UPDATE: 22 February 2024 - Guinness World Records concludes oldest dog ever review launched after Bobi's death
Two weeks after announcing Spike as the world’s oldest dog living, Guinness World Records have received evidence of an older dog. A much older dog. In fact, Bobi (b. 11 May 1992) is not just the oldest dog living; he’s the oldest dog ever.
Bobi is 30 years 266 days old as of 1 February 2023.
He has lived his entire life with the Costa family in the rural village of Conqueiros, in Leiria, Portugal.
According to owner Leonel, Bobi is a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, which is a breed of livestock guardian dog with an average life expectancy of 12-14 years.
The Portuguese pooch has broken an almost century-old record; the previous oldest dog ever, Bluey (1910-1939), was an Australian cattle-dog who lived to be 29 years 5 months old.
In 1992 Bobi was registered with Serviço Medico-Veterinário do Município de Leiria (Veterinary Medical Service of the Municipality of Leiria), who have confirmed Bobi’s birth date.
Bobi’s age has also been verified by SIAC, a pet database authorized by the Portuguese government and managed by the SNMV (Sindicato Nacional dos Médicos Veterinários; National Union of Veterinarians).
From being condemned at birth to now being the oldest verified dog ever, Bobi’s story is a miraculous one.
He was born as one of four male pups, in an outbuilding where the Costa family stored wood.
“I was eight years old,” said Leonel Costa, now aged 38. “My father was a hunter, and we always had many dogs.”
Due to the number of animals they already owned, Leonel’s father decided that they couldn’t keep the newborn 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,” Leonel explained.
The day after the puppies were born, Leonel’s parents entered the room and quickly took them whilst their mother, Gira, was absent.
However, in their haste, they didn’t realize that they’d left one behind.
Leonel recalls that he and his brothers were very sad over the following days, however, they noticed that Gira continued to visit the outbuilding where her puppies were born.
“We found the situation strange, because if the animals were no longer there, why would she go there?!”
They decided to follow Gira on one of her trips, where they discovered Bobi. He had luckily evaded the same fate as his siblings as he was disguised amongst all the wood.
Leonel and his brothers decided to keep Bobi’s existence a secret.
“We knew that when the dog opened its eyes, my parents would no longer bury it,” Leonel explained. “It was popular knowledge that this act could not or should be done.”
It usually takes one to two weeks for newborn puppies to open their eyes for the first time; they can only do so once their central nervous system has developed and their eyes have fully formed.
When Leonel’s parents eventually discovered Bobi, it was too late – the young pup had already opened his eyes. Bobi was now part of the family.
“I confess that when they found out that we already knew, they screamed a lot and punished us, but it was worth it and for a good reason!”
“If Bobi spoke only he could explain this,” Leonel said when discussing reasons for Bobi’s longevity.
Leonel thinks that one of the biggest contributing factors is the “calm, peaceful environment” Bobi lives in, “far from the cities.”
Bobi has never been chained up nor attached to a leash, and has always enjoyed free roam of the forests and farmland surrounding the Costa family house.
Leonel describes Bobi as "very sociable" as he grew up with many other animals.
Bobi is less adventurous now in his old age; walking is difficult so he mostly spends his time hanging out in the backyard with his four feline friends.
Bobi’s eyesight has worsened too; Leonel often notices him colliding with obstacles when he walks.
Due to his age, Bobi rests more than used to, and he likes to lie in bed after meals. On colder days he prefers to relax by the fire.
As for his diet, Bobi has always eaten ‘human food.’
“What we ate, they ate too,” Leonel said. He believes that this has contributed greatly to Bobi’s longevity.
“Between a can of animal food or a piece of meat, Bobi doesn’t hesitate and chooses our food.”
Leonel always soaks food in water before serving it to his pets, so as to remove most of the seasonings.
“He drinks a lot of water - about one litre per day - making him urinate several times...”
Healthwise, Bobi has enjoyed a relatively trouble-free life, although he gave Leonel “one big scare” in 2018 when he was hospitalized after suddenly collapsing due to breathing difficulty. Fortunately, Bobi managed to pull through.
“We have regular [vet] appointments with him and the exams have always shown that he is doing well for his advanced age,” Leonel revealed.
Leonel never considered that Bobi might be the world’s oldest dog until recently. In fact, when he sent in Bobi’s application for the title of oldest dog living, he didn’t even realize that Bobi would also be the oldest dog ever.
“I never thought of registering Bobi to break the record because fortunately our animals have always lasted for many years,” he explained.
Leonel said that Bobi’s mother, Gira, lived to the age of 18, and another one of their dogs, Chicote, lived to be 22.
“We see situations like this as a normal result of the life that they have, but Bobi is one of a kind.”
Bobi is the “last of a long generation of animals” in the Costa family. He’s also a living reminder for Leonel of times gone by and of all the relatives he’s lost over the years.
“Bobi is special because looking at him is like remembering the people who were part of our family and unfortunately are no longer here, like my father, my brother, or my grandparents who have already left this world. Bobi represents those generations.”
As Bobi looks forward to his 31st birthday in May – oblivious to the fact that he’s made history as the oldest verified dog ever – we wish him continued good health and happiness.
The previous record holder, Bluey, was owned by Les Hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia. Bluey was obtained as a puppy in 1910 and worked among cattle and sheep for nearly 20 years before being put to sleep on 14 November 1939.
On 8 March 1983 the death of an Australian cattle-dog/Labrador cross named Chilla, reputedly aged 32 years 3 days, occurred in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia.
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