NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever – Canada’s Own All Round Dog
Contributors: Laura Norie & Deena Mottola
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is one of only four breeds developed in Canada and in 1995 was adopted as the Provincial dog of Nova Scotia, where the breed originated. The Duck Toller is the smallest of the six retriever breeds, recognized by the CKC, AKC, UKC and FCI and shown in the Sporting Group in North America, the Gun Dog group in Europe.
Piper, or decoy dogs, were described by Nicholas Denys, an explorer of “Acadia” as present-day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were known, between 1630 and 1670, and these dogs were used for both piping or tolling and retrieving. The “modern-day” Toller was developed to entice ducks and geese within gunshot range by duplicating the actions of the eastern red fox. Tollers have a dual purpose, to lure or “toll” wild birds within gunshot range and then to retrieve the downed birds. The origins of the Duck Toller are a little murky but the breed is generally acknowledged to have originated in the Little River/Yarmouth County area of Nova Scotia some time in the 1800’s. Breeds originally thought to have contributed to the development of the Toller include some sort of farm collie, Flat-coated Retriever, St John’s Water Dog (native to Newfoundland and the ancestor of most retriever breeds), spaniels, possibly Irish Setters. Later speculation now includes the Kooikerhund (an old Dutch decoy breed), Chesapeake and Brittany. Tollers were relatively unknown outside Yarmouth County until the 1940’s, long kept as a closely guarded “secret weapon” by hunters.
Right Breed for You
Tollers are an active, stunningly smart breed. Owners must be creative and intuitive when training their Tollers and must not allow the dog to gain the upper hand (something Tollers are very good at doing!). They are very easy maintenance, requiring combing of feathers, the occasional good brush out and little more. Tollers are best suited to families who are active and outdoors oriented. A daily routine of walks, free run and retrieving, with the occasional swim will keep a Toller happy. A tired Toller is a good Toller!
Size, Proportion, Substance
Tollers are a moderate breed: moderate in size, moderate in coat, moderate in bone. Males are to be from 19-20 inches, females 18-19 inches, with one inch over or under those heights acceptable. Weight to be in proportion to height. The Toller is an agile, strong retriever in a powerful, compact, well-muscled body. The head is wedge-shaped with a strong muzzle and underjaw for carrying birds. Straight strong bone and tight feet are necessary to the strength and agility required for retrieving under any conditions. While the general look of a Toller is somewhat similar to the Golden Retriever, Tollers are most definitely not “little Goldens”.
Coat colour is varying shades of orange or red, often with white markings. The coat is a medium, waterproof, double coat, with the dog sporting a long tail with very luxurious feathering.
Tollers are keen observers, playful and agile, and are natural, tireless retrievers. They are versatile performers who are found in the field blind, agility ring, obedience and rally competition, flyball and pretty much any other activity their owner chooses to participate in. Tollers should be quiet housedogs, but full of energy and desire when asked to retrieve. Tollers still have loads of natural instinct and the vast majority of breeders are determined to produce dogs that can hunt one day and win in the show ring the next.