The Neapolitan mastiff is a large breed of dog, originally bred for intimidation and protection. According to Carol Paulsen, author of "Neapolitan Mastiff: A Comprehensive Owner's Guide," the Neapolitan mastiff is an ancient breed, having fought alongside soldiers of the Roman Empire as war dogs. However, despite their intimidating appearance and violent history, the Neapolitan is a peaceful, even-tempered breed, writes Paulsen. Purebred Neapolitan mastiffs all have highly similar appearance and come in only a small range of colors.
According to Sherilyn K. Allen, author of "The Official Book of the Neapolitan Mastiff," grey, often referred to as blue, is the most common color for a Neapolitan mastiff. Any shade of grey, ranging from very light to near black, is considered a blue coat. Grey-colored Neapolitan mastiffs often keep the blue eye color the breed is born with.
Black is a rare and highly desired color of Neapolitan mastiffs, writes Paulsen. While many blue Neapolitans' coats are dark enough to look black in certain lights, a true black coat is unmistakable in sunlight. Partial black Neapolitans often have white markings over the chest and paws or light grey banding over their body. A black Neapolitan puppy's eyes will typically change from the blue color they are born with to a dark brown. Black Neapolitans are especially susceptible to heatstroke, writes Allen.
Tawny or Mahogany
According to the American Kennel Club, mahogany or tawny is a common color for Neapolitan mastiffs' coats. The coloring can range from a light tan, known as tawny, to a dark, chocolate brown. Tawny and mahogany Neapolitan mastiffs' eyes range from the blue they are born with to dark brown in color. Neapolitans of this coloring often have black markings around the muzzle, eyes and paws. Additionally, white markings on the chest are common for tawny and mahogany-colored Neapolitans.
By Serena Styles
American Kennel Club: Neapolitan Mastiff
"Neapolitan Mastiff: A Complete Handbook"; Robert Gravel and Gonnie Schaffer; 2000
"The Official Book of the Neapolitan Mastiff"; Sherilyn K. Allen; 1996
About the Author
Serena Styles is a Colorado-based writer who specializes in health, fitness and food. Speaking three languages and working on a fourth, Styles is pursuing a Bachelor's in Linguistics and preparing to travel the world. When Styles isn't writing, she can be found hiking, cooking or working as a certified nutritionist.