Neapolitan mastiffs are big dogs and natural guardians. If you're fascinated by their robust, powerful exteriors, you'll need to be aware of these Italy-bred dogs' temperament and of their care needs before you bring one home for keeps. Spending years with a Neapolitan mastiff can be a wonderful thing, but only if you come into the situation fully prepared and knowledgeable.
Neapolitan mastiffs are champion protectors, with history as diligent guards of farms, residences and sprawling estates in southern Italy. Their breeding has made them highly protective. Many dog owners like these strapping beauties because of their attentive and alert behaviors.
Some dogs seem to like everybody, but that doesn't describe most Neapolitan mastiffs. These dogs often develop deep and intense connections to their owners while remaining highly suspicious of all outsiders. Having guests over at your home could introduce a major problem. Neapolitan mastiffs sometimes even behave fiercely to those who are unfamiliar to them, including other canines. Note, however, that extensive training and socialization of young Neapolitan mastiff puppies can sometimes minimize this kind of behavior. Neapolitan mastiffs are not suitable for people who are new to the dog world. Since they're so big and sturdy, they're also not suitable for homes with young kids.
Neapolitan mastiffs' exercise needs are rather straightforward. While the dogs are undeniably large, they can manage their physical fitness requirements through basic outdoor walks. As long as they receive sufficient short daily walks and live in roomy environments where they can stretch their bodies, they're usually good to go. They tend to thrive in residences with spacious, fenced yards. Neapolitan mastiffs of all ages -- including puppies -- usually display minimal activity levels. When Neapolitan mastiffs are mature, they generally are laid-back and serene in behavior. Sleeping is a big activity for fully grown dogs of this breed.
Salivation is practically a sport for Neapolitan mastiffs. If you're a clean freak, you might find their often excessive drooling a bit off-putting and yucky. When the big guys move their wrinkled heads, it isn't uncommon for drool to spaltter in all directions. This happens a lot after they drink water or eat. Neapolitan mastiffs also drool when they feel anxious or hot.
As large dogs, Neapolitan mastiffs' life expectancies aren't as long as those of many other breeds, whether cocker spaniels, Pomeranians or border collies. Neapolitan mastiffs typically live for 8 to 10 years. They're susceptible to medical conditions such as pyoderma, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, cardiomyopathy, bloat and bone cancer. As with all dogs in general, Neapolitan mastiffs need to visit the veterinarian on a regular basis. In line with many of their fellow large canine breeds, Neapolitan mastiffs' trips to the veterinarian can get expensive quickly.
Neapolitan mastiffs don't do well in heat, which is a con during the summer months and for those who live in the Deep South, for example. In hot weather, owners of Neapolitan mastiffs should restrict the dogs' outdoor physical activity to mornings and evenings, when temperatures are usually a bit cooler. Neapolitan mastiffs also must have access to plenty of clean, cool water during the summertime. Note that Neapolitan mastiffs thrive when they live indoors with their families, rather than outdoors.
- United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club: Temperament and Training
- American Kennel Club: Neapolitan Mastiff
- Animal Planet: Neapolitan Mastiff
- The Westminster Kennel Club: Neapolitan Mastiff
- Vetstreet: Neapolitan Mastiff
- NeoRescue, Inc: About the Neapolitan Mastiff
- Good Dog, Bad Dog; Mordecai Siegal and Matthew Margolis
- Fun Neapolitan Mastiff Dog Training and Understanding Guide Book; Vince Stead
- ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs; Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld
- The Good, the Bad and the Furry; Sam Stall
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images