Sunday, October 3, 2010

NEAPOLITAN MASTIFF

Experts of this particular breed more or less agree on its origin in Asian regions, mainly in Tibet highlands from where it later spread all over the world, in Europe mostly, following various directions. The history of the ancient molossian, to which it is connected the one of the Neapolitan Mastiff, follows the history and the most important phases of the human adventure.
This was the ancestor of the most powerful war dog in the world, the Macedonian molossians that were applied as sheer war machines in the big and devastating wars of those times in that area. These marvellous animals were lead to Rome where they were trained to combat in circuses, where numerous exhibitions and dreadful fightings were taken, usually against wild beasts or men. During the centuries in Rome dogs mixed with either Celtic dogs from the North, that had spread in Rome thanks to the victories of Caesar in the Gallic wars or with the great molossian of Epirus that trade exchanges with Phoenician ships in the Mediterranean had favoured.
In the following centuries these molossians were mainly reared in the south of Italy, as it was in that area, in the region Campania actually, that the famous Gladiator schools, like the one in Capua, were held. Afterwards the various rules in the south of Italy played a considerable role for the breed: for instance, the kings of Spain introduced the dogs of the ‘conquistadores’ with big head and short legs. They were called ‘perro da presa’, that is ‘lurcher’, modified into the present Neapolitan slang ‘ cane e presa’.
This breed was later given the name of ‘Mastiff’ from ‘massatinus’, the guardian of the ‘masseria’. At the beginning of the 20th century this breed was applied just to watch the Neapolitan farm hinterland; during the 1st World War it was drastically cut down and only few examples survived. Only in 1946, however, Mr Piero Scanziani, an important Italian expert in this field, and a writer by profession, discovered this ancient molossian in Naples.

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