Italian Dog Breeds Uncovered: Neapolitan Mastiff and the Italian Greyhound

In this article I am going to shed some light on two of the lesser known dog breeds for which has been attributed guardian. The first is the Neapolitan Mastiff, a monster of a creature with its roots in Assyrian-Babylonian times, while the other is the Italian Greyhound.

Let’s start with the bigger brute of the two!

Neapolitan Mastiff

The dog belongs to the strain of mastiffs, an ancient breed that dates back to the Assyrian-Babylonian times, later adopted by the Romans too. The Neapolitan Mastiff was used as a guard dog and even as a soldier! Unfortunately this breed risked extinction, which fortunately was averted in the period after WWII, especially in the area around Naples, which is why it is now called Neapolitan Mastiff.

General Appearance

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a very large dog with an imposing physique. They usually weigh between 60 and 70 kilograms! Their jaw is abnormally strong; in fact, it’s the strongest jaw in the canine world. With a single bite they can break the neck of a cow! This breed has short hair, and has skin that forms wrinkles over the neck and face. The coat of the Neapolitan Mastiff can be dark grey or black with a white mark on the chest or paws.


The Neapolitan Mastiff is a guard dog by nature. Ever vigilant, this dog patrols and protects his territory and that of his owners. Even when it looks like a mastiff is not paying attention; it’s actually guarding its territory: in fact, if you give a mastiff an area to guard, the dog will instinctively guard and protect it. They are very loyal, proud and intelligent. Maybe they appear as simple guard dogs, but they are much more than that; they’re affectionate, they love their owners and families and, like all dogs, they love to play.

Health Concerns

This breed usually has a lifespan of 6 to 8 years. Even if has such an imposing build, there are a few health concerns which are unfortunately common in Neapolitan Mastiffs. Their bones in particular can grow quite weak with age. Like with all dogs, a balanced, correct diet is necessary to ensure their wellbeing.

The Neapolitan Mastiff is a great dog. Even if many people believe it has a naturally aggressive nature, this is simply not true; they are not bad dogs, there are however lots of bad owners. If you choose a Neapolitan Mastiff as a companion, you will have a faithful and protective friend in this majestic, ancient dog.

The second dog breed I wanted to ingratiate you with is the Italian Greyhound, which too has it’s own unique history, so read on.

The Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound is one of the most ancient dog breeds: fossilized remains have been found in Egypt that date back over 5000 years! In Italy there are texts and sculptures from Roman and Etruscan times that show that this breed was common. It’s a very popular hunting dog and excels at hunting pheasants and hares. It’s also used as a racing dog.

General Appearance

This breed is a miniature version of the regular Greyhound. Italian Greyhounds can be from 32 to 38 cm tall and they usually weigh anywhere between 4 and 8 kilograms. To the eye, they look just like a bundle of skin and bones! It has a full, strong chest with abdominal muscles curving into the stomach. Its legs are long and thin, made for fast running. It’s often called the aerodynamic dog, as they really are very fast: up to 40-60 km/h! The head is very small, elongated and pointed. Given its fine bone structure, this dog is very fragile. The hair is always short and smooth, with colours ranging from black and grey to fawn.


The Italian Greyhound, it needs to be said, is a very docile dog. It tends be quite reserved, but still very affectionate and loving. With its natural grace and elegance, the Italian Greyhound is a sight to behold. Known for being a great companion, this breed loves being surrounded by people. Sometimes though it can get shy and easily scared but it will never be scared while hunting you can be sure of that!

Health Concerns

This breed unfortunately has several health issues. The most common ones are broken legs, loss of colour, hair loss, periodontal disease, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. More serious health problems include epilepsy, hip degeneration, bleeding disorder, problems with the liver or autoimmune diseases.

Source by Marjory Peters

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Written by frank


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