Bobi: Was the recently deceased dog actually the oldest in the world? – Panorama

The Rafeiro do Alentejo is considered a tough, calm guard and herding dog. According to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), “its entire building is long rather than wide.” What is meant is his stature, not his doghouse. The Portuguese livestock guard dogs can weigh up to 60 kilos and live an average of twelve to 14 years. The FCI names black, wolf gray, fawn or yellow as valid colors, each with white spots.

Bobi was a rather atypical Rafeiro do Alentejo. He looked like a Labrador mix: broad rather than long, chocolate brown fur with white spots. Instead of herding sheep in the mountains, Bobi chilled with the Costa family in Conqueiros, a village in Portugal. He was fed leftover food, didn’t have a strenuous job and, according to his owner Leonel Costa, was “very sociable”. A lifestyle that suited the pet extremely well, it seems: When Bobi died last week, he was reportedly more than 31 years old – according to the Guinness Book of Records, he was the oldest dog in the world. But is that really true?

After a few days of reverent mourning, doubts are now being raised about the story of the Portuguese dog Methuselah. Although Bobi’s date of birth, May 11, 1992, was registered with the veterinary service of the city of Leiria and entered into a national pet database, the data is based on his owner’s self-report and has not been verified. Leonel Costa’s version of the story goes like this: He was eight years old when he found four puppies in a neighborhood shed. His father, a hunter, decided to kill the newborn Alentejos. Leonel managed to save one and hide it from its parents. The dog, who was actually sentenced to death, then lived a happy life for over three decades, was never leashed and remained largely healthy, as Leonel Costa told the Guinness World Records inspectors – “it’s a miracle.”

“Not a single one of my veterinary colleagues believes that Bobi was actually 31 years old”

However, upon closer inspection, there are a few things about the story of the ancient dog that appear strange. On photos from 2022, published by Guinness World Records, Bobi looks surprisingly fluffy for his age. He hardly has any gray hair around his muzzle, his fur is chocolate brown apart from the white spots on his stomach and chest, and his paws are also dark. In photos from 1999, however, Bobi has four white paws, the hair around his eyes and nose is white, and he also appears stockier. Did the Costas dye the animal’s hair? Or was Bobi 1 secretly exchanged for Bobi 2?

Even from a scientific perspective, the biblical age of Bobi is doubtful. One study from the Royal Veterinary College in London collected data from more than 30,000 dogs of various breeds and crossbreeds and found that Jack Russel Terriers (12.7 years) and Border Collies (12.1 years) are among the longest-lived dogs on average, while short-snouted breeds like the pug often die at the age of four or five. Improved medical care and high-quality food have led to dogs getting older, but experts say 31 years is almost unbelievable. Royal Veterinary College councilor Danny Chambers told the Guardian: “Not a single one of my veterinary colleagues believes that Bobi was actually 31 years old.” That would be like a person living to be more than 200 years old, which is completely unrealistic.

Did the Guinness Book of Records completely lose their way and allow themselves to be fooled by the Costa family? In any case, it wouldn’t be the first time that pets were replaced by similar-looking successors who also had the same name. According to Bobi’s owners, the dog actually lived to be 31 and the reason for this is a combination of good treatment and good genes. Bobi’s mother Gira was 18 years old, another dog in the family died at the age of 22. The Guinness Book of Records has nevertheless announced that it will look into where the dog is buried.

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