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Neapolitan Mastiff

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Neapolitan Mastiff
Female Mastino
Female Mastino
Alternative names
Mastino Napoletano
Italian Mastiff
Country of origin
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 2 Section 2 #197  
AKC: Working  
ANKC: Group 6 (Utility)  
CKC: Miscellaneous  
KC (UK): Working  
NZKC: Utility  
UKC: Guardian  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a large, ancient breed of dog that can be traced back to about 100 BC. This dog is a massive, awe-inspiring dog breed often used as a guard and defender of owner and property.


Neapolitan Mastiffs are characterized by loose skin over their entire bodies; abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head; and a voluminous dewlap. Coats can be blue, grey, black, brindle, or chocolate, sometimes with white on the chest or feet. Ears usually are half pricked and can be cropped. It has a large blocky head and a rolling gait.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a fearless protector when it needs to be but is affectionate with its family and the family's friends; as a guarding breed it is quite wary around strangers but it will relax once it gets to know the person in question. It does not bark excessively and indeed only barks when something provokes it. As a breed the Neapolitan Mastiff can be stubborn, but it does not require repetitious training--once it understands what its master wants, it will obey. It has a dominant attitude and must be taught from puppyhood that its master is the boss, not the other way around. Males can be much more aggressive and dominant than females. A female works best in a home with a family, as she is a bit more docile and better with children. These dogs are, however, usually very loving with children, provided they do not tease them. Males do not get along with other males, but the Neopolitan can get along well with non-canine pets if raised with them from puppyhood.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is not a breed for everyone and not a dog for beginners. Children should be taught to respect these dogs. Neapolitan Mastiffs should be well socialized at an early age to avoid over-protectiveness. They will be quite protective even with extensive socialization. Additional protection training is unnecessary because they are naturally guard dogs and have been for ages. Obedience training is very important in this breed. The Neo is generally very tolerant of pain due to the breed's early fighting background. Males often drool quite heavily. They tend to drool more in hot weather or after drinking water.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is descendant of the Molossus, the mammoth war dogs of the Middle East, and was frequently used in the Roman arenas pitted against lions, bears, and gladiators for entertainment. As dogs of war, they fought alongside the Roman legions, and in this way they were spread throughout Europe. Eventually the descendants of the Roman Molossian splintered into several different Mastiff breeds: English Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Spanish Mastiff, St. Bernard, and Rottweiler.

In the 1940s, this breed was rediscovered near Naples in Italy, and is now beginning to make a comeback. A Neapolitan Mastiff was featured in the Harry Potter movies as Hagrid's dog Fang.

Male Neapolitan Mastiff Male Neapolitan Mastiff

Famous Mastiffs

  • Alan from Babe: Pig In The City
  • Fang from Harry Potter


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