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Why Bobi the ‘World’s Oldest Dog’ Has Lost His Guinness World Records Title

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Updated: | Originally published:

Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo who died last October at the reported age of 31, has been stripped of his Guinness World Records (GWR) title as the “World’s Oldest Dog” following an investigation by the record-giving body.

In a statement Thursday, the GWR said a review concluded that the organization “no longer has the evidence it needs to support Bobi’s claim as the record holder.”

Mark McKinley, director of records at GWR who conducted the review, said they “felt it important” to open a probe into Bobi’s record following concerns from vets and other experts, and investigations by media outlets about the dog’s actual age.

He added that “central to Bobi’s evidence” was microchip data sourced from the Portuguese government database for animals, the SIAC, which did not require proof of age for dogs born before 2008. “With the additional veterinary statement provided as evidence for Bobi’s age also citing this microchip data, we’re left with no conclusive evidence which can definitively prove Bobi’s date of birth,” he said.

The statement added that Bobi’s owner had been notified of the findings of the review.

It remains unclear who now assumes the title Bobi has been stripped off. “We’re not yet in a position to confirm a new holder for the record, although we certainly hope that the publicity around the record title encourages pet owners from around the world to get in touch,” McKinley said.

How did the controversy around Bobi’s age begin?

Bobi earned the “World’s Oldest Dog” Title in February 2023.By then, he reported to be around 30 years and 266 days old. The life expectancy of a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo is approximately 12 to 14 years old

The dog’s owner, Leonel Costa, told GWR that many factors contributed to Bobi’s longevity, including the “calm, peaceful environment” of his shelter in the family house, and his “human food” diet.

When Bobi died in October, he was believed to be 31 years and 165 days old. But experts cast doubt on Bobi’s age shortly after his passing. “Not a single one of my veterinary colleagues believe Bobi was actually 31 years old,” Danny Chambers, a veterinarian and council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, told The Guardian.

An investigation by Wired in December stated that Bobi had only been formally registered in the Portuguese government’s database for cats, dogs, and other pets in July 2022. Costa registered the dog as having been born in 1992, but there has been no proof other than the owner’s word. Portuguese law did not require dogs born prior to 2008 to be registered until October 2020. 

Additionally, in pictures, many veterinarians noticed that Bobi seemed overweight, as well, which makes it even less likely that Bobi could be that old.   

“Even among humans it doesn’t really happen that people with extra weight can survive for that long,” Enikő Kubinyi, a dog longevity expert at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, told Wired.

As a result of the doubts, the Guinness Book of World Records announced last month that it will investigate the matter, and suspended the title pending a review.

Costa, Bobi’s owner, defended his dog’s title, and said that the veterinary world had conspired against him because he fed his pet human food instead of dog food. “An elite within the veterinary world… tried to give people the idea that Bobi's life story was not true," Costa said in a statement in January, according to Reuters.

Prior to Bobi’s death, the oldest dog on record was an Australian hound named Bluey, who died at the age of 29 in the year 1939.

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