How do you judge the Neapolitan Mastiff? Well, as long as you keep the five critical factors in mind the WHaM factor: Wrinkle, Head, and Mass
as well as:
Big E - Emotional Impact
Little e - Not bred for endurance
you won't go too far wrong. Other things to keep in mind:
Examining the dog:
You may certainly want to examine the dog, hands-on, the way you do other breeds. If you want to touch the dog, the dog must allow it. You should be able to touch any dog in any way you want. And believe me, you really won't have a problem with these dogs, they really don't seem to care. If you do ever have a problem, it will be because the dog is inexperienced in the show ring. (and probably in those cases, the handler too.)
Bear in mind, though, that this is a short-haired breed, and you should be able to see muscle, bone, and construction without running your hands over the entire dog the way you must do poodles, or other coated breeds such as the English Sheepdogs.
You should be able to push on the shoulder, on the neck, on the back and feel muscle . You should be able to push down on the croup and the dog should not buckle under the pressure.
Examining the bite: You may certainly examine the bite of the dog yourself, and the dog and the handler should be prepared to allow you to do this if you want. However, considering the length of the lips, the goo-iness of the slobber, and general messiness of the whole process you will probably do better to allow the handler to show you the bite.
Expect for the bite itself to be shown first, then look at the teeth on both sides. You may need to poke a finger (or ask the handler) to get the dog to move its tongue out from between its teeth so you can see premolars (or lack thereof)
Stacking and Moving the Dog
Do not expect the handler to keep the lead / collar tight behind the ears, to hold the head high, to hold the tail up.
Tightening the collar that way destroys the line of the lip / dewlap and changes the entire look of the head. Some Mastini may by their individual nature hold their heads up high and pay attention, but it is far more typical, when in the show ring, for the adult Mastino to stand rather solidly, in an ordinary attitude, looking blandly at the world around them. They do not, and should not, hold their tails up much above the line of the back. The handler should not do this for them either.
By the standards of the "normal" breeds in the AKC conformation ring, the Neapolitan Mastiff is not a "showy" dog. It has even been said that given these characteristics, the Neapolitan mastiff will not "do well in Group." Well, that may be if dogs "do well in Group" only if they are flashy and showy. But that's a discussion for a different time and a different place.
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