Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, commonly known as a Toller, is the smallest of the retriever breeds. Whilst still 'rare' in the United Kindgom they are becoming more popular as people realise what a versatile breed they are.


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The breed was originally known as the Little River Duck Dog and has its origins in that area of Nova Scotia. The origins of the Toller are unclear but there are records of 'small ginger coloured dogs' being used as decoy dog as far back as the 17th century.

The Toller is a medium sized dog, very versatile and easy to train. They will try anything you ask of them, some will be very successful some less so but you will always have a huge amount of fun with one.

There are many reasons to get a Toller for starters, they are a lovely dog, the right size, can be easy to train and a lot of fun.

Equally there are many reasons not to get a Toller: they shed - twice a year your floor will turn red and 'tumbleweeds' will dominate every corner of your house; they 'scream', well some do once they've found their voice, it is described as the sound that your dog would make when you step on it's tail, it is usually evident when they are excited or you are preventing them from doing something they want to do - like swim; they love to retrieve and will do so even when you don't want them to; they can be reserved and aloof with strangers but love their families; if you let your Toller get away something he will remember 'give him an inch and he will take a mile' they need firm, consistent but kind handling; a Toller is very clever and will learn very quickly, you need to give a Toller basic obedience at the very least or you will have a bored Toller on your hands which may not be a good thing; they do need exercise, around an hour a day every day so if you are not able to give them at least that then this may not be the dog for you.


There is plenty of information regarding the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever to be had on the internet, a good place to start is one of the many breed clubs that exist, you will find links to some on this site.


Things to do with your Tollers


There are many activities that you can do with a Toller (or indeed any dog you own)

These are gundogs so it is worth investigating the gundog activities available in your area, this does not mean that you have to get involved in going out shooting but there are other gundog type activities that you could persue such as Working Trials.

All dogs should be well mannered and trained in basic obedience so finding good puppy classes and then maybe taking your Kennel Club Good Citizens tests are places to start. After that if Obedience is something that interests you then you could start looking in to the competiton side of Obedience. If you prefer something a little less intense then there is always Rally which is obedience but a little less precision.

Agility is another area that Tollers can be very good at, this is something that you can start learning once your dog is around a year old, find a good local club and then who knows, the rosettes may well follow.

Flyball is one of those disciplines that seem to suit some Tollers, after all they have to go and get a ball as fast as they can and then bring it back to you! Most Tollers seem to think this is a great fun hobby so why not try it when he is old enough.

Of course there is always Showing - this can be contentious as an issue as many people believe it to be merely a beauty show. The Toller has, as yet, not become a breed that is split between those that show and those that work and indeed many of those dogs that you will see in the Toller rings take part in at least one of the other disciplines. You can compete at Championship shows where there is a chance to qualify your dog for Crufts, there are also Open Shows which have a less formal atmosphere and also companion/fun dog shows. Who knows your dog may be the next big winner and even if he isn't you will be taking the best dog home after having a day out meeting friends and talking about the one thing we all have in common - our favourite breed of dog.

Other activities Toller owners have done are Cani-X, water work, scentwork, trailing in fact if there is something you want to try then have a go - you never know you may be a winner.

Tollers are also used as hearing dogs, PAT Dogs, assistance dogs.

In fact a Toller is a very able dog and can take to a lot of things but if all this sounds too exhausting to you then you can always just have the best pet in the world.


There are links to some of the information websites should you want to look in to these things further.


Toller Health


The Toller is a generally healthy breed. When you are looking for a Toller you should take in to account the health tests that are recommended for the breed - whilst some are only recommended, as Kennel Club Assured Breeders we are required by the Kennel Club to have our breeding dogs hip scored and DNA tested for prcd-PRA and CEA, it is also recommended that we have an annual eye test done on our dogs.

As further tests become available we endeavour to have these done where sensible and practical.

The main health problems within our breed are - Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) this is an inherited disease that currently has no cure and leads to blindness. Fortunately we now have a DNA test and any dog that is bred from should be tested, eventually we can hope that no more 'affected' dogs will be bred. There is also an eye problem called Collie Eye Anomoly/Choroial Hypoplasia, another inherited disease which affects the deep structures of the eye, there is also a DNA test for this that should be done. Eventually we can hope that these inherited eye problems will be eradicated. There are also several DNA tests that can be done so the status of your dog is known.

Tollers should also have their hips and elbows 'scored' under the BVA/KC Health Schemes.

Tollers can also suffer from auto-immune issues, sadly we are unable to test for most of these problems, but they can generally be controlled and cured by the right drugs.

Much more information regarding these and more health tests and other possible health problems can be found at