Neapolitan mastiffs are large working dogs descended from Roman war dogs and were used as guard dogs in Italy. Purebred dogs come in a limited number of Neapolitan mastiff colors, including tawny, mahogany, black, and gray. Only white markings in certain places are allowed under the breed standard for this breed of dog.
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Neapolitan mastiff colors and markings
The Neapolitan mastiff breed standard describes the allowed colors for the breed. In general, most dogs are solid colors, although some tan brindling is allowed. The permitted colors are black, gray, mahogany, and tawny. White markings are allowed on some parts of the body. This includes the throat, chest, underside of the body, and toes. White is also permitted behind the pastern. Other white markings are disqualifying under the breed standard.
It is important to note that these are the only permitted colors and markings for purebred Neapolitan mastiffs. You may see advertisements for a merle Neapolitan mastiff puppy or dog, but these dogs are not likely purebreds, as a merle Neo mastiff is not allowed under the breed standard.
Breeding for color
The genes that determine coat color can be complex, but in general, there are two main genes in Neapolitan mastiffs that determine color. Those genes are symbolized with the letters B and D, with a capital letter being a dominant gene and a lower case letter representing a recessive gene. Each dog has two of each gene — one from his mother and one from his father. Genetic testing is available to determine your dog's color genetics.
A black Neapolitan mastiff has at least one dominant B and D gene. A gray dog has at least one dominant B gene and two recessive D genes, while a mahogany dog has at least one dominant D gene and two recessive B genes. A tawny Neapolitan mastiff has all recessive color genes. A third gene determines whether a dog will have brindling. Dogs must have two brindle genes to display the color pattern.
Coat characteristics and care
Neapolitan mastiffs have a dense coat of short, straight hairs. There is no curly hair or fringe on the body. Their short coat is extremely low maintenance. In general, an occasional bath and quick daily brushing are all that is necessary to keep your dog's coat healthy. These dogs have oily skin, so some dogs may need more frequent bathing to manage the musky odor.
You may need to spend more time brushing in the spring when the dogs shed their winter coat. They do have sensitive skin, so take care not to scratch her while brushing and use a gentle dog shampoo for bathing. It is also important to note that the dogs have large jowls and tend to drool, especially after eating or drinking. Have a cloth handy to wipe her mouth as needed.
Other Neapolitan mastiff characteristics
Neapolitan mastiffs are large dogs that can appear quite intimidating. They appear dignified and watchful and tend to be loyal to their owners. They have wrinkly skin that makes them easily distinguishable from other mastiff breeds.
Male dogs grow 26 to 31 inches tall and weigh about 150 pounds. Females grow 24 to 29 inches tall and weigh about 110 pounds. The dogs have brown or amber-colored eyes. Blue eyes and a lack of pigmentation around the eyes are disqualifying factors. The eyes are deep set with drooping lids. Neapolitan mastiffs must also have a pigmented nose in the same color as the coat.