Neapolitan Mastiff Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Neapolitan Mastiff Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
The Neo Standard says: "The essence of the Neapolitan Mastiff is his beastial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude."
Once you're past the shock of your first impression, you'll be able to better appreciate how quiet, calm, and relaxed this Mastino is. Just don't mistake his bulk and ambling gait for laziness or clumsiness, for he can shift into his fierce protector's role on a moment's notice.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is not an apartment dog (to stay fit, he needs some space and moderate exercise), but more than anything else, he requires personal attention. He often attaches himself, shadow-like, to his favorite person.
Puppies should be friendly and trusting, and with proper socialization, become more reserved and discriminating as they mature. As with all mastiffs, socialization is an absolute requirement to avoid either aggression or shyness.
Dog aggression can be a real problem; though many will not start fights, they will surely finish them.
This massive, stubborn breed is inclined to do things his own way, but he will respond to early, consistent training that includes leadership, cheerful praise, and food rewards.
Neapolitan Mastiffs perform admirably in drooling, slobbering, and snoring competition.
If you want a dog who...
- Is massive and powerful, probably the most "beastial-looking" breed in existence, with an enormous head, loose wrinkled skin, and heavy, hanging jowls
- Has a sleek easy-care coat
- Is calm and quiet indoors (as an adult)
- Needs only moderate exercise
- Makes an imposing watchdog, being serious and self-assured with strangers, yet generally mild-mannered unless aroused
A Neapolitan Mastiff may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- A huge dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
- A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet and lean his weight against your leg
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping when young
- Destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
- Aggression or fearfulness toward people in some lines, or when not socialized enough
- Aggression toward other animals
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Snorting, snuffling, wheezing, grunting, loud snoring
- Slobbering and drooling
- Gassiness (flatulence)
- Serious health problems and a short lifespan
- High price tag -- $1000 and up
- Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)
A Neapolitan Mastiff may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Neapolitan Mastiff
If I was considering a Neapolitan Mastiff, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing the proper balance of exercise. Young Neapolitan Mastiffs need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. Adult Neapolitan Mastiffs need more exercise to keep them in shape, but not in hot or humid weather for fear of overheating. The proper amount of exercise can be difficult to regulate in giant breeds.
Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Neapolitan Mastiffs can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision. Otherwise, left alone, young Neapolitan Mastiffs become bored and destructive -- and their powerful jaws can literally destroy your living room.
- Providing enough socialization. Most Neapolitan Mastiffs have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some Neapolitan Mastiffs go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
- Animal aggression. Many Neapolitan Mastiffs will not tolerate another dog of the same sex, and some won't tolerate the opposite sex either. Some Neos have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
- The strong temperament. Neapolitan Mastiffs are not Golden Retrievers. They have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Some Neapolitan Mastiffs are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Neo to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Neapolitan Mastiff Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Neapolitan Mastiff sounds. Because of the short face, the Neapolitan Mastiff snorts, grunts, and snores loudly. The sounds are endearing to some people; nerve-wracking to others.
- Slobbering. Most people are not prepared for how much the Neapolitan Mastiff slobbers and drools, especially after eating or drinking. When they shake their heads, you will be toweling saliva and slime off your clothes, furniture, and walls.
- Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Neapolitan Mastiffs who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Neapolitan Mastiff Health Page for more information.
- Serious health problems. The lifespan of a Neapolitan Mastiff is short and an alarming number are crippled by bone and joint diseases and/or succumb to cancer in middle age.
To keep this breed healthy, I strongly recommend following all of the advice on my Neapolitan Mastiff Health Page.
- Legal liabilities. The Neapolitan Mastiff may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
To learn more about training Neapolitan Mastiffs to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Neapolitan Mastiff the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Neapolitan Mastiff. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Neapolitan Mastiff might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Neapolitan Mastiff home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Neapolitan Mastiff...
When you're acquiring a Neapolitan Mastiff PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Neapolitan Mastiffs who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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