Five Reasons the World’s Oldest Dog Record is a Simple Scam
I get it, in a world full of war, recession and viruses – we all love a good news story.
That said, I’m convinced that the story of Bobi, the world’s oldest dog is a simple publicity stunt.
You can’t blame Guinness World Records here. After all, their new business model is to charge huge ‘verification fees’ in a desperate attempt to balance plummeting book sales. So, set aside your fond memories of Norris McWhirter and Roy Castle, and let’s take a realistic look at the claim that Bobi is really 30 years old.
#1 – It is Obviously Not the Same Dog
The entire story is debunked when you take an honest look at Bobi as a puppy and compare it to the recent picture.
That picture of Bobi age seven had a white lower front right leg. It had white on the side of its nose and white (greying?) eyebrows.
As much as I’d love to believe in a miracle of more than double the average lifespan, the equivalent of a human living to 200 years old, this is simply not the same animal.
*Images adapted from https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/
#2 – No Grey Hair?
Old dogs go grey.
Bobi is a Rafeiro do Alentejo, a quick search of images of this breed clearly shows grey muzzles in later life.
Yet, we are expected to believe that Bobi got all the way to 30 with perfectly brown fur. Unless there is a ‘just for dogs’ shampoo that invisibly covers that lush brown fur, this stretches the imagination of even the most gullible readers.
That is before we even get to cloudy eyes / cataracts which affect all our canine friends eventually.
The picture below shows some older dogs – go on, compare them to Bobi.
#3 – What No Microchip?
The Servico-Medico-Veterinario register dogs.
They are used as ‘proof’ in this case. The absence of a microchip raises the question of what, exactly, constitutes proof here?
There are approximately 2.1 million dogs in Portugal. The vet service claiming to monitor has less than 50 employees. So, other than two pictures of brown dogs which are obviously not the same animal, how exactly was Bobi’s age monitored?
Animal chipping has been around since the late 1980’s. If Bobi had one as a puppy, let’s see the proof.
*Image credit Wikipedia (this is a chip in a cat, though I’m sure you get the idea!)
#4 – Doubled Lifespan is Simply Not Plausible
Living twice the typical age for this breed is simply not biologically plausible.
Guinness are clever here, pitching it against the former oldest dog, at 29 years makes it seem like the new record is not a stretch. The record for Bluey was set in 1939. I’m not sure about you, but the likelihood of microchipping back then is tiny.
The chances of an organism dying increases as they age – exponentially during the last years.
Rafeiro do Alentejo dogs live 12 to 14 years. If I pick 13 as average, then Bobi is already 250% of the average for the breed.
This is such as incredible claim (like a human being 200 years old), that is requires substantial proof.
We simply don’t have any proof – unless you count a picture of two obviously different dogs?
#5 – Bobi is a Big Boy
Bobi may be a good boy, but he is also a big boy.
While I’d never shame a dog over having extra fat (nor any human!), let’s be realistic here.
Extra body fat is ageing in every organism. It is inflammatory, overstimulating the immune system. It is also increases zombie cell populations (known as senescent cells) and is a massive risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.
Bobi eats scraps from the table. That almost certainly includes simple carbs, and sauces with added sugar.
Combine this with the lack of grey muzzle and I’d suggest that the world record holding dog here is less than 10 years old… and highly likely to live longer than his breed average without a little dieting.
Wrapping Up: What Can Bobi Teach Us About Healthy Ageing?
Rafeiro do Alentejo dogs are outdoor animals. Their traditional role is protecting livestock.
That role covers two key aspects of healthy ageing:
- Exercise: No sedentary animal (especially us humans) has a robust old age without exercise.
- Sunlight: Circadian rhythms are behind many of our core cellular processes, starting with the sleep / wake cycle.
I’m not sure we could call Bobi’s diet ‘balanced’. If he is getting a mix of meat, fish and leafy greens from the kitchen table, that may have helped with a longer life.
On the negative side, extra fat (especially visceral fat) contributes to inflammation and to the burden of senescent – zombie – cells. Both will accelerate the hallmarks of ageing.
I’m going to suspend my disbelief – and go with my heart instead of the hard science. As much as the evidence points to this being a Dog N’ Roll Swindle, I really want to believe that Bobi is 30 years old.
Thanks Guinness for bringing some lovely news to our troubled world.
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