My husband and I enjoyed a trip to Portugal last year. We thought it might be a nice place to retire someday. Turns out, it’s a great place for dogs to live…or at least it is for Bobi, the world’s oldest dog.
Bobi celebrated his 31st birthday a couple of weeks ago in the rural Portuguese village of Conqueiros. More than 100 people from around the world flocked to Bobi’s hometown to celebrate with a traditional party honoring the dog, said to be a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo.
His owner attributes Bobi’s long life to the “calm, peaceful environment” in which he was raised, a diet of unsalted human foods, the constant companionship of other pets and the freedom to roam the local forest.
Bobi’s longevity is truly astounding when you consider that the average lifespan for a dog is between 10 to 13 years. Bobi’s Portuguese breed, adept at guarding livestock, typically lives 12 to 14 years. That means Bobi has lived more than twice as long as expected.
He sleeps a bit more as he’s gotten older. He has some mobility challenges. But overall, Bobi is in good health and not showing signs of his unprecedented old (dog) age.
Bobi is both the oldest dog currently living, according to Guinness World Records, and the oldest dog ever on record. Bobi has surpassed Bluey, an Australian cattle dog, who in 1939 passed away at 29 years, five months old.
Many dog owners like to estimate their pup’s age in human years. As a child, I was told that one “dog year” equals seven human years.
Thanks to modern scientific studies, we now know that the calculation of dog years to human years is not so simple. The American Veterinary Medical Association lays out the following guidelines for a medium-sized dog:
- The first year of life = 15 human years
- The second year of life = 9 human years
- Each additional year of life = 5 human years
The formula changes depending on the size of the dog. Small dogs generally tend to have longer lifespans than their larger counterparts. It’s common for Chihuahuas to live past 15 years, whereas a Great Dane or Irish wolfhound would be lucky to make it beyond 10.
At Pasadena Humane, like many animal shelters, we estimate the ages of stray animals primarily by assessing their teeth.
Our veterinary health team looks to see if the pet has baby or adult teeth, how worn the teeth are and the amount of dental disease present.
Puppies and kittens are easier to age because their teeth have very distinct developmental milestones. Adult pets can be more challenging. Different breeds age differently, and an animal’s life before entering the shelter may have impacted the condition of their teeth.
Many people are reluctant to adopt older pets because they fear they won’t have enough years with their new best friend.
The good news is we sometimes hear from adopters that their personal veterinarian revised their new pet’s estimated age — from say six years to three years — after a comprehensive health examination. How lucky those adopters are!
One thing I know to be true regarding a pet’s lifespan — whether you adopt a puppy or a senior dog — the time is always too short. Bobi’s guardians are incredibly fortunate to have enjoyed his companionship for over three happy decades — a dream we now know can come true, thanks to Bobi.
Many senior dogs at Pasadena Humane would love to live their golden years (hopefully many years) with you. View our adoptable pets, pasadenahumane.org/pets
Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.
This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on May 26, 2023.