The Neapolitan Mastiff or Mastino (Italian: Mastino Napoletano) is a large dog breed from Italy. This massive breed is often used as a guard and defender of family and property due to their protective instincts and their fearsome appearance.
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standard, male Neapolitan Mastiffs should measure 26–31 inches (66–79 cm) at the withers, weigh 130–155 pounds (60–70 kg), while females should measure 24–29 inches (61–74 cm) and weigh 110–130 pounds (50–60 kg). Body length should be 10–15% greater than height.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is large and powerful. Their bodies are covered in loose skin with a coat that can either be black, blue, mahogany or tawny.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is fearless and extremely protective of its home and family. They prefer to be with their family. The Neapolitan Mastiff rarely barks unless under provocation, renowned for sneaking up on intruders as opposed to first alerting them of its presence.
Neapolitan Mastiffs, as a breed, are extremely intelligent dogs with a tendency to be independent thinkers. They learn quickly, which is both good and bad, since this guardian breed needs extensive proper socialization to learn to accept strangers, especially within the home; without proper early socialization and training, these dogs are likely to become aggressive towards strangers and unfamiliar dogs.
Neapolitans must be well socialized with people (especially children), as they are large, powerful dogs and do not always know their own strength. Additionally, young children have young friends, and even with extensive socialization and training, Neapolitans will be wary of strangers and protective of their family, which can be disastrous for small children. Most of the time, they will protect their owners with their lives.
Additional protection training is unnecessary because they are natural guard dogs and always have been. As with every breed, obedience training is very important. The Neapolitan is very tolerant of pain due to the breed's early fighting background and the fact the skin is loose on the body, so it is important to routinely check for health problems, as a Neapolitan may not behave differently when injured or ill. They also are renowned for drooling especially after drinking or if they get excited.
The Neapolitan Mastiff has a low activity level, even as a puppy. Visits to dog parks should be minimal, considering they can be aggressive to other dogs they are not familiar with. The ideal environment for this breed is in its home with a large yard and a fence five or six feet high.
The Neo has some specific health concerns. The most common is Cherry eye. Others include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Sebaceous adenitis
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat)
- Skin infections between skin folds called pyoderma
- Anesthetic sensitivity
Like most giant breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff has a relatively short life expectancy. UK breed club surveys puts the average at 7 years, with 1 in 6 living to 9 years or more.
Despite centuries of popularity throughout Europe, this type of dog was almost lost after World War II. Soon after the war, Italian painter Piero Scanziani established a breeding kennel to turn the Mastiff-type dogs of Italy into a formal breed which was then named the Neapolitan Mastiff and English Mastiff was used to help in this process.
The original prototype for the Neapolitan Mastiff was a dog named Guaglione. Originally, “Cane da presa” were observed by Swiss journalist Piero Scanzani and veterinarian Ruggero Soldati at the first exhibiton show Oct 12, 1946 at the Castel dell’Ovo in NThe eight dogs all varied in size and color - from black, blue and brindle and in phenotype - but one in particular caught the eye of Scanzini - a dog known as Guaglione. Scanziani’s appreciation of Guaglione was not shared by the judges from the north - in a latitudinally conscious country. The judges were working closely with zoologist Professor Giuseppe Solaro, who was instrumental in starting a number of Italian breed standards including the Maltese, Bracco Italians and Maremma Sheepdog among others. Scanziani had hoped they would consider Gugalione’s type to be reminiscent of the ancient molossers of the past and is famed by writing - “In Vain I showed them Guaglione and spoke of the old molossus” - but “the most authoritative of the judges decreed: “the breed is missing, and even the dog is missing”. This last statement can arguably be considered the death blow for a breed already on the brink of extinction. To provide substance was to give the breed Type, and the dog moved away from the Cane de Presa or catch dog - to the Mastino Napoletano.
Scanziani was so enamored by Guglione that he purchased him in 1949 at 5yo and he became the patriarch of the breed. Registering him as the first Mastino and model for the first breed standard drafted by himself and Soldati. Guglione became the first Italian champion in 1951. Of particular note is that Soldano the famous judge who was so dismissive of Guaglione and the seven other dogs exhibited in 1946 later produced his own version of the Mastino standard.
Neapolitan Mastiffs were also trained to bait bulls, bears and jaguars.
- "Official Standard of the Neapolitan Mastiff" (PDF) (pdf). American Kennel Club. January 13, 2004. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
- "Neapolitan Mastiff Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2019-06-11.
- Palmer, Joan (February 2006). Dog Breeds. Wellfleet, MA: Wellfleet Press. p. 157. ISBN 978-0785800309.
- "VetStreet". VetStreet. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- "Average Age Survey Results". The Neapolitan Mastiff Club. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- "Facts about NEAPOLITAN MASTIFFS ***". Facts-about.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2012-06-25.