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Neapolitan Mastiff Origin And History Information

Jun 28, 2008
Neapolitan mastiffs are a large breed of dog, known for their massive build and loose skin, originating from Italy. Because of this, they may also be called Italian mastiffs. Bred from ancient war and guard dogs, these mastiffs are related to the English mastiff and other molossers. They can be traced back as far as a 168 BCE. They were used to guard property and homes, and are rumored to have been used in lion baiting in the Arenas.

All Neapolitan mastiffs are large dogs - nearly thirty inches high at the shoulder and as much as a hundred and fifty pounds. They have very large heads, sturdy bones, and very wrinkled skin, particularly on the face. Colors include mahogany, tawny, gray, and black, but white spotting on the feet and chest and reverse brindling also appear.

In show animals, white spotting in locations other than feet and chest is considered a fault. However, the amount of white on a Neapolitan mastiff doesn't affect its suitability as a pet or its health and temperament. That means that people who are just looking for a great pet or guard animal shouldn't worry too much about show standards. Neapolitan mastiffs may have their ears cropped or left natural, but the current law in Italy (and the rest of Europe) forbids cropping dogs' ears.

Neapolitan mastiffs are fearless and good at protecting their territory, though they're unlikely to bark. These dogs are more likely to creep up on a stranger than bark and cause alarm. Since they're so loyal and protective, these mastiffs can be very wary of strangers.

However, if you show that you're not worried or afraid, your dog will quickly accept a new person. Remember that you must show these animals who is boss when they're very young, as they can be stubborn. Males are particularly likely to see themselves as pack leader. However, you shouldn't be rough or cruel. A Neapolitan mastiff loves its family more than anything, and punishment will probably have a deeper effect than you've planned.

While the Neapolitan mastiff's ancestors were prized in ancient Rome, they fell out of favor for a number of centuries. It wasn't until the 1940s that they were rediscovered in Italy near Naples. After World War II, the breed was almost extinct, but it has been revived in recent years.

These mastiffs were introduced to the United States in the 1980s, and have slowly become more popular. They make excellent pets, but care should be taken to make certain they get enough attention, and have the medical care they need. Without routine grooming and careful exercise, their massive bodies and skin folds can cause health problems.
About the Author
Get more info and advice on the Neapolitan Mastiff or a full list of dog breeds at this Dog Behaviour website.
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