Large and powerful, Neapolitan Mastiffs are known for their massiveness. Despite their fierce appearance and serious demeanor, Mastini are generally peaceful, steady dogs. The breed’s trademark is the loose skin that covers their bodies and the abundant wrinkles. Their short coat can by gray (blue), black, mahogany and tawny. Some brindling and white markings occur. This breed is steady and loyal to his owner, not aggressive or apt to bite without reason. As a protector of his property and owners, he is always watchful and does not relish intrusion by strangers into his personal space.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a direct descendent of the great Molossus war dog of antiquity, and evidence of this ancestry can be seen in artworks dating back to 3000 BC. Alexander the Great is credited with developing the Molossus breed in 330 BC by crossing giant war dogs from his native Macedonia with shorthaired dogs from India. The physical similarities between the Molossus of historical record and today's Neapolitan Mastiff are evident. When the Romans conquered Greece they became enamored of this unsurpassed warrior canine and used it to fight men, as well as all manners of big game (including lions, tigers and elephants) in battle and gladiatorial entertainment. Over the centuries, breeders of the Mastiff in and around Naples developed the breed into a highly specialized guardian of homes and estates. The dog's imposing size and appearance alone was considered a deterrent to potential intruders. The Neapolitan Mastiff arrived in America by the 1970's, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2004.