The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient dog breed that is part of the Molosser category of dogs, a group that shares many characteristics, including heavy jowls and wrinkles, large bones, short and muscular necks, pendant ears and massive bodies. Neapolitan Mastiffs can grow to be nearly 200 lbs. and are often bred as guard dogs due to their size, their fearlessness and their strong protective instincts. The breed has a host of specific health concerns due to its large frame.
Many Mastiff and Molosser breeds were bred to be sheepdogs in ancient times because of their extreme intelligence and capacity for rational and independent thought. In modern times, Neapolitan Mastiffs in particular are bred to be guard dogs. Mastiffs rarely bark and are very docile in normal circumstances. Their coats are short and dense and are typically either grey, black, tan or mahogany.
The Neapolitan Mastiff breed was almost extinct after World War II, but several Italian breeders used a combination of surviving Neapolitans and English Mastiffs to rebuild the breed post-war. Unfortunately, adult Neapolitans are prone to several serious health issues, including cherry eye, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal apathy, hypothyroidism and cardiomyopathy. The average lifespan for a Neapolitan Mastiff is seven years, but one in six dogs live past 10.