Complete Guide To The Neapolitan Mastiff: Health, Feeding, Personality and More

Large and in charge, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a very sizable and imposing dog. Though they don’t have a ton of energy as adults, they can be pretty lively as a puppy or adolescent. A responsible and experienced owner must train and raise a Neapolitan Mastiff, but this dog can be an excellent addition to any family with the proper care.  

How Big Does A Neapolitan Mastiff Get?

Male26″ – 31″ at the shoulder150 lbs
Female24″ – 29″ at the shoulder110 lbs

What Can A Neapolitan Mastiff Look Like?

This dog has a short, soft coat that comes in several colors. Usually, the dog will be solid gray, tawny, black, mahogany, or tan brindle coloration. Sometimes a Neapolitan Mastiff will have a white spot on its head. While a white patch will disqualify the dog from showing in the competition ring, it certainly doesn’t impact this dog’s ability to be a loyal and loving companion.  

What Is The Personality Of A Neapolitan Mastiff?

Even though the Neapolitan Mastiff is large and imposing, it is a very sweet and loving dog. This dog is affectionate, calm, and loyal to members of the family. If you welcome a Mastiff into your home, expect to have a very heavy, 200-pound lapdog on your hands. Wary of strangers, this dog can make an excellent guard dog. While not aggressive by nature, the Neapolitan Mastiff will guard its loved ones if the need arises.  

A strong and experienced owner is needed for the Neapolitan Mastiff. Puppies are curious and have a great deal of energy. A puppy learns early on just how strong it is and can quickly learn to overpower its owner. This breed of dog must have positive training that is filled with rewards.

Very food motivated and praise motivated, the Neapolitan Mastiff does not do well with harsh treatment or training methods. Although the Neapolitan Mastiff is relatively low-energy as an adult, this dog requires a home with a yard and is not well suited to living in an apartment.  

What Kind Of Grooming Does A Neapolitan Mastiff Need?

With its short fur, the Neapolitan Mastiff is relatively easy to care for. The dog doesn’t shed much and only needs to be bathed every so often to eliminate dead fur or accumulated dirt and debris. The biggest challenge with this breed is to clean the drool and moisture that collects in the face and lips.

This breed of dog can be messy, so have your paper towel or damp cloth ready to go. Eliminating dirt and moisture from the many face wrinkles can help prevent infection or skin irritation. Like all dogs, keep the nails trimmed short if the nails are not naturally worn short by walking over rough surfaces. This dog can be prone to eye infections, so be sure to keep the areas around the eyes clear and clean.  

How Much Exercise Does A Neapolitan Mastiff Need?

Neo puppies and young dogs have loads of energy and like to romp and play like any other puppy. Special care should be taken when exercising young Neapolitan Mastiffs. Because these dogs grow so quickly, they can be susceptible to early joint damage. Avoid letting your dog jump down from high places or running and turning suddenly. This breed also overheats quickly, so be sure to keep play sessions to a minimum.  

Most Neapolitan Mastiffs will not reach maturity until they are three or four years old. At this age, the mellow, easy-going personality starts to take over. Because this dog can be so energetic, even at its adult size, it is essential only to adopt this dog breed if you are an experienced dog owner. 


What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Neapolitan Mastiff?

Personally I believe that most foods are fine for most dogs. Some dogs may not do well on some foods. However, as a rule I don’t blanket-prohibit any dietary ingredient from any breed at this time.

This is a breed that requires a large-breed puppy food to help control growth. Growing too fast can cause growing pains and potentially developmental orthopedic issues. For this reason, I recommend to my Mastiff owners to switch to adult food at around 6 months of age.

Note that the brands of food I list here are not the most expensive. I believe, as a veterinarian with over 20 years experience, that the tried-and-true dog food manufacturers are the best and tend to be less expensive than many of these newer boutique-style food companies.

Best Puppy Food For Neapolitan Mastiffs:

Best Adult Food For Neapolitan Mastiffs:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Does A Neapolitan Mastiff Live?

7-9 years according to information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can Neapolitan Mastiffs Have?

The Mastiff has one real area of concern: orthopedic issues. Because of their size, their joints bear a lot of stress from a young age. The most common issues I see in my Mastiff patients include:

  • Elbow/Hip Dysplasia
  • Arthritis in older age in any joint but especially the elbows, hips, back, and knees
  • Obesity

There are definitely some ways that you can help out your Mastiff live more comfortably as they age. The most effective tips that I know are the following:

  • Keep your Mastiff at its optimal weight and maybe even a little thinner. You should be able to feel each individual rib. When you’re lifting that much weight to get off the ground, being 5-10 lbs overweight can make a big difference.
  • Start a joint supplement when they are roughly 3 years old. The bones and joints are fully mature at around 2 years of age so glucosamine, chondroitin, and other cartilage-sparing substances can start working. I highly recommend Cosequin Maximum Strength as I’ve found that to be the most liked by my large-breed dog owners.
  • Condition them to lay on softer surfaces such as an orthopedic dog bed. Be mindful to replace the inner foam or the bed entirely when it begins to flatten or wear out. You can also get your dog its own smaller couch. Sounds funny but that’s what we’ve done in our own house and a Mastiff doesn’t have to jump up and down to get on/off it because they’re so tall.
  • Keep them active as they age! My clients as a whole think when their big dogs get older and struggle to get up it’s because of arthritis. While they may have arthritis, I have found that most elderly dogs suffer more from weakness after years of decreased activity. Short daily walks are the minimum – more is better!

Where Can I Find Out More About The Neapolitan Mastiff?

United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Neapolitan Mastiff?

The Neapolitan Mastiff is readily available from breeders around the country, but it is essential prospective owners do their research ahead of time. This dog is a large breed of dog that can be prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Ensure that any puppy you adopt comes with complete and certified health checks to protect your dog from dangerous and painful joint conditions later in life. Always try to meet all the puppies in the litter, as well as the parent dogs.

Start with the national club and peruse their breeder listings. I’m linking to their intro page here so that you read what they recommend when selecting a breeder and puppy.

Many people buy a Neapolitan Mastiff without fully realizing how much time and effort goes into properly training this giant breed of dog. Countless dogs end up in rescues as a result, and some rescues even specialize in this specific breed. Finding a purebred Neapolitan Mastiff at a rescue may be possible, allowing you to find your dream dog. Try Mastino Rescue, Inc. or Mastiffs To Mutts Rescue, Inc. to begin your search for a rescued Neapolitan Mastiff.  

Fun Facts About the Neapolitan Mastiff

  • While the official name for this breed of dog is the Neapolitan Mastiff, it goes by several other names. Many call the dog a Neo, while others simply refer to it as Mastino.  
  • This breed of dog is particularly ancient, and its roots date back to the beginning of the Bronze Age in 3000 BCE. During this time, a breed of dog that looked like a mastiff was developed near Tibet. The dog slowly evolved into the breed of dog we know today.  
  • The Neapolitan Mastiff that we know today was developed around the Naples area in Italy, giving the dog its name. They were bred for their massive size so that they could protect their owners during an attack. Their skin was purposely bred to be loose so that the dog would not become injured by animals biting at its face or neck. The dog was also bred for its loyal and affectionate personality to be a loving member of the family.  
  • Jane Pampalone is responsible for bringing the first official Neapolitan Mastiff to the United States in 1973. However, this breed of dog may have existed in the United States much earlier, brought from Italy by Italian immigrants in the 1880s.