Neapolitan Mastiff: Complete Handbook


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Neapolitan Mastiffs are big, powerful dogs which can look quite fearsome, but well-bred, well-socialized and well trained individuals are generally calm and affectionate with people they know well, and very good with children who respect them. They develop strong bonds with their human family.

Socialization is very important throughout the dog's life, starting from puppyhood, so that they behave well with your visitors and allow you to let people in! Neopolitan Mastiffs also need to have house rules set out clearly from when they are pups, and this should include not jumping up, and no rough games indoors, since they grow to be very big, and what is acceptable in a pup can become a problem with an adult dog.

They are intelligent dogs who pay attention to their owners, and this includes picking up on any inconsistencies about what they are allowed to do, so it's important to be consistent, for example always putting pups in a sit before you go through a door, only opening the door when they are sitting, and only allowing them to go through the door when you ask them to, so that they don't pull you through the door when they are adults. They get bored with repetition in training because they learn fast, so it helps to vary their routines and keep them on their toes.

Children need to respect these dogs, which do not like to be teased. This is important if you have a lot of visiting children who do not understand dogs - it is safer for dog and visiting children to keep them separate. Neopolitan Masitiffs are also large, powerful dogs, and can easily knock over small children, so supervision is important.

Adult Neopolitan Mastiffs can become aggressive with other dogs, especially entire males, even if you have socialized them carefully, so you will need to take precautions on walks. They do need to get out and about regularly, so that they keep fit and are not spooked when you have to take them out.

These dogs tend to be wary of people they don't know, and, along with the Dogue de Bordeaux, have a stronger natural tendency to guard than most breeds on this page. They aren't especially barky, but will stand their ground with strangers who are not introduced to them. Neopolitan Mastiffs like to be with their families, so they aren't happy being left outside as guard dogs, and are likely to develop behavioural problems if they are isolated. They should never be tied up on a chain and left to the mercy of anyone who might want to tease them. Children wandering near a chained dog could also be at risk.

These dogs don't need a lot of grooming, but they can drool a lot, especially when it's hot. They need protection against the sun in summer, with access to shade and water. Common health problems include eye trouble, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and bone growth abnormalities. Pups need to have food and exercise carefully regulated.

These dogs are best reserved for people who have the knowledge and time to select the right pup, socialize and train the pup properly, and who are organized enough to continue with socialization and manage the dog well. They are not good family dogs except in the hands of the most committed and skilful owners. People who want a large, black family dog that is likely to drool and suffer health problems are better off getting a Newfoundland!

This book is a good introduction to the breed as far as it goes. It can help you to decide on whether to share your life with a Neo, but you really need more information if you have already taken one on.