The Oldest Dog to Ever Live Just Turned 31
Happy birthday, Bobi!
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On May 11, the oldest dog alive, a Rafeiro do Alentejo pup named Bobi, turned 31 years old, further cementing his title as the oldest dog recorded in the Guinness World Records.
Born on May 11, 1992, Bobi is a millennial. The purebred dog is a Portuguese livestock guardian breed with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years and has lived his entire life with the Costa family in Conquieros, Portugal, according to Guinness World Records. Only two weeks after Guinness recognized a 23-year-old Chihuahua mix from Ohio as the oldest living dog, the organization heard about Bobi, who lives in a rural village in Portugal.
Leonel Costa, now in his late 30s, was only eight years old when Bobi was born — along with his three male siblings — to Gia, one of the Costa family’s many dogs, in a wood-storage shed on the family’s property. Leonel’s parents weren’t able to take care of more animals and had no plans to keep the newborn pups; they removed them from the shed while the mother dog was out. And, as NPR reported, the family took the puppies away “to be buried”; Leonel told the news site this was common at the time.
But one little puppy blended into the wood that was stored in the family’s outbuilding, and Gia continued to return to the spot to take care of him. The Costa family’s sons noticed and followed Gia, discovering the lone pup and keeping his existence a secret from their parents. Leonel said they knew that, once the puppy’s eyes opened, his parents would let the boys keep the dog.
“When they found out that we already knew [about the puppy], they screamed a lot and punished us, but it was worth it!” Leonel says.
Bobi’s birthdate and incredible longevity has been verified by SIAC, a pet database run by the Portuguese government and managed by the National Union of Veterinarians, as well as the local municipal Veterinary Medical Service.
While Leonel says he can’t speak for Bobi on what has allowed him to live so long, he believes that the dog benefits from his calm lifestyle in rural Portugal. Bobi has never even worn a leash and has free rein to roam the countryside surrounding the Costa family property.
After growing up with plenty of other animals, Bobi is a sociable dog who now spends most of his days relaxing with his four cat siblings or lounging by the fire during cooler weather. Although his eyesight isn’t as good these days and he has more difficulty getting around, Bobi’s vet says he is remarkably healthy for his age. Leonel says that the dog, just like all the family pets, lives on a diet of “human food,” which Leonel soaks in water to remove most of the seasoning.
With this latest accomplishment, Bobi broke an almost 100-year-old record, beating out the previous oldest dog ever by just a year. Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog (whose name you might recognize if you know a toddler), lived to the remarkable age of 29 years and five months before passing away in 1939. Another Australian dog, an Australian Cattle Dog / Labrador mix named Chilla, died in 1982, supposedly at age 32, beating even Bobi’s record, but that claim was never verified by Guinness.
“Bobi is special,” Leonel says. “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.”
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Savannah Admire is a writer, editor, and pet parent to two dogs and a cat. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing Animal Crossing, or being an obnoxious nerd about her favorite movies and TV shows. She lives in Maryland, where she constantly debates whether or not to get a third dog.