Looking for a playful, energetic sporting dog? Consider a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
By chasing a stick or ball along the shoreline, this clever pup lures curious ducks — making it easy for hunters to shoot down their prey.
The breed, also known as a Yarmouth Toller or Little River Duck Dog — has skills that extend beyond its ability to lure. It also retrieves dead or injured waterfowl.
If you are considering getting a new dog, weigh the dog’s size, shedding, energy, and activity levels when deciding. If you’re looking for an unusual breed, consider the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Keep reading to learn more about the Toller to determine whether this breed could be your dream dog.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever breed information
Turn back to early Canadian history to understand Toller’s origins. Hunters in the Maritime Provinces of Canada used foxlike dogs to lure the birds.
This river duck dog would play at the cold water’s edge, drawing the birds within shooting range.
Later, these hunters began to breed their dogs to increase their retrieving skills, and the Toller was born.
Breeders continued to refine the dog’s decoy and retriever skills. The Toller we know today is the result of mixing different dog breeds, including spaniels, setters, collies, and retrievers.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a distinct crimson coat, ranging from golden red to a dark coppery color, with white markings.
These dogs have webbed feet that make them excellent swimmers, and their alert expression makes them perfect for hunting.
They typically weigh between 30 and 50 pounds and stand at 43 to 53 inches.
Personality and temperament
Tollers love to be with their families. The dogs excel at flyball, dock diving, and other dog sports.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever also excels in competitive activities such as obedience and agility. These dogs are brilliant and eager to please, making them easy to train.
They are also known for their drive and enthusiasm for hunting and retrieving, which makes them popular among hunters and sporting enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a dog to participate in these sports, the Duck Tolling Retriever is an excellent choice. They love to learn new things and thrive on positive reinforcement.
However, like any breed, they have their quirks and specific needs.
Tollers can be vocal and are prone to separation anxiety, so they require early socialization and training sessions.
They also need rigorous exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. When young, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers can be pretty rowdy and exuberant.
They may demand a lot of attention and playtime, which can overwhelm some owners. Establishing a healthy exercise routine is essential to help positively channel their energy.
Another potential challenge with this social dog is destructive behavior like chewing or scratching when bored or left alone too much. Providing plenty of mental stimulation when you’re not home, such as puzzle toys or interactive games, is essential.
Fearfulness or suspiciousness can also be an issue with this breed if it’s not properly socialized.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers can be wary of strangers and may bark or growl when they feel threatened.
Early socialization with people and other dogs is crucial to prevent these behaviors.
One more thing to consider is the strong-willed mind of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. This breed is intelligent and independent, which means it may try to take control if it senses a lack of leadership from its owner.
Confident and assertive owners will be most successful with this breed.
Tollers have an average life expectancy of 12-14 years. Regular checkups with the vet are highly recommended to ensure that your Toller reaches this age.
Tollers are slightly more prone to autoimmune diseases than other breeds. Therefore, early detection and treatment are critical in managing potential health risks.
Tollers also tend to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, collie eye anomaly, degenerative encephalopathy, and degenerative myelopathy.
These health issues can lead to mild to severe mobility restrictions, sight problems, and nerve damage.
Tollers are also susceptible to Inherited Addison’s disease, which affects the adrenal gland and can cause various symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration, and low blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately, there is no current gene-marker test for Addison’s. Accordingly, monitoring any symptoms your dog may exhibit and contacting your veterinarian if you observe anything unusual is essential.
Recommended health tests for Tollers include hip evaluation, PRA Optigen DNA Test, cardiac exams, and ophthalmologist evaluation.
Hip evaluation is a process that analyzes the potential for developing hip dysplasia.
PRA Optigen DNA Test indicates Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which can result in blindness.
The cardiac exam helps identify heart conditions, and the ophthalmologist evaluation ensures your dog’s eyes are healthy.
Who should get a Toller?
Owning a Toller does require some preparation. A secure yard is necessary as they wander and chase after small animals.
They also need access to engaging walking routes, such as hiking trails, to stimulate them physically and mentally. Like all dogs, a Toller’s diet should adhere to feeding guidelines, and its body condition should be regularly assessed.
One of the challenging aspects of owning Tollers is their need for mental stimulation. They are not ‘training junkies,’ but quickly get bored without interactive play or challenges.
Teaching them to ‘settle’ is an excellent tool, especially if they are anxious.
Focus on training that involves swapping items in return for a reward — as Tollers love to play and retrieve.
Final thoughts on the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an extraordinary breed with a captivating legacy and remarkable hunting prowess.
These loving, energetic, and adaptive canines are perfect companions for active and devoted pet parents. The dog needs ample exercise, regular grooming of their thick undercoat, and early training and socialization.
With proper care and training, your Toller can become your loyal companion and a star in many fun activities.
The breed is rare in the U.S., so contact a reputable breeder to add one to your family.