog's nutritional needs

  • Select foods based on your dog's age, size and exercise intensity

  • Owners need to be aware of the signs of bloat which is a fatal condition


For personalized advice on the nutritional needs of your Neapolitan Mastiff, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian.

Young Neos will need to be fed a specially formulated food, designed to meet a puppy’s nutritional needs. As they become older, usually around 6 months, they’ll be able to move across to an adult food. This needs to be selected based on your dog’s age, size, and exercise intensity.

As a deep-chested dog, Neapolitan Mastiffs can be affected by bloat, which is caused by a build-up of inescapable gases in the stomach. Although the exact cause is not yet known, it is thought that feeding one large meal a day or feeding immediately before or after exercise, can increase the likelihood of it occurring.

Bloat can be fatal if veterinary treatment isn’t received very quickly and so Neo owners must be aware of the signs and symptoms.

You may also be interested in:

Neapolitan Mastiff Rescue Groups

There will be times when a Neapolitan Mastiff finds themselves in need of a new home. If you’re interested in offering a rescue dog a place in your family, we recommend speaking to a breed rescue organization. These include:

Mastiffs to Mutts Rescue –

Mastino Rescue –

For further information on the Neo, take a look at the website for the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club –