An ancient breed, rediscovered in Italy in the 1940's, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy-boned, massive, awe inspiring dog bred for use as a guard and defender of owner and property. He is characterized by loose skin, over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. The essence of the Neapolitan is his bestial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude. Due to his massive structure, his characteristic movement is rolling and lumbering, not elegant or showy.
This paragraph really says it all. It presents all three aspects of type: Wrinkle Characterized by loose skin over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles, and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. Head and Mass The essence of the Neapolitan Mastiff are his bestial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude.
It also addresses the two qualifiers for interpreting the standard:
Emotional impact by use of words such as "massive, awe inspiring dog.... bestial appearance....imposing size and attitude."
And introduces the concept that this dog is not expected to have endurance "characteristic movement is rolling and lumbering."
Size, Proportion, Substance
A stocky, heavy boned dog, massive in substance, rectangular in proportion. Length of body is 10% - 15% greater than the height. Height: Dogs: 26 to 31 inches, Bitches: 24 to 29 inches. Average weight of mature Dogs -150 pounds; Bitches -110 pounds; but greater weight is usual and preferable as long as correct proportions and function are maintained. The absence of massiveness is to be so severely penalized as to eliminate from competition.
It is desired that the dog is to be rectangular, and the Italian experts all state that if there is a variance, it is better to be a little too long in body, than a little too tall in proportion. In the U.S. standard it is stated that the length of body should be 10 -15% longer than the height to emphasize that desire. Remember that it is not a fault if the dog is square, but it is not correct. Given a choice of two equal dogs, pick the one that is more rectangular.
It is so important to us that the dogs have Mass, be Massive, and appear Massive that a dog with a lack of Mass should be so severely penalized as to eliminate from competition.
Large in comparison to the body. Differentiated from that of other mastiff breeds by more extensive wrinkling and pendulous lips which blend into an ample dewlap. Toplines of cranium and the muzzle must be parallel. The face is made up of heavy wrinkles and folds. Required folds are those extending from the outside margin of the eyelids to the dewlap, and from under the lower lids to the outer edges of the lips.
Toplines of the cranium and muzzle not parallel.
Disqualifications: Absence of wrinkles and folds.
The head is critical to the emotional impact that this breed must create in the on-looker. Not only is it large, it is covered with wrinkles and folds, which flow into an impressive dewlap. The eyes are deep-set, almost hidden beneath the folds.
The topline of the cranium and muzzle must be parallel. The whole head should be covered with folds and wrinkles. The skin is loose on the head and body, not tight and rigid. At the same time, the skin must be heavy and thick, not thin. It moves about easily, but must not look like water moving over the dog.
Some dogs have distinctly more wrinkles than others do. It is not a case of "the more the better". It is more a "look." The dog must look correct. It must look as if the wrinkles and folds are an integral part of the dog; not something placed on the dog.
Examples of nice heads with wrinkles.
At a minimum, all Neapolitan Mastiffs must have a significant fold
made up of two wrinkles running from the eyes down to join the lip. One
wrinkle runs from the outer-edge of the eye, one from the inner-edge of
the eye. The fold is deep, and should almost look as if it were cut into
a piece of clay by a knife.
NOTE: DISQUALIFICATION FOR LACK OF WRINKLE AND FOLDS
It is so important that the breed have appropriate wrinkles that a dog without wrinkles and folds is not a proper Neapolitan Mastiff. Such a dog should not be in the ring.
Wistful at rest, Intimidating when alert. Penetrating stare.
Eyes: Set deep and almost hidden beneath drooping upper lids. Lower lids droop to reveal the haw.
Color: Shades of amber or brown, in accordance with coat color. Pigmentation of the eye rims same as the coat color.
Severe faults: Whitish-blue eyes; incomplete pigmentation of the eye rims.
The eyes are deep-set and hidden. You've heard the expression "the eyes are the window to the soul." In its job as guard, when the Neapolitan Mastiff is looking at you, you usually cannot see the eyes, and you cannot tell what it is thinking. You may not even know if it is truly looking at you by looking at the eyes. However, when a Neapolitan Mastiff is alert and is paying attention to you (because you did something that caught its attention and it is trying to determine if there is something it should be concerned about) its entire aspect is intimidating simply by the intensity of the expression of the face. The wrinkles and folds all contribute to this.
When the Mastino is not looking at you, or when it is not especially alert (typical for this breed, especially when in the show ring), it simply gazes around bored.
The lower lids of the eye droop to reveal the haw.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is bred to have loose skin, which translates to loose eye-rims. In the course of a day, a bit of chaff may get in the eye. Interestingly enough, though, the looseness of the skin actually helps get rid of most of this, as the skin is so loose as it moves across the eye, any chaff drops out, instead of getting caught in the skin.
Ears: Set well above the cheekbones. May be cropped or uncropped but are usually cropped to an equilateral triangle for health reasons. If uncropped, they are medium sized, triangular in shape, held tight to the cheeks, and not extending beyond the lower margin of the throat.
Skull: Wide, flat between the ears, slightly arched at the frontal part, and covered with wrinkled skin. The width of the cranium between the cheekbones is approximately equal to its length from occiput to stop. The brow is very developed. Frontal furrow is marked. Occiput is barely apparent.
Stop: Very defined, forming a right angle at the junction of muzzle and frontal bones, and then sloping back at a greater angle where the frontal bones meet the frontal furrow of the forehead.
Nose: Large with well-opened nostrils, and in color the same as the coat. The nose is an extension of the top line of the muzzle and should not protrude beyond nor recede behind the front plane of the muzzle.
Severe faults: Incomplete pigmentation of the nose.
The standard says the ears are usually cropped to an equilateral triangle, but doesn't say how long an equilateral triangle, and it doesn't say anything about how the ears should be carried. The ears contribute to
the all-important expression, the way the head "looks" for the breed, and so we must consider them for that purpose.
The ears are traditionally cropped fairly short. A longer cropped ear makes the dog look more alert, more like other breeds, which is not desirable for this breed. Sometime dogs will have the ear cropped so short it is nearly gone. This isn't a real problem except how it relates to the look of the shape of the head. Sometimes, without that little wedge of an ear at the side of the head, the head can give the appearance of being more rounded.
It is preferred that the cropped ear lay flat over the top of the head, or to stand up, but many dogs will hold them out to the side. This is not to be penalized, and should not be considered a fault.
If uncropped, the ear is triangular, like a Mastiff ear, and held fairly unobtrusive and close to the cheek. It must not be "rose" like a Bulldog, and it must not be "folded" like a Hound.
The cranium and muzzle are parallel. The top should be flat. You may want to check the cranium physically to be sure you're seeing the flat skull, not the wrinkles and folds or muscles which may make it look more rounded. The width of the cranium should be approximately equal to the length. The sides should be parallel.
It is 1/3 the length of the whole head and is as broad as it is long. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is very deep with the outside borders parallel giving it a "squared" appearance. The top plane of the muzzle from stop to tip of nose is straight, but is ridged due to heavy folds of skin covering it.
Severe faults; Top plane of the muzzle curved upward or downward.
Heavy, thick, and long, the upper lips join beneath the nostrils to form an inverted "V". The upper lips form the lower, outer borders of the muzzle, and the lowest part of these borders is made by the corners of the lips. The corners turn outward to reveal the flews, and are in line with the outside corners of the eyes.
The long lips of the Neapolitan Mastiff are part of the distinct look of the dog.
When viewed from the front, the lips must join beneath the muzzle and then separate below the jaw as an upside-down "V".
The preferred bite is a scissors bite, or a pincer bite, but an undershot bite is allowed as long as the undershot jaw is not so extensive that it is visible through the upper lips.
If the undershot jaw turns the upside-down "V" into an upside-down "U" this is too much undershot.
Scissors bite or pincer bite is standard; slight undershot is allowed. Dentition is complete.
Faults: More than 1 missing premolar.
Severe faults: Overshot jaw: pronounced undershot jaw which disrupts the outline of the front plane of the muzzle; more than 2 missing teeth.
Neck, Topline and Body
Neck: Slightly arched, rather short, stocky, and well-muscled. The voluminous and well-divided dewlap extends from the lower jaw to the lower neck.
Disqualification: Absence of dewlap.
It is a short, strong, arched neck. Such a neck is necessary to hold that massive head. If you touch the neck of a mature dog, you should definitely get an impression of muscles.
The dewlap must exist and must be divided in two.
DISQUALIFICATION: ABSENCE OF DEWLAP
This is another manifestation of how important the three characteristics of type are to the breed. If the dog does not have a Dewlap, it cannot possibly have properly loose skin, it is not a proper Neapolitan Mastiff and it must not be in the conformation ring!
Body: The length of the dog, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock, is 10% - 15% greater than the height of the dog measured from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground. Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog. Ribs are long and well sprung.
Chest: Broad and deep, well muscled. Underline and tuckup: The underline of the abdomen is practically horizontal. There is little or no tuckup.
Back: Wide and strong. Highest part of the shoulder blade barely rising above the strong, level topline of the back. Loin: Well-muscled and harmoniously joined to the back.
Croup: Wide, strong, muscular and slightly sloped. The top of the croup rises slightly and is level with the highest point of the shoulder.
Tail: Set on slightly lower than the topline, wide and thick at the root, tapering gradually toward the tip. It is docked by about 1/3. At rest, the tail hangs straight or in slight "S" shape. When in action, it is raised to the horizontal or a little higher than the back.
Severe fault: Tail carried straight up or curved over the back. Kinked tail.
Disqualification: Lack of tail or short tail, which is less than 1/3 the length from point of insertion of the tail to the hock.
The Neapolitan Mastiff must not get its height from length of leg, but from its body and legs proportioned together.
If you draw a line along the bottom of the abdomen, it should parallel a line drawn along the topline. In the adult Neapolitan Mastiff, there should be little to no tuckup. Note that the skin may hang down below the underside, so be sure you're looking at the abdomen, not just the hanging skin.
This massive dog has a massive back. It should be distinctly wide. The withers are also wide. While there may be a slight dip behind the withers, the back should be level to the loin.
The croup is angled to give spring to the hindquarters, which must be able to propel this big heavy dog from a lying position into instantaneous action.
Heavily built, muscular, and in balance with the hindquarters.
Shoulders: Long, well-muscled, sloping and powerful. Upper arms: Strongly muscled, powerful. In length, almost 1/3 the height of the dog.
Elbows: Covered with abundant and loose skin; held parallel to the ribcage, neither tied in nor loose.
Forelegs: Thick, straight, heavy bone, well muscled, exemplifying strength. About the same length as the upper arms. Set well apart.
Pasterns: Thick and flattened from front to back, moderately sloping forward from the leg.
Dewclaws: Front dewclaws are not removed.
Feet: Round and noticeably large with arched, strong toes. Nails strong, curved and preferably dark-colored. Slight turn out of the front feet is characteristic.
The forequarters of the dog must exemplify strength. The ability to hold this heavy, massive dog up, to support it as it springs into action.
Typically dewclaws in the front are not removed.
SLIGHT TURN-OUT OF THE FRONT FEET IS CHARACTERISTIC
This is a big heavy dog. A dog that in order to maintain balance turns its front feet out, but otherwise has a correct leg, straight bones, and correctly placed elbows.
As a whole, they must be powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters. Thighs: About the same length as the forearms, broad, muscular. Stifles: Moderate angle, strong. Legs: Heavy and thick boned, well-muscled. Slightly shorter than the thigh bones. Hocks: Powerful and long. Rear pasterns (metatarsus): Heavy, thick bones. Viewed from the side, they are perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, parallel to each other. Rear dewclaws: Any dewclaws must be removed. Hind feet: Same as the front feet but slightly smaller.
It is more important that the forequarters and hindquarters be in balance, be harmonious with each other and with the overall dog.
The Neapolitan Mastiff must exemplify strength and power.
The coat is short, dense and of uniform length and smoothness all over the body. The hairs are straight and not longer than 1 inch. No fringe anywhere.
Solid coats of gray (blue), black, mahogany and tawny, and the lighter and darker shades of these colors. Some brindling allowable in all colors. When present, brindling must be tan (reverse brindle). There may be solid white markings on the chest, throat area from chin to chest, underside of the body, penis sheath, backs of the pasterns, and on the toes. There may be white hairs at the back of the wrist.
Disqualification: White markings on any part of the body not mentioned as allowed.
The Neapolitan Mastiff's movement is not flashy, but rather slow and lumbering. Normal gaits are the walk, trot, gallop, and pace. The strides are long and elastic, at the same time, powerful, characterized by a long push from the hindquarters and extension of the forelegs. Rolling motion and swaying of the body at all gaits is characteristic. Pacing in the show ring is not to be penalized. Slight paddling movement of the front feet is normal. The head is carried level with or slightly above the back.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is steady and loyal to his owner, not aggressive. As a protector of his property and owners, he is always watchful and does not relish intrusion by strangers into his personal space. His attitude is calm yet wary. In the show ring he is majestic and powerful, but not showy.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal Neapolitan Mastiff. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.
Absence of wrinkles and folds
Absence of dewlap
Lack of tail or short tail, which is less than 1/3 the length from point of insertion of the tail to the hock
White marks on any part of the body not mentioned as allowed.
Approved: January 13, 2004
Effective: May 1, 2004
United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club