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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Isn’t he a handsome devil?

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, or Toller, as he is also called, is certainly a good looking dog breed. But we’ve got to tell you, these guys are much more than a “pretty face” because on top of their good looks, they’re also quite intelligent!

Which makes them…

Quite easy to train despite the fact that they do have a tendency to have a mind of their own.  They’re also one of the most energetic of all Retriever Breeds. He can run and run all day long without getting tired. He loves playing with the kids and is a great dog to live with.


He is somewhat demanding and requires a lot of exercise, playtime, fun and games. Otherwise he can get bored, and when he gets bored he can become destructive.

This is why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss what exactly it might be like to own one of these handsome critters so that if you’re ever given the opportunity to adopt one, you’ll know for sure if it’s going to be a good idea or not.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right it.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Fast Facts

Country of Origin: Canada

Original Purpose:  Duck tolling and water retrieval

Height: 17 to 21 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 35 to 50 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Sporting group

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Origin of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog Breed

Here’s the question…

What’s with the super long name – Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever? Well, he was bred in Yarmouth County of the Little River district of the Southwest Nova Scotia province of Canada where his main job was to retrieve ducks during duck hunting.  So, we guess we could be thankful that he isn’t called the Yarmouth County of the Little River district of the Southwest Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever… right?

And while…

We’re not HUGE fans of their current name, we do feel that it has a better “ring” to it than what they were once called which was the Little River Duck Dog (which is arguably an easier name to remember, but for some reason it just makes us think of a YUCK dog).

Which could be why…

This name was changed to Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever later in 1945 by the Canadian Kennel Club, which you have to admit has a certain heft to it. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Canada was formed shortly after.

He is also called as the Yarmouth Toller, or just Toller. We call him by his nickname Toller here in this article.

But what’s with the word Tolling?

Tolling refers to the fact that this dog was bred to attract ducks before retrieving them. So he used to do his little dance on the river bank, which the ducks and waterfowl simply had to watch.

So, as the birds came closer to get a better view, the cunning little rascal set them up to be hunted.

How was he bred?

The hunters of Yarmouth Country bred the Toller by crossing a number of breeds such as the Micmac Indian dogs, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Farm Collie, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker Spaniel and the Irish Setter.  The result of all of this was a mid-sized red haired dog that was smart and independent.

The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2003 as a part of the Sporting Group.

Physical Characteristics of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Toller is a mid-sized, somewhat smallish dog that stands up to 21 inches in height at the shoulder level. He weighs 35 to 50 pounds. He has a longish body instead of a tallish one. His height to length ration is 9:10.

The Toller is…

The smallest of all retriever breeds. He is a very energetic dog, active and surprisingly powerful, considering his size. He has a wedge shaped head and tapered muzzle. His jaws are strong, and his teeth are sharp. He has triangular shaped drop ears. He has expressive eyes that are of the same color as his coat.

His coat is…

Of medium length, wavy and covered with a lot of fur. His double coat is water-repellent and thick enough to protect him from the harsh weather conditions of Canada, especially from the icy cold water.


His coat is of the color red – of different shades of red. His ears, legs and tail are covered by feathers, usually of the same color as the coat.

Temperament and Personality of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Tolling Dog is a happy breed, always bouncing around and a very confident one. This is an intelligent animal that knows what it wants and is not afraid to get it.

He has a playful…

Personality and likes children. He is loyal to his human family, but a little wary around strangers. He is alert and sharp at all times, but he is no guard dog.

The Toller also…

Has an intense expression on his face when focusing on something or on the hunt. Otherwise, when he is relaxed, he has a somewhat sad look on his face, don’t ask us why!


It’s probably because he has a strong prey drive – because of the way he was bred. He is certainly not going to be best friends with a cat or with other small animals. He will want to chase and attack them.

This dog is remarkably…

Intelligent and is easy to train. He is also a bit of a show off. He has to respect you first before following your commands. That’s why it is important to be assertive with the Tolling Retriever and use positive reinforcement techniques.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog Breed Health Problems

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is one of the healthiest dog breeds out there. He has a high life expectancy of 10 to 12 years and rarely ever gets sick. He can, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever however, suffer from the following inherited and immune mediated health problems.

And while…

Many of these conditions may not be life threatening, they can certainly become quite expensive to deal with particularly if they become recurring issues.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • johanna November 11, 2019, 9:43 am


    • indulgeyourpet November 11, 2019, 10:24 am


      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Nobody here at IndulgeYourPet has had the pleasure of owning one of these guys so we rely on folks like yourself to provide us with information like this.



  • Adriana March 13, 2020, 8:34 am

    I have a mixed breed of this type and he is almost 6 and is very active and healthy. Knock on wood, we have yet to have any outrageous vet bills. He is 40 pounds, he has a dark nose and lining around his eyes, is super agile (loves to run and will run HARD), and LOVES kids and other dogs. He isn’t pet or food motivated sometimes, which shows his slight stubborn tendency, but all in all, a very good listener with proper training.

  • Alyssa April 12, 2020, 3:53 pm

    I have a 12 year old mix at home, she is a duck tolling retriever-ridgeback mix and she is so humble and mellow! She’s always been like this, even as a younger dog. However when she gets energetic or wants something she has NO problem making it apparent. Extremely intelligent and easy to train pup, and great with kids. Love her to pieces!

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