By Daily Mail Reporter
He is the epitome of canine loyalty, Bobby the Skye terrier who kept a vigil at his master's grave for 14 years.
But now the world-famous story of Greyfriars Bobby has been revealed as a clever Victorian publicity stunt.
The heart-warming story of Greyfriars Bobby tells of a small Skye terrier who couldn't bear to leave his master's body and remained by his grave in Edinburgh from 1858 to 1872.
The faithful canine has been immortalised in numerous books and films over the years - and even has his own memorial for tourists to flock to.
Tributes: The grave put up in memory of Greyfriars Bobby, left, and a painting of the 'second' Bobby, right
But an academic has now discovered the legend to be fake after spending five years researching archives on the subject.
Dr Jan Bondeson claims Bobby was in fact two dogs and that their master wasn't buried in the graveyard in Edinburgh at all.
The real Bobby died in 1867 and was swapped with a younger model to keep visitors streaming to the area to view the legend, his studies have suggested.
He believes the idea was the brainchild of local businesses, who profited greatly from the tiny dog's fame.
Dr Bondeson, a historian and senior lecturer at Cardiff University, has uncovered contemporary archives which show the first dog had no owner and was in fact a stray which wandered into the neighbourhood.
A witness account states the animal was lifted into Greyfriars cemetery by the gardener of the nearby Heriot's hospital who was sick of it trespassing on his grounds.
After that James Brown, the curator of the cemetery, repeatedly fed Bobby and treated him so well the pooch set up home there.
Hoax: The memorial statue of Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh. New research has revealed the tale of the faithful dog to be a publicity stunt by local businesses
Gullible locals assumed the dog was mourning his dead master and so the story of the loyal canine began.
Word soon spread and visitors to the churchyard increased a hundred-fold, with animal lovers from across the country flocking to see the faithful celebrity dog.
Many donated money to the kind-hearted Mr Brown for taking care of him and almost all dined in the next door restaurant owned by a John Traill.
Dr Bondeson insists pictures and portraits of the dog, as well as contemporary accounts of his nature, show that the original Bobby died in May or June 1867.
He believes it is likely that Brown and Traill then substituted the original terrier mongrel with a similar dog, a Skye terrier, to keep exploiting Bobby's fame.
Dr Bondeson, who has published his findings in a new book, said: 'I knew the famous story of Greyfriars Bobby but the more I researched it the more I smelt a rat.
'First, people thought he was owned by a shepherd, which I believe was a story based on a popular painting at the time.
'There's no reason why a shepherd would be buried in the middle of Edinburgh and, as far as I can see, there is no other evidence to back it up.
Study: The cover of Jan Bondeson's new book, left, and a drawing of the dog completed in 1918
'Then a scholar called Forbes Macgregor, who wrote a biography of Greyfriars Bobby, found there was a man named John Gray buried in the cemetery in 1858 and believed he had been the dog's master.
'But Gray was the local policeman and it doesn't make sense for him to have had Bobby as a police dog - he was about the size of a cat.
'Besides, local people would have remembered him as being the police dog and there would have been no mystery about his origins.
'In my opinion, all the theories about the dog's life are about as full of holes as a piece of swiss cheese.
'After five years of research, I believe he was an unwitting impostor who made use of the sentimental notions of how a dog should behave to get a good life for himself.
'In fact, he was one of around 60 Victorian cemetery dogs who waited around for food in graveyards and were so well treated they that stayed there to lead an independent and comfortable life.
'People thought, "Oh look at that poor dog, waiting by his master's grave," so they kept looking after them.
'Bobby first arrived at the hospital nearby and the gardener threw him into the cemetery when he became a nuisance.
'There, he found someone to take good care of him. James Brown was very fond of the dog and he got used to staying around.
'People saw him in the cemetery and thought he was mourning his master.
'After a story was published about him in the Scotsman, visitors to the cemetery increased 100 times, with people coming from all over Scotland and England.
'They would give James Brown a handsome tip and have lunch in the Traills' restaurant.
Good story nonetheless: A still from the 1961 Disney film Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story Of A Dog - just one of the films made about the legend of the cemetery-dwelling Skye terrier
A dog's life: In the Disney film the dog falls foul of Edinburgh dog catchers and has to be rescued by some kind children
'Pictures of Greyfriars Bobby show a distinct change in May or June 1867.
'I believe at that point the original dog died and was replaced by a new, younger dog.
'The first was an elderly, tired dog who wasn't much to look at, and the second a lively terrier who ran around and fought other dogs.
'It would also explain Bobby's longevity - he was supposed to have lived for 18 years, when even today 10 - 12 years is a good life span for a Skye terrier.
'Both Mr Brown and Mr Traills had a strong interest in having a living Bobby - it would make nothing but sense for them to replace him.
'He was very good for the local economy, so it wouldn't have been too difficult to persuade locals to keep quiet.
Publicity stunt: The Greyfriars Cemetery in Edinburgh
'There were mutterings about the story of Greyfriars Bobby from various Edinburgh locals "in the know" and many newspaper writers have tried to pour doubt on the legend - but Bobby has vanquished them all.
'It won't ever be possible to debunk the story of Greyfriars Bobby - he's a living legend, the most faithful dog in the world, and bigger than all of us.
'But I hope my research will help shed light on the truth behind the story, and finally allow Bobby to stand up on his Edinburgh monument, and free himself of the Victorian conventions of how a dog should behave.'