Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Guide

Sporting Dog Breeds

Because Tollers run as much as they swim when hunting, they are smaller and more agile than most other retrievers. Their powerful yet compact build enables them to rush around tirelessly, leaping and retrieving with tail always wagging. The jaws are strong enough to carry a duck. Because they were bred to work in icy waters, they have a water-repelling double coat of medium length. A longer coat is not appropriate for a working dog, although the tail feathering should be long, adding to the emphasis of the wagging tail. A white blazeon the face, chest, tail tip or feet is characteristic, and may serve to make the dog's gamboling more noticeable to distant ducks.

As befitting a dog bred to play and retrieve tirelessly, the Toller is very energetic and playful. You cannot throw a ball just once for a Toller! Everything they do is done with gusto, whether it's hunting, obedience, agility or just walking around the block. They are alert but not hyperactive, and can adjust to many circumstances. They are affectionate and gentle, but young Tollers can be overly boisterous at times. They are good with children, other dogs and pets. Tollers may be initially wary of strangers, but warm up quickly. They learn fast and are generally willing to please, but bore easily and then can be a bit stubborn.


FAMILY Gundog, Retriever



ORIGINAL FUNCTION Duck tolling and retrieving

TODAY'S FUNCTION Duck tolling and retrieving

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 18 - 21 Weight: 45 - 52

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 17 - 20 Weight: 35 - 42

OTHER NAME Little River Duck Dog

Energy level High energy

Exercise needs High

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Hard to train

Watchdog ability Low

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

Tollers need lots of exercise, especially involving playing and retrieving. They love water! Tollers also profit from mental challenges, such as obedience and agility. They are devoted family companions that treasure their interaction with humans, so even though they are physically able to withstand a wide variety of climates, mentally they need to spend some of their time indoors. They do not cope well with being kenneled outside. Grooming consists of a thorough weekly brushing.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: CHD, PRA
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: hip, eye
• Life span: 11 - 13 years
Europeans have used dogs to toll (Middle English meaning: to lure or decoy) ducks into nets since the 17th century. Tolling is done by the dogs frolicking along the shore, chasing sticks, and occasionally disappearing from sight, an activity that draws curious ducks to the area. The tolling dog must continue in its animated fashion, tail wagging, retrieve after retrieve, ignoring the ducks. With the advent of guns, the ducks were then shot and the dogs sent to retrieve them. Such decoy dogs may have come with European settlers to the New World, where they were used to toll from the Chesapeake Bay to the Maritimes. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was developed in Yarmouth County, at the southern tip of Nova Scotia, in the early 19th century. It may have been derived from the red European decoy dog and perhaps later crossed with spaniel-, setter-, or retriever-type dogs, as well as farm collies; an alternative theory is that they are derived in part from tolling American Indian dogs. Originally known as the Little River Duck Dog or the Yarmouth Toller, the breed later became known as the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. It was recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1915, with 15 Tollers registered that year. The first Tollers came to the United States in the 1960s, and it wasn't until 1984 that the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA) was formed. The club offered a breed championship that required basic retrieving and tolling ability in order to qualify, and still offers a series of working certificates to ensure that the breed's instincts remain intact. In 2001, Tollers were admitted into the AKC Miscellaneous class, and were admitted as a regular member of the Sporting Group in 2003. Since then they have proven they are more than just tollers or retrievers, but excel at obedience, agility, tracking, and, of course, companionship.