Editor’s Note, March 1, 2024: Last week, Guinness World Records posthumously removed Bobi’s title of the world’s oldest dog, saying it “no longer has the evidence it needs to support Bobi’s claim as the record holder.” Below is our story on the dog’s rise to fame after being awarded the world record last year and the controversy that followed.
Bobi, the Portuguese canine who rose to fame as the “world’s oldest dog,” has had his title suspended by Guinness World Records (GWR), pending an investigation. Following Bobi’s death in October at the reported age of 31, questions arose about his date of birth.
“While our review is ongoing, we have decided to temporarily pause both the record titles for oldest dog living and ever, just until all of our findings are in place,” Guinness World Records tells the Associated Press via email.
The dog’s longevity had been confirmed by the SIAC, a pet database authorized by the Portuguese government and managed by the National Union of Veterinarians, as well as the Veterinary Medical Service of the Municipality of Leiria, which verified Bobi’s birth date.
Still, some skeptics have wondered why photographs of a young Bobi appear to show him with white paws, when they were brown in his old age. And though Bobi’s age was registered in the SIAC database, these entries tend to be based on self-certification by the owners.
“Not a single one of my veterinary colleagues believe Bobi was actually 31 years old,” veterinarian Danny Chambers told the Guardian’s Rachel Hall in October.
Bobi’s owner, Leonel Costa, defended the record to the Associated Press, noting that the GWR committee had spent a year verifying the title. Now, GWR will re-analyze the evidence of Bobi’s longevity, look for new evidence and interview experts, reports CNN’s Issy Ronald.
The world record for oldest dog ever is currently under review by the Guinness World Records after several veterinarians questioned his age.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 17, 2024
Bobi, purebred Rafeiro du Alentejo with an average life expectancy of about 10 years, died at 31 years old last October. pic.twitter.com/TX5xfOPBBg
On February 1, 2023, when he was 30 years and 266 days old, Bobi was crowned the world’s oldest dog ever, breaking a record that had lasted for nearly a century, per GWR. The previous titleholder, an Australian cattle dog named Bluey, was born in 1910 and lived for 29 years and 5 months.
Bobi lived with a family in Conqueiros, a small Portuguese village, for decades. But the dog almost didn’t survive past infancy, Costa told GWR in February.
Costa said he was just 8 years old when Bobi’s litter was born in the family’s woodshed in 1992. Costa’s father, a hunter, decided the family had too many animals already, so they couldn’t keep the puppies.
“Unfortunately, at that time it was considered normal by older people who could not have more animals at home … to bury the animals in a hole so that they would not survive,” Costa said to GWR.
The day after they were born, Costa’s father quickly entered the woodshed and stole the puppies while the mother dog, Gira, was out. For the next few days, Costa and his brothers were devastated. But then they noticed Gira continued to visit the shed, despite her puppies supposedly no longer being there. Curious, the brothers followed her and discovered a single tiny puppy safely hidden in a pile of logs. They kept the puppy, Bobi, a secret from their parents until his eyes were open.
“We knew that when the dog opened its eyes, my parents would no longer bury it,” Costa told GWR.
Bobi was a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, a breed often used to guard property and livestock. These dogs normally live about 12 to 14 years, but Bobi allegedly survived for twice as long—and then some.
“That really is an unusual thing,” Erik Olstad, a veterinarian the University of California at Davis, told the Washington Post’s Andrea Salcedo in February. “Owners will always ask me, ‘How can I make my dog live the longest life that they can?’ That’s a loaded question because there are so many variants that go into life expectancy.”
Costa attributed Bobi’s long life to his diet of unseasoned human food, his freedom to roam unleashed through the forests and farmland close to home and the calm countryside in which he grew up.
“Of course our love and affection throughout his life has also helped,” Costa told Reuters’ Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira in February. Apart from one health scare in 2018, Bobi lived a relatively healthy life.
In addition to earning the record for the oldest dog ever, Bobi also ousted Spike, a 23-year-old chihuahua mix, as the oldest living dog at the time, just weeks after the title was given to Spike.
“It’s a feeling of pride we can’t explain,” Costa said to Reuters. “Some people told us we wouldn’t make it ... but we knew Bobi’s age and were sure the exams would only prove what we already knew.”
On May 11, Bobi celebrated at a 31st birthday party with more than 100 guests. People flew to Portugal from several countries for the event in a testament to the dog’s far-reaching fan base. In his final years, Bobi spent a lot of time sleeping in his bed or by the fire.
Bobi was “one of a kind,” as Costa said in February, per USA Today’s Wyatte Grantham-Philips. The family was “very happy and grateful to life for allowing us, after 30 years, to have Bobi in our daily lives.”