Discover the loyal and affectionate Nova Scotia Retriever, a versatile and intelligent dog breed known for its friendly disposition and excellent retrieving abilities.

Nova Scotia Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, often referred to simply as the “Toller,” is a distinctive and versatile sporting breed known for its intelligence, agility, and striking appearance.

Tollers use a playful and energetic manner to attract waterfowl, luring them within gunshot range.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has gained popularity not only in the hunting community but also as an engaging and devoted household member.

Let’s dig in to learn more about this beloved breed’s characteristics, temperament, and care needs.


The history of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, often affectionately called the “Toller,” is rooted in the coastal regions of Nova Scotia, Canada. Developed in the early 19th century, this breed’s primary purpose was to assist hunters in luring and retrieving waterfowl.

Tollers were selectively bred for their unique tolling technique, where they playfully frolic along the shoreline to attract the attention of ducks and geese, enticing them to approach. Once the waterfowl are within range, the Toller retrieves them with enthusiasm and skill.

The breed’s ancestry includes influences from various retrievers, spaniels, and collies, resulting in a versatile and intelligent hunting companion. The Duck Tolling Retriever was officially recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1945 and later by the American Kennel Club in 2003.

Today, they are not only esteemed for their hunting prowess but have also found a place in homes worldwide as affectionate, active, and loyal family members.


This retriever is, also called the “Duck Toller,” is a handsome dog known for its striking appearance and friendly demeanor. It’s a medium-sized breed with a strong and agile build. One of its most distinctive features is its tail, which is often described as “fox-like” and curls over its back. Overall he is a charming and attractive dog with a cheerful disposition, making it a beloved companion for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Physical Characteristics


  • Male 18-21 inches
  • Female 17-20 inches


  • Male 45-51 pounds
  • Female 35-43 pounds


This retriever has double coat which is dense and water-resistant.


The main colors are:

  • Red
  • Golden red
  • Deep copper


He as medium-sized eyes, which are typically in shades of amber or brown.


Their triangular-shaped ears that hang close to the head, framing their expressive face, with the ears covered in a fine, soft coat of fur.


Its tail is bushy and well-feathered, which is often carried erect and wagged.

Life Span

The average life span is around 12-14 years.


The Tolling Retriever is characterized by a spirited and versatile temperament that combines intelligence, energy, and affection. Known for their enthusiasm and agility, they are not only skilled hunting retrievers but also vibrant and engaging companions.

They are friendly, outgoing, and form strong bonds with their families, displaying a deep loyalty and a keen desire to be involved in various activities. These retrievers are alert and responsive, making them excellent watchdogs.

Despite their vibrant energy, these gun dogs can also exhibit a gentle and sensitive side, especially towards their human counterparts. Their adaptability and eagerness to participate in both work and play make the Nova Retriever a delightful and devoted addition to households that can provide them with the mental and physical stimulation they thrive on.


The Nova Scotia Retriever has a dense, water-resistant double coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its health and appearance. Here are some grooming tips for this breed:

Brush your Retriever’s coat at least a few times a week to remove loose hair, prevent matting, and distribute natural oils. During shedding seasons, daily brushing may be necessary to manage the increased hair loss.

Bathe your toller as needed, typically every 6-8 weeks or when they get dirty. Use a mild dog shampoo to avoid stripping their coat of its natural oils. Check your dog’s ears weekly for signs of wax buildup, redness, or irritation. Clean their ears with a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaning solution to prevent infections. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal.

Trim your dog’s nails every 2-4 weeks to prevent overgrowth, which can cause discomfort and difficulty walking. Be cautious not to cut the quick (the blood vessel inside the nail), as it can cause bleeding and pain.

Brush your Duck Retriever’s teeth regularly, ideally daily, using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. This helps prevent tartar buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Dental chews and toys can also aid in maintaining dental health.

Regularly trim excess hair around your dog’s paw pads, ears, and tail to maintain a neat appearance and reduce the risk of matting and debris collection. Consider scheduling regular visits to a professional groomer for tasks such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, and coat trimming, especially if you’re unsure about performing these tasks yourself.


Training this Nova Scotia Retriever should be a positive and engaging experience, given their intelligence and eagerness to please. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement techniques work well with them as they respond positively to praise, treats, and play.

Early socialization is crucial to ensure they grow into well-mannered adults, and exposing them to various environments, people, and experiences helps shape their adaptable temperament. Basic obedience training is recommended from an early age, focusing on commands like sit, stay, and recall.

Given their retrieving instincts, incorporating games of fetch into training sessions can be both mentally stimulating and enjoyable for Tollers. Keeping training sessions varied and interesting helps prevent boredom, as these gun dogs thrive on mental challenges and physical activity.


Nova Scotia Retrievers are a highly energetic and agile breed that thrives on regular exercise. Daily physical activity is essential to keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit. Activities such as brisk walks, jogging, and play sessions are beneficial to channel their boundless energy.

They have a natural love for retrieving, making games of fetch an excellent way to engage them both mentally and physically. Their water-resistant coat suggests an affinity for swimming, so water activities can be especially enjoyable.

Engaging in canine sports like agility or flyball provides an additional outlet for their energy and showcases their intelligence. These duck retrievers thrive on interactive play and appreciate a variety of activities, making regular exercise not only a physical necessity but also a means of fostering their happy and vibrant disposition.


Providing a well-balanced and nutritionally appropriate diet is crucial for the health and vitality of Nova Scotia Retrievers. As an energetic and agile breed, they benefit from a high-quality dog food formulated to meet their specific needs in terms of age, size, and activity level.

Optimal nutrition supports their overall well-being, including coat health, joint function, and immune system strength. Portion control is essential to prevent weight gain, as these pets may have a tendency to become overweight. Regular access to fresh water is crucial to keep them well-hydrated, especially after exercise or outdoor activities. Some owners may opt for a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids to support the Toller’s skin and coat health.

Health concerns

They are generally a healthy breed, like all dogs, they can be prone to certain health issues. Responsible breeding practices aimed at reducing the prevalence of hereditary conditions are crucial. Some health concerns associated with the breed include:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

It is a group of genetic diseases that lead to vision loss and, in some cases, blindness.

Hip Dysplasia

A hereditary condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket, which can lead to arthritis and lameness.

Elbow Dysplasia

A malformation of the elbow joint that can cause pain, swelling, and lameness.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

It is a genetic eye condition that can lead to vision impairment.

Autoimmune Thyroiditis

An immune system disorder affecting the thyroid gland, which can result in hormonal imbalances.

Addison’s Disease

A disorder affecting the adrenal glands, leading to a deficiency of certain hormones.

Dental Issues

Tollers may be prone to dental problems, emphasizing the importance of regular dental care.


Some Tollers may develop allergies, often manifested through skin issues or gastrointestinal problems.

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

A serious and life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself.

Bottom line

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, with its unique hunting skills, vibrant personality, and striking appearance, stands as a versatile and beloved breed. Originating from the coastal regions of Canada, Tollers have evolved into not only skilled hunting companions but also cherished family members known for their loyalty, intelligence, and boundless energy.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Are Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers good family pets?

Yes, they are known for their affectionate nature and make excellent family companions due to their loyalty and playful demeanor.

Q. Do Tolling Retrievers get along with children and other pets?

Generally, tolling retrievers are good with children and other pets when properly socialized from an early age.

Q. Are Duck Tollers good for first-time dog owners?

While Duck Tollers are intelligent and trainable, they may be better suited for owners with some dog-handling experience due to their energetic nature.

Q. Are Nova Scotia Retrievers good for apartment living?

While Nova Scotia retrievers can adapt to apartment living with sufficient exercise, they thrive in environments with access to outdoor space for play and activities.

Q. Can Scotia Retriever be left alone for long periods?

They may experience separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods regularly. They thrive on human interaction and are best suited for households with active engagement.

Q. Are they good swimmers?

Yes, they are known for their love of water and are generally excellent swimmers, thanks to their water-resistant coat and webbed feet.

Q. Do Tollers require a lot of mental stimulation?

Yes, Tollers are intelligent dogs that thrive on mental challenges. Engaging activities, interactive toys, and varied training sessions help keep them stimulated.

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