According to that bastion of accurate information – the Internet – large breeds don’t live as long as small breeds. In writing that sentence just now, our tongue was planted firmly in cheek because we’ve all found errors in on-line information (we’ve made more than a few, ourselves). A new Guinness World Record announced this week underscores the point as it made internet experts opining that all large breeds are short-lived look a little foolish.
The Rafeiro do Alentejo, a breed named for its area of origin, the Alentejo region of southern Portugal, is the largest of the Portuguese dog breeds. These impressive dogs can weigh over 130 pounds for a male, a reflection of their ancestry in massive molosser dogs from the Middle East.
A few days ago, a Rafeiro do Alentejo living in Conqueiros, Portugal wasn’t just named the world’s oldest living dog by Guinness World Records, but the oldest dog ever. Having been whelped on May 11, 1992 makes “Bobi” 30 years and 266 days old as of the announcement. In addition to Guinness’ verification, Bobi’s age was confirmed by Sistema de Informação de Animais de Companhia, a database for pets authorized by the Portuguese government and managed by Sindicato Nacional dos Médicos Veterinários, the country’s national union of veterinarians. Check him out:
If we were to “sing the song of Bobi’s people,” we would chirp that his was one of the first dog breeds recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (1954). Since antiquity, these dogs accompanied and guarded sheep and cattle during the transhumance, the seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. By the mid-20th century, vehicles eliminated the need to relocate livestock on foot, and the Rafeiro do Alentejo was used to guard herds and large rural estates in the southern prairies of Portugal where they are still used today. Such wasn’t always the case. The breed was in real trouble by the 1980s, and were it not for the Faculty of Veterinaries in Evora, and breed fanciers, the breed was heading for extinction. Development of the Rafeiro do Alentejo continues today, and happily, the breed is no longer at risk of vanishing. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2006, and presently, the Rafeiro do Alentej is part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service.
Most of us can hardly imagine having a beloved dog around for that long, though we daresay that most of us wish we could. Think of the memories! Bobi’s owner, Leonel Costa, told Guinness that Bobi was particularly special because looking at him was to remember the people who were part of the family and no longer around. “Bobi represents those generations,” Costa said.
Top image: Rafeiro do Alentejo by Pablo Romera