Unveiling the Charm of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Unveiling the Charm of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, often affectionately referred to as the “Toller,” is a breed that has captured the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the world of this fascinating breed, exploring their history, characteristics, care requirements, and more.

Whether you’re a seasoned Toller owner or considering bringing one into your family, this blog post has you covered.

Brief History of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The history of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is as captivating as the breed itself. This fetching canine hails from the shores of Nova Scotia, Canada, where they were initially bred for a distinctive and ingenious purpose.

nova scotia duck tolling retriever

Origins in Waterfowl Hunting

The enchanting tale of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s history begins on the shores of Nova Scotia, Canada, where this exceptional breed was forged with a specific and ingenious purpose in mind.

The story of the Tollers is one of intelligence, adaptability, and their remarkable role in the world of waterfowl hunting.

Versatile Waterfowl Retrievers

Tollers were not bred for the common pursuit of hunting; they were crafted for a more strategic role in the field.

In the early 19th century, hunters in Nova Scotia required a multifaceted companion to enhance their waterfowl hunting endeavors. It was in response to this need that the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was developed.

These dogs possessed a unique and captivating talent — they were masters of deception. The Tollers’ primary duty was to lure waterfowl closer to the hunters.

How did they achieve this? With an intricate dance of playfulness, they would frolic at the water’s edge, sending ripples across the water’s surface and splashing about in a captivating manner.

The Art of “Tolling”

The Tollers’ clever ruse was not merely entertaining but also incredibly effective. Their playful antics piqued the curiosity of waterfowl, who would be drawn closer to investigate the commotion.

As the birds approached, captivated by the enchanting performance, the hunters remained concealed and ready to take their shot.

Once the waterfowl were within range, the Toller’s role shifted from entertainer to retriever. Their retrieving skills were second to none.

They would spring into action, swiftly and efficiently collecting the fallen birds and returning them to their waiting owners. This dual role of playful “tolling” and proficient retrieving is the hallmark of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

The breed’s intelligence, agility, and adaptability in these hunting scenarios soon earned them a reputation as the ultimate waterfowl hunting companions. Their skills extended to not only ducks but also geese, making them invaluable to hunters in the region.

Today, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever may no longer be a staple in hunting blinds, but their remarkable history lives on. These dogs have transitioned into beloved family pets, agility champions, and therapy dogs.

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They continue to enchant and captivate, much like they did in the marshes of Nova Scotia centuries ago, offering a glimpse into the rich history of a breed known for its intelligence, adaptability, and a distinctive role in the world of hunting.

Key Characteristics of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Playful and Energetic: The Life of the Party

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, often lovingly referred to as a “Toller,” is synonymous with exuberance. This breed is the embodiment of playfulness and boundless energy.

nova scotia duck tolling retriever

They approach life with an infectious enthusiasm that is sure to brighten your days. Whether they’re chasing a ball, frolicking in the yard, or simply wagging their “tolling” tail, Tollers are the life of the party.

Compact and Athletic Build: The Athlete of the Canine World

Tollers boast a well-proportioned and athletic physique. Their build is designed for agility and endurance, making them the athletes of the canine world.

They have webbed feet that facilitate their prowess in swimming, a skill that was crucial for their role in waterfowl retrieval. Their dense double coat serves to protect them from the frigid waters of Nova Scotia during hunting expeditions.

Intelligence and Trainability: Quick Learners and Problem Solvers

Intelligence is a hallmark of the Toller breed. These dogs are quick learners and natural problem solvers. They thrive on mental challenges, and their desire to please their owners makes them highly trainable.

Whether it’s obedience training, agility, or mastering new tricks, Tollers are always up for the challenge.

Distinctive Red Coat and “Tolling” Tail: A Unique Appearance

One of the most distinguishing features of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is their vibrant reddish-orange coat. This striking coloration is a defining characteristic of the breed, and it sets them apart from other retrievers.

Additionally, Tollers are known for their “tolling” tail, which they hold high and wag enthusiastically, a behavior rooted in their historical role of luring waterfowl closer to hunters.

These key characteristics collectively paint a picture of a breed that is not only visually captivating but also remarkably versatile and intelligent.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are cherished for their spirited and active nature, making them ideal companions for families and individuals who are ready to embrace their playful and energetic spirit.

Toller Care and Maintenance

Caring for a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a rewarding but responsible endeavor.

These dogs thrive on companionship and activity, and to ensure their well-being, you’ll need to provide them with the right care and maintenance. Here are some key considerations:

nova scotia duck tolling retriever

Exercise Requirements: Fueling the Toller’s Energy

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are known for their boundless energy. To keep them happy and prevent boredom-related behavioral issues, they require a significant amount of exercise.

At a minimum, an hour of vigorous physical activity daily is essential. This includes brisk walks, playtime, and mentally stimulating activities like puzzle toys and agility training. Be prepared to invest time and effort into keeping your Toller active.

Grooming Needs: Managing Their Double Coat

Tollers have a dense double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in top condition. While they don’t shed year-round, they do experience seasonal shedding. During these periods, more frequent brushing is necessary to manage the shedding process effectively.

Weekly brushing is typically sufficient during non-shedding seasons, but when the coat starts to molt, you may need to brush your Toller every other day to prevent excessive shedding and matting.

Socialization and Training: Nurturing Well-Rounded Canines

Early socialization is a crucial component of raising a well-rounded Toller. Expose them to various environments, people, and other dogs to ensure they grow up to be confident and well-adjusted pets.

Obedience training is also essential for harnessing their intelligence and preventing behavioral issues. These dogs thrive on mental challenges, so engage them in learning activities and offer plenty of positive reinforcement.

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Health Considerations and Issues

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a generally healthy breed with a robust constitution. However, like all breeds, Tollers can be prone to specific health issues that potential owners should be aware of.

Understanding these health considerations and issues can help you provide the best care for your Toller. Here are some key health concerns to keep in mind:

Hip Dysplasia: A Common Orthopedic Issue

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, leading to discomfort, pain, and eventually arthritis. While hip dysplasia can affect any breed, it’s seen more frequently in larger dogs, including Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.

Responsible breeding practices can help reduce the risk, so it’s essential to choose a reputable breeder who screens for hip dysplasia.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): An Eye Condition

PRA is a genetic eye condition that can lead to vision loss in Tollers. It’s a slow and progressive disease that typically begins with night blindness and eventually progresses to complete blindness.

Regular eye examinations by a veterinary ophthalmologist can help identify PRA early, and responsible breeding practices aim to reduce the risk.

Hypothyroidism: An Endocrine Disorder

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This condition can lead to various health problems, including weight gain, skin issues, and behavioral changes.

If you notice unusual changes in your Toller’s behavior or appearance, consult your veterinarian for a thyroid evaluation.

Allergies: Sensitivity to Environmental Factors

Tollers can be prone to allergies, just like humans. These allergies may result from pollen, dust, mold, certain foods, or even household cleaning products.

Allergies can cause symptoms like sneezing, itching, and skin problems. Identifying and avoiding allergens or working with your vet to manage allergies can improve your Toller’s quality of life.

Bloat: A Serious Gastrointestinal Issue

Gastric torsion, commonly known as bloat, is a severe condition in which the stomach fills with gas and twists. This can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

To reduce the risk of bloat, it’s recommended to feed your Toller multiple smaller meals each day and avoid vigorous exercise immediately after eating.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups: Prevention and Early Detection

To ensure your Toller’s health, schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Routine examinations, vaccinations, and preventive care are vital in maintaining their well-being. Early detection of any health issues allows for timely intervention and treatment.

By being proactive and informed about the health considerations and issues that can affect Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, you can provide the best possible care for your beloved pet.

Regular vet visits, responsible breeding choices, and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring your Toller enjoys a long, happy, and healthy life as a cherished member of your family.

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.


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. 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.
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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.


In conclusion, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a remarkable breed with a rich history and unique characteristics.

Whether you’re drawn to their playful spirit, their distinctive coat, or their intelligence, Tollers make exceptional companions for those who are willing to provide the care and attention they deserve.

If you’re considering adding a Toller to your family, you’re embarking on a rewarding journey filled with love, loyalty, and boundless energy.

Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)



Are Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers good with children?

Yes, Tollers are known for their gentle and playful nature, making them great companions for families with children.


Do Tollers get along with other pets?

With proper socialization, Tollers can coexist harmoniously with other pets, although early introductions and training are essential.


How much exercise do Tollers require daily?

Tollers are active dogs and need at least an hour of exercise daily to stay happy and healthy.


Do they shed a lot?

Tollers have a double coat that sheds seasonally, so regular grooming is necessary to manage shedding.


What is their life expectancy?

The typical lifespan of a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is 12 to 14 years.

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