The availability of defect-free masks is considered to be a critical issue for enabling extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) as the next generation technology. Since completely defect-free masks will be hard to achieve, it is essential to have a good understanding of the printability of the native EUV mask defects. In this work, we performed a systematic study of native mask defects to understand the defect printability caused by them. The multilayer growth over native substrate mask blank defects was correlated to the multilayer growth over regular-shaped defects having similar profiles in terms of their width and height. To model the multilayer growth over the defects, a novel level-set multilayer growth model was used that took into account the tool deposition conditions of the Veeco Nexus ion beam deposition tool. The same tool was used for performing the actual deposition of the multilayer stack over the characterized native defects, thus ensuring a fair comparison between the actual multilayer growth over native defects, and modeled multilayer growth over regular-shaped defects. Further, the printability of the characterized native defects was studied with the SEMATECH-Berkeley Actinic Inspection Tool (AIT), an EUV mask-imaging microscope at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Printability of the modeled regular-shaped defects, which were propagated up the multilayer stack using level-set growth model was studied using defect printability simulations implementing the waveguide algorithm. Good comparison was observed between AIT and the simulation results, thus demonstrating that multilayer growth over a defect is primarily a function of a defect’s width and height, irrespective of its shape. This would allow us to predict printability of the arbitrarily-shaped native EUV mask defects in a systematic and robust manner.