The Neapolitan Mastiff – the Ancient Defender
Mastino Napoletano, or the Neapolitan Mastiff dog breed is huge, standing at 24 to 31 inches and weighing in at a remarkable 110 to 150 pounds. If size were anything to go by, and at first glance, anyone who is not familiar with a mastiff is in for a mouth dropping look, at the very least. These gigantic bundles of loyalty come in hues of black, blue, mahogany, and tawny in color, or may also be brindled. Their life expectancy is 8 to 10 years and probably one of the quietest giant breeds around.
Neapolitan Mastiff History
The mastiff is a dog purposefully bred for its fearful looks to scare away intruders, however make no mistake with its immense strength: this breed can and will be a formidable opponent to anyone who dares to face it. Its huge head houses powerful vise-like jaws, and strong teeth that don’t let go. The breed is said to have descended from the now-extinct Molossus (from the ancient Greek tribal kingdom of Molossia who inhabited the region of Epirus). Other accounts trace the Neapolitan mastiff, back to the giant war dogs of the Middle East and Asia that were used to protect homes and livestock, and fight men, lions, and elephants in battle.
Another speculation revolves around the origin of the Molossus itself. It is speculated that around 330 BC Alexander the Great came upon these impressive, giant Macedonian war dogs during his conquests, and sent some back home. Alexander was the son of a Molossian princess Olympias and that is how they began to be associated with the region. Alexander supposedly cross bed the Molossus with a short hair Indian breed, bringing it closer to the Mastino we know today.
Later Romans began to use the Molossus and its derived breeds as their combat and guard dogs. They also cross bred them, some produced by using even larger giant dogs leading us to the Mastiff.
Farmers in southern Italy selectively bred the Mastiff, developing a giant with loose, saggy jowls and hide and a smooth coat. In their selective breeding they choose gentler breeds so that the huge animal could be kept to protect home and hearth, and still be safe for the family. This was the Neapolitan mastiff, named after Naples, its city of origin.
Despite their formidable looks, hanging jowls and mournful eyes, a well-trained mastiff is a loving companion. However, socializing must begin when the animal is a pup. Since it was raised and used for centuries as a guard dog that fearless protectiveness remains inherently a part of its nature. It is a devoted animal, heroically loyal to its family and home and gently affectionate towards children. Although it makes sense not to leave a child unattended with even the gentlest of dogs, because of their sheer size and weight. The Neapolitan Mastiff is suspicious of strangers, and stays wary of infrequent visitors: which isn’t such a bad thing. They will not attack unprovoked.
Upkeep and Care
Though the Neo would rather lounge around the house, walking them twice a day is good for their joint health, especially considering their weight. Because they are so heavy, over-exerting them physically especially as pups may damage their joints. Pups are playful and eager, so must be carefully monitored while running or jumping, also stairs can be dangerous as a fall can harm and damage their bones. Also they get over-heated very easily, so keep them in cool areas of the house or yard. Any training for a mastiff, must begin in their pup days, as older dogs tend to be complacent, often stubborn and may not learn well. Socialize them by taking them to public spaces, to teach them how to interact with strangers without aggression.
The Mastino drools. A lot. And when they shake their heads their drool flips on to floors and walls, and ceilings. Plus they are not neat eaters, and are likely to trail food around the house. So it helps to feed them in a designated outer space where they can pig out. Give them a weekly brushing to remove dead skin and shedding hair. Make sure their wrinkled folds are dry and sweat free and keep several rags in strategic places where your mastiff enjoys spending time, to wipe up the drool.
In return you will have a faithful loyal companion that would willingly be by your side till the end. The Neo is a great family dog, that requires space to live, and an apartment or cramped areas will not suit it. But if you have a little space in your home and a lot in your hart, the Mastino will make his home there. Forever.
The Many Benefits of Adopting Mediterranean Food Habits
Did you know that Spain remains at the top of Bloomberg’s list of Healthiest Nations in the World since 2019 – despite Covid-19. And the country they ousted in 2019 was Italy. How Mediterranean does it get?
There is a reason why Neapolitan culture rears people that have had the lowest chronic disease rates for decades. Italy and Spain have remained on the top ten list since 2017, with France, Cyprus, and Greece making into the top 20, followed doggedly by Portugal at 21 and at 25 by Malta. Not bad when you consider these were graded out of 163 countries. We at Napulitanamente, your all-Neopolitan magazine were pretty impressed. And proud!
For most people, the thought of a Mediterranean diet comprises of visions of pizza and pasta, lamb kebobs and Greek salad. But two of these items wouldn’t really be called healthy food choices to begin with. The true Neapolitan diet draws largely from the cornucopia of the vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, olive oil, seafood, and dairy products of the region.
The World’s Healthiest Diet
Or should I Say Best? If you factor in taste, the average Mediterranean food platter doesn’t just have healthy ingredients but it also looks and tastes just as amazing. Whether you came here looking for great recipes or to learn more about the Neapolitan food advantage, you will walk away impressed with you learn. Throughout this article, I’ve dropped valuable pieces of information that you can read more on if you wish it.
Here’s my second tidbit, in 1993 Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the Mediterranean diet pyramid that we will speak about later. Research shows the Mediterranean diet actually reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality.
And why not? The diet is based on copious intakes of fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, ﬁsh, olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and red wine. Not to mention the social bonds nourished by eating meals together and the emphasis on daily physical exercise. Healthy body and mind.
The Mediterranean Food Pyramid
You may have stumbled here because you’ve heard about the Mediterranean diet and its many health benefits. Or, maybe, you’re looking to work in a few more bright and flavorful Mediterranean-inspired meals into your weekly meal plan. Either way, you’ve come to the right place!
That’s what the Neapolitan looks like. It’s luckily for us lesser mortals, not that difficult to follow. Here are a few tips I’d like to share on what you can do to adopt healthy Neapolitan food choices into your life. Luckier still for us mortals, most ingredients are commonly available and easily incorporated even in the most hectic lifestyles.
Is Adopting Neapolitan Food choices possible?
Indeed. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Use olive oil regularly. I use quality extra virgin olive oil for cooking, dressings and anything related to cooking that I can think of.
- Eat more fish. The ones found around this region are omega 3 rich salmon, sardines and mackerel
- Eat vegetables daily. The Mediterranean region is known for so many: artichokes, arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, celeriac, chicory, collard greens, cucumbers, dandelion greens, eggplant, fennel, kale, leeks, lemons, lettuce, mache, mushrooms, mustard greens, nettles, okra, onions, Need I go on! You just remember a vegetable you meet (in a grocery store) is a good vegetable to eat.
- Get those Whole grains in. Whole grains, beans, and legumes, do the whole lot.
- Go nuts for nuts. Yikes, that may sound crazy, but nuts should be your go-to snack. Oddly enough they’re great for the brain.
- Fruits make a great dessert. Even if they are uncooked. Especially if they are uncooked.
- A little wine never hurt anyone. I did mention LITTLE. Keep it to a daily 3-ounce serving for women, and a 5-ounce serving for men. Do not incorporate wine or any alcoholic beverage in your daily routine if you are staying away from the stuff.
- Enjoy your food and the company: There is a reason, eating in the Mediterranean countries is a social affair. The company, the conversations, the laughter keep you from gobbling down food in a hurry, like we would in front of a TV or laptop as hectic lives sometimes enforce.
- Reduce your intake of red meats and poultry and sweets.
- Reduce salt. Flavor comes from so many other fresh herbs, seasonings, citrus, and spices. Believe me you want miss salt for long.
I hope this primes you enough to get started on a healthy Neapolitan way of living and food choices. Since we only live once, may we do so physically active till the end, enjoying our meals with others.
And if you want to learn more ways of everything Neapolitan, join our FREE e-mail list to receive recipes, culture tips, travel destinations and more. Napulitanamente, brings you everything Mediterannean. Enjoy!