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BaxterBoo Blog
May 25, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

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  • Height: 17"- 21”
  • Weight: 37-51 pounds
  • Historical function: Duck-luring hunter
  • Modern function: Duck hunting, family companion, agility
  • AKC classification: Gun dog.

Physical Characteristics:

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a sturdy, medium-sized, medium-boned dog that somewhat resembles a small Golden Retriever. They are more active physically and mentally than their larger Golden cousins. They are well muscled and athletic. The chest is deep and well insulated for working in cold water conditions. The coat is dense, double, and water repellent. The coat is generally straight except for a bit of possible waviness on the back. Toller coat colors come in various shades of red and orange and often have white markings as well. The head is wedge-shaped and should be somewhat fox-like as opposed to the blocky features of the Golden Retriever.

History of the Breed:

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was developed in Nova Scotia, Canada, to toll (lure) ducks around the beginning of the 19th century. The luring was accomplished by having the dog play along the water's edge, which would get the curiosity of the waterfowl up and they would swim closer to shore to investigate. The the hunter would stand up from behind the hiding spot, which would frighten the birds to take flight, and allow a clean shot of the ducks or geese. Then the dog would retrieve any fallen fowl. The breed was declared the official dog of the province of Nova Scotia in 1955.


The Nova Scotia Duck Toller is an eager, active, playful dog. It is not quite as accepting of strangers at the Golden Retriever, but is not aggressive. They generally just bark at newcomers. The playful nature of the Toller is legendary. They never seem to grow tired of retrieving. Their playfulness and intelligence make them excellent candidates for agility and obedience trials.

  • Best suited for: Active families who love to play retrieving games with this eager dog. Duck hunters.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog does well in cold climates. Loves water and retrieving games.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: This heavy coat needs to be brushed regularly, paying particular attention to the undercoat. This is an average shedder. Bathing should be infrequent to keep the water-repellant properties intact.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk or run. Mental challenges are also important.
  • Life expectancy: 12-14 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to thyroid and autoimmune disorders.

Breed Club Links: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA) Perfect Pairings: Hyper Pet Flying Duck Toy

Have any stories about a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Sini Merikallio.


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This entry was posted by Mary.

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