Dog Health & More
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed was created to both lure and retrieve waterfowl. This versatile breed excels in the field and show ring, in obedience and agility, and as a companion to an active family.
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Frolicking at the water's edge, white-tipped tail flashing in the sunlight, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dances in the waves. Curious ducks and other waterfowl draw closer to watch his performance, when a hunter takes aim and fires. That's when this remarkable dog shows he's not simply a harmless goofball but a hardworking gun dog. He splashes into the water to retrieve the bounty he helped attract.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a rare breed that originated in the Little River district of Nova Scotia, a province on Canada's Atlantic coast. Originally known as Little River Duck Dogs, they were renamed the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever — a mouthful, even for a retriever, so most fans call them Tollers.
This sporting breed has a lot going for it: personality, versatility, and an easy-care coat. They're the smallest of all the retriever breeds and share many of the same traits, such as a strong working drive, intelligence, and a happy nature. But the breed has some drawbacks as well. They can be strong willed and are not as eager to please as a Labrador or Golden Retriever. If allowed to, they will take control of a household.
They need to be guided by people who are firm, fair, and consistent. Even then they can be inventive in getting their way. With training, however, that intelligence and inventiveness can be channeled into almost any activity.
They're best suited to life with a weekend hunter or an active family who enjoys hiking or participating in dog sports, such as agility, flyball, and Frisbee.
Tollers love kids. They're great for playing ball or pulling a child on a skateboard. They get along well with other dogs, especially other Tollers. Their prey drive, however, may send them careening after cats or other animals that look like good sport.
You'll need a fenced yard if you have a Toller or be able to give him at least two good walks a day. That said, his activity level is moderate, and he doesn't have the drive and intensity of, say, a Lab or a Border Collie.
One hitch to living with a Toller in the city is the breed's loud, high-pitched scream, which can make him unacceptable in apartments and neighborhoods with noise restrictions. The Toller yelps out when he's stimulated, excited, or frustrated. Often, the sight of birds or squirrels elicits the scream. Other than that, however, they don't tend to bark excessively.
So he screams, sheds, likes to roll in dead fish and other stinky things, and is generally smarter than the average person. If these things concern you, look for another breed.
On the other hand, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an ideal dog if you are looking for a fun-loving, hard-working dog who enjoys long periods of exercise, and being with family.
You can't mention the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever without wondering what exactly "tolling" means. The word toller comes from the Middle English word tollen, meaning "to entice." Tolling is the act of luring game and it's exactly what the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever does.
While the hunter remains behind a blind, out of sight of ducks and other waterfowl, the dog plays at the water's edge, romping and retrieving. These antics draw the attention of the birds, who swim closer to shore. When the birds are close enough, the Toller retreats to the blind, the hunter stands, scaring the birds into flight, and then fires. The Toller then swims out and retrieves any fallen birds.