Infinite tail wags, endless sloppy kisses and couch cuddles for eternity: When it comes to our pups, we all wish the love they bring could last literally forever. Unfortunately, until an infinite life serum is approved and readily available, pet parents have to do their absolute best to ensure their four-legged friends have the happiest and longest life possible. So, just how old is the oldest dog?
Just like with humans, a number of factors come into play when it comes to determining how many years a dog will live, spanning diet, exercise, breed, hereditary factors and much more. In the case of a few remarkable dogs, it seems they were dealt a winning hand and far outlived the average pooch.
The Oldest Dog Ever
A dog’s average lifespan can range from 6 to 8 years (for larger breeds like Great Danes) to upwards of 13 to 20 years (for smaller breeds like Yorkshire Terriers), according to the American Kennel Club. In the case of the oldest dog ever, he far outlived the norm.
That title goes to Bluey, a remarkable Australian cattle-dog who lived to be 29 years and 5 months old, says Hannah Ortman, head of the records management team at Guinness World Records North America. The pup was cared for by Les Hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia, which is located approximately 118 miles north of Melbourne.
Bluey’s family got him as a puppy in 1910, and apparently he lived a very active lifestyle, according to Ortman and the Guinness World Records team. The dog worked among cattle and sheep before ultimately being euthanized due to complications of old age on Nov. 14, 1939.
Some say that Maggie the Australian Kelpie, who lived on a dairy farm with her parent, Brian McLaren, has Bluey beat when it comes to the oldest dog in the world. McLaren claims Maggie passed away at the age of 30—that’s about 164 years old in doggy years—after living a long and healthy life on a dairy farm in Australia. Unfortunately, McLaren no longer had the dog’s official paperwork, so her age could not be verified by Guinness World Records, according to Australian newspaper The Weekly Times. Fun fact: Maggie’s hometown of Woolsthorpe is less than 250 miles from Bluey’s hometown, both in the province of Victoria.
How Old Is the Oldest Dog Alive?
Throughout the decades there have been other durable pooches who have given Bluey a run for his money.
The last Guinness World Records holder for “oldest dog living” was Jake the Rat Terrier, who lived with his pet parent, Ronald W. Johnson, in Davenport, Iowa. Jake was born July 21, 1994, and passed away just days after his 21st birthday in 2015.
How old is the oldest dog alive today? There is no current Guinness World Records holder for oldest dog living as dogs must be at least 21 years old to qualify.
How to Help Your Dog Live Longer
Of course, we’d all like to have the next Bluey, Jake or Maggie. Outside of genetic dispositions, there are some steps pet parents can take and red flags to be aware of to help their dogs live the longest lives possible.
Cherie Buisson, DVM, CHPV, owner of Helping Hands Pet Hospice in Seminole, Florida, is a certified hospice and palliative care veterinarian who has been practicing since 2000. She’s handled many elderly and ill pet patients throughout the years, prioritizing an anti-stress and anti-fear environment, particularly in their final days.
Dr. Buisson has two top tips for prolonging dogs’ lives.
“First, keep them in good shape. Overweight and obese dogs are having to be put to sleep far sooner than dogs that are thinner,” she says. “Secondly, address problems early and recognize visible pain like arthritis.”
Some of the veterinarian’s key tips also include:
- As pets get into their later years, they should be seeing a vet at least twice per year. It’s best to catch a condition in six months than letting it continue untreated for a year, particularly when it comes to extending a dog’s lifespan, Dr. Buisson says. Those with kidney disease or diabetes may need to visit the vet more frequently.
- Dental issues like periodontal disease are a huge problem, Dr. Buisson says. It can be expensive to have cleanings done, but they are necessary, especially since dogs don’t floss two to three times per day and some pet parents neglect to brush their teeth regularly.
- Healthy treats are important and should account for less than 10 percent of a dog’s dietary intake.
“If there is anything abnormal in your pet’s behavior, whether it’s bad breath or a limp, you should take them to a vet to get them assessed,” Dr. Buisson says.
It really is a team effort to keep your dog happy and healthy, but one that’s well worth it to improve the quality of life for your favorite furry friend. And who knows? If you do your part, perhaps with a little good luck, your pup may very well have a Guinness World Record of their own one day, too.