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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Characteristics, History, and Health

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, also known as the Toller, Duck Toller, or Little River Duck Dog, is a medium-sized breed of gundog bred primarily for hunting. It is the smallest of the retrievers and is often mistaken for a small Golden Retriever. The breed originated in Yarmouth County, in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, during the early 19th century. The breed was developed to toll, lure, and retrieve waterfowl. Tolling means to lure game to approach within shooting range, and it involves the dog playing along the shoreline in full view of a flock of ducks, piquing their curiosity so that they swim over to the shore and within gunshot range. The Toller's coat is perfect for water-related activities, as it is dense and water-repellent, made up of a short, soft undercoat and a long, harsh outer coat.

Main Info
Nova Scotia
Alternate Names
Toller, Decoy Dog, Little River Duck Dog, Yarmouth Toller
Life Expectancy
12-14 years
Average Male Height
18-21 inches
Average Female Height
17-20 inches
Average Male Weight
35-50 pounds
Average Female Weight
35-50 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Buff, Red, Red Gold
Coat Pattern
White Markings

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers can suffer from hip dysplasia, autoimmune issues, and progressive retinal atrophy. A specific genetic condition from which this breed may suffer is Addison’s disease, and is known to occur in puppies. Other conditions that affect this breed include cleft lip/palate and syndactyly (CLPS), hyperuricosuria, degenerative myelopathy, chondrodystrophy and intervertebral disc disease (CDDY and IVDD risk) with or without chondrodysplasia (CDPA), and Collie eye anomaly.

Personality and Behavior

Tollers are known for their intelligence, adaptability, and energy. They have a strong retrieving drive and love to play, making them excellent companions for active families that love to hike, camp, swim, and more. These dogs are not for those who prefer a quiet, less active routine. Their intelligent and eager-to-please nature also makes them very trainable. However, they can be somewhat reserved around strangers, so socialization at an early age is important.

Fun Facts

The "tolling" behavior exhibited by this breed is said to mimic the playful antics of a fox, which helps to attract curious waterfowl within shooting range. The word "toller" comes from the Middle English "tollen", which means "to entice".

Although not as well-known as other retriever breeds, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the official dog breed of its namesake Canadian province, Nova Scotia.

While they were bred for hunting, Tollers also excel in various dog sports, including obedience, agility, and flyball.