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Neapolitan Mastiff Temperament
[This article appears in MM3 starting on page 25.]
Mastiff Report in England - by Douglas B. Oliff, Lydney
Now that we have a stud in Britain owned Mrs. J. Clark and bred by Frau Denger combining the Ponzano and Grotta Azurra lines it would appear that breeding of these dogs can begin again in Britain, as there is a great of interest being shown in the breed.
What I wonder is whether the average Britisher really wants a Mastino of the true temperament, and what will happen if we do breed some of these dogs and they find their way into the wrong ownership? It places quite an onus on breeders as the Mastino is not worthy of the name unless it a formidable guard and watch dog. Will the average owner be capable of the necessary training and control.
My Mastino is the best guard which I have owned in years but is perfectly under control and impeccably behaved in the house with strangers, provided that they do not attempt familiarity with her. This she will not tolerate neither will she allow any quick movement near me if she is sitting near me. In the car she is like a lioness, and when traveling in the back of the car she growls and bares her teeth at any car which comes too close behind us (Chistofer Habig who knows my driving will say that not many cars get that close). To me she is just an all around guard.
I will admit that there have been occasions when she has broken out of her pen during my absence, and has had a grand killing spree when poultry, cats and other livestock have fallen victim, but these are demonstrations that when I am not here (as head of the pack) then she is in control and asserts her authority.
She checks every outbuilding before going into her kennel at night, walks down to the road gate and listens there for a few minutes, then when satisfied that all is well is prepared to retire. If she found someone in an outbuilding, I think that he would need to be hospitalized unless he was very lucky.
Perhaps she is a bit bloodthirsty, but she is what a Mastino should be, courageous, determined, intelligent, but very loyal to her owner. I overlook her occasional misbehaviour as it is normally predictable and often the result of my own lack of attention to detail. She expects discipline and knows that if caught in the act of breaking the law she will be punished, and this she accepts. We must not attempt to "tame" the Mastino by making it entirely a show dog. If we do, we shall be doing the breed a disservice.