Scientists May Finally Know How The World’s Oldest Dog Has Survived For So Long

It’s been said that dogs are “man’s best friend.” And that’s surely because it’s 100 percent true: what would life be like without our beloved pet pooches? Miserable, that’s what! Perhaps this is why scientists have been trying to crack the age-old mystery of why some dogs — such as Bobi, the oldest dog in the world — live incredibly long lives, while others bow out after the average ten to 15 years. What are their secrets, and can we stack the deck in favor of our own pets living super-long lives?

A fateful litter of puppies is born in 1992

On May 11, 1992, a litter of puppies was born in the Costa family’s wooden storage shed in the Portuguese village of Conqueiros. The pups were purebred rafeiros, a breed of livestock dog, but the family already owned a host of animals on the property, so they were deemed surplus to requirements. Eight-year-old Leonel Costa and his sister watched in horror as their father spirited the pups away while their mother Gira was distracted and had them put down.

Finding a stowaway

Over the next few days, though, Leonel and his sister noticed that Gira kept coming back to the shed, even though her puppies were gone. Curious, they pushed open the door and had a look around. They were shocked to find one stowaway pup, whose coloring must have made him blend in with the wooden surroundings. This little guy had escaped death through sheer luck, and the kids decided to keep his existence a secret until he was able to open his tiny eyes.

Bobi becomes a member of the family

The children named the puppy Bobi and operated under the assumption that their dad wouldn’t kill the animal once he saw they’d bonded with him. Leonel told news agency AFP, “We knew they wouldn’t do anything to him then and that Bobi would remain with us. So, we kept the secret. Afterwards, we were punished, but it was worth it.” In the end, they were right: Bobi was accepted as a new family member, and he’s still living at the Costa home to this very day!

The oldest dog in the world

That’s right: at the ripe old age of 31, Bobi has now been certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest dog in the world. Not bad for a pup who came so close to death when he was barely a few days old! Leonel, who is now 38 and has a family of his own, admitted, “We’ve had a lot of journalists and people come from all over the world to take a picture with Bobi. They’ve come from all over Europe, as well as the USA and even Japan.”