Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: Dog Breed Information

Country of origin: Canada
Shoulder height: 45 – 51 cm
Weight: 17 – 23 kg
Age: 12 – 14 years
Color: red with white markings
Use: hunting dog, working dog, sports dog

Native to Canada, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was bred specifically to attract and retrieve waterfowl. It has a strong play instinct and a lot of movement. Smart and active, the Toller is not suited to easygoing people or city life.

Origin and history

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever – also known as the Toller – is the smallest of the retriever breeds. Hailing from Canada’s Nova Scotia Peninsula, it is a cross between native Indian dogs and dogs brought by Scottish immigrants. These include other retriever breeds, spaniels, setters, and collies. The Toller is a highly specialized hunting dog. Its specialty is luring and retrieving ducks. Through playful behavior in cooperation with the hunter, the toller lures the curious wild ducks within range and then brings the killed animals out of the water. Duck tolling means “attracting ducks,” and retriever means “fetcher.” The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever first spread only in Canada and the USA, the breed only found its way to Europe at the end of the 20th century.


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a medium-sized, compact, and powerful dog. It has medium-sized, triangular lop ears that are slightly raised at the base, expressive amber eyes, and a powerful muzzle with a “soft muzzle”. The tail is of medium length and is carried straight.

The coat of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is optimized for retrieval work in the water. It consists of a medium-length, soft top coat and plenty of dense undercoats and thus offers the ideal protection against wet and cold. The coat may have a slight wave on the back but is otherwise straight. Coat color ranges from various shades of red to orange. Typically, there are also white markings on the tail, paws, and chest, or in the form of a blaze.


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an intelligent, docile, and persistent dog with a strong play instinct. He is an excellent swimmer and an enthusiastic, agile retriever – on land as well as in the water. Like most retriever breeds, the Toller is extremely friendly, and affectionate and is considered to be easy to train. He is also characterized by a pronounced will to obey (“will please”).

Although easy to train, a Duck Tolling Retriever is quite demanding when it comes to keeping them and is by no means suitable for easy-going people. It wants and needs to be kept busy to satisfy its intelligence and willingness to work. Without appropriate tasks, it will have to let off steam elsewhere and can become a problem dog.

A Toller was bred for persistent, playful hunting work outdoors and is therefore completely unsuitable as a pure companion dog or apartment dog. If the Toller is not trained as a hunting helper, you have to offer it alternatives, only then will he be an uncomplicated companion. All dog sports that require speed and intelligence, such as agility, flyball, or dummy work, are suitable alternatives.

The Toller is also suitable for dog beginners who are willing to deal intensively with the breed and who can offer their dog appropriate activity and exercise.

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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