Neapolitan Mastiffs are massive dogs who were originally bred to go to battle for the Romans. Today, these dogs can weigh as much as 200 pounds, although most average around 150. They stand between 24 and 30 inches tall and cast an imposing shadow. Despite many breeders' proclivity for big dogs, these dogs should never be bred for size or become so large that they are disproportionate. Excessively large dogs can be uncomfortable and dominant, and they often have trouble moving. Make sure dogs are bred for health and never aggression or size.
These huge dogs are guardians — not attack dogs. Mastini will respond to their owner's lead as they guard their home, so with loving treatment and firm obedience training these dogs can develop into caring, relaxed companions who will defend their owners and treat them with an amount of affection that matches their large size.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are naturally protective, fearless and in tune to their owner's needs. Their lumbering gait, drooping jowls and loose skin, and thick facial wrinkles make them an unmistakable presence. Well-bred Mastini are steady and even-tempered. They should not be aggressive unless provoked — their main source of intimidation should be their foreboding appearance. They were developed and bred to look fearsome and to be protective when necessary, but they should be affectionate and gentle with their family and with friends they've come to recognize. Obedience training that clearly establishes a dominant, firm owner is necessary from a young age. Females can be more submissive to their owners and tolerate children much more readily than males. Still, these dogs may not tolerate children's teasing, and will be able to flourish in homes with respectful children.
These large dogs need lots of activity in order to stay healthy, but they will benefit most from long walks. Rough play should be discouraged in young dogs. Indoors, they are fairly mellow — moving those big bodies is hard work! They love to sprawl out, so even though they can be comfortable in homes without large yards, they appreciate having a lot of indoor space to call their own. Mastini will happily sprawl across the sofa, even if his family is already sitting underneath him.
Even with plenty of socialization, these dogs will always be a little suspicious of strangers and protective of their owners. As a result, any additional protectiveness training is absolutely unnecessary for Mastini.
Mastini have thick, substantial skin that hangs loose off their body. Their faces are defined by heavy wrinkles and folds that should feel velvety to the touch. They cover most of the head and form a V-shaped dewlap underneath the throat and neck, which gives the Mastiff his jowly appearance. The body is covered in a short, thick coat that is evenly long and smooth throughout. The straight hair should not be longer than 1 inch long. Mastini are most often seen in dark colors like gray, black, mahogany and a tawny, tannish brindle, which makes the dog look like it has lighter stripes on his dark body. Dogs with white patches on their heads are not acceptable in the show ring, but this is not an indication of poor breeding.
Other than a wipe-down, these large dogs should be brushed weekly with a rubber bristle brush to slow down shedding and keep the coat healthy and shiny.
The biggest challenge in grooming the Mastiff is keeping the wrinkles clean and dry. The wrinkles and skin flaps need to be wiped out with a damp cloth to stay dry and prevent infection. Because the Neapolitan Mastiff's skin folds are so loose and large, they are at risk for many painful skin infections.
Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.
Most dogs with short coats generally require occasional trims and tidying up in areas of excessive hair growth with trimmers or blunt scissors. It's always wise to take a dog for a short walk or exercise to calm them down before trimming. Remember to brush the coat first to remove tangles and mats. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. When finished, the coat should lay flat and smooth against the body of most short-haired dogs.
Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.
Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.
It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Some short-coated dogs, like hounds and mastiffs, have large, sensitive ears that should be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If you have a small dog, like an Pug, take special care to clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes to make sure they are comfortable. Dogs with facial wrinkles, like Pugs and Dogues de Bordeaux, be wiped down at least weekly to prevent infection.
Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.
Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.