The Neapolitan Mastiff is the ancestor of numerous mastiff breeds in other European countries. Also known as the Italian Mastiff, the Italian Bull, the Neo, the Molosso Italiano, the Mastino Napolitano, or simply Mastino, the breed gives the impression of being a Shar-Pei crossed with a great Dane. In fact, it is no hybrid, but a pure breed that is a descendant of the great Roman Mastiff. The ancestral form of this dog was a favorite breed of Alexander the Great, who was given a pair by a defeated Asian king Porus in northern India. Historically, they were employed as fighting, guarding and war dogs.
Today this member of molossian type of dog breeds is used in several major roles: as a much feared house guard, as a police dog, and even as a drought dog. He has a steady temperament, will only attack on command, and is safe and reliable at other times. If socialized early, these dogs are good with children, but not suitable for inexperienced dog owners.
Photo courtesy of Les Matins Napolitains