Neapolitan Mastiff? Tibetan Mastiff? Your Quick Guide to the Different Mastiff Breeds

Two English Mastiffs Playing in the Snow

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Mastiff in person. I’ve never been more terrified in my life. I was convinced that I had somehow made my way into the Chamber of Secrets (R.I.P. Snape) and was about to get eaten by that three-headed dog.

Much to my delight (and my disappointment that I wasn’t, in fact, at Hogwarts), that dog turned out to be one of the sweetest lugs I have ever met.

Such is the way of the Mastiff. They have an intimidating presence that demands respect, but at heart they have the potential to be giant stuffed animals.

What a lot of people actually don’t know about Mastiffs is that there isn’t just one kind as with many other breeds, the Beagle for example. There are actually more than 14 different types of Mastiffs. Some are recognized as their own individually standing breed while others are more rare and a little lesser known.

O.G. Mastiff
While each individual type has its own unique characteristics; for the most part, the base Mastiff traits of a broad build, large square head, and a black muzzle are more or less consistent across the board.

According to Dogster, this memorable look all started with the original English Mastiff.

English Mastiffs are loyal, gentle, and make great family additions.

Mastiffs, in general, are known to be a little on the lazy side (my kind of dog). This easy-going temperament combined with the English Mastiff’s short coat makes it a pretty low maintenance choice.

Just make sure to keep it out of extreme heat, as its larger size leaves him at a higher risk for overheating.

A photo posted by #TUFTON (@tuftonthemastiff) on

That’s Bull! 

Another well-known example of a classic Mastiff appearance is seen in the Bullmastiff. The Bullmastiff is a mix between the Bulldog and the English Mastiff. While this guy inherited a lot of his physical features from his English Mastiff lineage, he also inherited some of that stubborn Bulldog temperament. While Bullmastiffs are generally laid-back, they require early socialization as they are known to become aggressive towards other dogs and humans they aren’t familiar with. This territorial nature makes them great guard dogs, however according to Pawsitively Safe, they aren’t recommended for first-time dog or first time Mastiff paw-rents.

German Surprise

Yet another surprising fact that I learned while writing this was in regards to the beautiful German Mastiff.

This Mastiff has a much more chiseled appearance than most of its relatives. It is a true gentle giant who isn’t always aware of his larger than life size.

The German Mastiff is relatively quiet and will typically only bark if startled or threatened.

These pups are so devoted and caring that they are even commonly used as service and therapy dogs.

So, what was I all surprised about?

Well as it turns out, All About Great Danes explains that the German Mastiff is commonly known in the United States as the Great Dane.

I had no idea that the Great Dane belonged to the Mastiff breed!

Neapolitan—Not Just A Dessert 

I can’t mention European Mastiffs without calling attention to the Italian Mastiff, aka the Neapolitan Mastiff. Even if you don’t immediately recognize the name (as something other than ice cream), you’ll no doubt recognize its signature wrinkled appearance. This Mastiff is just as big as its other Mastiff counterparts, but has a shorter and broader muzzle than most, plus all the wrinkles, obviously. Dog Breed Info explains that the Neapolitan Mastiff is again, like most Mastiffs, loving and gentle with minimal required maintenance. However, be prepared for some major drool action. Most Mastiffs drool, but the saggy skin on the Neapolitan Mastiff makes this trait even more noticeable. This is also another type of Mastiff that isn’t recommended for a timid or first-time dog owner. The Neapolitan needs an owner who is calm, dominant and can control and train them properly.

A photo posted by Trisha ❤️ (@trisha_l) on

Little Italy

The second Italian on the list is actually one of the lesser known breeds. The Cane Corso is a little smaller than other Mastiffs and was bred mainly for the protection of livestock.

Love to Know describes the Cane Corso as agile and athletic, quite different from its less active (this is a nice alternative for slightly lazy) relatives.

These pupsters are highly intelligent, easy to train and are good with families.

Since they are on the more active side, they will need more exercise than other Mastiffs, but are still fairly low maintenance and will do just fine in an apartment.

Oui, Oui 

Another lesser known Mastiff is the Dogue de Bordeaux. Calm down, I know you read Bordeaux and immediately thought of wine (me too, it’s ok). The Dogue de Bordeaux, aka French Mastiff, is actually pretty adorable. It is shorter in size than its other Mastiff counterparts and sports a dark red to light fawn color. And, of course, my favorite feature of the French Mastiff is its somewhat smooshed appearing little face. This monsieur has loose wrinkly skin and a short muzzle making it almost look like a taller version of a Pug (adorbs!). Love to Know describes its temperament as non-aggressive, affectionate and a natural guardian. I’ll take three!

A photo posted by Moe (@moethebordeaux) on

The Dog From Impanema

Speaking of wrinkles, the third wrinkled beauty on the list is the Fila Brasileiro, aka Brazilian Mastiff.

According to Vet Street, the Brazilian Mastiff is pretty intense. While he can still possess that gentle giant mentality, these dogs do not come that way.

Brazilian Mastiffs require immediate and rigorous training and socialization.

They are definitely not recommended for new or timid owners. These babes are highly territorial and are known to be very aggressive if they feel their human is being threatened.

Don’t get me wrong though, with the right owner, these dogs can be gentle and devoted companions.

A photo posted by @diversity_of_dogs on

Spanish Sensation 

If you are looking for something a little more docile, but still want that exotic quality, there is always the Pyrenean Mastiff. Not to be confused with the Pyrenean Mountain dog, this Spanish sensation (no, not Enrique Iglesias) hails from Aragonese Pyrenees in Spain where primarily guarded livestock from wolves. Unlike most Mastiffs, including the other Spanish Mastiff (this one is just called the Spanish Mastiff) this pup’s coat is long, luxurious and typically white with darker markings. The The Pyrenean Mastiff Website describes them as meek, but highly intelligent and great with families and children. Like most Mastiffs, and dogs in general, the Pyrenean Mastiff should be socialized. However, any human or animal that grows up alongside him will be considered a part of his “pack”.

A photo posted by Joanna 🍑 (@spizgalska) on

Seven Dog Years In Tibet
For the final Mastiff on our list, we’ve basically done a complete 180 in physical appearance from the original English Mastiff.

The Tibetan Mastiff is slightly smaller with a long, thick, double coat.

The American Tibetan Mastiff Association (that was a mouth full) explains that this breed is active, athletic, and curious. It is highly intelligent and easily trainable, but requires early socialization.

In contrast to its quiet relatives, the Tibetan Mastiff is sometimes a night-barker (you know the type) which can be a deal-breaker for some potential owners.

While the Tibetan Mastiff can do well indoors, he does need a lot of exercise and should have a fenced yard or be on a leash if outside as he will most definitely wander off to explore.

A photo posted by @brooke_young_shields on

Hopefully, if any of you were considering adding one of these regal beauties to your pack, this quick guide gave you some point of reference.

For more ideas on a good dog for your household, check out our article on the best indoor dogs.

Dog Shedding and Sitting on a Red Rug

How to Control Dog Shedding

Does your dog shed? Learn how to control their shedding!

10 Adoption Stories Guaranteed to Put a Smile on Your Face

If you love dogs, chances are you love a good dog adoption story! These ten stories are ones that I experienced first hand while working at animal rescues and shelters over the last eight years. They may make you laugh, cry, smile or a little of each, but they are guaranteed to warm your heart!…

Long Haired Beauties, What’s the Best Long Haired Cat Breed?

Are you looking to add a long-haired cat to your family, but aren’t sure which breed is right for you? Look no further because I’ve got you covered, from the Brachycephalic Persian to the dainty Turkish Angora there is a long haired cat out there for every personality type. Persian: One of the oldest cat…

Pug Smiling at Dog Park

Here’s How to Find a “Good” Dog Park!

Learn the insider secrets of finding the best dog park possible!

Dogs Walking on Path

How to Spot the Signs of Discomfort and Stress in Dogs

Do you know when your dog is stressed out or in discomfort?

Two Turtles Sunbathing on a Rock

How to Choose the Turtle for You

Turtles come in all shapes and sizes, with different living environments and dietary needs that you will need to be prepared to accommodate.

Pitbull Laying Out on the Beach

How to Rent a Dog for a Day

Want a furry friend, but don’t know if you can make the commitment just yet ?

Dog From a Painting Chewing on a Page from a Book

BO-ZING! 8 Most Popular Dogs in Literary Fiction

Even though Spot was used in the early 1930s to teach kids the fundamentals of reading, he certainly isn’t the only canine to find his way into a good book.

Dog Drinking Water out of Fountain

How Much Water Should Your Dog Really Drink?

It’s important for us to know what is and what isn’t normal for our pets.

Neapolitan Mastiff Outside in the Yard Protective Dog Breed

The 10 Most Protective Dog Breeds

These 10 breeds are all known for their dedication to their owners and their willingness to protect them.

Dog Playing with Pink Toy on Bed

Is Your Dog Possessive Over their Toys?

It’s normal for young pups to be a bit possessive over their toys…

Pug with Wrinkles on Face by Seaside

How to Clean Your Dog’s Skin Folds

The wrinkly faces of the Pug, Bulldog, Shar Pei and other brachycephalic breeds are adorable, but they also require regular cleaning.

Cat Profile in Plane Looking out Window

How to Fly with Your Cat

You have to give yourself plenty of preparation before you and your cat are ready to go jet set off on a plane somewhere.

Pug with Flowers in His Face

10 Dangerous Things in Your Yard for Your Dog

Have you taken a good look at your yard to be sure that everything is safe for your furry friends?

Chow Chow Least Obedient Dog Cover

Watch Out! The 10 Least Obedient Dog Breeds

Every dog can be trained, but some are simply a little less motivated than others.

Two Greyhounds Laying in the Backyard

How Long Should You Leave Your Dog Alone?

There is no short answer to this question as many factors can affect it.

Black Cat in Litter Box Newspaper on Wall

Why Should You Clean the Litter Box so Frequently?

Keeping your cat’s litter box clean is extremely important to her psyche as well as her health.

Millennials Spoil their Pets Jack Russell Sleeping

How Millennials are Changing Pet Parenthood

Millennials are putting off big life events like getting married and having children.
Instead, they’re having fur babies.

What Size Dog Should You Choose Dog Reading Self Help Book

What Size Dog is Best for You?

One thing that you definitely need to consider is size.

Puppy in Training to be a Guide DogPuppy in Training to be a Guide Dog

How to Train Your Dog to Become a Guide Dog

Dogs have been helping humans for hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that one common job for dogs is guiding the blind.

White Albino Labrador

How to Train a Deaf Dog—It’s Easy!

Luckily, training a deaf dog isn’t so different from a fully-abled dog.

White Great Dane Laying on the Couch

Why are White Coated Dogs Deaf?

Deafness affects white coated dogs, but not all white coated dogs are deaf.

Sheep Dog with Matted Fur in his Eyes

How to Get Mats out of Your Animals’ Fur

Mats in fur are an issue that many dogs face, especially shaggy ones.

Pitbull out in the Summer Sun

How to Prevent Your Dog From Overheating

It’s up to us. Our dogs don’t know when they’re overheating.

Three Greyhounds Sleeping in Dog Beds in Family Room

April is Adopt a Greyhound Month! 50 Amazing Facts about Greyhounds

The Greyhound, the professional sleeper.

Black Cat on Window Sill

7 Myths about the Black Cat and Why You Should Have One

Black cats are famous for “bad luck.”

Small Brussells Griffons Eating in Kitchen in a Line

What is Food Aggression and How Do You Stop It?

A useful response in the wild, but not so much in the home.

Yellow and Black Snake

How to Help Your Snake Shed his Skin

Shedding skin is a natural process for all reptiles.

German Shepherd Dog with Green Backpack on Back

The Top 10 Dog Traveling Gear Must Haves

Luckily, you don’t need to bring a ton of things.

Two Dogs Hike in Los Angeles

Love Traveling? Countries to NOT Travel With Your Dog To

Watch out for Belarus.

Dog Eating a Treat

Yum. Yum. Yum. Can Dogs Eat Sugar?

We love sweets, but can our dogs eat them, too?

Pitbull Looking up at the Camera

Going Out of Town? Best Pet Sitters in Atlanta

Going out of town and need someone to watch your dog?

Maine Coon Backlit by the Sunset

Feline Monsters: Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Siberian Cat vs. Maine Coon

Not only are these cats’ big, their personalities are larger than life, too.

Boston Terrier by Water

French Bulldog vs. the Boston Terrier: What’s the Difference?

To the untrained eye, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers could be the same breed

Labradoodle Hybrid Dog with Tongue Out

Why Do People Want Hybrid Dogs?

They’re cute and they’re…healthier?

Two Cats on the Floor Bonding

5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt an Older Cat

Adopting an older cat is a great way to get an amazing cat without all the work of kittenhood.

Black Cat Outside on the Lawn

10 years? 15? How Old Do Cats Live?

Cat’s have nine lives, but how long are those lives?

Grey and White Cat with Green Eyes

How to Prevent Cat Bladder Infections

Bladder infections are the number one reason cats visit the vet.

Dog on Hillside in San Francisco, California

The Top Dog-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

How can you go wrong with a pub-crawl with your dog?

German Shepherd with Pointed Ears

What is Schutzhund and How Do You Train Your Dog for it?

This sport has withstood the test of time.

Dog International in England Shakespeare House

Your Introduction to Traveling Abroad with Your Dog

Going to a new country with your dog can be a great experience.

Brown Horse with Black Mane Trotting in Dirt

How to Manage Chronically Infected Wounds in Horses

This can be a scary thing, because infections can eventually lead to the horse’s death if left untreated for too long.

Alusky Hybrid Frozen in the Snow

The Alusky—the Hybrid of Two Great Arctic Breeds

One portmanteau that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves—the Alusky.

Two Dogs with Tongues out with Separation Anxiety

How to Beat Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a well-known problem for many pet parents.

Alaskan Malamute Standing in the Mud

65 Fun Facts About the Alaskan Malamute

They’ve lived alongside humans for thousands of years.

Egyptian Mau on Cat Tree

Where Do Different Cat Breeds Come From?

There are over 70 specific recognized breeds…that’s a lot of cats.

Alaskan Malamute Outside in the Snow

Your Go-To Guide to Snow Dog Breeds

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Girl Waving at Computer

10 Ways to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Dog

Not sure how to help your pooch feel more appreciated?

Siberian Cat Profile Outdoors

How to Read Cat Body Language

There are many tell-tale signs to indicate Kitty’s mood.

White American Eskimo by the Lake

What are the Top 10 Dog Breeds that Shed the Most?

Did you know that a dog’s coat serves three distinct purposes?