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English Mastiff vs. Neapolitan Mastiff: Breed Differences & Similarities


Last Updated: February 8, 2023 | 10 min read | 2 Comments

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The English Mastiff and the Neapolitan Mastiff are both mighty dogs who are part of the gentle giant club. For giant breed dog lovers across the world, these two beauties are up there in the best companion ranks. Although they are very similar, in that they’ve got big bodies, have low energy, and are very well-mannered, there are a few differences that set them apart.

We need to start off by saying that ANY dog is a significant amount of responsibility, but none more so than strong-willed giant breed dogs. These pups can make fantastic family companions, but they aren’t suited for every family or lifestyle.

Here in this guide, we will compare every aspect of the English Mastiff vs. the Neapolitan Mastiff. So, if you’re trying to decide between these two giant breeds, you’ll be clued up on all the need-to-know canine facts for you to make the right decision. So, let’s dive deeper into the world of these two marvelous, mighty Mastiffs.

Breed Comparison

English Mastiff

  • Height 27 – 30 inches
  • Weight 120 – 230 pounds
  • Temperament Courageous, dignified, good-natured
  • Energy Low
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 6 – 10 years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and up

Neapolitan Mastiff

  • Height 24 - 31 inches
  • Weight 110 – 150 pounds
  • Temperament Loyal, dignified, watchful
  • Energy Low
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 7 - 9 years
  • Puppy Prices $1,500 and up

Breed History

Spending time researching a breed’s history is both interesting and very important for prospective dog owners. It will give you an insight into their breed purpose, which will translate into what they are like as a family pet too. Let’s see how different or similar their histories are.

English Mastiff

Large Tan Dog Standing on Grass
The Mastiff is one of the oldest dog breeds in history.

This ancient breed dates back to 55 B.C. We know this because Julius Caesar documented his encounters with the beastly dogs that protected the British Isles during his invasion. He was so impressed that he took them back to Rome to showcase their incredible strength in the ring against gladiators and lions. Thankfully, humans have left the days of cruel bloodsports.

Out of the fighting ring, Mastiffs were loving and affectionate with humans. Earning him a place in the family home as canine cuddler by day and estate protector by night. In medieval England, he was also popular as a big game fighter too. Despite his popularity, at the end of World War II, it is believed that only 14 Mastiffs remained. Thankfully, USA breeders sent over their Mastiffs and brought the breed’s numbers back to life.

The Mastiff is one of the largest dog breeds in the world, if not the largest. The heaviest dog to date was a Mastiff named Zorba, who topped the scales at 343 pounds. Despite his size, he consistently ranks in the top 30 dog breeds in America, making him one of the most popular giant breeds.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Big Black Dog Standing in Field
Neapolitan Mastiffs are from Naples in Southern Italy.

Like all Mastiffs (including the English), the Neapolitan Mastiff descended from large war dogs some 5,000 years ago from the area of Tibet. Over the years, travelers made their way across Asia and Europe, where they settled with their large dogs. Neapolitan Mastiffs are from Naples in southern Italy. He was originally used as a farmhand and protector. In fact, he was created to have loose skin to protect him in case of an attack.

The Neapolitan Mastiff, also commonly known as Mastino in Italy, and the “Neo” for short, remained relatively unknown until the 1940s. A dog-loving journalist ‘discovered’ this breed at the Naples dog show and made it his life’s ambition to spread the Mastino joy. He worked hard to standardize and preserve the breed, eventually being accepted into canine registries worldwide.

It is believed that he first came to America in 1973, which is when the Neapolitan Mastiff Club of America was formed. The Mastino is the rarer of the two breeds. In 2021, he is currently ranked as the 102nd most popular dog out of 197 breeds. One of the most famous Neapolitan Mastiffs is Hagrid’s dog, Fang, from the Harry Potter film series.


Two Giant Dogs Outside
The English Mastiff is the larger of the two breeds, by about 20-80 pounds.

Both breeds are more different in their appearance than they are similar. Let’s start with their similarities. Both of these guys weigh above 100 pounds, making them giant dog breeds. They both have the typical ‘Mastiff’ appearance, too, in that they are broad, thick, and sturdy.

They also both have short, dense, double-coats. But really, that’s where their similarities finish. English Mastiffs enjoy three coat colors, which are apricot, fawn, and brindle. Most EM’s have a darker-colored muzzle. Compared to the darker colored Neapolitan who typically sports mahogany, blue, tawny, or black, with or without brindle markings.

English Mastiffs are bigger than the Neos. They can weigh anywhere between 120 and 230 pounds. Compared to the Neapolitan, who weighs between 110 and 150 pounds. Both dog breeds can fall outside of these typically expected ranges, and you could find the next Zorba on your hands! It’s safe to say that you need space for both of these pups, regardless of which you pick.

English Mastiffs are squarer in appearance than the Neo, and a lot of that is to do with the Mastino’s loose skin. Neapolitan pups are super wrinkly and (kind of) grow into them as adults. This unique look is often described as something that you adore or don’t like. EM’s tend to have a few rolls around their brow, but nowhere near as much as the Mastino.


Two Giant Dogs Outdoors
Both of these breeds are known to be very laid-back, loyal family pets.

The personalities of both breeds are more similar than they are different. But for large dog lovers, this comes as no surprise. They are both gentle and well-mannered dogs who are relatively calm in the home. This is why they make such great family pets! Yes, they are both protective of their family, but they are not brutes looking for a fight by any means.

They both love a cuddle, and they cannot go a few hours without a loving fix from their families. As you might expect, they both take up a lot of room on the sofa. And if you haven’t got a sofa big enough, your laps will do just fine! The Mastiff might be heavier, but the Neapolitan will cover you in his loose skin like a blanket. They both adore their family and form equal bonds with children and adults alike.

They are both cautious of strangers, but Neos are more aloof of the two. However, after getting to know outsiders, they will both warm up to them over time. EMs also tend to be a bit sillier in the home and much more of a goofball. Compared to the Mastino, who tends to be a bit more serious.

The main difference between the breeds is that the Neo is slightly more dominant. Although both dogs need experienced dog owners, Neos need a bit more experience to get the best out of him. It’s worth noting that all dogs are different, but these are the common traits of both dog breeds.


Large Tan Dog and Large Gray Dog Running
Both of these breeds are low-energy dogs and only need around 30-45 minutes of exercise each day.

When it comes to their exercise needs, both dogs are pretty similar. They are both low-energy dogs who only need between 30 to 45 minutes of exercise outside their home. Intense exercise should be avoided owing to their large bodies and pressurized joints. But to be honest, neither of them would last very long doing something intensive because they are both slightly lazy!

Instead, you’ll find them both lazing around the home and on the porch, keeping a watchful eye on his family. They’ll both be up for a few games in the yard, but nothing too strenuous! It’s important to exercise these guys every day, no matter how much they both protest. It’s important to keep their large bodies healthy and strong with exercise.

But they still need to be entertained throughout the day, which is where dog toys come in. Both of these guys have equally strong jaws and love to chew as an energy outlet. To save it from being your furniture, invest in several bigger-sized dog toys to keep them entertained and out of trouble. Trust us when we say they might be gentle giants, but they can be very destructive dogs when bored!


Two Large Dogs Sitting in Snow
These two dogs are known to be lazy and stubborn making it more difficult to train.

Neither of these two breeds finds themselves are considered highly intelligent by canine psychologists. While neither breed is considered dumb – they are both lazy and stubborn (which some dog enthusiasts consider to be less intelligent). Regardless of how you feel, this makes training quite tricky for both breeds. To top it off, the Neapolitan is also a dominant dog breed, which makes training him more difficult.

The trick to train stubborn and independent dog breeds is to start early. As soon as you get your pooch home, establish the ground rules. Make sure he has a routine and that every member of the family sticks to it. Even the kids who might be tempted to slip him a hotdog under the dinner table! Start with a few basic commands, and make training fun and worth his time. Treats are likely to be both their motivation, so use these to your advantage to get the most out of him.

One of the most important aspects of both of their training is socialization. And because they are both naturally protective dogs, it needs much more effort than non-protective dog breeds. It can also be a lifelong process, especially for the Neo. Mix them with as many dogs as possible, of all shapes and sizes. And unfamiliar humans too. This will make strangers seem less threatening, and it’ll build their confidence too.


Two Big Healthy Dogs
Both of these breeds are prone to hip dysplasia and several eye conditions.

Both dogs are relatively healthy dog breeds. However, like all giant dog breeds, they are prone to a few more health concerns than smaller breeds. Plus, they have a shorter lifespan too. On average, English Mastiffs can live up to one year longer than the Neapolitan.

Reputable breeders of both breeds will test for elbow and hip dysplasia, so be sure to ask for their parent’s hip and elbow scores. They are also both prone to several eye conditions, in particular progressive retinal atrophy and cherry eye. And finally, they are both susceptible to cardiac concerns, with dilated cardiomyopathy being the most common. Overall, they pretty much suffer from the same health concerns.

Another health concern that you need to research is gastric torsion, commonly referred to as bloat. They are both at risk of this more than other dog breeds because they are large and deep-chested. It is life-threatening, so you need to educate yourself on the symptoms and how to act. Never feed your pooch immediately before or after exercise, and spread their meals out, too, as these steps can lower the likelihood of it happening.


Large Tan Dog and Large Gray Dog Eating Steak Bone
These two breeds require a lot of food. Expect to feed them 6-8 cups of food per day.

These guys don’t eat a lot. Just kidding, they eat tons! And their food bill might be your biggest outlay. But the larger English Mastiff eats the most, for sure. Mastiffs are known to eat eight full cups of Mastiff-approved kibble every day. Sometimes even more if you have a Zorba! The Neapolitan eats slightly less, and an average Neapolitan will consume up to six cups a day.

Remember that every dog is different, and the amount you feed your pup will depend on his age, size, energy levels, and the brand of food you choose. Always follow the package feeding recommendations for more tailored advice. Both of these guys are prone to obesity, leading to extra pressure on their joints and other weight-related health concerns. So, please be careful not to overfeed them.

Always choose a high-quality kibble that will provide a well-balanced diet. A healthy diet consists of animal protein, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. You must always feed them both an age-appropriate kibble that is designed for large or giant dog breeds. These contain optimized nutrients to control rapid bone growth and support joints.


Large Tan Dog and Large Gray Dog in Water
Both of these breeds will need weekly brushing.

Both dog breeds have a very similar grooming regime, but there is one minor difference. And that difference all comes down to the Neapolitan’s loose skin and rolls. Both of these guys need to be brushed weekly, and they are average shedders who follow seasonal changes. However, it might seem as though they shed more simply because they have much more hair than, say, a Chihuahua.

Bathe them once every 8 to 12 weeks. Try not to bathe them more than this. Otherwise, you risk damaging their natural coat oils and irritating their skin. Both dogs need to be dried thoroughly, but extra care needs to be taken with the Neapolitan. His loose skin and rolls are a breeding ground for bacteria, and when damp, it can lead to sores and other skin problems. It’s important to wash in between each skin fold and dry them thoroughly. For this reason, bath time takes a little bit longer for the Neo.

They both need their teeth brushing at least weekly to avoid periodontal diseases and nasty breath. Their nails should be clipped twice a month or as and when they get too long, which is likely to be more frequent than most dogs as they are low energy breeds. Lastly, both of these dogs are slobber chops and will spread the drooly love everywhere! So be sure to keep wipes on hand.

Puppy Prices

Two Tan Large Breed Puppies in Grass
Expect to pay around $1,000-$1,500 for these two breeds.

The price of an English Mastiff pup from a reputable breeder usually starts from $1,000. This is a little bit lower than the starting price of a Neapolitan puppy, typically starting at $1,500. The price of a puppy depends on several factors, such as where you live and the breeder’s reputation you choose to work with. There are fewer Neapolitan breeders compared to English Mastiff breeders. Adoption is an alternative to buying a new pup, and the costs tend to be lower too.

It’s really important to work with a reputable breeder who does everything they can to promote the health of the breed and their litters. Always meet the pups and at least one parent in their home environment. And ask for the relevant health certificates. Avoid irresponsible breeders and puppy mills. Although the initial price might be lower, you will probably end up with an unhealthy and unsocialized puppy, leading to untold future problems.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning here that there are ongoing costs to owning a dog. And setting up your home with everything that your giant dog needs is likely to cost a lot more than a smaller pup. Being the larger of the two breeds and eating more food, the English Mastiff is likely to cost slightly more than the Neapolitan in the long run.

Final Thoughts

These two colossal canines are both gentle giants who adore their families very much. Overall, there are more similarities than differences, but it is their differences that you should focus on if you’re trying to choose between the two breeds.

English Mastiffs can be much larger than of the two, meaning he eats more and needs more room. He also tends to be goofier, while Neos tend to be slightly more protective and serious. Neapolitans will do better with a more experienced dog owner given his more dominant character. But all in all, they are both handsome hounds who both make wonderful canine companions for the right family!

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