Moist, magnificent mastiffs

Discussion in 'General Mastiff Discussion' started by Vicki, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator

    A BLOG BY:


    Last updated 08:00 19/06/2009

    If you read the first post on Four Legs Good this week, you saw a great photo of a Neapolitan mastiff, its face looking like a snapshot of that exact moment when a lustrous grey heavy-velvet drape, all kinked and folded, falls off the curtain rail. Here's that photo again:


    Reuters' Ray Stubblebine snapped Ironstone Mafioso at the 2005 Westminster Kennel Show in New York, where the massive mastiff won Best of Breed.

    It's a stunning picture, but a Four Legs Good reader got in touch with me to say that actually it didn't do full justice to this magnificent breed.
    Bernadette Flynn sent this picture of her own Neapolitan mastiffs Cougar (12 months) and puppy Narla (six months).


    It certainly shows another side of these amazing creatures. At this age their dignified faces are just starting their gravity-driven journey towards full-depth dewlaps, but still look out of synch with their sleek young bodies. In human terms, it's as though Jack Nicholson's head was grafted on to the body of Matthew McConaughey - perhaps after Matt has had a few too many pies.

    Neapolitan mastiffs are an ancient breed. Two thousand years ago they were used as guard, military and fighting dogs in the Roman Empire. They were said to fight alongside the Legions, kitted out in spike-backed harnesses that could disembowel enemy horses.

    These days their reputation is more gentle. Though Neos can grow to up to 90kg and can be fierce guard dogs, "they are one of the most placid and docile breeds you will ever come across - stubborn but loyal to a fault", says Bernadette.

    She fell in love with mastiffs last year after visiting a breeder, and soon she had two in the suddenly-less-spacious house she bought with her fiancé. Now those "Neos" are the jowls in her crown.

    "I knew that I wanted a big dog but people automatically think big dog = loads of exercise. These guys are a very low-maintenance breed - too much exercise is actually bad for them (especially in their formative years) and they love to sleep heaps. They are basically the best looking doormats/bedspreads you can have!

    "A confident handler is essential - because they are stubborn and instinctively like to be in charge, the owner needs to quickly establish him or herself as the leader. My two have benefited from basic obedience training. Obedience training is important to show the dog who is leader."
    [Speaking as a a new dog owner, all I can say is "hear hear". And also "easier said than done".]

    "People will often be fearful of Cougar (I've had people cross the road to avoid us, grab their dogs and put them on the lead quickly, grab their kids in their arms and walk the long way around us etc) so obedience training is also important so that I'm able to call Cougar away when people are fearful. Little do they know that he is a gentle giant and his only weapon is his slobber!!

    "Slobber - that's a whole story in and of itself! Owners need to be prepared to have a cloth handy at all times and expect to always have slobber somewhere on whatever it is you are wearing. When Cougar shakes his head, slobber is flung for miles! Part of our regular house work involves wiping down walls - it goes that far! People don't understand how I put up with it but personally I'd much rather wipe up some slobber than be covered in the hair of long-haired dogs! Their beauty and loyalty far outweighs a bit of slobber!"

    Any mastiff stories to share? Leave a comment, or send photos to and I'll do my best to show them on the blog. Bernadette is also keen to hear from any fellow Neo-romantics, so let us know if you'd like to be put in touch with her.

    PNWPBR New Member

    This picture makes them look like they are covered in silk!
  3. Miakoda

    Miakoda New Member

    It does, Ell!

    But their heads look odd. And of course, they look nothing like the AKC dog. Which is closer to correct?

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