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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever breed profile

Training and intelligence
Tollers are quick to learn and have an excellent memory. Together with the fact that they love to please they tend to be very easy to train. As with all dogs, they do not respond well to harsh methods of training, and only require a gentle telling off when they do something bad. Remember that they are both willing and obedient and be forgiving when they go wrong.

Temperament: They make very good family pets, but do require a lot of exercise. In general, they are very affectionate and stay "puppy-like" for many years, always wanting to play.

It was known for many years, that the best game ducks in Nova Scotia were attracted to a foxes colour and movement along the shores. Tollers were specifically bred to look "fox-like" in order to lure (known as tolling) ducks into shooting range, and then to retrieve the shot birds. The Toller is believed to have been produced from English Retriever bred to Labrador Retriever, and their progeny bred to Cocker Spaniel. Later Irish Setter was introduced.

The Toller is a medium sized compact dog, well muscled and powerful. Bred to jump and play in order to lure ducks and then to retrieve the shot birds, they are powerful, well muscled and strong swimmers. They have a clean cut skull which is slightly wedge shaped. Eye and nose pigment can be coloured or black. The eyes are almond shape giving an alert expression. The ears are triangular in shape, of medium size and are held very slightly erect. Their well arched toes are webbed. The tail is long, well feathered and carried low when at rest, but when alert curves over, although not touching back. Movement is springy and jaunty, giving the impression of power.

Attitude towards strange dogs and people
A very playful character, they are generally very friendly, although they will bark at strangers. They do not tend to be a "one man" dog and tend to get on well with anybody they know.

Grooming and shedding
Tollers have a double coat which moults seasonally. Providing they are regularly groomed they do not moult too much, and a good hoover will easily pick up any hairs. More grooming is required in the summer when it is necessary to strip out the dead hair. However, care should be taken not to strip too much, merely the dead hair. Show dogs are usually trimmed around the legs and ears.

Bearing a double coat of medium length with a soft dense undercoat, which is straight, although a slight wave on the back is allowed. They have feathering at the throat, behind the ears and at the back of the thighs, with a moderate amount of feathering on the forelegs. Coat colour comes in all shades of red or orange, with light colouring on the tail feathering. White marks are allowed on the tip of the tail, feed, chest and as a blaze.

Although the Toller looks and is quite content to laze around indoors, they are alert and raring to go when the door is opened! Whilst a moderate amount of daily exercise is required in order to keep them fit and healthy, they are happiest when getting as much as you can give them and are ideally suited to people who have plenty of space were they can run freely off lead. They are at their happiest when working, and are ideal for gundog training, agility, flyball, search and rescue, etc.

Need for company
Tollers like all Gundogs are intelligent and need close human contact, always willing to please, would not kennel well as a single dog.


Originating from Nova Scotia in Canada in the early 19th

Century, the Toller was first recognised by The Canadian Kennel Club in

1945. But it wasn't until 1988 that the first Toller was imported into the UK and placed on The Kennel Club's Import Register, where it remains today. The first UK Interim Standard was written in 1992.

In general, the Toller is a very healthy breed and requires no special health care, but, as with most gundogs, may suffer from hip dysplasia. Although PRA has also been seen in the breed, as yet there has been no occurrences in the UK. Breeders of Tollers usually test hips and eyes of their breeding stock, breeding only from those with good results.

Profile by John Norris of Decoymans


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