Guinness World Records in turmoil over oldest dog record due to lax checks

Can we trust Guinness World Records? I’m sure that many of their records have been thoroughly verified and are indeed verifiable. But it appears that some records have not been verified properly or they can be circumvented leading to incorrect record holders. I have always had difficulties with Guinness records. They dropped the smallest cat category as it was leading to cat abuse. The same goes for the fattest cat. There are issues with records.

The breaking story on Guinness World Records concerns an old dog, Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo. He died in October 2023 at the claimed age of 31. He was, as a consequence, awarded the lofty title of the oldest canine ever with the equivalent human age of around 200 years. He made headlines around the world as you might expect.

Image by MikeB based on image from Wikipedia.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment written by visitors. It is a way visitors can contribute to animal welfare without much effort and no financial cost. Please comment. It helps this website too which at heart is about cat welfare.

But the problem has gradually leaked out about Bobi’s age. Veterinarians voiced their disbelief and others have asked why pictures taken of Bobi in his youth showed him with white paws but when he was a lot older, they were brown.

This led to an investigation in which Wired magazine discovered that Bobi had been registered on a Portuguese government database in 2022, a year before he died. Guinness World Records had used the database to confirm his age. Bobi’s owner had declared that her dog had been born in 1992 but an official at the database said that there was no registration or data which confirms her statement. Please note that she had “declared” her dog’s age. Good enough?!

There is clearly confusion about the recording of Bobi’s age on this government database. The dog wasn’t registered and yet Guinness World Records apparently said last year that Bobi’s age had been verified by this database. Comment: this points to lax fact checking by Guinness.

Bobi’s owner attributed his long life to living in the Portuguese countryside and feeding him human food.

The problems don’t stop there as the record for the world’s oldest living dog looks as if it should now go to a 24-year-old Chihuahua named Spike living in Ohio, USA. However, there is controversy and confusion over his age as well. His owner, Rita Kimball, had provided Guinness World Records with veterinary records and bills which apparently established his date of birth as 1999. She had photographs which supported her claim showing Spike through the years. Previously Spike held the record until early 2023 when he was usurped by Bobi.

But Kimball has admitted that she had not had Spike since he was a puppy. She found him in a car park in 2009. After she found him, a veterinarian estimated that he was about 10 years of age. It appears that that simple and single assessment by an anonymous veterinarian was the basis on which Guinness World Records awarded Spike the oldest dog title.

Guinness World Records have admitted that they need to be more rigorous in their checks by telling Kimball: “We are reviewing how we verify animal age records at the moment”. They’ve asked Kimball to arrange for a second-best reassessment of Spike’s age. Comment: that cannot be adequate. An assessment of a dog’s age cannot be accurate enough as a basis for a world record.

Comment: on what I read this morning from The Times newspaper, I certainly cannot trust Guinness World Records to be reliable enough to award the oldest dog titles. And on that basis, we are compelled to ask whether they are reliable enough to award the oldest cat records with accuracy and veracity. And that leads to other records and whether they are reliable too.

About the picture of Bobi: this picture, according to Wikipedia is copyrighted. The author of the picture has not been mentioned. It is of low quality. It probably therefore does not impact any commercial aspect regarding this picture. I would claim fair use. Any problems, then please contact me in a comment.

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