The Neapolitan Mastiff is an estate guard dog from Italy. The breed traces its roots to the dogs of war used by the Roman Army. The breed then existed on estates and farms across Italy for the past two millennia, known as the “big dog of the little man” — the extraordinary dog of the ordinary man. After the devastation of World War II, the breed was recognized as an unquestionable treasure of Italy and consequently, has been refined to its present form over the past 60 years. A standard was first written in 1948, later re-written for greater precision in 1971, and the Neapolitan Mastiff has thus claimed its rightful place among the international world of dogs.
While the Neapolitan Mastiff has been recognized as a breed in the modern world only since recognition by the FCI in 1949, we can see, through bas-relief, paintings and statues dating from 3000 years before Christ, that his roots trace to the giant war dogs of Egypt, Persia, Mesopotamia and Asia. Even as grand a figure as Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was instrumental in creating the modern Neapolitan Mastiff.
In 1946 they were introduced to the world at a Naples dog show. A man named Piere Scanziani saw the dog and immediately recognized what type of breed it was. He started a campaign to influence other dog fanciers to help bring out the breed from obscurity. They went as far as drawing up a petition so that the Italian Kennel Club would recognize them under the name of Mastino Napoletano.
It was not until the 1970s when this dog breed was documented in the United States. There were of course a few of these dogs that were already in the U.S. from Italian immigrants, but nothing was official until the 70′s. It did not take long for the breed to become popular and gain interest from dog enthusiasts. They were recognized by the AKC in 1996 and were official numbers of the AKC working group by the year 2004.
Neos make wonderful pets. Although not aggressive by nature, the Neapolitan Mastiff has the look that will scare off any intruder. This breed is truly a gentle giant and an honorable gentleman. He has no clue that he is huge and always considers himself to be the perfect size to sit on your lap! The Neapolitan Mastiff is a brave and loyal companion and is well-suited for families with children who are sturdy enough not to be knocked over by his immense size and clumsiness.