Age of Portugal’s Beloved Bobi, World’s Oldest Dog, to Be Probed
Updated: Nov 1
Bobi, the only one in his litter to avoid deliberate burial, was recognized as the world’s oldest dog ever before he died at age 31 in Portugal.
Guinness World Records, in February, recognized the age and status of the Rafeiro Alentejano, a breed whose life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.
However, one week after his death on October 21, Guinness is investigating whether it is accurate that Bobi lived to 31 years and 165 days, reported SIC Noticias (October 30).
Danny Chambers, a veterinarian and council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, claimed that his colleagues in the Veterinary Voices group, which he runs, do not believe that Bobi was 31 years old, reported The Guardian (October 29).
“This is the equivalent of a human being living to over 200 years old which, given our current medical capabilities, is completely implausible. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and no concrete evidence has been provided to prove his age.”
Alongside coverage of the secrets to Bobi’s longevity, there has been intense scrutiny of online images of Bobi in 1999, in which he had different colored paws to the dog who died in October, according to The Guardian.
Some vets have raised other doubts. Although his age had been registered on the national pet database, this is usually based on owners’ self-certification. Also, his genetic testing confirmed that he was old, not his specific age.
Bobi’s age was confirmed by the Leiria Veterinary Medical Service and by SIAC (Sistema de Informação de Animais de Companhia), a database administered by the National Union of Veterinary Doctors, reported SIC Notícias.
However, Andrew Knight, emeritus professor of veterinary welfare, said that throughout history, “there have been some other very old dogs”.
“. . . He was happy and, above all, made many people happy, especially his family who today feel that one of their pillars has collapsed.” (Photo by Catarina Demony)
Before Bobi, Spike, a Chihuahua mix from Camden, Ohio, in the United States, was recognized as the oldest living dog. Spike died at 23 years and seven days in 2022. The oldest dog ever, on record, was Bluey, an Australian cattle dog in Victoria, Australia, who died in 1939 at the age of 29 years and five months, reported The Guardian.
Whatever his age, Bobi was loved by his owner, Leonel Costa, his family and his village, Conqueiros, Leiria District, in a relatively rugged area of large pine forests and eucalyptus groves near Portugal’s west coast. Bobi celebrated his 31st birthday in May at his owners’ house with a traditional Portuguese party, or festa, with dozens of guests, music and a pig on a spit. Bobi enjoyed his favorite dish: grilled sea bream, reported Correio da Manha (October 22).
“The best memories remain of a long life, when he was happy and, above all, made many people happy, especially his family who today feel that one of their pillars has collapsed,” Leonel Costa told Expresso (October 23).
Leonel Costa was eight years old when he rescued Bobi from his parents reported SIC Notícias (February 2). With a hunter father, they always had many dogs. Leonel’s father decided that they could not keep Bobi and his siblings.
“At the time, it was considered normal for people who could not keep more animals . . . to bury them alive so they would not survive,” said Leonel Costa.
He and his siblings discovered that Bobi’s mother, Gira, was visiting the one who had been left behind, reported SIC Notícias (February 2). They kept the puppy a secret.
“We knew that when the dog opened its eyes, my parents weren’t going to bury it,” Costa told SIC Notícias.
Bobi became part of the family.
“Our animals always have lived for many years,” said Costa.
Gire, Bobi’s mother, lived to be 18. Another dog, Chicote, lived to be 22.
How did Bobi come to lead a long life?
Costa reasoned that there several possible factors for Bobi's longevity: living in the “calm, peaceful environment” of the village; drinking a liter of water every day; eating the same food as his family but soaked to remove the seasoning, and never being chained or on a leash. He roamed the forest near the family home.
Bobi was hospitalized a few days before his death. Internal problems were detected and, sadly, Bobi did not overcome them.
The dog had walked with Leonel Costa through his owner’s boyhood and youth to the brink of middle age. The man was inconsolable, reported Correio da Manha (October 22).
“It was a tough fight and only a warrior like him could have lasted this long.”