Monday 15 November 2010

Just say No to the Neos

It wasn't just me filming at Discover Dogs. This grim footage and pictures of the Neapolitan Mastiffs were taken by RSPCA veterinary nurse Kate Price on Saturday.

The Kennel Club's justification for accepting/registering this breed was that it would be better under its umbrella than not. In other words, that once under the KC's auspices the KC could work to "improve" the breed. They haven't done much, though. Dogs with eyes this sore (in fact common to a lot of giant breeds) continue to win in the show ring.

(my emphasis)

Some loose fitting skin over body and head permitted, not to be excessive.

Head and Skull
Head fairly large with broad short skull, broad across cheeks. Head proportion: skull length two thirds, to muzzle one third. Skull flat and parallel to topline of muzzle.  Definite stop, nose should not protrude beyond vertical line of muzzle. Nose large with well open nostrils. Lips fleshy and thick. The upper lips form an inverted ‘v’ when viewed from the front. Muzzle deep and square when viewed from the front. Head has loose skin permitted but without excess.

Clean eyes, set forward, well apart, rather rounded. Rims tight without haw. Rim pigmentation to tone with nose colour. Free from obvious eye problems.

To be fair, the UK Breed Club does a pretty impressive job of putting people off them:

"Some Neapolitans naturally slobber more than others but they all slobber a lot after they eat or drink. Are you prepared for wiping down floors, walls and ceilings, several times a day after your dog has shook his head and the slobber has flown everywhere? Slobber towels, kitchen roll and newspaper around water bowls are a must, as is the weekly chore of washing dewlap and wiping down of folds. If you haven’t the time for daily or weekly rituals, then a Neapolitan is not the breed for you.

"Some Neapolitans also snore very badly, if you or your children are a light sleepers, a Neapolitan is not the breed for you.

"Veterinary fees will be more expensive for a giant breed due to their size and weight, so health insurance is also a must, as is a vehicle large enough to transport a Neapolitan. If you are not prepared for financial commitment then a Neapolitan is not the breed for you.

"As with all giant breeds, there can be health problems which can occur during the optimum growing period,... Neapolitans can be, because of their lowered immune system, prone to infections of the skin especially during periods of stress, which they are also prone to suffering from. Neapolitans can also suffer with eye problems like cherry eye, entropion or ectropion... all issues of health need to be considered, for the chances of your Neapolitan Mastiff living into old age having never suffered any health problems, is highly unlikely."

Now. Do you still want one?


  1. I wonder what bit of "Rims tight without haw" these breeders don't understand?

  2. But how old are these dogs and when did the KC change the standard??? These things DO NOT and CANNOT happen overnight

  3. Compared to some Neo's these look very much better. I do agree with the other comment - that changes are not going to happen overnight and if the breed worldwide is like this where are you going to find the dog or bitch with the required improvements needed?

  4. Dogs get eye issues - people get eye issuese. Just because the dog got eye drops or has some discharge from the eyes does not mean we need to slander that person, dog, or breed. If we do, does this mean we're going to yell at any parent who lets their kid get pink eye from playing with other kids, gets head lisce or whips out a bandage to cover a skimmed kneee from falling off a bike? I think exxageration of features is definitely an issue and the kennel club are currently wroking on legislation to protect the health and welfare of dogs who suffer from excessive characteristics (The BVA has a ton in their 2009/2010 journals) however watch any footage and be questionable of the interpretation - either way.In general, just because the dog is getting care for an eye issue does not mean it is neccissarily breed related or inherited. I would like to see some scientific evidence by the BVA or other organisation with evidence as to how the NEo Masticff is suffering from eye issues.

  5. Anonymous,
    will things EVER change if those that see themselves as the breed's guardians see these dogs as "good examples of the breed"??

  6. Absolutely appalling!

    The wrinkles are excessive, the haw very pronounced as Margaret Carter asks, what don't the breeders understand.

    What are the breeders thinking about????

  7. The ones in North America are far more exaggerated (and severely croppped):

  8. There have been wild dogs that have reached something like this conformation in the wild. The famous dire wolf was something like a mastiff-wolf, and there was a subspecies of the grey wolf that lived in Alaska during the Pleistocene that had similar conformation.

    However, neither were brachycephalic. I'm pretty sure none of them had such loose skin or exposed haws either.

  9. Anonymous #3 stated: "I would like to see some scientific evidence by the BVA or other organisation with evidence as to how the NEo Masticff is suffering from eye issues."

    The Mastino Health Foundation is asking something similar. From the MHF website: "According to the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) only 30% of Neapolitans have “normal” eyes, 30% have entropion and 15% have cataracts. These statistics paint a breed plagued with eye issues, a breed in which 7 out of 10 dogs have a serious ocular disorder....Is this accurate?"

    The number behind the ACVO claim is apparently quite small, so in February 2010 the MHF asked mastino owners/breeders to CERF their dogs in order to generate some "real" numbers to support or refute the ACVO claim. There are 15 Neos listed on the Cerf website - 5 have been listed since February 2010, 2 of which appear to be from the kennel of the author of the MHF request. Of those 5, 3 have eye issues. But don't believe me, go read it yourself -

    I have only the utmost admiration and respect for people who are trying to gather credible data about health problems in their breeds. They deserve our support, not our criticism, because, as the mastino Cerf website shows, they are certainly not getting the support of the conformation fancy.

    Why not? With Neos it might very well be because The Wrinkle is what it's all about. From "Judging the Neapolitan Mastiff
    as submitted by the United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club" (

    "How do you judge the Neapolitan Mastiff? As long as you keep the five critical factors in mind the WHaM factor:

    Head, and
    Mass as well as:
    Big E - Emotional Impact and
    Little e - Not bred for endurance

    you won't go too far wrong."

    Unless you're the dog.


  10. Wow! I'm impressed by the breed clubs honestly. They should be congratulated on this. Seriously. Many breed clubs hide the truth or tell blatant lies about the extent of health problems within their breed.

    I am not denying that the Neo is suffering and that the KC are doing a miserable job of improving the health and welfare of the breed, but the breed club is doing a grand job of putting off the average dog owner. There's a huge difference between ignorance of health problems because the correct information is hard to find, and buying a dog despite knowing about the excessive health problems The Pug Dog Club should follow the Neo Club's lead.