In October 2023, the passing of Bobi touted as the world’s oldest dog, triggered an immediate online wave of grief. However, suspicions arose regarding the accuracy of the Portuguese dog’s claimed age of 31 years and 163 days. A subsequent WIRED investigation in December revealed that the government agency verifying Bobi’s age lacked evidence confirming his birth in 1992.
The skepticism surrounding Bobi’s longevity has now evolved into a larger scandal impacting the realm of record-breaking dogs. Guinness World Records, the authority in verifying the longest-lived dogs globally, has temporarily halted records for the oldest living dog and oldest dog ever. This pause is in response to a comprehensive review of the evidence supporting Bobi’s record, leaving the title of the world’s oldest dog vacant for now.
Historically, when the reigning world’s oldest dog passed away, the record reverted to the previous titleholder if still alive. This occurred in October 2022 when Pebbles, the toy fox terrier, passed away, briefly reinstating the former record holder Toby Keith the Chihuahua. Subsequently, the title passed to Gino Wolf, a Chihuahua mix, before Bobi claimed it. The dog holding the record before Bobi was Spike, a Chihuahua recorded at 23 years and 7 days old in January 2023.
Spike, still alive, aimed to reclaim the title after Bobi’s demise. However, Guinness World Records requested additional verification, suggesting a need for a second vet to assess Spike’s age. Despite Spike’s owner, Rita Kimball, providing vet records and bills indicating his birth year as 1999, along with photos spanning the years, Guinness required more evidence. The company cited ongoing reviews of its animal age record verification process and indicated that a second opinion might be necessary for future verifications.
Kimball expressed dissatisfaction with Guinness’s refusal to reinstate Spike as the world’s oldest dog, emphasizing that the record should be independent of other dogs. The challenge of accurately estimating the age of adult dogs, particularly those without teeth like Spike, was highlighted by veterinary experts. Guinness World Records acknowledged a need to reevaluate its age-verification process following concerns raised after Bobi’s death.
The controversy has left the world of record-breaking dogs uncertain, with owners questioning the reliability of Guinness World Records. While some argue for less-than-perfect verification methods in recognizing the world’s oldest dog, others emphasize the importance of trustworthy documentation. As the review continues, the doggy interregnum ensues, leaving Spike, the potential heir, awaiting recognition.