The FCI standard of the Neapolitan Mastiff was revised in November 1989, and again in November 1991. Basically it was abbreviated from the 1971 version and put into less technical language. There are a few changes in the newer versions regarding gaits and disqualifications~ This year more revisions of the standard are in the works. For the moment, however, it is appropriate to present the 1991 Standard of the Neapolitan Mastiff.


Translated from the Italian by Sherilyn Allen VMD, March, 1992.


UTILIZATION: Dog for Guard and Personal Protection

FCI CLASSIFICATION: Group 2 -- dogs of the type Pincher, Schnauzer, Molossian, and Swiss Cattle Dogs. Section 2. I-Molossians, type-Dogue. Not required to do a working test.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a descendant of the large Roman Molossian described by Columella (Ist century AD) in De RE Rustica. It was disseminated throughout Europe by the Roman Legions, with which the dogs fought during their battles. In this way, the breed contributed to the formation of numerous other Molossian breeds in other European countries. Having survived for many centuries in the countryside around Vesuvius, and the environs of Naples, the Neapolitan Mastiff was reconstructed after 1947, due to the devoted efforts of a group of dog lovers.


A heavy, massive, and stocky dog of great size, whose length of the body is greater than the height at the withers.


The length of the body is 10% greater than the height at the withers. The length of the head is equal to 3/10 of the height at the withers. The proportion of the cranium to the muzzle is 2 to 1.


The character of the Neapolitan Mastiff is steady and loyal, not aggressive or apt to bite without reason. As protector of his property and persons, he is always watchful, intelligent, noble, and majestic.


Short and massive, with the cranium being very wide at the level of the zygomatic arches (cheekbones). The length of the head is about 3/10 the height at the withers. The skin is abundant, with wrinkles and folds, the most typical of which, and the best delineated, is the fold which extends from the external angle of the eyelids to the external angle of the lips. The upper longitudinal axes of the cranium and the muzzle are parallel.


The cranium is wide, flat in particular between the ears, and slightly convex at the frontal part. The width between the cheekbones is greater than half the length of the head. The zygomatic arches (cheekbones) are very prominent. but covered with flat muscles. The brow is very developed. The frontal furrow is marked. The occiput is barely apparent.

STOP: Very defined.



As an extension of the top line of the muzzle, it should not protrude beyond the anterior vertical plane of the lips. It should be voluminous, with well opened, large nostrils. The color is in rapport with that of the coat color; i.e. black in black subjects, dark grey-brown in dogs of other colors, and brown in mahogany coats.


It is very wide and deep; its length corresponds to that of the bridge of the nose, and should be equal to 1/3 of the length of the head. The lateral borders are parallel so that from the front, the muzzle appears to be practically square.


I heavy, thick, and abundant. The upper lips, viewed from the front, make at their point of junction, an upside down "V". The lower, lateral border of the muzzle is formed by the upper lips. The lowest part of the lower border is the labial commissure, with its visible mucosa, and situated in line with the vertical drop from the external angle of the eye.


Strong, with jawbones which are sturdy, and dental arcades which meet perfectly. The mandible (lower jaw) must be well developed in width.


White, properly developed, well aligned, and complete in number. They should meet either in a scissors bite (that is, the upper incisors cover over the lower incisors with a narrow contact), or they should articulate in a pincer bite ( that is, the upper incisors contact the lower incisors with the free borders of the upper and lower teeth meeting end to end). The teeth are rooted evenly in the jaws.


Situated in the same frontal plane, they are set wide apart. The palpebral opening is almost round. The eyeball is set back slightly. The color of the iris is normally a little darker than the coat color. The eye color may, however, be lighter with coats of a diluted color.


Small in comparison to the build of the dog, and triangular in shape. They are flat, held tight to the cheeks, and attached above the zygomatic arches (cheekbones). When they are cropped, they have the shape of an almost equilateral triangle.


  • Profile
  • The top border of the neck is slightly arched.
  • Length

    Rather short, the neck measures about 2.8/10 of the height at the withers.


    It is cone shaped and well muscled. At mid length, the circumference of the neck is equal to about 8/10 the height at the withers.


    The lower border of the neck is replete with loose skin which forms a double dewlap~ which is well divided but not too abundant. The dewlap extends from the lower jaw to the middle of the neck. but no further.


    The body is 10% longer than the height of the dog at the withers.


    The top line of the back is straight. The withers are wide, long, and barely rise above the top line.


    The back is wide, and its length is about 1/3 the height at the withers. The lumbar region must be harmoniously joined to the back, and the musculature must be very developed in width. The thorax is ample, with ribs that are long and well sprung. The circumference of the thorax is about ¼ larger than the height at the withers.


    The croup is wide, strong, and well muscled. From the hip bone, it is slanted about 30 degrees from the horizontal. Its length is equal to 3/10 the height at the withers. The haunches protrude at the point of attachment to the upper lumbar area.


    It is wide and open, with well developed pectoral muscles . Its width is in direct proportion to that of the thorax, and attains 40-45% of the height at the withers. The manubrium of the sternum (breast bone) is situated at the level of the point of articulation of the scapulo-humeral joint (shoulder).


    It is wide and thick at the root. Strongly built, it narrows gradually toward the tip. In length, it reaches the hock, but it is normally cut to 2/3 its length. At rest, it is carried hanging like a scimitar; when in action, it is raised to the horizontal or a little higher than the back.


    As a whole, the front legs, when viewed from the side or the front, are vertical from the ground to the elbow. The bone structure is strong and in proportion to the body type of the dog.


    The length of the shoulder is about 3/10 the height at the withers with a slope of 50-60 degrees from the horizontal. The musculature is well developed, and the muscles are long and well defined. The angle of the scapulo-humeral (shoulder) joint is 105-1 15 degrees.


    The arm measures about 30% of the height at the withers. Its slope from the horizontal is from 55-60 degrees, and is comprised of a strong musculature.


    Covered with abundant and loose skin, the elbows are not held too tightly against the thoracic walls.


    Its length is almost equal to that of the arm. It is held in a perfectly vertical position, and is comprised of heavy, thick bone structure and tight, well developed musculature.


    Wide, tight, and smooth, it is an extension of the vertical line from the forearm.


    It is oval shaped, flattened from front to back, and follows the vertical line of the forearm. It is angled forwards at a 70 to 75 degree angle. Its length is equal to about 1/6 of the length of the leg from the ground to the elbow.


    It's shape is round and voluminous, with arched, tight toes. The digital pads are dry, hard, and strongly pigmented. The nails are strong, curved, and of dark color.


    As a whole, they must be powerful and strong, in proportion with the body type of the dog, and capable of creating the impulsion desired in the movement.


    In length, it measures 1/3 of the height at the withers, and its slope from the horizontal is about 60 degrees. It is wide, with large, protruding muscles that are clearly demarcated from each other. The femur and the hip bone form a 90 degree angle with one another.


    In length, it is a little shorter than the thigh, and it is angled at about 50-55 degrees. The bone is massive and the musculature is pronounced.


    The tibio-femoral (knee) angle is about 110-115 degrees.


    It is very long with respect to the length of the leg. It's length is about 25% of the height at the withers. The tibio-tarsal (hock) joint form an angle of 140-145 degrees.


    Comprised of massive bone, it is almost cylindrical in shape. It is perfectly plumb in its position, and its length is about 25% of the height at the withers. Any dewclaws must be removed.


    Smaller than the front feet, it is round, with tight toes. The digital pads are dry, hard and pigmented. The nails are strong, curved and of dark color.


    The movement is one of the characteristics typical of the breed. At the walk, the movement is feline, like that of a lion. The trot or amble is slow and resembles that of a bear. The trot is characterized by a strong push from the hindquarters and a good extension of the forelegs. The Neapolitan Mastiff rarely gallops. The normal gaits are the walk and trot. Pacing is allowed.


    Thick, abundant, and loose over all the body, particularly on the head, where it forms many wrinkles and folds, and on the lower border of the neck, where it makes a double dewlap.


    Nature of the Hair

    Short, stiff, hard, and dense, of uniform length and smoothness all over the body, it is fine, and measures 1.5 cm (one inch) maximum in length. There must not be any trace of fringe anywhere.

    Color of the Hair

    The preferred colors are: grey, lead grey, and black; but also mahogany, tawny, and dark tawny (stag), with sometimes, small white patches on the chest and on the tips of the toes. All the colors may be brindled. Also tolerated are light brown, turtle-dove grey, and isabelle.


    Height at the withers: Males 65-75 cm. (26-30 inches) Females 60-68 cm. (24-27 inches) A tolerance of 2 cm ( 1 inch) plus or minus is allowed.

    Weight: Males 60 kg. and greater (135 pounds and greater)

    Females 50 kg and greater (110 pounds and greater)


    Any deviation from the characteristics indicated in the description constitutes a fault which must be penalized according to its severity and its amount.


    Pronounced prognathism (undershot lower jaw); tail held curved over the back; heights more than or less than the tolerated limits.


    Enognathism (overshot upper jaw); marked convergence or divergence of the cranio facial axes; bridge of the nose concave or convex, or very aquiline; total depigmentation of the nose; total depigmentation of the borders of the eyelids; sky-blue eye; strabismus (cross-eyed); absence of wrinkles, folds, or dewlap; short tail whether congenital or artificial; extensive white patches; white marks on the head.

    NB: Males must have two testicles of normal appearance, completely descended in the scrotum.