Jättiläisen Gaia

Jättiläisen Bouvardia Albiflora x Jättiläisen Vipunen

04.05.2014 – 09.01.2024
(euthanized due to a mammatumor)

HD: A, ED: 0, Spine: OK, Heart Ultra/EKG (4/2023): OK, complete scissor bite, Ichthyosis gene: free

I chose the name Gaia because she is the earth goddess and the mother of all life.

When I was searching for a breeding bitch it was clear I didn’t want to buy from a German breeder, because I wanted to bring in new blood into the gene pool. Furthermore I know the German breeding lines too well and am not a big fan of most of them health, temperament and type wise. So I looked for breeders from far away. To fetch Gaia from the Finnish kennel “Jättiläisen” (this means “giants”) I had to drive more than 5000 km. But the long journey was worth it. I was in touch with Gaia’s breeder Kati Nieminen already some years before I bought a dog from her, because she left a positive impression on me. Many of her dogs reach a high age, this can also be seen in Gaia’s pedigree below. Her mother Taika (Jättiläisen Bouvardia Albiflora) died at the age of almost 12 years and her father at the age of 10 years. Also many other ancestors reached double digits and got as old as almost 14 years! I met many of her relatives in person, you can see pictures of them on my old website.

But Kati is also transparent when it comes to dogs that die younger and diseases in her breeding. She enters all data (when the owners agree) in the Finnish database “Jalostus Kennelliitto“, the best pedigree dog database worldwide. Her focus in breeding has always been health and longevity and she did all health tests long before they were mandatory. The inbreeding levels of her litters are low and she puts a lot of effort in importing dogs and semen from all over the world. Also Gaia has ancestors from the USA, South America, Scandinavia and Continental Europe in her pedigree which includes a very high genetic variety. Also Kati’s breeding ethics have convinced me. She has never killed merle puppies like Gaia (more on the topic merles here) and she never had too many dogs and litters per year. Her females also just have a few litters in their lifetime and enough time to recover in between them.

So when I in 2014 finally had the possibility to get a second great dane I didn’t have to consider long and took Ludwig, my VW camping bus and my dad to drive the long way to Finland to fetch Gaia. It was also my first time in Scandinavia and I fell in love with this part of the world and travelled there many years for holidays before I ended up to live in Sweden. So Gaia has influenced my life greatly in many ways!

Gaia developed into a tall and strong female, both physically and mentally. She is very sovereign and is even now as a senior the unquestioned matriarch and leader of my pack and is an invaluable help in educating the youngsters. All her health tests have best results and so she had her first litter in April 2017 and her second litter in February 2019. She was a good mother to her own pups in my A- and B-litter “vom Irschener Winkel” in Germany. She was an even better grandmother and wanted to adopt her daughter Alma’s babies immediately and even gave milk to them.

Gaia with a part of her first litter
Gaia with her second litter
Gaia with Alma’s puppies

I was one of the first breeders to use a merle in breeding and it was not easy to make this happen. Only since 2014 this is allowed at all in Germany, since the standard had been changed to make merle an “undesired” color instead of a “disqualifying” color. Before this time most breeders worldwide killed merle puppies after their birth, which means that in the history of GD breeding tens of thousands of completely healthy puppies had to die because they had the “wrong” color. Nowadays this has fortunately changed and much more is known about the inheritance of the merle gene. You can read about this topic here: click.

Gaia has proven that a merle can produce beautiful harlequins and is as worthy for breeding as any other color! I didn’t show her a lot, because obviously her chances of getting good results were very low because of her “undesired” color. She got all kinds of assessments, from “sufficient” to “excellent”. But the only class which is anyway important to me in shows is the veteran class and I am very proud that she got an excellent on the Finnish Club Show 2022 and became best merle Veteran and second best merle female the next day on the inofficial Color Show. At the same occasion her mother Taika became best harlequin veteran at the age of 10,5 years. And her granddaughter Leni became best harlequin junior female and her granddaughter Cookie best fawn female in intermediate class. It was fantastic to see 4 generations in one show! And this is what counts in breeding dogs: health, longevity and thinking in generations!

Gaia at the age of 8 years