Neapolitan Mastiff

Table of Contents

neapolitan mastiff portrait
Brace yourself for the charmingly wrinkled wonder – the Neapolitan Mastiff! With a face that could launch a thousand 'awws' and a personality as big as their jowls, these gentle giants have won the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

Neapolitan Mastiffs are perfect for those who crave a loyal, protective, and affectionate companion. If you’ve got ample space (and patience for drool), and seek a dog breed that’s a conversation starter, these gentle giants are for you.


OFFICIAL NAMENeapolitan Mastiff
OTHER NAMESMastino Napoletano
BREED GROUPWorking Group
HEIGHT24-31 inches
WEIGHT110-200 lbs
LIFESPAN7-9 years
neapolitan mastiff walking in a park
Photo: Okikukai/Getty Images


The Neapolitan Mastiff is an enchanting blend of strength, size, and softness. This Italian breed is a sight to behold, carrying its weight of 110-200 lbs with grace and majesty. Boasting a height range between 24-31 inches, these dogs are truly the gentle giants of the canine kingdom.

The body of a Neapolitan Mastiff is a fascinating canvas of power and gentleness. Their muscular build showcases their strength, while their loose skin and abundant wrinkles give them a distinctive, endearing appearance. These wrinkles, particularly noticeable on the face and muzzle, are an iconic trait of this breed.

Intriguingly, despite their robust size, Neapolitan Mastiffs have a surprisingly soft expression. Their eyes, usually dark and round, peer at the world with an alert yet calm gaze. Their long, floppy ears frame their face perfectly, adding an extra layer of charm to their appearance.

Their head is large and typically well-proportioned to the rest of their body, exuding a sense of balance despite their size. A noteworthy feature is their pronounced stop (the area where the muzzle meets the forehead) which gives them a unique profile.

Their coat is short and dense, providing a beautiful contrast to their wrinkly skin. Neapolitan Mastiffs can be found in a variety of colors, including blue, black, mahogany, and tawny brown. Some even sport a brindle pattern, further enhancing their visual appeal.

As for their tail, it’s set high and reaches till their hocks. When relaxed, it hangs straight or forms a slight curve. But when they’re alert or excited, you’ll see it rise and wag, signaling their mood.

But perhaps the most iconic feature of a Neapolitan Mastiff is their jowls. Long and droopy, they give these dogs their characteristic ‘saggy’ look. And yes, they’re as adorable as they sound!

In essence, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a delightful mix of might and mush. Their appearance is a testament to their heritage – strong and sturdy, yet incredibly lovable.

neapolitan mastiff on the snow
Photo: Okikukai/Getty Images Pro


A grand and noble figure, the Neapolitan Mastiff stands tall with an air of authority, akin to a wise and seasoned leader. Behind those expressive eyes lies a soul that echoes the ancient guardians of the past, devoted and protective of their family like a loyal knight. With a heart as big as their massive size, this gentle giant exudes a calm and composed demeanor that commands both respect and admiration.

In the presence of their loved ones, the Neapolitan Mastiff’s tough exterior melts away, revealing a tender and affectionate nature. Like a warm embrace, they shower their family with love and devotion, cherishing each moment spent together. Their boundless loyalty knows no bounds, as they stand steadfastly by their human pack, ready to defend them against any perceived threat.

Although they may seem imposing, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not one to seek the spotlight. Instead, they prefer to observe their surroundings with a watchful eye, ever vigilant and attentive. Their wise and contemplative demeanor seems to suggest that they have seen it all, and nothing surprises them anymore.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a breed known for their inherent independence and self-assuredness, qualities that are reminiscent of a seasoned leader. With a dignified presence, they seem to possess an innate sense of confidence that radiates throughout their being. Yet, they are not aloof; rather, they have a genuine fondness for their family and thrive on their companionship.

Their gentle and caring nature extends beyond their human pack, as they have a special fondness for children. Like a guardian angel, they view kids as their precious charges to protect and cherish. Around the little ones, they become gentle giants, ready to play and provide a watchful eye.

Despite their imposing size, the Neapolitan Mastiff’s heart is as big as their frame. They have an uncanny ability to sense the emotions of their family, offering comfort and solace in times of distress. Like a true empath, they seem to understand when you need a friend by your side, providing a reassuring presence during life’s ups and downs.

neapolitan mastiff's lying on grass
Photo: chris-mueller/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Neapolitan Mastiff, with its grand size and gentle heart, requires a specific environment to truly thrive. This breed is not for everyone, but for those who can provide the right setting, these loyal companions will reward you with boundless affection and unwavering loyalty.

Physical Environment

Firstly, due to their massive size, Neapolitan Mastiffs are best suited to homes with ample space. They need room to move around comfortably without knocking over furniture or causing chaos. A home with a large backyard would be ideal, but they can also adapt to indoor living as long as they have enough space.

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to climate, Neapolitan Mastiffs can adapt to a range of weather conditions, but there are some precautions to consider. Their short coat doesn’t offer much protection against cold weather, so they’ll need extra care during winter months. A warm doggy sweater and limited outdoor time can help keep them comfortable.

On the flip side, they’re also sensitive to heat. In hot weather, it’s crucial to ensure they have access to shade and fresh water, and avoid vigorous exercise during peak temperatures. Air conditioning or fans can help keep them cool indoors.

Ideal Owner

As for pet parents, they should be patient, loving, and willing to give their Neapolitan Mastiff plenty of attention. These dogs form strong bonds with their humans and thrive on companionship. They’re not the type to be left alone for long periods. If you’re someone who’s often away from home, this breed may not be the best fit.

Other Pets

Neapolitan Mastiffs usually get along well with other pets, especially if they are raised together from a young age. However, due to their protective instincts, they might be wary of unfamiliar animals. Early socialization can help them become more comfortable with other pets.

neapolitan mastiff in a park
Photo: Okikukai/Getty Images


Grooming a Neapolitan Mastiff is an adventure in itself! These gentle giants may not have a long, flowing coat like some breeds, but they do have specific grooming needs to keep them looking their best and feeling comfortable.

Coat Care

Let’s start with their coat. Neapolitan Mastiffs have a short, dense coat that does shed, but not excessively. A weekly brush with a firm bristle brush or a grooming glove should be enough to keep their coat healthy and shiny, and to minimize shedding. This regular brushing also provides a great opportunity to check for any skin issues hidden beneath those adorable wrinkles.

Now, let’s talk about those famous wrinkles. They’re one of the defining features of this breed, but they do require some extra care. Dirt and moisture can get trapped in these folds, which can lead to skin infections if not cleaned regularly.

Bathing your Neapolitan Mastiff doesn’t have to be a frequent affair. Unless they’ve rolled in something smelly, a bath every few months should suffice. Use a dog-friendly shampoo to keep their skin and coat healthy, and make sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any residue getting trapped in their wrinkles.

It’s recommended to gently clean their wrinkles with a damp cloth and dry them thoroughly every few days, or more often if needed. Some pet parents even use cornstarch to help absorb moisture and keep the folds dry.

Dental Care

Next up, dental care. Like all breeds, Neapolitan Mastiffs need regular teeth cleaning to prevent dental disease. Brushing their teeth several times a week with dog-friendly toothpaste can help maintain their oral health. Dental chews can also be a great addition to their dental care routine.

Nail Trimming

When it comes to their nails, these will need regular trimming to prevent overgrowth and splitting. Depending on how quickly their nails grow, a monthly trim with a dog nail clipper or grinder might be necessary. If you’re unsure about doing this yourself, a professional groomer or vet can help.

Ear Care

Don’t forget about their ears. Those lovely, floppy ears can be prone to infections if not kept clean. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, bad odor, or discomfort, and clean them with a vet-approved ear cleaner to keep them healthy.

neapolitan mastiff with his owner standing near a lake
Photo: Bobex-73/Getty Images


Despite their hefty size, Neapolitan Mastiffs aren’t as high-energy as you might think. However, like all dogs, they do need regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy. But don’t worry, you won’t need to sign up for a marathon to keep up with these gentle giants!

Exercise Amount & Types

A good rule of thumb for a Neapolitan Mastiff’s exercise needs is two 20-minute walks per day. They’re not built for strenuous activities or long-distance running, but they do enjoy a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. These walks provide not only physical exercise but also mental stimulation from exploring new smells and sights.

In addition to walks, free play is an excellent way for these dogs to burn off energy. Whether it’s a game of tug-of-war with a sturdy rope toy or a casual romp in the backyard, playtime allows them to stretch their muscles while having fun. Remember though, due to their size, it’s important to ensure play doesn’t get too rough to avoid any accidental injuries.

Another interesting exercise option for Neapolitan Mastiffs is muscle-strengthening activities. This can include controlled stair climbing or even squats (yes, dogs can do squats too!). These exercises help maintain their muscular build and overall strength.

Dog Sports

For those interested in dog competitions, Neapolitan Mastiffs can participate in events like obedience and rally trials. However, due to their laid-back nature, they might not be the star athlete of agility courses. Always remember to match the activity to your dog’s temperament and physical capabilities.

Exercise Precautions

One key thing to remember is that puppies should not be over-exercised as their bones and joints are still developing. Stick to short, gentle play sessions until they’re fully grown.

neapolitan mastiff shaking his head in water
Photo: simonkr/Getty Images Signature


Training a Neapolitan Mastiff is a unique experience that requires patience, consistency, and a good understanding of their temperament. These dogs are intelligent and capable learners, but they do have a stubborn streak that can make training a bit of a challenge.

One of the key aspects of training a Neapolitan Mastiff is socialization. Given their protective instincts, it’s essential to expose them to a variety of people, pets, and environments from a young age. This helps them grow into well-rounded, confident dogs who can distinguish between normal and threatening situations.

Obedience training is another must for these large dogs. Basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’ are not only useful in daily life, but also crucial for their safety. Imagine trying to stop a 150-pound dog from chasing a squirrel across the road!

Neapolitan Mastiffs respond best to positive reinforcement techniques. They’re sensitive souls, so harsh corrections or punishment can do more harm than good. Instead, use treats, praise, and lots of love to reward them for good behavior. Remember, training should be a positive and enjoyable experience for both of you!

Despite their size, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not high-energy dogs, so training sessions should be short and sweet to keep them engaged. Long, strenuous training sessions can quickly lead to a bored and unresponsive Mastiff.

Another important aspect of training involves curbing any potential destructive behaviors. With their size, a bored or anxious Neapolitan Mastiff can cause quite a bit of damage. Providing plenty of mental stimulation, along with physical exercise, can help prevent this.

neapolitan mastiff lying on green grass
Photo: DevidDO/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding a Neapolitan Mastiff is no small task! These gentle giants have specific dietary needs to support their large size and moderate energy levels. But don’t worry, with a little knowledge and planning, you can ensure your Mastiff gets the nutrition they need to thrive.

What to Feed & How Much

First off, it’s essential to choose a high-quality dog food that meets the AAFCO guidelines. Whether you opt for dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, make sure it’s formulated for large breeds and appropriate for your dog’s life stage (puppy, adult, or senior).

Portion sizes will depend on your Mastiff’s age, weight, and activity level. Puppies usually require more frequent meals – around 3 to 4 times a day – to support their growth. As they mature, this can be reduced to two meals a day. Always refer to the feeding guide on the food packaging and adjust as necessary based on your vet’s advice.


Treats are great for training and rewarding good behavior, but remember they should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Too many treats can lead to obesity, a condition that can be particularly hard on large breeds like the Neapolitan Mastiff.


As for water, these dogs can drink quite a bit! Always ensure your Mastiff has access to fresh, clean water, especially after exercise or during hot weather. A good rule of thumb is an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day, but this can vary depending on their diet and activity level.

Additional Feeding Tips

Lastly, keep in mind that Neapolitan Mastiffs can be prone to certain health issues like hip dysplasia and bloat, which can be influenced by diet. Feeding them smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding vigorous exercise around meal times can help reduce the risk of bloat.

neapolitan mastiff walking in a meadow
Photo: chris-mueller/Getty Images


When it comes to the health of a Neapolitan Mastiff, there are a few things to keep in mind. These loyal giants typically have a lifespan of 7-9 years, which might seem short compared to smaller breeds. However, with the right care and attention, they can lead fulfilling lives.

Like all breeds, Neapolitan Mastiffs are prone to certain health conditions. Here’s a list of some common ones:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a hereditary condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit together properly, leading to pain and arthritis.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, this involves abnormal development of the elbow joint, causing lameness and discomfort.

Bloat: Also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), this life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach twists and fills with gas. It’s crucial to know the signs and seek immediate veterinary care if suspected.

Entropion: This is a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing irritation and potential damage to the eye.

Cardiomyopathy: This heart condition causes the heart muscle to become enlarged, affecting its ability to pump blood effectively.

It might sound daunting, but don’t worry! Many of these conditions can be managed or even prevented with the right care. A balanced diet that’s appropriate for their size and life stage can help maintain a healthy body weight and support overall health.

Regular vet checks are also essential. Early detection of health issues often leads to better outcomes. So, make sure your Mastiff gets a thorough check-up at least once a year, or more frequently as they age.

Vaccinations are another key aspect of keeping your Neapolitan Mastiff healthy. They protect against many serious diseases, so ensure your pet stays up-to-date with their shots.

Remember, every Neapolitan Mastiff is unique, and not all will get any or all of these conditions. But as a pet parent, it’s important to be aware of them. With the right care, regular vet visits, and lots of love, your Neapolitan Mastiff can live a happy, healthy life. After all, they’re not just pets, they’re family!

two neapolitan mastiffs lying in a meadow
Photo: chris-mueller/Getty Images


The Neapolitan Mastiff, also known as Mastino Napoletano, has a history that’s as grand as its size. This breed hails from Italy, but its roots stretch back to ancient times, making it one of the oldest and most recognizable dog breeds in existence.

The ancestors of the Neapolitan Mastiff were massive war dogs bred by the ancient Romans. These formidable canines were not only used in battle but also featured in bloody arena spectacles, earning a reputation for their strength and courage. Over the centuries, their descendants served as loyal guard dogs on estates and farms across Italy, protecting their families with unwavering dedication.

The breed we know today was developed in the 1940s by an Italian painter named Piero Scanziani. He set out to preserve these majestic dogs, selecting for traits like size, loose skin, and distinctive wrinkles. Thanks to his efforts, the Neapolitan Mastiff was saved from near extinction after World War II.

In popular culture, Neapolitan Mastiffs are often portrayed as imposing, even fearsome creatures. But those who know them understand that beneath their tough exterior lies a gentle, affectionate heart. They’ve made appearances in various films and TV shows, usually playing the role of a guard dog. One notable example is Fang, Hagrid’s loyal pet in the “Harry Potter” series, who was played by a Neapolitan Mastiff.

In America, the Neapolitan Mastiff was first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2004. Despite their rich history and unique charm, they’re not among the most popular breeds in the US.

They currently hold the 119th spot on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds. However, for those who appreciate their unique qualities, popularity rankings hardly matter. To their devoted fans, Neapolitan Mastiffs are number one in their hearts.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Neapolitan Mastiff breed in the United States is the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club (USNMC). The USNMC was founded in 1991, making it relatively young compared to other breed-specific clubs. Despite this, the club plays a vital role in promoting and preserving the Neapolitan Mastiff breed in America. For more information about the USNMC, you can visit their official website.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Neapolitan Mastiff’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

neapolitan mastiff puppies sitting on a lawn
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images


Bringing a Neapolitan Mastiff into your home is a big decision, and preparation is key. These gentle giants need space, a balanced diet, and regular exercise. Remember, they’re not just pets – they’re part of the family!

If you choose to buy a puppy, always go for a reputable breeder. They prioritize the dogs’ health and temperament over profit. Ask to see the parents and the living conditions to ensure they’re ethical.

But have you considered rescuing? Many Neapolitan Mastiffs are waiting for their forever homes in shelters and rescue groups. The American Kennel Club and the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club can help you find rescue organizations.

Rescuing a dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You’re not only gaining a new family member but also giving a second chance to a deserving dog. So, whether you buy or rescue, make sure your home is ready for this loving, loyal breed.


Is the Neapolitan Mastiff the biggest dog breed?

While not the tallest, the Neapolitan Mastiff is indeed among the heaviest breeds. Males can weigh up to 150 pounds or more, with females typically a bit smaller. However, breeds like the English Mastiff and St. Bernard can also reach similar sizes.

Are Neapolitan Mastiffs friendly?

Yes, they are! Despite their imposing appearance, Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for their gentle and affectionate nature. They’re incredibly loyal to their families and get along well with children and other pets when properly socialized.

Are Neapolitan Mastiffs rare?

While not as common as some other breeds, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not considered rare. Their unique look and temperament make them a favorite among large breed enthusiasts.

How much exercise does a Neapolitan Mastiff need?

Despite their size, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not high-energy dogs. They require about 45 minutes of moderate exercise to keep them healthy and prevent obesity. This could be in the form of a couple of short walks and some playtime each day.

Do Neapolitan Mastiffs drool a lot?

Yes, they do. Their loose, wrinkly skin around the mouth can lead to quite a bit of drooling. It’s a good idea to keep a drool rag handy if you have a Neapolitan Mastiff!

Is it hard to train a Neapolitan Mastiff?

Neapolitan Mastiffs are intelligent and capable learners, but they can be stubborn. Consistent, positive reinforcement training methods work best with this breed. Remember, patience is key!

Are Neapolitan Mastiffs good for first-time dog owners?

Due to their size, potential health issues, and specific needs, Neapolitan Mastiffs might not be the best choice for first-time dog owners. However, with proper preparation and commitment, it’s possible to successfully raise and train a Neapolitan Mastiff as your first pet.

Table of Contents