Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Other names: Little River Duck Dog, Toller, Novie, Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever adult

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the smallest breed of the retriever group. The dog is medium-sized and was bred originally to hunt. It is called the ‘Tolling’ retriever due to its ability to bring game and foul within shooting distance, the word being wrought from an old English word meaning to ‘lure’. The Toller is an alert and agile dog.

Key facts about the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Intelligent Hunter

Size :

Origins and history

The Toller first came about in Nova Scotia; a result of breeding between spaniels, retrievers and collies. By the 1850s the breed was considered pure. Its popularity has risen since the 1980s.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs


Section 1 : Retrievers

Physical characteristics of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

    Adult size

    Female : Between 18 and 19 in

    Male : Between 19 and 20 in


    Female : Between 37 and 44 lb

    Male : Between 44 and 51 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    A compact and powerful dog, the Toller looks well-balanced and bulky. Despite its ‘heavy’ appearance the dog is agile and speedy.

    Good to know

    It is easy for an observer to mistake the Toller for a small Golden Retriever. In fact, the former is more active, muscular and head-strong that the latter.


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      If socialised well, Tollers make great companions; they quickly accept their place in the family (although they can be more domineering than other retrievers).

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      Tollers rarely tire of playing. Due to their sometimes boisterous antics, care should be taken of small toddlers whom the dog can easily knock over.

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      The energy and vitality of the Toller is more or less constant; they are known for their never-ending boisterous demeanour. The dog may be too much of a handful for some owners.

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      The Toller is quick and eager to learn but is easily bored by training that is not stimulating and varied.

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      The Toller enjoys hunting and is incredibly curious.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Toller is cautious around strangers. Socialisation and exposure to other people during the dog’s formative years will aid its later ability to accept new faces.

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      The Toller has a mind of its own. A firm master (but not a harsh one) will find the greatest level of obedience.

      Behaviour of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

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        Tolerates solitude

        Tollers bond quickly to their family; the dog will be happiest with company. Like any dog, they should not be left alone for long periods of time.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Tollers are relatively easy to train. Training should be consistent and forthright but not harsh: the dog’s behaviour will only worsen if it is shouted at.

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        Tollers have a unique bark called the Toller ‘scream’. This is likened to a high-pitched howl.

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