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Big love for big dogs

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Far from where the breed originated, four Bernese Mountain Dogs greeted each other at the Bendigo Botanical Gardens with the traditional sniffle last Sunday.

They are part of a Facebook group designed for owners of the breed to catch up and share tips on breeding prodigious pooches.

It all started when Tania Hampton realized that there was a small community of “Bernese” owners in Bendigo and thought it would be nice to have a common place.

“It started with myself and another, and now we have 22 members,” she said. “Today I meet puppies for the first time. I can’t wait for the group to grow.

Bernese Mountain Dogs originated in Bern, Switzerland, and were originally kept for agricultural work.

They are a rare breed in Australia and local owners share the experiences of interstate breeders, waiting lists, adoption costs and a bit of luck.

Long Gully resident Sandra Chylinski said she waited years to own her first Berner, 13-week-old Daisy, who was “in the right place at the right time”.

From Germany, the breed reminds Ms. Chylinski of Europe and she was looking for a local social group to join.

“There aren’t many Bernese in Australia, there’s potential for more,” she said.

“I was looking in other Facebook groups for people around Bendigo, I’m glad to see it’s not just Daisy. It’s very exciting to catch up so she can socialize with the same breed .

“I love this breed. Love, companionship, how gentle they are. They are gentle giants, they are protective but not aggressive.

Ms Hampton said Berners are the ultimate companion, if you’re willing to put up with hair, drool and high vet bills.

“You have to be willing to accept them as part of the family,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be owned by a Bernese.”