The 4 Colours of the Mastino

Let's talk colour!

As a breeder, the colour of a litter isn’t nearly as important as choosing a male that compliments the female and will hopefully correct any faults she has in the puppies they produce. But, if I have a few males that equally compliment my female, it’s nice to know what colours they will produce.

If you’re a puppy buyer it’s nice to have an idea of what colours the litter will produce too. Not all breeders will be able to tell you for certain. Even though the colour may not be important to the breeder, we know that it can be for puppy buyers. Neapolitan mastiffs come in 4 colours:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Mahogany
  • Tawny

Blue is the dilute of black, and tawny is the dilute of mahogany. Any of these colours can come in brindle (see Ness, our black brindle female below).

       Blue              Mahogany                Black               Tawny

Black Brindle

So here are some basics about colour. There are 2 pigments that make up all of the varieties of colours in dogs. They are eumelanin (black) and phaeomelanin (red). A dogs genes can modify these pigments to make different colours. Eumelanin, which is black by default, can be diluted to make blue (grey),  liver (brown) and Isabella (pale brown). Phaeomelanin, which is red pigment but is yellow or gold by default, can be changed by genes to make a range of colours from deep reds to orange to yellow or tan. You can tell that there is phaeomelanin pigment if a dog has a brown nose and paws, like in Neapolitan Mastiffs that are mahogany and tawny. The genes that change the colour of the pigment is called an allele. The alleles in Neo's are:

B - Black
b - Brown
D - Full Colour
d - Diluted Colour

Below is a chart that shows you what happens when you breed dogs with different colour genes.

BBDD - Black
BBDd -  Black carrying dilute gene
BbDD -  Black carrying brown allele
BbDd -   Black carrying brown and dilution alleles
BBdd -   Blue 
Bbdd -    Blue carrying brown allele
bbdd -     Tawny
bbDD -   Mahogany
bbDd -    Mahogany carrying dilute allele 

In breeds like dobermans, dilution can cause the health issue colour dilution alopecia. Fortunately, all colours of Neapolitan Mastiffs seem to be equally healthy.

https://www.vetgen.com/documents/CoatColorInheritanceChartbandd.pdf Keelalavers1995 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neapolitan_Mastiff_puppies.png

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