On October 21, 2023, the passing of Bobi the dog, a renowned figure in the canine world, sparked widespread press coverage. Having lived to the age of 31 years and 163 days (or 217 in “human” years), Bobi had earlier been recognized by Guinness World Records in February 2023 as the “oldest dog ever.” However, following his demise, doubts began to surface among experts regarding the accuracy of Bobi’s reported age. Veterinarian Danny Chambers voiced skepticism, stating that none of his veterinary colleagues believed Bobi was genuinely 31 years old, emphasizing the necessity for irrefutable evidence to support this claim.
This prompted me, as a journalist, to delve into the matter and seek clarity from Guinness World Records (GWR). In my attempts to verify Bobi’s age with GWR, their public relations executive, Alina Polianskaya, acknowledged the ongoing scrutiny surrounding the record and mentioned they were reviewing the situation. Despite persistent inquiries, details about the review process remained elusive, leading to speculation about the credibility of the claims.
Digging deeper, I discovered that SIAC, a Portuguese government database, confirmed the registration of a dog named Bobi on July 3, 2022. However, SIAC had no substantial records or verifications affirming or disproving Bobi’s birth date of 1992, as declared by the dog’s owner at the time. Furthermore, SIAC disclosed that GWR hadn’t reached out to verify the information with them, casting uncertainty on the accuracy of the record.
To further unravel the mystery, I consulted Enikő Kubinyi, a dog longevity expert at Eötvös Loránd University, who highlighted the challenges in accurately determining a dog’s age due to unreliable veterinary records and shifting ownership. Kubinyi cited extensive data showing that the average life expectancy of dogs usually ranged between 11 to 15 years, making Bobi’s claimed age exceptional but questionable.
Additionally, insights from Sheila Schmutz, an expert in dog coat genetics, brought attention to the variations observed in Bobi’s fur color in different photographs over the years. Schmutz noted discrepancies in the dog’s coat colors, indicating potential inconsistencies in the images presented, raising further doubts about Bobi’s true age.
During my investigation, responses from Bobi’s owner, Leonel Costa, were elusive, leaving several critical questions unanswered. Moreover, unsubstantiated claims insinuating interference by the pet food industry to protect their market interests added a layer of complexity and speculation to the controversy surrounding Bobi’s age.
Ultimately, the case of Bobi’s purported longevity remains enigmatic, marked by inconclusive evidence and unanswered queries. With GWR awaiting the completion of their investigation, skepticism lingers regarding the authenticity of Bobi’s claim to being the world’s oldest dog.