Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog Breed – thepetsclinic dogypedia

Commonly known as Toller or Scotty, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed from Canada has the distinction of being the smallest retriever. They are called Tollers because of their ability to bring ducks within the shooting range of their owners. They do this by attracting the attention of the ducks by splashing in the water after a ball or a stick thrown by the hunter.

These working dogs are ideally suited for those who can use them for the kind of work they were developed for. However, they can also make excellent companions and family dogs for people who live near the water or frequently engage in water sports.


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed was developed in the early 1800s for the purpose of ‘tolling’ ducks. The ducks shot down by the hunters are then retrieved by these excellent swimmers.

Tolling dogs have been around in Europe from the 17th century onwards, and this Canadian breed is thought to have been developed from either a red European decoy breed or tolling dogs of the American Indians. Several breeds of retrievers, collies, spaniels and setters also might have contributed to this breed.

These dogs were originally called the “Yarmouth Toller” since they were developed in the Yarmouth County in Nova Scotia. However, they were officially registered as Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever at the Canadian Kennel Club in 1915. They came to the United States around 1960 and became quite popular there. However, the American Kennel Club accepted them into the Sporting Group only in 2003.


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed is medium sized, measuring 17 to 21 inches at the withers and weighing 35 to 50 pounds. It has a fox-like look accentuated by its red colored coat. The body is slightly longer than its height, and is covered by a double coat. The color is various shades of red ranging from light to very dark. White patches may be present on the face and chest and also at the tip of the feet and tail. The tail is long with some amount of feathering and the ears are triangular and folded.


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed is known for its intelligence, affectionate nature, and playfulness, especially with children with whom they can have endless hours of fun playing retrieving games. They are generally friendly with other dogs and people, but can be reserved with strangers.

They look very similar to young Golden Retrievers, but they are not as amiable or eager to please. These dogs have an independent disposition and takes consistently firm training and handling. Plenty of early socialization and obedience training bring out the best in these dogs. Positive reinforcements work best when it comes to these dogs as they may become stubborn and indifferent to harsh training.

In addition to physical exercise, these dogs need metal stimulation too. Bored dogs are known to be quite destructive. Tollers are not barkers, but they are not very suitable for city living, especially in apartments, as their ‘singing,’ which is actually a high-pitched scream, can be quite a nuisance to neighbors.

Grooming and exercise

The water repellent double coat of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed requires minimal grooming. These water-loving dogs can stay clean with frequent dips in the water and a weekly brushing to keep the medium-long hair tangle-free. In the major shedding seasons in spring and fall, they may require more frequent brushing, preferably every day.

Being sporting dogs, they have tremendous energy reserves, and require plenty of exercise and activity throughout the day. In addition to brisk walking or jogging on the leash alongside their owners, opportunities to retrieve, especially from water, would keep these dogs happy.

Tollers are used to swimming in cold water, and their double coat provides ample thermal protection. Even though they’d love to spend the entire day in the yard, they are not suitable for living outdoors at night. Spending the nights indoors with free access to a large yard would be the ideal living arrangement for these dogs.

Common health issues of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed is known for its excellent health. They are not known to have any breed related disorders except a particular type of cleft palate unique to this breed. These dogs are only very occasionally affected by hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. However, Autoimmune thyroiditis is relatively common in this breed. Cancer is the leading cause of death, but they generally have a life expectancy of 11 to 13 years on the average.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

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