Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Neapolitan Mastiff breed (also called the Italian Mastiff) is a massive, imposing, dog breed, even for for the usually large and imposing Mastiff breeds. The breed is the likely forebear of most of the other European Mastiff breeds, including St. Bernards and the English Mastiff, the breed of dog simply called the Mastiff in most of the English-speaking world. To the ancient Romans, the Neapolitan Mastiff was a mighty weapon. If Marc Anthony ever really said, "Cry Havoc! and let loose the dogs of war," he would have been talking about Neapolitan Mastiff dogs. Today, though much gentler, these giants are still quite protective of their families and are sometimes used as guard dogs.
The Neapolitan Mastiff's Behavior
Recommended for: pet, guard dog
The Neapolitan Mastiff dog breed not only looks commanding, but the dog generally behaves rather seriously. Neapolitan Mastiffs are probably not best for apartment-dwellers as the dogs tend to be both massive and also a bit territorial, as they are Mastiffs bred as guard dogs.
Remember that breed only provides a general clue as to any individual dog's actual behavior. Make sure to get to know dogs well before bringing them into your home.
The Neapolitan Mastiff's Physical Characteristics
Here are some of the characteristics of the Neapolitan Mastiff breed as determined by the American Kennel Club's published breed standard.
* Size: Males: 26-31 inches, 150 pounds; females: 24-29 inches, 110 pounds
* Coat: short, dense, uniformly less than inch-long and smooth hairs
* Color: gray/blue, black, mahogany, tan.
* Eyes: deep-set beneath drooping lids, amber or brown according to coat color
* Ears: set well above cheekbones
* Muzzle: 1/3 the length of the head, roughly as broad as long
* Nose: large, with well-opened nostrils, same color as coat
* Tail: wide and thick at base and tapered to tip
The Neapolitan Mastiff's Origins and History
Country/Region of Origin: Italy (modern breed); Middle East (originally)
Original purpose: war, dogfights, guard
Name: rediscovered in modern times near Naples; also known as Italian Mastiff, Mastino, and Mastino Napoletano; nicknamed "Neo."
Historical notes: The Neapolitan Mastiff breed can be traced back to around 100 BC. The breed is descended from the Molossus, very large Middle Eastern war dogs. The Romans would pit Neapolitan Mastiffs against lions, bears, and gladiators in the arena. The Roman legions spread the breed throughout Europe as they used them as "dogs of war." The breed is ancestor of the English Mastiff (also simply called the Mastiff), the Dogue de Bordeaux, Spanish Mastiff, St. Bernard, and Rottweiler. The breed was mostly lost to the world in modern times until being rediscovered near Naples in the 1940s.