Posts Tagged ‘Neapolitan mastff’


The Neapolitan mastiff is a molosser breed from Southern Italy.

It was essentially saved by the author and journalist Piero Scanziani, who rediscovered this breed after World War II.

The dog is supposedly the ancient gladiator dog of Rome, fighting witht Roman legions and in the Colosseum. This dog supposedly descends from the Ancient Greek Molossus dog and the Pugnaces Brittanae, the mastiff of the Britons, supposedly also the ancestor of the bulldog, the mastiff, and the bullmastiff.

In reality, this dog may or may not have these dogs in its ancestry. It is the mastiff of the southern Italian estate owner. It probably has dogs of that ancient type in its background, but it also has other mastiffs crossed in.

The breed made it to the US in the 1970’s, where it was sold as an Italian bulldog.

The founding individuals of the breed that were found in Italy were not as massive or exaggerated as the modern dog.


As this breed developed into a show dog, it was developed into a massive mastiff. The dewlaps and flews became heavier.  The haws became more exposed.

As a result of breeding for these characteristics the breed has a pethora of genetic problems or health problems caused by its conformation. It lives 7 to 9 years on average (about as long as rabbit).

The breed is susceptable to cancer, which is not unknown in big dogs. You cannot name me a molosser breed, other than some of the livestock guardian breeds, that is not known for devloping cancer. Maybe breeding for that flattened face is also trapping in some cancer genes.

Hip and elbow displasia are the result of the massive frame. Entropion and ectropion affect the eyes, along with tendency to develop cherry eye. These are the result of breeding for such exposed eyes, and putt so much skin and weight around them.

Skin infections and a tendency to develop demodex mange around the skin folds is the result of breeding for such deep skin folds.

Caridomyopathy is not unknown.

Hypothydroidism plagues the breed. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the really “typey” Neos are almost always low thyroid. The big, blocky¬†frame may be the result of thyroid issues, as I know it is with golden retrievers.

The dogs are often uncomfortable in the heat. Their flattened faces, giganatic frames, and dark coat color cause them to overheat realtively easily.

So are Neapolitan mastiffs healthy? Well, if we define healthy as a dog that can live 12 or 13 years (the average life expectancy) without major health problems or without major discomfort, then we have to say the Neapolitan mastiff is not a very healthy dog.

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