The Neapolitan Mastiff of today is much different than the Neo of earlier times. Now bred to exhibit traits of exaggerated girth and weight, the Neo's of Old were lean, well muscled fighting machines. Even in pictures dating back fifty years ago, the Neo is still shown with a large stature but with somewhat longer legs and a much smaller waist, similar to that of a Great Dane.
While they were well known for being dogs of war adorned with their own armor, Neapolitan Mastiffs that died in battle were given full military honors and burials. Elaborate processions and funeral services were commonly given to canine heroes fallen in the throes of combat. They were generally buried not only in their armor but with many other items of considerable value. The average foot soldier rarely received such a complex tribute.
The legends that have been built off of the Neo range from the inane to the awe inspiring. For nearly five thousand years, tales of werewolves and the rumors of being a dog and tiger mix have surrounded the breed. One account chronicles a band of angels who went to bind Lucifer and found the Neo at his side. The angels became smitten with the Neo and took the animal with them. The Neo was then offered to Atilla in exchange for peace and in order to stop him from laying further waste to earth's civilizations.
A Neapolitan Mastiff by the name of Tia broke the world record of most puppies in a litter when she delivered a whopping twenty four puppies back in 2005. Previously, a Great Dane, Amercian Foxhound and a St. Bernard had held the record with twenty three puppies each. On top of that, twenty of Tia's pups survived, breaking yet another record for the highest number of surviving pups ever.
The Neapolitan Mastiff found itself at the center of an urban legend when a digitally enhanced photo made its way across the internet worldwide. Calling the dog Hercules and claiming it to be the world's biggest dog, a digitally manipulated photo showed a man and woman walking with a horse and a nearly shoulder high Neo. While it is true that Hercules is the world's largest dog, he is in fact an English Mastiff and not the Neapolitan Mastiff pictured.
The only thing not exaggerated about the Neapolitan Mastiff is their lifespan. The Neo only lives approximately nine to eleven years. The stress and strain of massive weight on a frame plus the work it takes to maintain larger organ systems nearly always shortens the life span of larger animals altogether. This is why it is imperative that owners stick to a good diet and offer plenty of exercise to their Neo.