This is one dog that is extremely heavy-bodied and has a strong, powerful grip. These types of dogs have been traced back to the Middle East and Asia where they functioned as war dogs. Their jobs were to guard homes, control livestock, and even fight men and large animals in battle, such as elephants and lions.
The modern day Neapolitan Mastiff is said to be connected to giant Macedonian war dogs that Alexander the great mixed with short-haired dogs of India. The time was approximately 330 BC. The resulting bloodline was called the Molossus, which is considered to be the progenitor to many large dog breeds of today.
The history then becomes a bit more interesting. The Romans took over Greece and at the same time took all of their Molossus dogs. Then in 55 BC the Romans invaded and conquered Britain. The British had large and imposing Mastiff dogs that the Romans admired. These dogs fought valiantly during war.
As you can probably guess these two dogs were bred together and created a super breed of giant war dogs that were called “Mastini” which is the Italian word for Mastiff. The breed continued to expand its members and were perfected over centuries of well functioning guard dogs. However, they were quite isolated and remained unknown to much of the rest of the world.
In 1946 they were introduced to the world at a Naples dog show. A man named Piere Scanziani saw the dog and immediately recognized what type of breed it was. He started a campaign to influence other dog fanciers to help bring out the breed from obscurity. They went as far as drawing up a petition so that the Italian Kennel Club would recognize them under the name of “Mastino Napoletano”.
It was not until the 1970s when this dog breed was documented in the United States. There were of course a few of these dogs that were already in the U.S. from Italian immigrants, but nothing was official until the 70′s. It did not take long for the breed to become popular and gain interest from dog enthusiasts. They were recognized by the AKC in 1996 and were official numbers of the AKC working group by the year 2004.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is duly noted for its loyalty and devotion to its family. As a result of being bred for centuries as a family guard dog, it is extremely reserved and suspicious of strangers. Needless to say, it is one of the highest rating watchdogs that can equally protect its family due to its size and fighting ability. The Neapolitan Mastiff is affectionate towards children but may be dominant towards other dogs and house pets.
Taking Care Of Your Neapolitan Mastiff
Neapolitan Mastiff dogs will need a lot of space. This is one dog that is literally huge in size and must have enough room to roam around without being squeezed in. As far as exercise and physical requirements to, they do not need much. A simple walk on the leash will do just fine. Consider also that the large size of the Neapolitan Mastiff will require higher expenses in terms of food and veterinarian visits. They also tend to drool a lot and can be quite messy with its food and water.
The average lifespan of a healthy Neapolitan Mastiff is approximately 9 to 10 years. Larger dogs tend to have shorter life spans than smaller ones. Major health concerns that could arise are demodicosis, CHD, and cardiomyopathy. Minor issues include elbow dysplasia and cherry eye.