Oldest Living Dog, what’s his secret?

The path to longevity fame for a brown-eyed Chihuahua in Greenacres began with a routine dog rescue and a name change from Peanut Butter. It was filled with (two) decades of companionship, exercise and, yes, eating vegetables.

And then this spring, weighing in at a “solid seven pounds,” TobyKeith realized the goal pet owners sometimes fantasize about: The Guinness Book of World Records named him World’s Oldest Living Dog.  

The record keepers certified the 21-year-old’s achievement in March — and it wasn’t an easy process, said his owner, Gisela Shore.

“There was six months of investigation. They wanted medical records. Vaccination papers. Pictures of TobyKeith through the years. I sent them a photo of him standing in front of that day’s newspaper showing he was still alive,” said Shore, a Lowe’s account manager and lifelong dog owner.

When TobyKeith turned 20, Shore’s son Eric suspected the Chihuahua was beating the odds. “Twenty years, that’s got to be a record,” Shore recalled him saying. 

TobyKeith soared past the average Chihuahua lifespan

Generally, small dogs like TobyKeith live longer than big dogs. So Irish wolfhounds, which typically run about 115 lbs, have an average lifespan of seven years, while lap-sized Chihuahuas live about 13 years. 

Other variables  — diet, medical care, breeding, neutering, exercise, care by the owner — also influence a dog’s longevity, according to a study from the Royal Veterinary College, a London-based veterinary school that based its research on the 20 million animals in its data base.

Sure enough, TobyKeith was beating the odds. Google told his family that the oldest dog was a recently deceased Chihuahua named Megabite who was 20 years and about 263 days old.

“That’s how it all started,” said Shore. 

Now 21 years and about 4 months old, TobyKeith has soared past the average Cihuahua lifespan with his charm and good looks intact.

Even though his once reddish-tan fur has turned totally white, the dog that weighs about the same as a gallon of milk has many years to go, said Shore. 

“He has all his teeth. He’s still in great shape for his age,’’ Shore, 53, said.

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TobyKeith makes history:21-year-old chihuahua breaks Guinness record for world’s oldest dog

TobyKeith — one word, please — lives in a lively home where Shore presides over a small menagerie. His housemates include two female parrots, 28-year-old Coco and 31-year-old Coqui, and two other dogs, a 93-pound American bulldog named Luna and a 4-pound Chinese crested named Lala.

“Dogs give unconditional love. I love their body expressions. They are always so thrilled to see you,” Shore said.

Chihuahua’s owner wanted name that was big and burly: TobyKeith

While Shore has had 16 dogs over the years, TobyKeith has always held a special spot in her heart. 

The two met in March 2001 when Shore, a volunteer for Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, went to the home of an elderly couple to pick up a puppy named Peanut Butter.

“The husband just was diagnosed with cancer. His wife couldn’t take care of the puppy. I saw that little peanut in the box and it was love at first sight. I brought him home,” said Shore, a native of Cuba who has been in Palm Beach County since 1992.

Chihuahua TobyKeith holds the Guiness record for the world's oldest living dog at more than 21 years old, in Greenacres, Florida. (Gisela Shore)

Shore and her 26-year-old daughter Giselle Vazquez changed the tiny Chihuahua’s name to something big and burly: TobyKeith. Both are huge fans of the lumbering country-western singer known for his 10-gallon hats and the song “I Love This Bar.”

“We made the name one word because we wanted them to be different,” said Shore.

Animals have always been drawn to her mother, said Vazquez, who works for a title company in Hialeah. Growing up in California, her mother took care of the chickens and pigeons who lived in coops built by her father.

TobyKeith in his younger days was more blonde than now. He holds the Guiness record for the world's oldest living dog at more than 21 years old, in Greenacres, Florida. (Gisela Shore)

“Animals that need healing always seem to find a way to her doorstep,” said Vazquez, who owns two bulldogs, Brady and Leo.

When the news first came out about TobyKeith being the world’s oldest living canine, Toby Keith — the guy with the hat —  reached out through Instagram to congratulate the pooch.

“He referred to him as ‘Little Dog Daddy,’” gushed Shore.

Meals of dry dog food with sides of carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and ground beef — “yes, I cook it for him” — are what Shore credits for TobyKeith’s long life. And she makes sure he gets regular exercise.

While overall good health still graces TobyKeith, he was diagnosed with heart disease six months ago. Shore gives him three pills twice a day wrapped in roasted turkey deli meat. 

“It’s the only way he will eat the pills,” she said.

Though he’s captured the oldest dog alive title, TobyKeith has a way to go to nab the record for the World’s Oldest Dog of All Time. 

The honor belongs to Australian cattle dog named Bluey, who lived to be 29 years and 5 months old. Bluey was put to sleep on Nov. 14, 1939, according to Guinness.

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