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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
He Has An Enticing Way About Him!

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, aka Toller, was at one time called the Little River Duck Dog after its native hometown in Canada. The present name was acquired in 1945.

nova-scotia-duck-tolling-retriever in snowy trees
Courtesy J Street

The Toller has been bred selectively for generations, but there is no absolute information as to its original lineage. Some speculate that the St. John's Water Dog, and a variety of spaniels and setters may have contributed in its evolution.

This retriever was bred and trained to lure, or entice, waterfowl in a manner referred to as tolling - hence his name. In essence the dog retrieves sticks or other objects thrown by hunters hidden behind blinds along the shoreline. His animated way of moving, coupled with a lot of action from his bushy tail and the flash from white tips on his coat, entices waterfowl closer to the shore out of curiosity. When they respond to this ploy, they are within shooting range of the hunters.

Finally, the Toller swims out to retrieve the fowl that have been hit.

The Toller is a good looking muscular dog of medium-size with a red coat and heavily webbed feet enabling him to be a strong swimmer. His demeanor is alert and athletic. He loves to work and has intense focus when he in on the job!

Personality and Traits

nova scotia duck tolling retriever The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever falls into the classification of a somewhat rare breed. He is a dog known not only for his hunting and retriever skills, but also in agility trails. Training for these activities is best done when the dog has a little maturity and with an owner who can provide firm, yet not harsh, leadership. He is a very clever and observant dog that benefits from the use of creativity in the training methods, as well as short sessions rather than longer ones which might lead to distractions.

As family companions, they are charming, loyal and loving and enjoy a lot of attention from their masters. They are dogs of action and like to be kept busy, but not hyperactive. It would be enjoyable for them to have "fetch" type jobs to do around the house.

While not aggressive, the Toller has a natural suspicion of strangers and makes an alert watchdog.

duck tolling retriever book nova scotia duck tolling retriever book

Appearance, Coat And Care

Height: 17-21 inches
Weight: 35-51 pounds
Colors: Various shades of red and orange with lighter feathering

The Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a medium length coat that is mainly straight, but there can be a slight wave along the back. The outer coat is water repellent and the under coat is dense and soft. Grooming is handled easily with a few brushing a week to prevent matting and remove loose hair plus any plant matter picked up while romping outside or on a walk.

The FURminator is an excellent grooming tool for getting out the dead hair on a daily basis and is easier on the dog's skin than a bristle brush.

nova scotia duck tolling retriever - book of the breed A Breed Apart: Nova Scotia's Duck Tolling Retriever

Activity Level

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever likes plenty of activity including long brisk walks, romping outdoors and plenty of retrieving games. He is rooted as a working dog and likes activities that challenge his high intelligence. Agility training would be an ideal way to prevent him from becoming bored and getting into mischief.

Space Needs

Plenty of room to run freely is the ideal, but he can get by with less outdoor access, providing he is getting plenty of vigorous exercise some other way.


The Toller, much like other retrievers, is patient and gets along really well with children - especially if they are willing to play games of fetch with them.

Adult supervision is always recommended no matter what the breed.

Seniors Or Less Active Families

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever makes an excellent companion for the elderly or more sedentary owner, if there is someone in the family able to provide a good amount of exercise on a daily basis.

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Book Recommendation

Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for DogszDr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs
Excellent Reference

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