The Neapolitan Mastiff is one of the oldest breeds around and native to Italy. Although, their appearance might be a little imposing and they do make impressive watchdogs, they are known for their kind and affectionate natures. They are very large and heavy dogs and they boast a tremendous amount of loose skin around their faces and necks which combined to their ultra-droopy lips adds to the Neapolitan's overall forbidding appearance. With this said, in the right environment and given the right amount of socialisation and training, it would be hard to find a more loyal and loving dog than the Neapolitan Mastiff.
It is thought the Neapolitan Mastiff is a descendant of one of the most ancient of breeds namely the Molossus which were fighting dogs the Romans used in the arena. The Romans took these dogs with them when they invaded Europe and England leaving them behind once they left the country. The dogs were then used on farms to protect and guard livestock against predators which included wolves and bears. They were also known as Bandogs at the time and were often used as fighting dogs. However, by the 1800's bull baiting was on the decline and as a result the numbers of their fell into decline which saw the breed virtually vanish altogether.
Thanks to the efforts of one man, Commissioner Thompson, the breed survived with the majority of Mastinos we see today being able to trace their ancestry back to one of the dogs he bred. The first dogs to be shown was in 1946 and when they were spotted by Piero Scanziani who was soon to become another breed enthusiast starting his own breeding programme a few years later. His breeding endeavours were so successful, these magnificent dogs were soon accepted by the Italian Kennel Club.
Today, these magnificent dogs are still highly prized by many people the world over and puppies still command a high price thanks to their charming natures and quite unique looks.