Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever | All You Should Know About This Superb Breed

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever | All You Should Know About This Superb Breed




The Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, commonly known as a “toller,” is a medium-sized sporting breed that was originally bred as hunting partners. They are also known by their other name, “tollers.”

The Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, sometimes known as a “toller,” is the smallest of the retriever breeds that are recognized by the American Kennel Club; nevertheless, they make up for their size in liveliness and personality.

Tollers are a type of sporting dog that is medium in size and have a distinctive red coat with white markings.

The dogs in Nova Scotia were bred and trained from the beginning to be hunting companions; now, they are still employed as hunting companions, but they can also make loving household pets.

And even though they are not as well-known as Labrador retrievers or golden retrievers, these adorable dogs are experiencing a surge in demand.


According to Dr. Kristina Mott, DVM, CVA, CCRT, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers are medium-sized canines who have a compact build and are both athletic and agile.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

A full-grown Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever can reach heights of up to 21 inches and weigh anywhere from 35 to 50 pounds. They stand approximately 17 to 21 inches tall.

Tollers have all the high-energy fun of a retriever, just on a somewhat smaller scale when compared to a Lab, who can weigh between 55 and 80 pounds, or a golden, who can weigh between 55 and 75 pounds.

Tollers have crimson coats that can range in color from a golden red to an orangey copper, and they often have white markings on their feet, breast, and sometimes on their tails and faces as well.

Because of their thick coat and dense undercoat, tollers were able to withstand the chilly waters of their native habitat unharmed. As a result, you will need the appropriate vacuum to keep your floor and furnishings clean after they shed their fluffy down undercoat during the various seasons.

According to Mott, a practicing veterinarian who also raises Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever puppies, brushing a toller’s double coat a few times a week can help prevent the fur from flying out of the animal’s body.

When a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is at work, the feathers on the end of her tail will move rapidly and continuously as she works to bring in ducks for her human hunting companion.

Her eyes have the shape of almonds, and in accordance with breed standards, they either blend in with her coat or can be a bit darker. She has an attentive disposition.

Her ears are hanging down, yet they stand to attention whenever a duck or one of her favorite toys is in the vicinity.


Tollers are high-energy dogs due to their heritage as hunting dogs.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

However, according to Mott, if a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is given the appropriate amount of activity and mental stimulation throughout the day, at the end of the day she will be able to “switch off” and be a quiet house pet.

Be aware, however, that she won’t waste any time getting back into the swing of things if she has the chance. Tollers are typically used as athletic dogs; however, they may also make wonderful companions for families.

Playtime with young children should always be monitored by an adult, just as it should be with any dog, and children of any age should never be left unattended.

However, older children who are physically active would be fantastic playmates for duck tolling retrievers in Nova Scotia.

According to Mott, “different lines tend to produce animals with more cuddly temperaments than others.” “Some are more independent, lay-at-your-feet dogs, whilst others are more snuggle-on-top-of-you dogs,” the author says of the canines.

When properly socialized, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers can get along with other dogs and cats just as well as they do with their kind.

In general, when they first meet new people, dogs of this breed are wary of them, but as they get to know them, they warm up to them and become more welcoming.

Mott said that some of the tollers may have “missed this memo and will love on everyone.” Having said that, some of these cheerful dogs may be nice right from the beginning.

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Because the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an intelligent breed, its training needs to be mentally challenging; otherwise, the dogs would become bored of their lessons very quickly.

When the training is maintained upbeat and enjoyable for them, they are receptive, outgoing, and capable of exceptionally rapid learning.

Living Needs

The environment in which Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers reside must be one that places a premium on physical activity and mental stimulation.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

That calls for some form of physical activity every day, whether it is a stroll around the block or some time spent playing in the backyard.

According to Mott, a toller owner should be “ready to supply chewy toys or food puzzles and indoor training activities in inclement weather or when the owner isn’t feeling up to the outdoor activity.”

In other words, a toller owner should always be prepared for their dog to be bored indoors.

These dogs are named after their desire to hunt and retrieve waterfowl, so it seems to sense that one of the best ways to tire them out and keep their wits active is to participate in activities that play into that desire.

According to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (NSDTRC), Tollers have the potential to excel as athletes in a wide variety of dog sports. Some of these sports include agility, flyball, and dock diving.

Even if they can adjust to apartment life, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers are probably not the best choice for someone who lives in a home with shared walls.

When they are aroused, they will send out a distinctive “toller scream,” which is a high-pitched bark. This may be music to the ears of a duck hunter, but it may be loud and even ear-piercing if it comes as a surprise, and it won’t make your neighbors happy in any way, shape, or form.

Because they were originally intended to be hunting companions, tollers have a strong prey drive that may cause them to pursue any little animal (such as a passing squirrel) that they notice when they are outside.

They will have an area to play, and they won’t be able to chase after anything and everyone that catches their eye because the yard will be enclosed by fencing.


To keep their coats in such pristine condition, these redheads require routine grooming.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

In addition to brushing their dog frequently (at least several times a week), owners of puppies will need to pay particular attention to their canine companion’s feet and ears.

The excess hair between the pads of the Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers’ feet should be trimmed by their owners to prevent the dogs from sliding around on the smooth floors inside the house.

The ear fur of Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers should also be brushed and trimmed to prevent the hair from matting.

Tollers are a breed that enjoys staying active, but they are not a breed that is required to engage in uninterrupted activity daily.

The best way to keep her happy is to play catch with her in the backyard for half an hour, then bring some interactive toys inside. On the weekends, though, she may have a craving for something a little more substantial, such as a lengthy trek.

Tollers have a strong urge to retrieve, in addition to a love of water and what its breeder, Mott, refers to as an “intense birdiness,” which can be translated as a drive to locate waterfowl.

They adore doing things with their owners that require interaction on both sides.

Because Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers were originally developed to hunt alongside their owners for extended periods, they form strong bonds with their families and do not like to be left alone.


Tollers are generally healthy dogs as long as they receive routine veterinarian care, maintain nutritious food, and participate in regular activity.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

In spite of this, just like any other breed of dog, they are susceptible to developing neurologic, orthopedic, or cardiac conditions on occasion.

Be careful to inquire with the breeder of the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever puppy you intend to add to your household about the availability of comprehensive health records.

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According to Mott, tollers have a higher risk of developing Addison’s disease, hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy than other breeds (PRA).

A genetic test for juvenile Addison’s disease, also known as an immune-mediated condition, can be carried out by breeders. Both hip dysplasia and PRA can be evaluated medically, and genetic testing is also accessible for both conditions.

Although certain tollers may have the genes for these illnesses, breeders can prevent the possibility of these conditions occurring by breeding selectively away from them.

According to Mott, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers are not as prone to developing orthopedic problems as other breeds of retrievers, provided that they are maintained at a suitable weight and level of muscle condition.


The first Tollers were animals that resembled foxes.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Micmac Indians of Canada saw that foxes would engage in an activity known as tolling on the edges of rivers and lakes, and then they would seize ducks that were foolish enough to get too close.

The Micmacs taught their dogs to behave in this manner, and their dogs eventually picked up the skill of luring the curious ducks.

During the 19th century, game hunters in England and Canada began to train their dogs to retrieve dropped birds from the water. These dogs were able to swim.

These dogs, who were known as retrievers, took their names from the regions of the world in which they were created, such as Labrador and Chesapeake Bay.

However, the hunters in Yarmouth County, which is located in the Little River valley of southwest Nova Scotia, went one step farther. They were successful in creating a dog that could both lure birds and bring them back.

Beginning with dogs that belonged to the Micmac Indians, they experimented with several types of retrievers, including farm collies, Cocker Spaniels, and Irish Setters, amongst others, and effectively combined these with the Micmac canines.

Some toller specialists believe that the breed originated from a combination of spaniel and setter-type dogs, retriever-type dogs, and farm collies; however, this assertion cannot be confirmed with absolute certainty.

It’s also possible that their ancestry can be traced back to the Dutch Kooikerhondje and the St. John’s Water Dog, both of which have since become extinct.

As a consequence of this, the Little River Duck Dog earned its name. Only residents of the region where he was formed were aware of the existence of the Little River Duck Dog for many years.

But in 1945, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was officially recognized as a breed by the Canadian Kennel Club, which also gave the breed its current name.

The breed was introduced to the United States for the very first time in the 1960s, but it failed to generate much enthusiasm.

However, by 1984, there were already enough people interested in the breed for the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club USA to be established.

In 2001, the American Kennel Club acknowledged the breed as a member of the Miscellaneous Class, and in 2003, it was elevated to the Sporting Group.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) now recognizes 155 breeds and types of dogs, with the Toller being ranked 110th out of those.

What exactly Tolling?

When you hear someone talk about a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, you can’t help but wonder what the word “tolling” actually refers to.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Middle English term tollen, which meant “to seduce,” is where we get the modern-day word toller. Tolling, which refers to the process of attracting a game, is precisely what the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is trained to perform.

While the hunter hides behind a blind to avoid being seen by ducks and other waterfowl, the dog has fun at the water’s edge, running around and bringing birds back to the hunter.

These shenanigans attract the attention of the birds, which causes them to swim closer to the shoreline.

When the birds are at the appropriate distance, the toller will return to the blind, and the hunter will stand, startling the birds into flying away before firing his weapon.

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After that, the Toller will swim out and collect any birds that have drowned.


  • In general, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers have good health; nevertheless, as a result of the restricted gene pool, certain disorders have started to appear in the breed. Because of his red coat and flesh-colored snout, the Toller may have a higher prevalence of immune-mediated diseases.
  • Even though he has a coat that is of a medium length, the Toller’s coat requires a relatively minimal amount of upkeep and is simple to look after.
  • The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a sporting dog that is only moderately active and needs approximately an hour’s worth of daily activity. They will use their energy in less desirable ways, like digging and gnawing, if they are not allowed to properly exercise.
  • Tollers have a powerful prey drive, which causes them to pursue cats and other small creatures that they come upon while they are outside. If you want to restrict your Toller from chasing after prey, you should confine him to an area that is enclosed by fencing.
  • It’s possible that the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is not the right dog for you if you live in an apartment or a community with strict noise regulations. When he gets worked up, he tends to let out a terrifying scream that is quite loud and has a very high pitch.
  • If you value tidiness and cleanliness in your canine companion, the Toller is probably not the breed for you. He loses his coat at certain times of the year and thoroughly enjoys playing in the muck and dirt.
  • The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is not a smaller version of the Golden Retriever, and the two dogs’ personalities couldn’t be more dissimilar.
  • Since the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an uncommon breed, it may take some time to find a reliable breeder in your area who has puppies for sale. Be prepared to wait anywhere from six months to one year or perhaps longer for a puppy. Never purchase a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store if you want your dog to grow up to be healthy. Find a breeder who does testing on their breeding dogs to ensure that they are free of any hereditary disorders that they may transfer onto their puppies and that they have good temperaments. This will help ensure that the puppies you get are healthy.

Overview Of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

  • HEIGHT: 17–21 inches
  • WEIGHT: 35–50 pounds
  • LIFE SPAN: 12–14 years
  • BREED SIZE: medium (26-60 lbs.)
  • GOOD WITH: families, children, dogs
  • TEMPERAMENT: outgoing, friendly, playful
  • SHEDDING AMOUNT: seasonal
  • EXERCISE NEEDS: medium
  • ENERGY LEVEL: active
  • BARKING LEVEL: frequent
  • BREED GROUP: sporting
  • COLORS: red, white
  • PATTERNS: bicolor
  • OTHER TRAITS: easy to train, tendency to chew, high prey drive, loves water, apartment-friendly, cold weather tolerant, good hiking companion, requires lots of grooming

Fun Facts

  • In 1995, after two Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers won the Best in Show prize in championship tournaments, the province of Nova Scotia officially recognized the breed as the official dog of the province.
  • Because of the toller’s distinctive dance at the water’s edge, the breed is sometimes referred to as the “Pied Piper of the marsh.” In the 1960s, the dance was highlighted in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not column that was published in newspapers across Canada and the United States.
  • That is one extremely lengthy name! The AKC Stud Book is home to the longest name ever recorded for a dog breed, which belongs to the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen is following them in close pursuit.




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