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Crufts 2010 Back on TV But Still Playing Host to Unhealthy Dogs

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Channel 4’s alternative broadcasting outlet, More4 is home to some genuinely brilliant shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show, The West Wing, The Sopranos and some incredible documentaries. It also has its fair share of tosh (Sex Change Hospital, Ramsay’s Kitchen Swear-a-Thon) and doesn’t appear afraid to throw the odd freakshow at its liberally minded viewers. In 2010, More4 welcomes Crufts to its schedules. The all new, health conscious Crufts. Oh. Hang on a minute…..

Just take a little looky at a WINNING dog from the Leeds Championship dog show held on July 26

neo-winner

So – for those who don’t follow or necessarily understand dog shows – the dog above is now qualified and will presumably exhibit at Crufts.

For those who may be blind, the dog above has so many heavy folds of skin weighing its own face down it would be hard to imagine how that would feel. To try and imagine it, get some bulldog clips and attach some weights to them – clip them on to your face in various parts, just enough that your skin becomes loose and gravitates south. Now, leave those clips in place oohh, let’s say, forever. Yes, leave them in place, pulling your skin from your face – until you die. That ought to give some degree of understanding.

DFS Crufts 2010 (that’s DFS the furniture store, it doesn’t stand for Delightful Floppy Skin, just in case you were wondering) has received the backing of the British Veterinary Association president, Nicky Paull.

K9 Magazine asked Mrs Paull what she thought about the ‘winning’ Neopolitan Mastiff. She told us:

It is such issues that we need to keep in the public domain – not just for those who opt to read dog magazines.

We have to continue to drive changes to the breed standards to make such extremes no longer acceptable and these issues need to be discussed openly. It is a dilemma whether to accept such breeds into Crufts but, if excluded, then the breeding will continue outside of the current controls that exist (even if not strong enough) by keeping them within the Kennel Club.

Until we see legislative changes to better control extreme conformation I believe we have to work within the breed societies to drive forward improvements but also to make any extremes unacceptable in the eye of the public. I hope that the More 4 programme will be able to use examples such as this Neapolitan Mastiff to discuss breed standards with independent expert veterinary comment on the difficulties the animal faces.

In traditional K9 Magazine style, let’s have a look at this statement bit by bit, shall we?

It is such issues that we need to keep in the public domain – not just for those who opt to read dog magazines.

What “issues” are we talking about here?

This is a dog that was exhibited at a Kennel Club endorsed dog show and won! A Kennel Club approved judge saw this dog and said “Perfect! You should go to Crufts.”

It is only being covered in a dog magazine because a concerned person in attendance at said dog show could see what most normal-thinking people could, that this is a dog with problems (and a rosette). The “issues” being covered by a dog magazine, in this case, are the fact that weeks earlier the BVA gave its backing to Crufts and dogs like this will be exhibited there. That’s the issue. But yes, absolutely the public DO deserve to see this sort of thing – but my, what strange logic. Giving endorsement to Crufts on TV in order that the public be exposed to the full horrors of what competitive dog showing can produce, is that what’s being said here? That would be like the British Medical Council advocating people watch televised boxing in order to get a full picture on the dangers of brain damage caused by receiving blows to the head!

We have to continue to drive changes to the breed standards to make such extremes no longer acceptable and these issues need to be discussed openly. It is a dilemma whether to accept such breeds into Crufts but, if excluded, then the breeding will continue outside of the current controls that exist (even if not strong enough) by keeping them within the Kennel Club.

Yes, driving change is important. So, it begs the question, how does it help to ‘drive change’ if the BVA gives its full backing for Crufts to return to the TV when dogs like this are still winning? How does rewarding someone for doing the same things over and over ‘drive change’?

We have been told already that extremes would be ruled out and yet look, here we are – about to see the very definition of an ‘extreme’ dog at DFS Crufts 2010. It’s absolutely unacceptable for people to be breeding dogs like this outside of the controls of the Kennel Club so, instead, people breed them INSIDE the controls of the Kennel Club and get rewarded with a 1st place. Come on! We’re not talking about a dog who got filtered out of the system by the Kennel Club’s health controls, we’re talking about a dog who was REWARDED by them. This dog WON, remember.

One can argue about the state of health within the Neopolitan Mastiff – it is one of the breeds on the ‘at risk’ register. But if we’re trying to say that THIS is the BEST of them then, boy, this is a breed in more trouble than one could possibly imagine. The facts are, there are far, far less extreme examples of this breed – but THIS ONE WON. This is the one who’s going to Crufts. This is the one who a judge decided was the ‘best’. Extremes are still WINNING. This isn’t about whether to accept certain breeds in to Crufts or not, this about PROVING that change is an easy, glib word to throw about but real change only happens when there is a collective will from within. Rewarding extremes and going along just as we were, that’s not change and it sure isn’t encouraging change. You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change.

Until we see legislative changes to better control extreme conformation I believe we have to work within the breed societies to drive forward improvements but also to make any extremes unacceptable in the eye of the public.

Weak.

Legislation against breeding disabled dogs? What, legislation like the European Convention For the Protection of Pet Animals? Legislation that the Kennel Club doesn’t want us to accept? Legislation like that?

How do we make extremes unacceptable in the eyes of the public when organisations like the BVA give Crufts their backing to be televised when extremes like this dog are still WINNING?

Let’s say it again, this dog was given first place at a Kennel Club show by a Kennel Club judge.

Blaming a lack of legislation for what’s happened here is incredibly poor. How about this for an idea instead: Rather than blame a lack of legislation for people breeding extremely exaggerated dogs which then go on to be rewarded with 1st places at Kennel Club dog shows, why don’t those dogs not be given 1st place at dog shows?  Why don’t those dogs not then go on to appear at the televised Crufts? Why don’t judges, Kennel Club approved judges, stop rewarding extremes? How about that?

A lack of legislation didn’t cause this. A system which – and always has – encouraged and rewarded extreme examples of dog breeds caused this. To think otherwise is naive in the extreme.

I hope that the More 4 programme will be able to use examples such as this Neapolitan Mastiff to discuss breed standards with independent expert veterinary comment on the difficulties the animal faces.

So do I Nicky. So do I.

But, fortunately for me, if and when – as I strongly suspect – it doesn’t happen, and we DON’T get an independent veterinary expert explaining to the public what a scandal it is that a dog like this is allowed to win and detailing the pain and misery that breeding dogs like this causes and how the incentive of winning dog shows remains THE strongest driver in why dogs like the Neopolitan Mastiff have ended up like this, at least I won’t feel bad for giving the televising of such an event my backing. See, for me, I would have waited to see exactly how the new, improved Crufts deals with cases like this rather than give support to an event which is – it’s clear to see – still playing host to dogs who are very, very badly done by. Because, let’s remind ourselves of this, this dog is not a dog who has been caught by this all-new, health conscious Kennel Club filtering system – no, this dog won. It won.

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70 Comments

70 Comments

  1. Fran

    August 7, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I am shocked. Best In Show???? What a sad sad day for the dog world. Keep up the good work Ryan. The Kennel Club MUST be brought to task for this by the likes of us who really care about the dogs we share this planet with 🙁 🙁

    • mak

      August 30, 2009 at 6:50 pm

      I’d like to know exactly how many of you have actually owned or even read up on the neapolitan mastiff, its origins and history? I suggest you learn a little more of the breed before writing such crass and frequently innacurate observations. I say no more, as without the knowledge there is no sense in arguing with the ignorant.

      • Jane

        November 11, 2009 at 11:04 am

        Well put mak!!

        Honestly,writer, have you ever owned one? they are without doubt one of the soppiest,most playful creatures. i very much doubt if they were, ahem, “suffering untill they die” they would act QUITE so viviaciously.
        Some breeds have problems,we know this,and that is why SOME of us in the breeding world spend thousands of pounds on hip testing,eye tests,elbow tests,blood test,dna testing..the list goes on. But no,dont focus on these people will you? only on the bad.

        Sir,by your logic,everyone is evil in germany because Hitler was! sweeping generalisations serve only to embitter the impressionable public.
        I personally am incredibly offended,and i dont even breed mastiffs!!! i am proud to say my show dogs are happy,healthy and probably more so than your average “heinz 57” breed. Equally, anyone is able to see these happy dogs at Discover Dogs. I urge you to go.

        I am both breeder and a registered veterinary nurse, what pray is your area of expertise that allows you to condemn so many?

        • Ryan O'Meara

          November 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm

          What nonsense!

          Besides, I shall simply evoke Godwin’s law on this one and chalk it up as more evidence of anti dog health activism.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

          • Jane

            November 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm

            ANTI dog health? ANTI? how is that even possible!? do you spend thousands of pounds testing your pet for possible problems,in order to overcome them? no. not at all.
            equally im a veterinary nurse,my whole career is about animal health.

            Oh dear,someone clearly has realised they have no further points.
            Ill be pleased to discuss this more when you arent so ignorant.

            Good day.

          • Ryan O'Meara

            November 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm

            Sorry, but if you don’t realise what anti dog health means, my time would be wasted trying to explain it. Suffice to say, it is usually the case that those who don’t know, make comments like ‘how can anti dog health even be possible’ whilst commenting on a post which contains a picture of a ‘winning’ dog which is the very definition of what I am talking about. I have plenty of points, believe me – but they’d be wasted on you.

  2. Bruce

    August 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I’m not shocked at all – the KC and breeders of such exaggerated, deformed breeds are hand in glove and just will never get it will they? I’m so disappointed in the BVA though. For this NM to win that day it must have drawn comments and thoughts such as “superb specimen of the breed”, “so close to the breed standard”, ” so full of type” etc etc. They’ll trot out absolute rubbish reasons for this breeds DEFORMITIES (lets face it – this dog is DEFORMED) saying things like ” it was bred to fight in the arenas of Ancient Rome and the loose skin is to prevent injury” etc etc. absolute balderdash and they probably secretly know it. Until it becomes unacceptable for the general dog loving public to own/desire/breed these monstrosities we will carry on seing such exaggerations protected encouraged and rewarded by the KC . the sad thing is that for every exaggerated breed there is a more natural,unexagerrated equivalent for the general public to get enthusiastic about.
    eg
    want a mastiff/neapolitan mastif ? get a central asian shepherd/ tibetan mastiff/ Boerboel
    want a bulldog? – get an American bulldog or an Olde English type
    Want a basset ? steer clear of those awful english bassets get one of the rustic French varieties
    want a blood hound ? get a coon hound.
    Let the registrations of such deformed dogs dry up.

    • Fran

      August 31, 2009 at 7:48 am

      Wouldn’t want to own one, and why would reading up on their history make matters better for the poor creatures!! What a shame somebody didn’t selectively breed you to have masses of folds to carry around with you 24/7 with absolutely no choice in the matter at all. Dogs evolved from the wolf. How much further away from nature do you wish to take this animal? What right do we as humans have to interfere with nature to this degree.

  3. Felicity

    August 7, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Wow – what a well written and intelligent article. I might well buy this magazine after that!

  4. AHHHHH

    August 7, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    ive never seen sex change hospital, whys it tosh?

  5. bet hargreaves

    August 8, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Thanks Ryan for your article, what I can’t understand though when some of us mention the Health of Pedigree Dogs, I will include my views about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Health Problems, we are accused of being Animal Rights Activists, or as was said about myself, being a supporter of Peta, I live in Scotland ,and don’t know who or what Peta is.

    Just because we are trying to improve the Health of the Breed of Dog that we care about,how on earth does being accused of being an Animal Rights Activist have anything to do with it.

    Sorry Ryan, went off your excellant Article, but just had to pass on my thoughts about those claims.

    Bet Hargreaves

    • Ann

      August 8, 2009 at 10:59 am

      There are those people involved in the animal ‘industry’, especially in relation to dogs and dog breeding, who belong to an outmoded way of thinking that sees animals as being our possessions, which is after all all how the law treats them. Therefore, they make deceisions about their dogs based upon this, eg, you make sure your car is running properly and regularly serviced because you need it to be reliable whenever you want to use it for whatever purpose you choose. Similarly, you feed your dogs and get the vet to healthcheck them so that they fulfill the the purpose that you keep them for – not for their own sakes. Until we stop seeing dogs as extensions of our own egos and put on this earth for our purpose then the only way to effect any change in how people treat them is by appealing to their own self-interest which unfortunately just perpetuates the myth. Groups like PETA put themselves on a limb to actually stop others from mistreating them when the law and appeals to enlightened self-interest have failed.

      • Joy van Veen

        August 31, 2009 at 12:28 am

        Ann, I have to disagree with your description of PETA. PETA is against any dog having a job. Last year the president of PETA went on the record of saying they would like to ban guide dogs. They think that a dog having a job is the equivalent of slavery. My breed, the GSD (German Shepherd Dog) is happiest when it has a job. And PETA said families and the communities where a blind person lives should take over the role of guide dogs. That’s turning the clock back toward the “bad old days” of the blind being treated like helpless burdens on the “normal” people around them. I believe PETA, and many other animal rights groups have gone too far to the opposite extreme of those who are cruel to animals.

  6. Delta

    August 12, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I have shown dogs for years and watched some atrocities I don’t care to mention. AKC will register anything with registered parents???. They will do nearly anything for money. I will not be part of this. I will not register with AKC or show a dog at their shows. I don’t think there is a limit to what they will do for money. I didn’t quit as a loser, I finished a dog in less than a month, not easy to do. Did it honestly to. The judges and exibitors were getting not nasty, but vicious and dangerous. Then you have to watch out for Animal Control and Animal Rights activists (PETA and others just as bad). Life can be hard enough, who needs the extra grief? Also one other thing you are very popular as long as you lose, winners are despised.

  7. Mr T.P.Simpson

    August 13, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I am a dog shower and know of the said dog and can vouch that the dog is of sound health and can move freely and better than most within the breed being shown at present, we within the dog show fraternity are endeavoring to work with the K/C to breed healthy and fit for function dogs and i reiterate that this is a very fit and active dog.
    Perhaps people should remember that there are two sides to every story and not just beleive what is written or beleive someone because they profess to know the right way things should be done.
    I do Beleive that ADOLF HITLER thought He knew what was best for the world and because of the media who helped him and only put his veiw across we were heading for trouble but lets not go there.
    Please come to me at my next show you attend and perhaps we can talk and i can offer my opinion to you but then again i doubt this will happen because as you took the photo without the owners knowledge and you used the gutter press attitude that to attain is permission to publish i doubt you have the brass ba**s to speak face to face.
    I await your response

  8. Kim Slater

    August 14, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Dear Ryan O’Meara

    What a sad state of affairs when you find it necessary to persecute a solitary dog and write such a judgemental self opinioned article without adequate research on which to base those opinion.

    I note you took the time to obtain a quotation from the BVA President but took no time to contact the UKNMC or its Health Advisor (which happens to be myself!) and we have been left to discover this article by pure accident in order to have some form of recourse.

    I could write a book here with work that is taking place (and has been for many a long year)to improve health issues in the Neapolitan Mastiff. I was unaware our breed was on any ‘hit list’ but simply one of 30 where some minor (but important from a breed type standpoint)changes have been made to the breed standard with a view to improving health. The UKNMC reps (including myself) met with the Kennel Club back in February this year to explain in a lot of detail, where we stand at the moment in terms of health initiatives and how removing basic breed characteristics which identify the NM from other breeds in the Mastiff group, such as the requirement of a double dewlap is not going to improve health, but simply confuse breeders, judges and fanciers as to what is a good representative of the breed.

    Please remember this is not our breed to change in type, but it is our duty to put in place all we can to make the UK Neapolitan Mastiff one who conforms to the Breed Standard of origin (Italy) and also who lives a normal happy healthy life. It is a balance I believe in my many years involvement here in UK we have come a long way towards achieving.

    The example you have chosen to single out for this article I have had to opportunity to meet and study. In the judges opinion at Leeds, he won Best of Breed and I can imagine having seen him, that in that judges opinion, he displayed the super correct conformation and movement I know he possesses. Other judges may decide this particular dog displays too many ‘frills’ than they personally would like to see, but since when do you assess the value of a Christmas present by the wrapping paper? Health of any dog is of course, far more than skin deep.

    If you wish to focus on the health and understand the Neapolitan Mastiff, it is necessary to understand its recent history. Contrary to popular myth, this is of a largely reconstructed dog following virtual extinction after the second world war. A very intelligent man (Nobel Prize nominee) called Piero Scanziani made it his lifes work to resurrect the breed and was largely influential in the writing of the first breed standard, taking the Neapolitan Mastiff from a rustic farm animal into the world of show. Commercial breeders there began to make successful business and produce puppies on supply and demand with very little health testing. This is the modern day basis of our breed.

    Lets be realistic. Nobody wants to be breeding or owning dogs with serious health issues, who die before their time and lead a miserable existence. This minority breed has a hardcore of serious people working hard to build something here UK can be proud of.

    I have taken the time personally to visit specialist vets in Italy with extensive experience, I have interviewed them, asked for their advice on ways to move forward and these interviews have been published in magazines and breed forums all over the world. I have met with University Professors both in UK and in Italy looking at detailed studies on the major known health issues, so we really KNOW. Only this way can we strive to move forward. There is no quick fix, Mr OMeara, for any dog breed, just as we humans have not yet found a cure for cancer.

    The televison documentary which I found totally extremist and not at all true of the majority of people involved in the world of dog breeding has not changed anything for the better. The Kennel Club cannot possibly be experts on all health matters of all the breeds within their registry, thats why there are breed clubs, who’s members are breed owners with vested interests in getting things right. Kennel Club support is always welcome, but intrustion to make quick fixes under media pressure is no way to succeed.

    But rest assured, the owners, breeders and club members are working together to ensure a bright future for the Neapolitan Mastiff here in UK. The last thing we need is hysterical misinformed articles like yours to hinder progress.

    I believe the owner of the subject of this article has offered you to visit and see the dog in his home environment and I would also extend an invitation to visit my home, where you may see six dogs of heavy type perform the function for which they were bred, ie guard my country home from strangers on the Welsh hillsides, which test the most hardy of dogs. I would take one of us up on the invition, so next time, you may write from a more educated standpoint.

    Yes, this dog will be at Crufts and I for one will be cheering loudly as he powers his way around the ring, in the best of conditions as his owners are meticulous in their everyday husbandry and displaying probably what is the most impressive construction we have seen in the breed here for many a year.

    If you would like any further detailed information on the health of the Neapolitan Mastiff, I can send you a boxfile containing all the various studies and recorded statistics we have compiled here in UK so you will be more than capable to see both sides of this particular coin.

    Yours,

    Kim Slater
    Health Advisor to the UKNMC

  9. Ryan O'Meara

    August 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Hello Kim and welcome.

    That’s an awful lot of trouble you’ve gone to there but I didn’t notice the words ‘This dog clearly is an exaggerated example and dogs that look like this should not be winning dog shows or their breeding encouraged.’

    I sometimes think that people who are too vested within a breed (or any subject for that matter) can’t see the wood for the trees. I certainly don’t agree that I persecuted this dog. That I can see from a picture that the way this dog looks is something which I wholly disagree with is, as you rightly point out, personal and opinion. I still maintain it though. I am afraid all the history lessons in the world will not change the facts that this is a dog which very clearly has excessive folds of skin and it is established that having excessive skin is something which is absolutely not correlated to good health. This piece was to point out that whilst the Kennel Club has gone on record stating that they wish to see an end to the rewarding of dogs which are exaggerated examples of the breed winning in the ring, I know that this dog’s victory in his breed class contradicts what the KC has called for.

    I have seen enough Neo Mastiffs to know that this particular dog is carrying more loose skin than is normal. But, of course, the show world doesn’t want ‘normal’. It doesn’t reward ‘normal’. Average is not 1st place, is it.

    I do appreciate your view. I don’t agree with it.

    I would respectfully suggest that you could send me 1,000 box files and all the health reports in the world on the health or history of the breed – but none of that will do anything to refute this undeniable fact: excess skin is something that has been purposely bred in to the dog, it is not required and it contributes to the dog’s health ONLY in a negative way.

    The breed, as I’m sure you’re aware, is on the KC’s own ‘at risk’ list. That exaggerated examples are being given 1st place and will be exhibited at Crufts in the current climate makes a mockery of any suggestion of health reform and attitude change within the world of organised dog exhibition.

    Ryan

    • Kim Slater

      August 15, 2009 at 7:40 am

      Dear Ryan,

      Thank you for the welcome.

      I believe my role as Health Co ordinator for the Neapolitan Mastiff in UK was offered to me due to my ability to remain objective and promote sometimes unpopular views and opinions for the greater good of the breed. I can very much see the wood for the trees as you put it, but the subject is far from as black and white as you would like it to be.

      Of course, information regarding blood sweat and tears of ones endeavors to take baby steps forward are not sensationalist headline material, so I can understand the response. As for the history lesson, do you not know that in order to understand anything in the present it is necessary to know the past? In a lot more detail too than I have given insight here!

      I am really not aware that there is an ‘at risk’ list. At risk from what exactly? This breed is minority, before a short piece of footage (used again without the dog owners permission after he had invited someone to his home) contained in the extremist documentary was aired, no one had the slightest interest in the breed at all. We have no Championship status, never get a backward glance in a working group situation, small entries at shows tagged on to more major breeds so our dogs are hanging around the whole day most of the time and low level of income from registering litters. This small group of people has quietly got on with attempting to do serious work as I stated above. We have weathered the storm created by ‘Harry Potter’ when every exchange and mart contained an ad for puppies ‘as seen in the movie’ only to end up in rescue centres nationally when they grew from cute wrinkly pup to large animal who made a lot of mess in the home. We have endured all the ‘get rich quick’ merchants importing a couple of dogs to breed for big money and take no responsibility for the mess they created as were fly by nights here today, gone tomorrow, we are unfortunately still dealing and always will with the backstreet breeders the length and breadth of the country that are the scourge of all breeds but in our case all the more damaging again due to the numbers. But now for the most part, we are left with people with real passion, who wish to create and preserve something here that this wonderful breed deserves. The work is far from easy and all people can do is their best.

      I seek to reassure readers of this magazine that breeders and owners of the Neapolitan Mastiff here in UK are not blindly importing and breeding dogs of excess. We can go back to the dog in question. His owner is very ethical. Hand on heart, of course he wishes his dog wore less ‘frills’ as ideal. Why show such a dog then? Well, Ryan, again this is freedom of choice we enjoy here in UK and the dog has a lot of quality in the eyes of many, but here we differ in our opinions. Such is the state of confusion at present, dog shows have wildly varing results. One moment 1st, the next week, bottom of the heap, the next week, middle of the pack. Judges are for the most part very nervous. I watched an English Mastiff show take almost 2 hours longer than normal for the number of entries as the judge was quite obviously terrified to make a mistake so going over the dog time and time again.

      Far from your view that the Kennel Club is carrying on regardless, I can assure you that change is indeed with us. Whether that change is for the long term benefit is another matter as I believe anything tackled in a knee jerk style is rarely correct.

      Where have you seen Neapolitan Mastiffs Ryan? There are not so many in UK and even less dogs I would consider of true type and stature. This is why the invitation was extended, as is an opportunity for you to see real dogs in natural environment which we believe represent excellent examplesnot world. We believe its possible to work and balance health and type as without either there is not a Mastino Napoletano. As for dog shows, it is not and never has been my primary reason for ownership or choosing to work with this breed. But normal is not the point of dog shows Ryan. The same as any beauty pageant. You are looking for exceptional and that means different things to different people. But all examples presented at dog shows should conform to the Breed Standard (I believe the Italian as that is the country of origin) be in an excellent condition, have good clear eyes, have good teeth and gums, be able to stand around on a hot day without falling over, be able to run around the ring as often as requested without displaying any weakness in construction. If I was a judge, I also believe character and temperament also plays its part, but thats a whole new subject matter!

      All living organisms get sick, suffer diseases and die and canine are no different. There is no doubt selection for beauty over form for decades has been to the detriment of many, many breeds. Ours is no different. We have come a long way along the road of identifying major issues and problems to work on and will continue to do our best for this breed. Meanwhile, my previous comments about misinformation and assumptions based on a photograph remain unchanged.

      If all could be determined by a photograph, no need for anyone to travel to NEC come March, just submit to you for a judge to see. No need to take to the vet for health check up, simply send a photograph and they can say yes or no! How silly does that sound to you?

      Kim Slater
      Health Advisor to the UKNMC

  10. PBurns

    August 14, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I read the note from Kim Slatter, and I have some questions. She (he?) writes:

    1. “A very intelligent man (Nobel Prize nominee) called Piero Scanziani made it his lifes work to resurrect the breed …”

    Eh? Piero Scanziani was a Nobel Prize nominee? Is there a citation to this claim? For the record, I am a Nobel Prize nominee as well. The record for Nobel Prize nominations are sealed for 50 years, so you will have to take my word on this.

    _ _ _ _

    2. “Please remember this is not our breed to change in type…”

    Eh? Whose breed is it, then? This dog is a complete recreation and a put-up job, same as the Cane Corso is. Both dogs were created out of the mixed (non-pedigree) farm molossers of Italy. Scanziani created this breed the same as Giovanni Bonatti and Paolo Breberdid created the Cane Corso (who formed their breed Club in Italy in the 1970s). This is not an “ancient breed” any more than the Pharaoh Hound is.

    _ _ _ _

    3. “Lets be realistic. Nobody wants to be breeding or owning dogs with serious health issues, who die before their time and lead a miserable existence.”

    Eh? If you are interested in heath, you should know enough to stay away from any and all giant breeds, which are prone to cancer, torsion and a variety of other maladies. People who own giant breeds are NOT too interested in health — at least they aren’t before they get that first dog. Yes, sfter they shell out big money, and go through the misery and pain of early canine death, they may get a bit more interested than they were in the beginning. But let’s not kids ourselves: the attraction of large dogs and molosser breeds is not health. That is simply not true and never has been.

    _ _ _ _

    4. “There is no quick fix, Mr OMeara, for any dog breed, just as we humans have not yet found a cure for cancer.”

    Well, that’s not quite true, it it? Not only do we know how to cure a lot of cancers, we also know how to avoid a LOT of them — especially in dogs. For example if we stop breeding dogs so large, and stop inbreeding them, cancer rates plummet. The rules for canine health are not complex or mysterious. In fact they are as simple and old as Mother Nature: Increase the level of genetic diversity within the population, and stay between the size of the smallest natural canid (a small fox) and the largest (a very large wolf). Ignore coat, nose and eye color, ear placement, tail carriage, etc. The farther you get away from these principles, the greater the chance for defect, disease and deformity within a canine breed.

    The bottom line is that Ms/Mr Slatter has typed a lot, but most of what she has typed is patent nonsense.

    You can say you want to own a modern giant breed with flapping folds of skin. No problem there!

    Just don’t tell me it is an ancient breed, that it is healthy, and that bizarres exaggerations are not being saluted in the ring.

    PBurns

    • Kim Slater

      August 15, 2009 at 8:12 am

      Dear Mr P Burns

      If you would like to ‘google’ Sig. Scanziani you will find he was indeed a nobel prize nominee and author of reknown.

      I in fact stated in my original post, but can repeat myself for your greater understanding that contrary to popular myth, the Neapolitan Mastiff was reconstructed following the second world war and bears little or no resemblance to molosser fighting in the arenas of Rome.

      I would not expect a non ‘Mastinaro’ to understand the passion for the breed which we could (but find we cannot) abandon in favour of a smaller one, maybe we think we can make a difference and I believe we have achieved much in UK to be prud of in the past 10 years. What initially attracts anyone to any breed? I do not think the reason is primary health, but many factors, appearance, size, cost, amount of maintenance, amount of exercise, etc etc etc…..

      I agree when selection is placed so heavily in one area, ie beauty, it is to a breeds detriment. Inbreeding does indeed weaken the genepool. Greater emphasis must be placed on other areas such as temprament and a great volume of testing for hips, heart, thyroid function must be carried out, excluding examples who’s results are less than desirable. This is all in place and the message I and the UKNMC AND the Kennel Club is pushing at every opportunity.

      I, Mr Burns, wish to own a large healthy Mastino, capable of patrolling my land and deter bad people from coming around without invitation. I wish them to be proud, majestic with intelligence and balanced even temperament. I want them to accompany me on mountain walks, or to the beach, climb up sand dunes and swim in rivers. I want them to live in excess of 9 years, but this is the hard bit, I really want them forever but accept I cannot. I dont want to see them limp around, with bad eyesight, exhausted after 2 minutes or take them to the vet every 5 minutes. But I want them to look like Mastino Napoletano, as described in the breed standard of Italy. That is what I want and believe me, that is what I have, after many many many years of ownership.

      Yours,

      Kim Slater

  11. Dogsie

    August 16, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Interesting exchange. Which I would summarise as follows and let me be upfront at the outset I am with Bruce on this one.

    Some people harbour a self indulgent fancy for a dog commonly known as a Neapolitan Mastiff – or more affectedly referred to in some quarters as Mastini!. What is more they appear to assert the right to gratify this indulgence unchallenged and vociferously object when another group of people takes it upon themselves to do so. Of course the root of this challenge lies in the unquestionable welfare issues attached to this breed.

    The indulgent whim to covet such a dog has lead to:

    Serious health problems in terms of joints, compromised immune systems, tendency to get easily stressed, serious eye problems
    Compromised longevity whereby they are lucky to get to six
    Temperament issues because if not socialised effectively they can become dominant or worse
    Welfare issues – this taken from the NM welfare website “We have had to have a recent regroup of the organisation due to the impossible task of dealing with so many dogs being dumped all over the UK and so few people to help”

    And of course they are for the entirety of their short lives encumbered unnecessarily by exaggerated folds of skin which itself is the cause of health issues.

    Kim Slater also asserts that here in the UK the breed has been carefully bred in recent decades yet contradicts herself by saying that the dog used to illustrate this article displays “probably what is the most impressive construction we have seen in the breed here for many a year”. As it is an imported dog that is I feel a sad indictment of the UK’s breeding record.

    The issue is quite clearly that we come to this subject with entirely different frames of reference. Your “frills”, your “trifle exaggerations” are our deformities and to us are abhorrent. And you will forgive me I am sure for not wanting to shed a tear for the hard time you are all having in the show ring at present what with the breed standard being all over the place.

    Now before you suggest that I don’t know what I’m talking about I would simply say that I neither have to be the producer of nor the eater of foie gras to justifiably claim that it is the result of a cruel and unpalatable production process. Please do not invite me to your home to see your wonderful dogs because that would be like a Michelin starred chef inviting me to dine on said foie gras. I have seen and read enough of the Neapolitan Mastiff to know that in fact it would be far better off if it were just a mythical creature from the imagination of JK Rowling. What Ryan O’Meara has done here is demonstrate that these sad grotesque dogs not only remain what is worse they are still celebrated. That is what I would call excellent journalism.

    • Kim Slater

      August 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

      Dear ‘Dogsie’

      I am afraid I am in severe danger of developing repetitive strain injury in my responses. I have to repeat again for your greater understanding that I stated that this breed in UK has come a long way in the past 10 years, not carefully bred for decades. Prior to 1998, a class line up here looked very odd, with little or no consistency in breed type. Some examples appeared to have wandered into the wrong ring by accident, causing a specialist judge from Germany to write in his Critique following Crufts in 1999, ‘breeders must pay greater heed to type and not be influenced by English or even French Mastiffs.’ The same judge, Cristofer Habig, I had the opportunity to speak with in Dublin recently where he watched the UK contingent display their Mastini at the European Winner Show and complimented breeders here on their efforts in such a relatively short period of time.

      I am not here to convert anyone to love the Mastino Napoletano (or Neo Mastiff as they are called here) I am here to defend the aims and actions of breeders and owners here in UK. But, ‘Dogsie’, I would kindly request you pay a little more respect (the same as the original author of this one sided piece) for people who ARE lovers of this breed and put their heart and soul into working for their future. Its very easy to watch TV, read a newspaper and put pen to paper in hyper critical manner about how terrible and bad things are, but what else are YOU doing about it?

      As in most areas in life, things are rarely black and white, but several shades of grey and to explain any further would be futile as your point of view is clearly based on a superficial assumption with absolutely no interest in open minded learning. In your opinion, all ‘Neo Mastiffs’ are usless unhealthy creatures in the same way all black people are gang bangers!

      As for having a hard time in the show ring, the problem with erratic judging is no clear direction for newcomers to the breed as to what consitutes a true to type AND healthy dog. It is just another hindrance to overcome and no one is shedding tears.

      The invitation to my home was made to the author of this article since he was speaking with one eye firmly shut, either by ignorance or design, but he was afforded the opportunity to see for himself and make judgement on real life examples, not a photograph. My door is always open to those who wish to learn. We like visitors and it provides nice social opportunities for the dogs, but you have made it clear in your response you do not fall into any catagory that I would think to extend an invitation!

      Just so you can be clear, the UKNMC and its members are driving forward a host of health initiatives to continue to move in the right direction. Maybe (or maybe not) you would like to read an interview I did back in 2007 with a specialist vet in Italy? As much as readers here would tar UK owners of the Mastino as a group of self indulgent fools breeding cripples for their own amusement, the reality is somewhat different and we are taking a harder line with health issues than practically the rest of the planet in this.

      The health issues you listed above could apply to any breed within in the working group and some others. Nothing is specific, nothing is permanent that better more educated selection cannot improve or erradicate. We carry out annual surveys to all owners asking for anonymous information on health problems they have encountered and look for improvements, particularly in statistics on the most common ones such as cherry eye. In terms of joint problems, Martin Owens a leading expert in arthroscopic surgery based in University of Bristol confirms instances of joint surgeries in our breed is exceedingly low in comparison with other working breeds, which is very encouraging. Most progeny are result of imported dogs mostly who have been tested in their countries of origin prior to arrival in UK, particularly since the introduction of Pet Passport scheme means few dogs arrive here as puppies nowadays giving greater insurance for health tests to be conducted up to 10 months of age.

      Here is the link to the vet interview from two years ago, prior to the extremist documentary and Kennel Club intervention regarding our breed standard. Of course he is talking about the situation in Italy, but breeders in UK paid a great deal of attention!

      http://www.neapolitanworld.com/dr-pazzaglia-interview.html

      We obviously differ on our opinions as to what excellent journalism is. But maybe you read The Sun and I read The Guardian?

      Best wishes to you

      Kim Slater

      • Bruce

        August 31, 2009 at 4:00 pm

        Kim I have followed your comments with interest – there is no doubt that you love the character of your breed and The NM population is fortunate to have your concern but the fact remains that underneath that human created bag of excessive skin folds, unnatural excesses of size and weight, red rimmed eyes catching dust, pollen, grass seeds, joints groaning with strain as well huge problems of heat diffusion there is a pariah dog clamouring to get out!

        • Kim Slater

          September 8, 2009 at 4:22 pm

          Bruce,

          This will be my last post on this subject as I have covered all I needed to. But yes, there is no doubt I do indeed love the Neapolitan Mastiff breed with a passion and have spent 15 years of my life studying them all over the world. I have benefitted from information and advice from all manner of people, the most knowledgeable are not the professors and vets, but the peasant farmers of rural Naples, who lives were spent side by side with their canine companions, people who did not have much in life in the way of possessions, nice houses and fancy clothes, so no money at all for vet bills or testing kits. But they shared what little they had with these dogs.
          To truly understand the Mastino, is necessary to understand the lives of the people that bred them and still breed them in far greater numbers than on our little island with its handful of enthusiasts. It is a different world to the one we live in ourselves.

          I will say for the last time, it is my role to encourage and educate here in UK, so that the Mastino may have a better future, more like the one he enjoyed in the past of rustic companion and property guard instead of dog for the show ring.
          I did not expect to convert anyone, least of all the author of this blinkered uneducated piece of sensationalist claptrap who hasnt even seen the dog this article was written about (the camera never lies, right?) or who has not been open minded enough to make a trip down the motorway to have his mindset properly tested. I would feel a lot more confident on his claim to be open minded if that was the case! But is just more words, with no action, like a lot of the other contributors here.

          I simply hoped that I could at least share a different side of the real story of Mastino and demonstrate that UK breeders and owners care, not for rosettes, but to work hard to help and are doing all we can to improve.No one ever said it would be easy or things can change with a wave of a magic wand, even though the Kennel Club now think they have bought the rights on magic wands!!!to

          Therefore Bruce, I would like to thank you for that recognition in your first sentence. The rest, we have to agree to disagree, but I am always willing to prove a point and show Mastini in the UK who are much more than your description above. Anytime, my door is open to those who want to walk through it and are prepared to meet face to face, a full on Mastino in all his glory.

          Best wishes and thanks again.

          Kim Slater

  12. PBurns

    August 17, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    The only source for Piero Scanziani being nominated for the Nobel Prize is an obituary. Obits tend to be vanity-fair stuff pasted together from puffery put in by the children of the deceased, and are rarely fact-checked.

    In fact, so far as I can tell, Piero Scanziani was a minor author whose Wikipedia page is available only in Italian, and none of his books are still in print so far as I can tell. This is not a criticism; I am simply trying to establish fact.

    Scanziani’s obit (available at >> http://www.laregione.ch/interna.asp?idarticolo=39303&idtipo=83 ) claims he won the Schiller Prize (Prix Schiller) but there is no mention of his name as a Schiller Prize winner anywhere I can find; not on the Schiller site, or on the Schiller Prize wikipedia page at >> http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piero_Scanziani&ei=06yJSoeOH5TANb_WjfME&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dpiero%2Bscanziani%2Bwiki%26hl%3Den )

    The one fact we know for certain is that a nominee for the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1997 (assuming Scanziani was nominated for a Nobel the same year he claims to have won the much lesser Schiller Prize) will not be public until 2047 (see >> http://nobelprize.org/nomination/literature/)

    As for the Neopolitan Mastiff being a great guard dog, it is a caution that Neos are not used as a guard dog by any military, police, prison, or national security force anywhere in the world (including Italy).

    YES, this is a BIG dog, and perhaps an intimidating looking, but it seems to lack what it is you really want in a protection dog.

    In fact, the Neo is mostly an ornamental dog — a dog to be paraded around or turned loose in the yard for effect, and to be trotted around the show ring for rosettes. That is what Scanziani did with his dogs, and it remains their sole function.

    This is a dog without history, without a real purpose, without a sizeable gene pool, and without good health.

    Save it?

    Why?

    This is a question that needs to be asked more often.

    This is not an animal created by God, nor is this history or utility being preserved. This is a dog designed for human ego.

    Perhaps, after WWII, Italy needed to salve its wounded sense of nationalism, but is that something we still need to be medicating?

    And is that reason enough to inflict pain and early mortality on dogs that are defective by design?

    Owners of these dogs will, of course, say YES. “You do not understand.” What is it that we do not undertand? That the human ego needs trophies? We get that! But should the trophy have pain and early death attached to it? Surely, there are other ways to salve the human need to feel special?

    PBurns

    • Joy van Veen

      August 31, 2009 at 1:05 am

      I have been following the debate here and feel compelled to put my two cents in. I am not a Neopolitan enthusiast and have only known a few in training classes. But PBurns, your assertion that because police, military, etc don’t employ them; does not mean they are not a guardian breed. In fact, as far as I know, no guardian breeds are regularly employed by law enforcement agencies. A protection breed and a guardian breed are two different things. Did it ever occur to you to wonder why all flock guardian breeds are large? It’s not because owners of sheep simply fancy a large dog, it’s because size plays a role in being a good guardian. And before you tell me that Neos aren’t flock guardians, I know that. Yet they are boudary guardians, which has some similarity.

      Breeds employed in law enforcement are not boudary guardians. They don’t work independent of humans. They work in close proximity and are team mates with their human partners.

      As for the breed not being created by God, does any breed meet that criteria?

      • Bruce

        August 31, 2009 at 3:52 pm

        er…no Joy you are mistaken .

        Not all Flock Guardian breeds are large. At first it might seem obvious that bigger dogs are necessary to defend livestock from predators such as bears, wolves and large felines but that is not really true.

        For example the dogs of the Damara and Ovahimba in Southern Angola/northern Namibia are indistinguishable from the ordinary 15 – 20 kg pariah village dogs and they protect against leopards, cheetahs, baboons and lion. It is not in a predators interest to tangle with guardians so most of the time guardians protect by being noisy, disruptive and defensive. Most predators are not programmed to fight for uncaught prey. They might defend a carcass but that is not the same as fighting for the right to stalk and attack a prey animal.

        Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, in their book “Dogs – A New Understanding of Canine origin, behaviour and evolution” set out the main reasons why the Eurasian flock guardians are usually big dogs

        1. The vast distances of the Eurasian transhumance(seasonal stock migrations) – big dogs take longer strides than smaller dogs.
        2. The climate and high altitude terrain of the Eurasian transhumance – big dogs are more likely to survive the ravages of disease, adverse weather and injury.
        3. Quality waste food whilst following the flock – milk, whey, dead sheep, sheep manure and afterbirth allows large dogs to survive and grow.

        • Joy van Veen

          September 1, 2009 at 12:16 am

          Again I think you are confused by what a flock guardian breed is. They are dogs that live with the flock as if they were a flock member. Their bonding is to the flock, not the shepherd (human). The pups are put in with a ewe while quite young (no more than three months, and often at only a few weeks of age) They are always light coloured; white or pale shades. Many dogs might accompany the shepherd and protect the flock, but that is not the same thing. The GSD is an example of a combination herder and shepherd accompanied protector; but is NOT a flock guardian breed. Their bonding is to the shepherd, not the sheep.

          As for your #1, big dogs are actually have less of an advantage traveling long distances. Their size and weight gives them more power due to mass in an altercation, as well as the intimidation factor; but medium size dogs have more stamina for traveling distances.

          As for #2; why do you believe that big dogs are any better than medium size dogs in survival of desease and injury or Eurasian climate? I see no advantage or disadvantage here. Only small dogs might be at a disadvantage to Eurasian climate. Even in the tundra, there are many medium sized breeds that traditionally live outside all the time. Look at all the sled dogs.

          As for #3, are you saying that such diet supplements are good for large breeds but not for medium sized breeds? I can’t see your reasoning.

          Just as flock guardians work without instruction from their humans, so do boudary guardians such as some mastiff breeds. The dogs have the job bred into them. Even without any imput from a human, the dog will automatically/instictively perform their job.

          • Bruce

            September 1, 2009 at 10:10 pm

            Hi Joy – this is an interesting discussion. Firstly I AM talking about the flock guardian breeds that you are describing – dogs that, as puppies are socialised with the flock and live with the flock – but during the Eurasion transhumance these dogs will travel with their flocks and their shepherds many hundreds of kilometres to and from their summer grazing. Raymond Coppinger studied the effects of these vast migrations on the genetics of the flock guardian breeds of Greece, Macedonia and the Balkans – from his studies he estimates that biannually ie late spring and late autumn well over a million adult sheepdogs(guardians) are moving back and forth over three continents in a thousand mile band from the western med to somewhere east of the Himalayas.

            Now let me clarify my points about the size of these dogs.

            Firstly I said bigger dogs with longer legs cover more ground with each stride.How many steps does it talk to walk 500 kms? It depends on how big the dog is.Each step takes energy – to cover the distance with half the steps means a longer lasting dog.Of course an excessively heavy dog will be at a disadvantage. Saplannics, Kangals, Akbash, Greek and Albanian shepherds, Estrelas, Maremmano-Abbruzzese are all large and athletic but not exagerratedly heavy.

            No.2

            There size enables them to endure a deficit of food – big dogs don’t react to starvation as adversely as small dogs – they can carry more fat reserves and and store more heat as they have lower surface to volume ratios -this is important biologically .The bigger the dog the longer it can go without food.On migration all the people, sheep and dogs all have less food and less time to eat.It is better, Coppinger alleges, to start out with much in reserve and take fewer steps on the migration. Bigger dogs too can handle the dehydrating effects of diarrhoea better than small dogs due to their heavier body mass and they are better at tolerating low temperatures than smaller dogs.At high altitudes this is an advantage – Of course during WINTER when they are in the lowlands with their flocks, the well known problems that large dogs have at getting rid of excess heat is minimised.Bigger dogs may also scale slopes, and ford rivers at less risk than smaller dogs.

            regarding point 3.I was trying to say that one of the reasons Eurasion flock guardians might tend towards the large size range is that living in close proximity to a sheep culture they have a greater chance of feeding on higher quality sheep based food than your average tropical village dog surviving on the local dump. Perhaps this has resulted in bigger dogs naturally – combined with selective breeding by shepherds because of the false belief that flock guardians need to be big to fight off wolves and bears these dogs from europe and central asia do tend to be large -BUT… and I reiterate .. your original statement that ALL FLOCK Guardians are large is not actually true.

          • Joy van Veen

            September 3, 2009 at 6:26 am

            You misquote me. I did not say, “all flock guardians are large”; I said, “all flock guardian breeds are large”. An individual medium size dog from a breed not bred to be a flock guardian, might be successfully employed in the job. There are breeds, such as the Canaan Dog, which is a pariah dog selected in Israel as a protector of livestock (mostly sheep and goats). It is not a flock guardian breed.

            It is not just the abilities of the dog that must be considered, but the acceptance of the dog by the sheep as being one of them. This is the reason flock guardians are light coloured and at least as large as an average size sheep. Just as white dogs cannot be a effective in herding sheep because the sheep don’t react toward them as a predator; dark coloured and/or dogs of a size distinctly smaller than the sheep, are not seen as a flock member by the sheep. This info is not simply through reading, but through the experiences of several friends (mostly in New Zealand and Australia) who run sheep operations.

            As for food requirements, pound for pound a large dog will eat comparitively less, not specifically less, when engaged in the same activity as a smaller dog. For example, a fifty pound dog walking the same distance as a hundred pound dog, will eat more than fifty percent of the amount that the hundred pound dog does. But it will not eat MORE than the hundred pound dog unless it is running a lot, as herding dogs do. So the larger dog is pound for pound more efficient in its use of food, but must still be fed a larger amount than the medium sized dog.

            Can you tell me the name of a specific flock guardian breed that is medium sized? As medium size I will accept anything between thirty-five to sixty-five pounds as an adult. My breed, the GSD, is a large breed–seventy-five to ninety- five pounds. Most flock guardian are in the giant classification, but those who aren’t still usually top one hundred pounds.

          • Kim Slater

            September 9, 2009 at 10:57 am

            Hi Joy,

            Nice to read you. I thought I would share my experience some years back on a visit to Mastin Espanol Exposition in Leon, Northern Spain. I had the opportunity to visit a farm and see in situ, a whole family of Mastin guarding and living alongside the sheep and goats. Totally amazing to witness this sight and I came away with a great appreciation of the breed, one I did not have before to be honest.
            To truly appreciate any breed, is necessary to see them at work, doing the job they were bred for, not only prancing around a show ring with a man in a suit. Unfortunately its necessary to do the latter sometimes, for the promotion and education aspects, but hand on heart, I could live without it!

            You are also correct about PETA. If they had their way, no one would even own a pet (slave) or neuter an animal. Extremists….and thats never good!

            Best Wishes,

            Kim

  13. Kim Slater

    August 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Dear P Burns,

    I did not realise you were so fascinated by Piero Scanziani! Its a pleasure to inform you more of him as have myself researched and written for http://www.neapolitanworld.com, an article entitled Influences on The Neapolitan Mastiff. I discovered during the course of my extensive research (in Italy, not the internet) that he studied the classics at University and completed his degree in 1928, going on to emulate his father and become a journalist (as an aside, he also owned a very popular dog magazine of the time, called Il Cane)
    but also between 1941 and 1980, he published more than twenty literary works, including one in 1952,in Italian, but I have translated, entitled ‘The Useful Dog’ where he talks in great deal about the dangers of producing dogs for the show world. To quote:

    Dog show’s primary fault is that it is based on a man’s judgments. The Judge in the Court makes mistakes, so can our judge on the ring. There are some incompetent judges, who are a plague for cynophily and that should be kicked out. What is more, there are some judges who have no manners at all, who ill-treat the new expositors because they present ‘average’ dogs. They should be expelled for unworthiness from the show, which are the places where zootechnics and sport’s cordiality meet …”.

    The second fault of the shows is that the lovers are too much worried about beauty and peculiarity, forgetting the practical duty of a dog breed. On this subject, the English have reached degeneration making very beautiful Setters but unable to point, made stupid and just able to stand on a ring. I know some Boxer and Alsatians breeders as bewildered by the shows as to believe that their dogs live just to posture to a judge. This is very dangerous, we must defend our dog from this attitude as it has destroyed many breeds …”.

    I hardly feel these sentiments refect a man who’s sole purpose of working with Mastino was to produce dogs for the show ring as you believe. Here in UK, similar warnings were given most noticeably by my mentor Douglas Oliff, who had witnessed the same fate befall Bull and English Mastiffs and feared for the Mastino, a dog he had the opportunity to judge in its homeland back in the 80’s and for which he had great passion all his life.

    In any case, my original statement was that Sig Scanziani was a man of intelligence and intellect, it matters not, really, does it,
    if you choose to question claims regarding the nobel prize as he was clearly, a highly educated and intelligent person.

    Living with Mastini for many years now, I can understand why they are not best suited to security or police work. In a practical sense they are far too messy and large when other breeds who drool, eat and therefore poo less are preferred! As far as temperament is concerned, I have learned that although very intelligent, that takes the form of basic cunning rather than heightened intelligence of Rotties, GSDs, Dobes etc, making them rather unpredictable when training, a distinct reluctance at times to carry out tasks to order!! However, in a free life home setting, particularly with their own family group of humans and other dogs, I find they are excellent home guards, who’s size,appearance and character lends itself well, providing you have the space and desire to clean up the mess they make. For certain, they should never be seen as a mainstream dog for the masses, but that has always been the case. My own dogs enjoy a similar rustic life as they would in rural Naples, but with better nutrition than chicken feet and heads, leftover bread and pasta!

    PBurns, who are you to question the Mastinos right to exist? Scanziani felt they were worth saving. In the hands of the commercial breeders, his worse nightmares came to reality in the late 80s and 90’s. Nature has a way of paying back those who try to cheat it and those lessons have been learned the hard way by many. Now, maybe we have to again look to the past for a better future. Ultimately, someone higher than you or I will decide Mastino fate. But I came to defend UK Mastinari’s ethics in the meantime and will continue to do so for as long as it takes here for readers of this thread to realise we are serious in our work and do so from a place which is ethically moral, ie, the head balanced with the heart!

    Kim Slater

  14. PBurns

    August 25, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Lots of typing, here Ms. Slater, but we have three points we keep coming back to:

    1. This was a breed created whole cloth very recently. It has no history prior to Scanzian and it has no function other than as a lawn ornament and as a show dog. That is not a criticism; that is simple fact.

    2. Scanzini was a minor writer and painter and he was NOT nominated for the Nobel Prize as claimed. Again, this is not criticism, this is simple fact.

    3. The Neo has some serious health and genetic problems which are not going to be fixed by people breeding this dog in a closed registry. Again, simple fact.

    Type away if you want, but the length of your response cannot obscure the paucity of your facts.

    PBurns

    • mak

      August 30, 2009 at 7:33 pm

      1. This was a breed created whole cloth very recently. It has no history prior to Scanzian and it has no function other than as a lawn ornament and as a show dog. That is not a criticism; that is simple fact.

      Please do come and tell my family that Mr Burns, as we thought his function was playmate, friend, companion and family member, they’ll be really shocked to hear he actually has no place here.

      He was living with us in blissful ignorance of his uselessness, with a boxer and lab until you felt the need to air your biased, ill-informed and frankly, offensive opinions.

      I was taught not to judge a man until you had walked 10 miles in his shoes, an expression you have obviously never heard of or aspired to.

      In the meantime our mastini will continue to see out his days in a warm, loving and contented environment where his every need will be met, every want shall be filled amidst a home full of love and mutual respect for our furred friends regardless of their size, colour, looks, smell, attitude and strange habits, never having to worry about being lumbered with an over opinionated breed ignorant person such as yourself.

    • Kim Slater

      September 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm

      P Burns, sorry to be so rude, but if you are a Nobel Prize Nominee, I am the Pope!!!!!

      Is that short enough and to the point for you?

      Kim SLATER, not Slatter!

      To all, please contact me at tylagwyn@hotmail.co.uk to discuss further or arrange to see a real life dog, since this forum has very much run its course!

  15. George

    August 30, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Just to say that this article is a load of rubbish, we own an 8month old Neo and he is not ‘affected’ by his baggy skin. as the neapolitan mastiffs were born this way and are not ‘deformed’ then there is no problem, it is the bulldogs and the rhodesian ridgbacks which are ‘made’ to be deformed, any that are not deformed and killed. i dont know how having loose skin can compare to killing a dog for how it SHOULD look. i wouldnt be mentioning any of this had the folds of skin been affecting the dogs but saying that it is like having bulldog clips attached to your face forever is total nonsence. the dogs would show they are in pain if they were.

    • Dogsie

      September 1, 2009 at 1:03 pm

      With people like “george” getting into the breed I fear their problems are going to get a whole lot worse for them.

      • Bruce

        September 1, 2009 at 10:17 pm

        Ha! Ha! Ha! – too right! The breed is ornamental – that’s why people like George buy them thus perpetuating the cruelty of a K9 having to live inside that excessive, loose, but oh so attention grabbing skin.

        • mak

          September 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

          for info purposes only, george is a 13 year old child with a real love of the breed which has resulted in an interest way beyond her years and capabilities of expression, I do hope your’e both proud of your rantings in response to her, as I stated previously I am eternally grateful that our paths shall never cross.

          Do continue to wallow in your superiority and arrogance whilst we continue to enjoy, nurture and love our chosen breed in our chosen way.

          • Dogsie

            September 5, 2009 at 10:28 am

            And the age of the contributors to this debate is material how?

  16. George

    September 2, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    i am actually shocked that you haters have nothing better to do with your lives than come up with oh so witty comments that dont meen fluff.no we did not buy him as a lawn ornament, and no it isnt cruel to be bread into this loose skin. if you want to see cruelness like i said look at the bulldogs, the ridgebacks,the kc spaniels and many more i can think of. and before you reply i strongly suggest you look up these accusations you are making because frankly you are talking rubbish and none of them are true. i only care for welfare of the dogs and i know for a fact that this skin is completely harmless.

    • Julie

      March 13, 2010 at 11:49 pm

      I realise this was posted quite a few months ago but please do tell, what exactly is wrong with the Rhodesian Ridgeback?

      I myself am a qualified vet and I own a ridgeback, and I can quite safely say he is one of the happiest and healthiest dogs I’ve met (which has been an awful lot considering I have treated far too many to actually count).
      I appreciate you are only 13 years old and therefore have obviously not conducted much, if any, research into the subject. I think you were defending your breed, which is quite admirable at your age,but please do not ‘bad mouth’ other breeds in the process.

      In general the the ridgeback is one of the healthiest breeds available, no breed is entirely free of ailments but then again neither are humans! In my experience it is without a doubt healthier than the NM as I have yet to have any in for more than a vaccination. Not only that through my breeder I have had the opportunity to meet many other ridgeback owners and breeders who have all reiterated the same statements regarding health. I can only assume you are referring to the program televised by the BBC which in actual fact included your breed the Neapolitan Mastiff. Their statement on ridgebacks was later withdrawn and an apology issued!

      But back to my main point, the above article has clearly been written by someone who is uneducated in this topic and unwilling to learn. I have just returned from Crufts’ and all of the dogs I had the privilege to meet there all had happy wagging tails and looked in fantastic condition. I know from past experience that outside appearance is NOT everything; but generally if you have a dog which has a gleaming coat and is actively enjoying itself, it is more than likely very healthy. Without a doubt the dogs at the shows are treated better than their human counterparts! The exhibitors of any dogs at dog shows are all for the dogs. Their dog is first and foremost their pet; their loyal companion and their best friend. People do not buy a dog just to show it.

      I have never wanted to show any dog, all I ever wanted was a dog of my own, which fortunately I now have. He is the loveliest dog I’ve met; he has the sweetest nature and is a typical ridgie.After observing dogs in the ring I’ve come to realise they actually enjoy it and therefore I am beginning to show my boy. I’m sure I’m saying the exact thing as other exhibitors when I say; as soon as he does not enjoy showing, I’ll stop showing him. At the end of the day he enjoys it more than me right now, as to be honest it’s more nerve-racking for the owner than the dog – my boy is only too happy to get a ridiculous amount of liver; get fussed over by other owners and then get to play with all his doggie friends!

      As for any of the health problems in dogs; everything that can currently be done has been put into action. Unless you are in this industry you will not know all of the rules and regulations being placed on dogs to prevent breeding. Currently many of the breed clubs request health tests before they will certify the dogs to breed. For example; my boy’s mum has a near perfect hip score which is why I chose a boy from her litter, I did not base on looks or Ch titles. The reality of it is however; the breeders who are investing their time and money into these tests are the ones who are breeding show quality dogs. Therefore the dogs who are benefiting from these tests are the future show dogs.

      These health problems can not be bred out within a few years. It has taken decades of breeding to develop these qualities and it will undoubtedly take many more to eradicate them from breeding lines. This is of course providing everyone invests in these tests – not just the show breeders, the ‘common Joe’ as well. More people own dogs which are not from show lines than those who do!

      Judges do not, and probably never have, picked a genuinely unhealthy dog as a ‘winner’. Breed standards often require the dog to look ‘alert’ – again from experience I’ve yet to see an unhealthy dog look ‘alert’. More often than not an owner will not take their dog in the ring if it could be detrimental to their health! I’ve seen more than one person withdraw their dog as it was slightly off colour; even after I’ve checked it over and said ‘it’s no more than eating too many tripe sticks’ or ‘it’s only a nicked nail, it’s not painful any more’!

      The bottom line is, as humans we have created all of these different dog breeds; each looking vastly different than the next, but in order to preserve each of these breeds we had to interbreed. At present we know far more relating to genetics and disease than even our grandfathers did and we can therefore act accordingly. It is people in the veterinary research field; veterinary profession; and all of those breeders who are kennel club accredited, who are actively having their dogs/bitches health tested and only breeding to other health tested dogs/bitches; who are fighting to preserve these wonderful animals. At present we are doing everything we can to save our best friends and it would be so much more helpful if the general public who are also breeding their dogs would participate in these tests and neuter their animals if they do not meet an acceptable standard.

      As a side note to ‘Dogsie’; the people who buy dogs to look ‘cool’ are the ones who are contributing to the dangerous dogs of this country, not the show dogs! The show dogs are without a doubt some of the best trained dogs on the streets – the people who own these dogs already have them micro-chipped and have 3rd person liability insurance! I agree with Kate here when I say my ridgie is very cool – he looks ridiculously intimidating but he greets everyone with a lovely lick on the cheek! The owners of dogs like ours have a vested interest in the breed and are doing everything in their power to preserve it! Also showing a dog does NOT increase demand on it. Showing dogs in movies increases demand on it! I had never been to a dog show until a few months ago. Not to mention the majority of dogs being shown you have probably never even heard of! For example; Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Kooikerhondje, Griffon Bruxellios, Coton De Tulea, Swedish Vallhund, Komondor or the Schipperke – could you tell me what any of these look like without googling them? I can guarantee you I’ve seen each of these at shows but I’ve hardly seen them walking the streets of anywhere near me!

      Also to ‘Helen’; the vets are not’keeping in good with their clients’, we are asking them to invest vast amounts of time and money into developing healthier dogs. Unlike uninformed people we know that this will never be an overnight fix and in actual fact, it is vets who are at the forefront of diagnosing these health problems and making them manageable for the animals concerned. Vets are doing everything they can, not just concerning dogs but a variety of animal health problems which have resulted from the ignorance of humans – do not insult an honourable occupation, you sound like a woman who is sour as she did not manage to achieve her childhood dream. Not one person or group of people can rightly be blamed. Everyone is entitled to accuse blame but in reality everyone could easily be blamed – that includes those who are blaming others.

  17. Ryan O'Meara

    September 3, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Joy, I just wanted to comment to say how fascinating I have found your comments. I haven’t added much since I originally wrote the piece but I am open minded enough to have my opinion changed. Thus far, I have only had my original view confirmed.

  18. filip

    September 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Well George,

    It’s not about haters, on the contrary!
    That he moves good, ok. That he’s a friendly dog, ok.
    But anyone can see that this mountain of skin is unhealthy.

    “Do continue to wallow in your superiority and arrogance whilst we continue to enjoy, nurture and love our chosen breed in our chosen way” If you say things like that, well my best, that’s saying that everybody had to shut their mouth. That’s superiority that’s projection of your behaviour man.

    I hope you warn new owners about the bacteries in the skin and the smell they cause.

    It’s hard to believe that the breeders are so blind. You look at it and yoy don’t see it. It must be difficult to admit that you’re breeding the wrong way off course.

    Calling names and trying to shut other peoples mouths are the arguments for those who know they’re not right!

  19. Dave

    September 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    To me this whole article seems to be a complete joke, written by someone who is completely biased, whilst offering no example of the ‘other side of the story’. Infact, the whole article is written as if the reporter entered his own dog into the self same show as this Neapolitan Mastiff and lost to it. There is a very strong odour of sour grapes. No dog breed is perfect and without its flaws. Has anyone who has replied to this article ever owned a Neapolitan Mastiff themselves?

    Also, If you are going to write such a biased, ridiculous article on a certain breed of dog you could atleast get its name right. It is spelt Neapolitan Mastiff. Not Neopolitan like the ice cream. It is spelt like this as it is the area in Italy the breed originates from.

    Thanks.

    • Dogsie

      September 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm

      Neapolitan or Neo I have done the research and the issues are summed up very well here

      http://www.bullmastiff-rescue.org.uk/Neapolitan-Mastiff-info.shtml

      A sad litany of serious health issues which ever way the name is spelled. To covet such a creature no matter what your age is IMO indefensible.

      • Kim Slater

        September 8, 2009 at 4:32 pm

        Dogsie, you are one very funny person. Thanks for making me laugh today, I needed it! That link is full of errors, written in another lifetime and sums up absolutely NOTHING!

        • Dogsie

          September 9, 2009 at 7:57 am

          What I have read regarding these poor creatures including your own sterling attempts at raising awareness over the issues (and I am not being sarcastic) your interview with the Italian vet is great work. But what I have read about these poor creatures leaves me no alternative but to be convinced that they suffer in a number of unacceptable ways. The root of that suffering comes from the misguided coveting of an animal that is felt to be “cool”. They are not. So please stop trying to promote the owning of one as some kind of laudable pastime.

          • Kim Slater

            September 9, 2009 at 10:34 am

            Thanks, Dogsie, the interview was necessary and people need to heed the several messages it contained.

            There are ‘poor creatures’ in every race of living beings, including humans and you are right, its not acceptable and we should work harder.

            I dont think I am cool. I have my dogs for a purpose and they are ‘VERY COOL!’……You can ask my car mechanic who vaulted over my railings, dropped 15 foot to the road and broke his ankle rather than encounter my ‘ornamental male’ if he felt the dog was capable of doing his job! Oh, and this dog is also 85 kilos with big bones and wrinkles. I havent locked my doors in years, couldnt even tell you were the keys are! Thats pretty cool too, dont you think? Yet they are bright enough to be always genial and polite to strangers in the presence of myself and thats also cool!

            Type is not in itself related to health and non type does not in itself equal health. An equal balance of type and health are both equally necessary to make a breed its best and that comes down to educated selection. Now Dogsie, I have studied specifically this breed for a decade and a half and you are telling me you know as much or more in your ‘research’ to allow you to make more educated decisions/opinions than I??? You do make me giggle!

          • Dogsie

            September 9, 2009 at 2:06 pm

            No. Nor would I ever claim to have done as much research. As superficial as my reading has been, it is enough for me to know I would never want to go there. And is enough for me to know that others should be dissuaded from fuelling any desire to continue to inflict the health and welfare issues that clearly are part and parcel of the Neo experience. You inflict those welfare issues on these dogs simply by creating a demand for them. It would not take me a decade and a half to come to the conclusion that these dogs need serious help.

            If your opinions were truly educated then you would not indulge your ego with such a dog. Or at least if you must do that you would not then make pointless attempts to justify your position. These dogs as has been argued here have no function and they certainly are far from fit.

  20. Kim Slater

    September 9, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Having just returned from my evening mountain walk with mine (following the field and river walk they enjoyed this morning) it is ME thats not fit enough, not my Mastini!!!! You seem unable to comprehend that there are Mastini that are perfectly healthy, fit for function and who look like typical Neapolitan Mastiffs! Maybe because you have never actually seen any? Goodness knows, but unlike the Loch Ness Monster, they do actually exist, you know? Fitness and health has as much to do with diet and exercise as it does to do with breeding. If you were put into a 6 x6 concrete box with no bedding or locked in a dark garage or tied to a line post in the back of a council house and fed a couple of bowlfuls of kibble every day if youre lucky, Im sure in no time you wouldnt look very healthy either, and may just keel over the day you were expected to run around and look chipper! Sad but true. Since when is a limit put on research??? Research is a continuous progress of course, as always more knowledge and advancements in technology that allows us to make improvements. Its not my opinions that are educated, I myself am educated on this subject! I speak with knowledge gained first hand and apply that knowledge to my own dogs, in selection of a puppy, in rearing and in general lifestyle and now, occasionally, by trying to recreate using that knowledge to produce for myself dogs of type and good health who are fit for function……and I can prove it. I keep meticulous records of every dog, bloodline, ailments (or not) lifespan, activity and fitness levels, hips and shoulders, thyroid functions, cardiogrammes…..as all should do, because what you see on the outside can be different to whats going on inside.

    You can read all the negativity you want on the breed and you can go away and own any kind of dog you want. It may live to 16 it may die next week. Same as you or I. But we once again come down to respect. You have the right to be closed minded and hate the Mastino, but to tell me I am indulging my ego? Thats totally insulting and out of order, my friend. I had hoped through all the posts, I would have given a different impression of myself than that. But if you research sufficiently, you will find the vet article is not stand alone, but one of several and always I am on the side of the Mastino. Not the commercial breeder seeking to exploit. Just as I put my own dogs before anything else. They are my family after all and my responsibility to care for them. In return, they guard my place and keep me safe. Nothing egotistical about that!!!!!

  21. Dogsie

    September 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Don’t bother reading anything. Just go to this site.

    http://www.neapolitanmastiffwelfare.co.uk/

    Go to the photo gallery sections and click on “TNMC Show 2009”. And weep. I mean really weep. It turned my stomach no kidding.

  22. Helen

    September 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    The BBC documentary has just been shown in Australia and I just found this editorial in a web search after watching it, and it’s a brilliant response. The vets are obviously keeping in good with their clients, it seems, if they are justifying this dog winning the class. And we saw the argument repeatedly in the doco, that if the Kennel Club acts then people will breed outside them. But that’s a lot of rubbish because the Kennel Club controls the stud books and the shows, so breeders have to work within their rules if they want to breed pure bred dogs and if they want to show. I don’t know why more people didn’t make that point in the documentary as well.

  23. Peter

    September 11, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    This is taken from our dogs a newspaper about dog showing etc, about the neapolitan mastiff show 2009 I noticed kim slaters dog was here, here is a little part by Brian Hill the judge on the day, My main criticisms on the day were: Many exhibits had weak pasterns and no muscle tone indicating lack of excercise, (b) several of younger dogs had mouths not in keeping with the breed standard. (c) if this breed is to begin featuring in groups at open and championship shows overall handling and presentation needs to dramatically improve.

    Then we have write up about all the dogs including a dog owned by ms slater which says good sized dog, needs more excercise to improve front,mouth not to standard at present

    • Kim Slater

      September 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      LOL, yes, I know. I thought was a very strange critique on my puppy, considering he lives a free life and is extremely fit animal, now 15 months, a lean 75 kilos and able to clear a 6ft fence so Ive had to make it taller to keep him in his compound! He also with a perfectly correct mouth! But who am I to argue with a judge……..

      Maybe it should be pointed out that the judge was appointed on the morning of the show due to the ill health of the Italian judge due to fly in from Rome.

  24. Ian Thompson

    September 15, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I think we all need to go back to the original article at the top of this page and review what was actually said there. The author of this article is not being malicious or “picking on” (or any other negative adjective!) this particular dog or its breed in particular. The picture above was used, rightly or wrongly depending on your viewpoint, purely as an example of an extreme and this extreme could well have been shown in any one of a number of breeds that exhibit despite being out of conformation and potentially unhealthy because of it.

    The Kennel Club Breed Standard for the Neapolitan Mastiff states, in two seperate places, the following:-
    “Some loose fitting skin over body and head permitted, not to be excessive.” “Head has loose skin permitted but without excess.”
    A quick search in most dictionaries will show the definition of excessive as “Exceeding a normal, usual, reasonable, or proper limit” or derivatives thereof, with excessive being the adjective of excess.

    We can deduce from this that the winning dog shown above was outside the breed standard and should have been penalised as per the breed standard which states “Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.”

    This leaves us with either the judging of the dog in question being at fault or the fact that the other, lower placed dogs, were also outside the breed standard to greater degrees.

    I regularly show a dog (Novea Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) which I know to be outside the breed standard (he’s nearly 2″ too tall) but yet again, at our most recent Championship Show, we qualified said dog for Crufts 2010 with a 3rd place. Should the judge have refused to place my dog? Code of Best Practice for Judges states (Section 1.2) “A dog should be placed only on merit according to the Breed Standard or Competition Regulations.” Also “Withholding of awards. You may withhold awards if in your opinion an exhibit lacks sufficient merit. Remember; if you withhold third in a class, you must withhold all subsequent awards in that class.”

    Strictly speaking, and according to the breed standard, no, but ethically? If my dog went on to win the best dog in breed at Crufts everyone will want my dog to sire pups for them, resulting in a bloodline that has excessive (that word again!) height built in.

    Judges at shows are bound by the rules whch allow them to award places to dogs which are outside the breed standards, to varying degrees. If they withheld awards from dogs that are outside the breed standard by any amount we would be left with very few true Champion dogs, a scenario that neither the KC, or the thousands of members of public who regularly travel the length and breadth of the country exhibiting their dogs, would be very happy with, to put it mildly!

    Are the breed standards wrong? Where they have been changed over the years to reward form over function, then certainly this is where a large part of the problem resides. Only the KC can change these and they have, according to all the recent press releases, born out by scrutiny of recent changes, already started to make changes to some of the more “unhealthy” breeds’ standards.

    Are the judges wrong? In my opinion, no. They are led by a system which allows a great amount of latitude, and it is only with this latitude that we see the large numbers of entries at dog shows, attracting all types of dogs, from the perfect examples, to those which should really have stayed at home but are chancing their arm!!

    Are the BVA wrong to back Crufts? No. Without their backing the show will continue anyway. With it, they will have an opportunity, as a stakeholder, to address issues that they see.

    In summary, Ryan O’Meara was not having a go at Neapolitan Mastiffs per se. He was simply pointing out that the changes we all thought may have happened simply haven’t as yet!

  25. Kev Berry

    September 16, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Kim, having read all the ballcocks on here I have to say you are wasting your time. You have put forward an excellant response to an uneducated attack on our breed. You will NOT change any of these idiots views as they are not on here to be educated but to cause trouble. NOT ONE has stated what the problems of excess skin are causing to our dogs, having had plenty to do with neos over the years I can honestly say the “excess” skin causes them no problems.
    What is also being disregarded is the fact that it is the UKNMC that is picking up the pieces after stupid backstreet breeders HAVE CHURNED OUT BAD/UNHEALTHY/UNWANTED so called neos, NOT FROM THEIR OWN DOGS.
    My own dogs run with the horses, and for periods of 20 mins or more at a gallop, they weigh between 12 and 14 stone, they have loads of skin and massive bone, they seem to sleep a lot but are actually “on guard” as a few ne’er do wells have found out, they are friendly with strangers in my presence, they DO NOT suffer from any of the maladies mentioned on here.
    and do you know something—— that is the situation with just about Everyones neapolitan who is a member of the UKNMC, if you want bad neos you can find them in the ad mags, same as you can find bad examples of every other breed.

    • Dogsie

      September 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

      Where exactly is the idoacy here Mr Berry?
      In the people who do not need to read or see much regarding Neapolitan Mastiffs to conclude that in terms of canine welfare it is best to simply not go there and perpetuate their misery? Or in the people who harbour an irrational indulgence to own one and in order to justify their egos, are in total denial of the facts?

      “The average lifespan of a Neapolitan Mastiff is approximately 6 to 8 years although we all know of dogs that have lived 10 to 12
      years. As with all giant breeds there can be health problems, which can occur during the optimum growing period, so a controlled
      diet is essential. Do not over feed at puppy stage as this places too much stress on growing limbs; a fat puppy does not make a
      large boned puppy. Neapolitans can suffer with hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia but no more so than any other large breed.
      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. They can also suffer with eye problems like cherry eye, entropion or ectropion,
      which will require the services of your Vet, but again these problems occur in other breeds like the Bloodhound, Bassett Hound,
      Shar-pei & Bulldog, so there is no real evidence to suggest that Neapolitans are any different to other breeds with facial folds and
      wrinkles. However, 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.”

      Not my words Mr Berry but those on your club’s website. It is of absolute no comfort to Neapolitan Mastiffs, nor to myself, that they are likely to suffer in just the same way as a bulldog or a Shar Pei. But it seems to me that the UKNMC is not alone in seemingly taking comfort in other breeds’ suffering. So as you can see Mr Berry, any idiot can read quite clearly from the mouths of your own club the health issues most definitely linked to the breed.

      And please don’t come running to me complaining of backyard breeders – you promote the showing of these creatures, which in turn promotes the ownership of them. Any increase in poorly bred Neos is entirely your own fault.

  26. Kev Berry

    September 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    problems that neapolitans “suffer” from during the growing period are inflicted by ignorance, not because they are neapolitans.
    Do neapolitans have a lowered immune system??? I am not aware of this and neither are my dogs
    do any breed of dog live to a ripe old age without ANY health problems??? do humans???
    neapolitans with stress???? then getting skin problems???? ever seen a stressed neapolitan???
    and the backyard breeders are the scum of the earth, the showing of ANY breed of dog does not promote backyard breeding , complete with all its ignorance of the breed
    THIS IS WHERE PRACTICALLY ALL DEFECTS AND ILLS COME FROM, NOT FROM THOSE WHO CARE FOR THE NEAPOLITAN,
    these backyard breeders have just one goal in mind and it is not the improvement of health or longevity, it is ££££££££’s that drive them on to keep on producing puppies without knowing what they are doing.
    Ever owned a REAL neapolitan— no I didnt think so
    stop talking about what you know nothing about
    stop seizing any little bit of info that you think may help your pathetic cause
    there are faults/problems with all dogs
    just as there are with humans
    I suggest you turn your attentions to curing the ills of the human race
    lets see what we “suffer ” from
    skin disease
    bone defects
    eye trouble
    short lifespan
    and many more

    whats that you just said—- we dont all suffer from them!!
    NEITHER DO ALL NEAPOLITANS EITHER , SO STOP PICKING ON A FEW BAD EXAMPLES AND SAYING THE ENTIRE BREED IS LIKE THEM

    • Dogsie

      September 29, 2009 at 11:45 am

      You need to take up your first few points with the Neapolitan Breed club as that is where the information came from.

      We will have to agree to disagree on what showing dogs achieves. As I firmly believe that showing a breed encourages demand in it – which is of course exactly what exhibitors are hoping. They too breed and sell pups for money. Unless of course all Neo breeders who belong to the show fraternity give pups away to good homes for free.

      As has been established here there is absolutely no rationale to the existence of such sickly creatures other than your misguided egotistical desire to covet one. Just like teacup chihuahuas coveted by Paris Hilton wannabees, they are just an adornment to your lifestyle. And you cannot get away from the fact that your desire for a neo is something you share with all Neo breeders backyard or not so any attempt at differentiation will be entirely lost on me.

  27. Kev Berry

    September 29, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    dog showing does not promote a demand for a dog, dogs being used in films/ tv work does as the show world attracts only those interested in showing, tv is open to all.
    Anyone can breed pups for money, it dosnt have to be a show person, and in the 14 years I have had neapolitans I have bred 15 puppies,considering my success in the showring ask yourself why I havnt pumped puppies out as fast as possible??? I certainly have people wanting puppies from my lines, the lucky ones get a puppy only when I retire one of my dogs from showing and I want another to show in its place.
    I do not own any sickly dog, and never have, please explain how having wrinkly skin makes my dogs sickly “creatures”.
    My desire to own a neapolitan is a million miles away from the reason backstreet breeders want one, and it is a reason I would be wasting my time trying to explain to the likes of you as you couldnt possibly understand, nor want to.
    I have absolutely nothing in common with any backyard breeder.

    I also see you have carefully evaded answering anything in my previous post, this is the last post I will put on here it is a waste of my time debating with keyboard warriors who are ignorant of what they are typing about, want to know about neapolitans—- then talk to the people who know, live, and breathe for them.

  28. Svitlana

    October 19, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Hello, everyone! I just lost my NEO recently,this night my dog passed away. We were together for 9.5 years and I appreciated every day w I spended with her.I am very sorry to read about NEO such unplesant comments becouse this is THE BEST DOG in my life.You may not believe me ,but this is a PERSON, and PERSON with ROYAL ATTItude.
    I think that people ,who never dill with this dog SHOUlD NOT leave any comments ,because YOU DO NOT know what are you talking about!!!

    THIS BREAD BUTIFULL IN THE SOUL, and ONLY FOR ONE OWNER.
    This Dog not for everyone,sorry, but this is true, and NOT EVERYONE can be the master for this bread…
    I had experiense before with other dogs ,but after Neo,I can not take them seriously…

  29. Nicky

    March 12, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I watched a GSD with hip problems struggling to walk over 40 years ago. It left a lasting impression on me. If I ever own a dog, it will be a breed that the KC has not contaminated.

    All the eloquent argument and professional spin in the world can’t change the fact that the KC appoints the judges. The judges are breeders. The judges are suddenly going to choose winners that put themselves out of business? I don’t think so.

    Last year, while at a KC dog show with a friend who was exhibiting a terrier, the judge said to a woman with a minature bull terrier “Your dog is too underweight to win” The winner was the dog that was clearly obese. These were the only two puppies in the class.

    Bull terriers are also a breed that has been afflicted by breeders / judges. Like Bulldogs, initially used to control cattle before slaughter. Todays bulldog is nothing like the original. Perhaps Kim Slater can answer who did it if it wasn’t the judges and breeders of the KC?

    Perhaps also tell me if after 40 years GSD hip problems are no more.

  30. Clara

    March 12, 2010 at 11:11 am

    I went into pets at home last week and there was a girl in there with what i can only assume was a staff puppy all of 5 weeks old. She was holding the pup in an old towel and asking on advise as to what to feed it as she was given this pup on the street only and hour before… who knows….and does anyone really care? Probably not on this thread…

    I ask you.. with you all being so concerned about the these cruel crufts people, where the focus on bad breeding should be placed?

    I agree there are some serious issues in pedigree dog breeding and this without any doubt needs to be addressed, but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water!!!

    I proudly own three different pedigree dogs, all of which are neutered, microchipped, insured to the hilt, breeder researched.. blah blah, and they are the most spoiled dogs. I chose these dogs because i loved each of their known traits in the breed and i expected that with my lifestyle, they would be perfect for me…

    There is something sinister in all aspect in animal ownership/breeding, right down to farming etc…why can’t we find a way to to not be so horrible about the industry as a whole?

    This article isnt really helpful its just ignorant.

  31. mak1968

    March 14, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Having spent a wonderful day at crufts this week I felt compelled to write once more just to reiterate how completely happy I personally am with this breed. It was wonderful to see so many glossy coats, clear eyes, wet noses and friendly dispositions all in one area. It is always an honour for us to spend time with this breed and their families.
    Our little fella remains a most adored and nurtured member of our family alongside his elderly lab ‘surrogate mum’ and annoying little boxer sister.
    there is not a person alive who could detract me from the all consuming devotion I feel for this noble breed.
    To all you faceless accusers I say just this, you are entitled to your own views, as am I, the difference between us is that I have more in my life on which to expend my energy.

  32. Harprom

    March 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Well, well, well I see the ignorant are still just that, if one changes breed type, i.e everything that instantly indentifies that breed then it is no longer representative of that breed. What would the do ignorant do gooders have breeders do? Breed mogrels perhaps, then all breeds would look the same.

    Most of those critical of show dogs and breeders have absolutely no idea or knowledge that of the genetics that make any breed unique.

    I read about how in breeding creates genetic defects – rubbish !! if this was true then how is it that animals in the wild in breed with no obvious defects or problems?

    A knowledgable breeder will know when to in breed and when to outcross. So those who dont know, stop trying to teach those who do!

    • Ryan O'Meara

      March 15, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      You have GOT to be on a wind up. Surely nobody (NOBODY) is THIS clueless!

      I won’t begin to take your post apart because I can not accept for a moment that you are really trying to argue those points legitimately. No chance.

      If you’re not on a wind up, then I feel sorry for you – and suggest a couple of beginners books on what in breeding is and what it does.

      • Chris

        March 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm

        Although I did used to show my dogs I do disagree with inbreeding or “line breeding” as it’s known. We imported a dog from Estonia a few years ago who was closly “line bred”. Now you might think that being a “show dog person” this would be the bees knees for me but no it was the most horrible experience of my life and one I would not want to give to anyone else ever. He had severe temprement problems which we recognised as soon as we collected him but thought he was just a very naughty puppy. These problems took a turn for the worse when he reached pubity and at just 18 months old he attacked my arm and severly crushed the muscle. These unprovocked attacks continued and he would attack anyone without warning, during these “attacks” he would be totally “out of it” and was “unreachable”. We had to have him put to sleep, a young 2 year old dog who was physically healthy, physically perfect but mentally disturbed. It happens in people so why do this with dogs? This action by this so called “dog loving breeder” made me question whether I ever wanted to be a part of the dog show scene ever again. My love of dogs is just that, I’m totally devoted for them, I would die for them and how someone could deliberatly breed his parents together when they were so closly related and risk producing something with mental problems and disabilities totally disgusts me.

  33. Chris

    March 21, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Did the writer watch the same program as me? And does the writer have any common sence at all? With all problems in any animal, human or not ANYTHING that needs to be bred out to correct it takes DECADES to do so. What is being suggested we do here, buy genetically modified animals from test tubes, modified to meet the ethical requirements of todays society with poop that smells like rose petals, where does it stop? Before long the doggy do gooders will be just as obssesive about their idea of the “perfect” healthy dog as those that are being accused of endangering the health of their dogs. YES some of the breed characteristics have been excentuated but it doesn’t mean they aren’t breed characteristics. It perhaps started out as someones idea of “perfect” the same way this doggy dogooders arguement has it’s ideal “perfect healthy dog”. Maybe if the dog have been allowed to continue to evolve “naturally” they wouldn’t be around today? MOST show dog owners care about the health of their dogs first and foremost, they live as family members and pets not shut away in kennels or placed on the mantlepiece and dusted off to go parade around a ring and come home with another rossette. All the dogs on the program looked above all happy, most of the dogs you see at shows are happy to be there, they love all the attention and the limelite. At the end of the day the people who have got on this “health” trip re dogs are possibly the same people who would see “pet” dogs outlawed altogether from this country and won’t be happy until no one is allowed to own a pet at all. When we start talking canine cancers start looking at the muck produced by the pet food companies, cooked to death and full of chemicals and manufactured vitamins which pet owners and most vets are brain washed by the big guns into thinking is “good” for their pets. Pet food has all the natural goodness cooked out of it and then this is replaced by manufactured vitamins. It’s like eating processed noodle snacks for the rest of your life!! The vet on the Crufts program when asked what food he recommended went straight to the raw stuff – yeah good on ya! Bet if the previous sponsor was still sponsoring the show this wouldn’t have been the case so personally I’m glad they don’t anymore.

    As for the insurance idea, who thought that one up? AGAIN the innocent will be punished for the guilty, those people that are ignorant and stupid enough to leave a small child alone with any dog also couldn’t give a dam about insurance. Answer me this, how many insurance companies are going to cover a dog located in the owners own house against mauling a relative that visits that house. The house isn’t a “public place” but a private residence, how many of the more recent horrific attacks on children have taken place in the owners home? How many times does it have to happen before people start realising that the owners of the dogs are the one’s who are guilty and the sooner someone gets sent down for manslaughter the sooner the guilty parties might open their eyes and start to take notice, when it actually involves removal of THEIR liberties rather than the simple destruction of an animal which they obviously couldn’t care a dam about. A nasty dog isn’t born it’s made that way through ignorance and inadequate training but it’s those poor retches owned by these types of people who pay the ultimate price.

  34. Jessica

    October 16, 2010 at 12:15 am

    This is the most ridiculous article i have ever read! it actually infuriated me when i read it! The Neapolitan mastiffs are a VERY old breed and are one that is well knows for maintaining the original look and structure as they once did when owned by Alexander the great! They are a gorgeous dog with unmatchable looks and personality! You say extreme we say perfect. just like they have been for thousands of years.

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