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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Neapolitan Mastiffs Breed-FAQ
This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:38 GMT
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 29 Apr 2001
There are many FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
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Neapolitan Mastiff FAQ
Robert Gravel, May 1, 2000 [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with material supplied by the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club
with history and Characteristics from The Neapolitan Mastiff - A
Complete and Reliable Guide by Gonnie Schaffer and Robert Gravel
Table of Contents
* Characteristics and Temperament
* Frequently Asked Questions
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a living antique that can be traced back
over 5,000 years. By viewing bits and pieces of sculptures, etchings,
and writings scattered across the lands it is evident that the
Neapolitan Mastiff of today has changed only slightly from the dog of
After the domestication of livestock, dogs of heavy body and powerful
grip were bred by farmers and used as guardians of their flock and
various other functions. These dogs were kept pure in their breeding
in contrast to other breeds that were mixed with the swift, lighter
In the lands that were conquered and reconquered by different peoples
we find the ancestors of the Neapolitan Mastiff. They were called by
many names: Macedonian Dog, Assyrian Dog, Sumerian Molossan, and the
Roman Molossus. The names were different, but all were of the same
basic type: heavy bodied, enormous heads, short muzzles, dewlaps,
wrinkled foreheads, cropped ears, and heavy legs. Of the many Mastiff
type dogs now extinct some were saved such as the Old English Mastiff
and Saint Bernard.
It is thought by many that Alexander The Great seeded this large body
molossous dog to the lands of his conquest. These dogs were then
carried off to war by the Romans and pitted against wild animals such
as lions and elephants. To trace the footsteps from this time to 20th
century Italy is a bit sketchy and unclear. This ancient dog seemed
to adapt well to the farmers of Italy and were said to be bred in the
countryside for many years. The chores of guardian whether it be
flock, home or person was no stranger to this noble dog. It seems
there was a certain secrecy to the early breeding of this dog that may
have led to its near extinction. Or possibly man no longer needed the
faithful work that this ancient breed performed.
Although quite obscure at the time the Neapolitan Mastiff was
immediately recognized by Piere Scanziani, a well known writer and
journalist, at a 1946 dog show in Naples, Italy. He wrote, "I
recognized it instantly, it was one of the hundred that Paolo Emilio,
the Macedonian, had brought to Rome in his triumph. It was the great
dog of Epirus from the height of his centuries, he stared at me
imperturbable; his eyes were not hostile, yet not kind. It was a gaze
that does not give, yet does not ask anything, it simply
contemplates". Piere Scanziani became Known as "The farther of the
breed" and along with other fanciers of the breed worked hard to
rescue this breed and cause its current resurgence. A standard to
which the dog should be bred was drafted and the dog became officially
recognized by the Italian kennel club, the ENCI (Ente Nazionale della
Cinofilia Italiana) and adopted by the FCI (Federation Cynologique
Internationale) which is the international organization that the ENCI
is a member. The official name became the Mastino Napoletano and just
referred to as the Mastino in Italy and nicknamed the "Neo" in the
United states. Piere Scanziani purchased a few specimens of this
profound breed and Guaglione1 went on to become the first Italian
Champion Neapolitan Mastiff.
History in the United States
The Neapolitan Mastiff has been documented as being in the United
States at least since the early 1970's, although it is believed that
individual dogs were brought over with their families all during the
great waves of immigration which started in the 1880's and continued
into the first half of the 20th Century.
Around 1973 the Neapolitan Mastiff Club of America (NMCA) was formed
by Michael A. Sottile, Sr. . Mr. Sottile and his family imported
Neapolitan Mastiffs, bred many wonderful dogs, and converted many
people into lovers of the Neapolitan Mastiff as well as educated many
new fans of this breed. The NMCA also ran a registry of pedigrees for
the Neapolitan Mastiff in the United States, and kept pedigrees,
lineage, and ownership information for most, if not virtually all
Neapolitans in the country at that time.
Around 1990 there were several movements across the country to form
alternative clubs and registries to the NMCA. In late 1990 the United
States Neapolitan Mastiff Club (USMNC)was formed and began operations
as both a breed club and registry. The USNMC was officially
incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1991. The USNMC also
drafted a breed standard to reflect the standard of the country of
origin. The standard was approved By the AKC (American Kennel Club)
and the Neapolitan Mastiff entered into the AKC - FSS (foundation
stock service) for pedigree record keeping in 1996. Sometime in 1990,
the American Neapolitan Mastiff Association (ANMA) was also formed but
has ceased its registry operations as of January 1, 1999.
Characteristics and Temperament
The Neapolitan Mastiff displays a graphic illustration of one of the
most impressive and remarkable breeds that is in existence today. He
is a large breed which can weigh over 150 pounds. A comparison to man
or other creatures of a similar weight and one would see a body
structure exemplifying extreme strength. A type that can perform its
function better than any other creature or man made machine. His body
mass is volumous but not that of just fat. His muscular development
would cause a game or herding dog to fail at its chores but for the
Neapolitan Mastiff this is a trade off he assumed when he chose to be
a guardian. His bones are not unlike the trunk of a century old oak
tree; thick, Strong and necessary or they would surely splinter
causing the massive structure they support to crash to the earth.
It is doubtful that there is any other breed of dog whose fundamental
characteristics has remained as constant over the centuries as the
Neapolitan Mastiff. However the Neapolitan Mastiff of today shows
marked improvements in body and overall squaring of the head, all due
to selective breeding. He has a captivating and almost intimidating
stare, one that would make a foe turn and flee without even a growl.
He comes in a variety of colors: Gray (Blue), Black, tawny and
mahogany. The Blue is the most common and desired color because of his
work as a guardian dog and his ability to blend into the night
shadows. He is a working dog originally bred and utilized as a
guardian and defender of owner and property. Although originally bred
as a protection dog he has a steady temperament and is loyal, not
outwardly aggressive or apt to bite without reason. Do not confuse our
Neapolitan Mastiff with a fighting breed. If you are considering
purchasing one with this thought in mind you will find him far too
humble for he would rather spend his time by your side pleasing you.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is certainly not a dog for everyone but you
could not ask for a more faithful companion.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is concidered a sturdy, healthy breed but like
many other breeds is not free from all heath problems. You should be
aware of the following health problems that have been seen in this
1. Canine hip dysplasia
2. Immune system problems (Demodex)
3. Cryptochism or Monochism problems
4. Heart problems (cardiomyopathy)
5. Cleft pallets, hair lip, or bad tails problems
6. Ununited Unconeal process problems
8. Cherry Eye
Are they good with children?
Most Neapolitan Mastiffs are good with the children they know and
would never hurt them purposely. It is vital to remember that they are
a giant breed and have great strength. This can result in a them
unintentionally knocking a child down and stepping on them especialy
if the child runs away. They should never be unsupervised around small
Do they drool?
Yes, but not all the time. The worst times are when the drink, eat,
or are nervous. Most owners carry a small towel and learn to quickly
respond to those drippy lips .
Do they require a lot of excersize?
No they do not. In fact as adults they prefer to lounge around the
house or yard most of the time. although they do not need acres of
property to run a small apartment in not well suited for a Neapolitan
Mastiff. They can reach near 200 pounds and will clear coffee tables
and move furnature if they are not provided enough room.
Do they like the outdoors?
Neapolitan Mastiffs love the outdoors and will enjoy it year round.
They will tolerate temperatures as low as 0 degrees F provided they
have an insulated dog house, and below 0 degrees if the dog house is
heated. Because they are a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed, they
can have much more trouble with hot weather. They must be provided
with shade and have lots of clean fresh water available. In extremely
hot weather, it is advisable to move them into the basement or some
cooler place. Every year many otherwise healthy dogs die suddenly due
to heat intolerance. Owners must be extremely sensitive to this issue
and must be very cautious especially in hot, humid weather.
How much do they eat?
The adult Neapolitan Mastiff can consume up to a gallon of food a day.
It is not recommended to overfeed or over supplement your dog,
especially puppies or young adults. Too much weight or proteins and
minerals can actually cause damage to your dog's tendons, ligaments
and skeletal structure.
Do they shed?
They have short hair and actualy shed very little. The spring tends
to be the worst time. While the new coat is growing the dog may appear
lighter colored and spotted. The older hair that has not fallen off
will lighten and the new hair will emerge a darker color.
Are they AKC recognised?
No they are not fully recognised. They are recognised by almost every
other country in the world and so far have been accepted into the
AKC-FSS for record keeping and effective March 1, 2001, they will be
allowed to compete in AKC-obedience trials, AKC-agility trials, and
AKC-tracking trials. There are people who feel full recognision will
be bad for the breed and those who are working to get the breed fully
When do they grow up?
Neapolitan Mastiffs are not completely mature until about 3 years of
age. Most of their growth will be done at 1 year old but they will
continue to gain mass if their genetics allow.
How long do they live?
Like most giant breeds their life is not a long one. Eight to ten
years old is the normal lifespan.
How Much Do They Cost?
Well, quite frankly, a lot. Neapolitan Mastiffs tend to be rather
expensive, for a number of reasons. They are generally able to deliver
only by Caesarean and usually need to be artificially inseminated
because of the weight of the males. All of this tends to keep their
prices rather high. Please ensure that if you find one that seems to
be a bargain price that it wasn't by virtue of their care or quality
being skimped on.
Is there a rescue organization for Neapolitan Mastiffs ?
Contact the USNMC rescue/placement at
http://www.neapolitan.org (United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club -
http://members.aol.com/anma1/private/index.htm (American Neapolitan
Mastiff Association - ANMA)
http://www.mastinonapoletano.it (ATIMANA Italy)
The Neapolitan Mastiff , A Complete and Reliable Guide
by Robert Gravel and Gonnie Schaffer ISBN 0793807840
The official book of the Neapolitan Mastiff by Sherilyn Allen VMD. USA
The Neapolitan Mastiff by Mario Zacchi. La Moye Distributors, Jersey,
1987 ISBN 0-951-2359-07 (out of print)
official magizine of the USNMC through membership only
Neapolitan Mastiff FAQ
Robert Gravel, May 1, 2000 [email@example.com]