A scandal is tearing apart the world of record-breaking dogs


But when Kimball asked Guinness to re-verify the spike, these vet guesses were no longer enough evidence. One way to estimate an animal's age is by their teeth, something Spike doesn't have, although Kimball says he still has a few loose teeth left after Spike's fight with a pit bull in 2015 . Providing evidence that Spike has no teeth in his mouth, Kimball told Guinness that she struggled to find a vet to verify her dog's age.

Guinness World Records wrote to Kimball, “We greatly appreciate your efforts in supplying the newly requested evidence, but at this stage we are unable to re-award Spike's record.” “His original record is not affected by this review, but it does mean that we are unable to recognize him or any other claimant as the record-holder at this time.”

Kimball is not happy that Guinness is refusing to crown Spike again as the world's oldest dog. “I am not disappointed that he lost, it can happen. I'm upset by the fact that they're withholding his record, because this record should have nothing to do with this other dog,” she says.

It is extremely difficult for veterinarians to accurately estimate the age of an adult dog, says veterinarian Lewis Allam, head of the UK Royal Veterinary College's shelter medicine program. Puppies are much easier to raise as they lose their teeth in a predictable order: incisors first, then canines, premolars, and molars. Tracking the development of adult teeth is a reliable way to estimate a dog's age up to about one year.

“After that it becomes more difficult,” Allam says. There are subtle things that dog's teeth are getting longer. Larger dogs may have more tartar deposits, but this varies greatly with diet and dental care. Older dogs' eyes sometimes become cloudy, but this can happen anywhere from 5, 10 years of age or later. Some dogs go gray, others do not. Some people's face starts becoming thin, while some's cheeks remain thick till old age.

This means that it is almost impossible to accurately estimate a dog's age after it passes a certain age. Even though Allam guesses the age of dogs as part of her day job, she says it's a well-informed “best guess” when she has to put the age into a stray dog's medical records. .

The only way to be sure of a dog's origins is to keep records of them since their birth, or at least since they were a puppy. In the UK, dogs must be fitted with a microchip containing a unique identifier before they are eight weeks old. Allam says that a combination of microchip records and photographs that show the dog has aged over years will be the most reliable indicator of a dog's actual age, although she notes that those records can also be falsified.

Amber-Georgina Maskell, head of publishing and brand communications for Guinness World Records, says the company decided to review its age-verification process after receiving “some correspondence from veterinarians” in the wake of news of Bobby's death. Maskell says the company is reviewing pre-existing evidence, looking for new evidence, and reaching out to experts and people connected to Bobby's record-breaking claim. Since Bobby was also the oldest dog ever to live (the previous record holder, Bluey, died in 1939), that record title has also been put on hold. Guinness also holds records for the oldest cats, llamas and rats, but Maskell said those categories are not on hold for now.