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 :

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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

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
    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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        Tendency to run away

        Once trained, the Toller is known for its exceptional obedience. The Toller can be trained to recall and is not a problem dog when let off its lead.

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        If it finds itself in an enclosed space or at home for long periods of time without exercise and fresh air, a Toller will not be happy.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        The Toller is known to be greedy. They have very large appetites and if fed too much human food or substandard dog food, they can quickly gain weight.

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        Guard dog

        Although this dog’s alert barking will make you aware of someone approaching the house, the bark is no more than an alarm call.

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        First dog

        It is primarily a hunting dog but this Retriever can match many profiles, beginners or experts, as long as they offer this dog fun and sportive activities.

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          Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever in a flat

          The Toller is ideally suited to a rural existence due to its high exercise needs and its tendency to emit a loud, high pitched bark when on alert. However, as long as the Toller has access to a shared garden or nearby park space (and is exercised for at least 90 minutes a day) it will be happy to live in a flat.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          The Toller is an active dog. It craves long walks and adventures through forests and fields.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          Crate training this dog is recommended to ensure that the dog’s movements are controlled when travelling.


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            Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and cats

            A Toller is more likely to befriend a cat it already knows. New cats may suffer.

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            Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and dogs

            The Toller enjoys the company of other dogs and does not tend to exhibit jealousies or a strong mating drive (especially if neutered).

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            Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and children

            The Toller is an excellent playmate for older children but young children may be scared of the dog’s antics and agility.

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            Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and the elderly

            Due to its boisterous nature and need for exercise the Toller is not ideal for elderly owners.



            A KC Registered Nova-Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever will cost £1,160 and up. You’re also looking at between £120 and £175 per month to care for this dog.


            Weekly brushing of the Toller will prevent its coat from becoming tangled and matted. Bathe the dog only when necessary.


            The Toller sheds hair and may not be suitable for someone with a dog hair allergy. Daily brushing during periods of blow coat will reduce the moulted hair in carpets and furniture.

            Nutrition of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

            Feed a Toller two meals a day of premium dog food formulated for an active dog. Doing so ensures the dog takes in sufficient calories and protein to maintain a healthy body.

            Health of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

            Life expectancy

            12 to 14 years

            Strong / robust

            The Toller is a dog that enjoys the outdoors. It is a hard-working dog and one does not generally complain unless it has good reason for doing so.

            Withstand heat

            The Toller will not tolerate hot weather; care should be taken to keep the dog cool in the summer months.

            Withstand cold

            The water-proof coat of the Toller affords the dog a reasonable tolerance to cold and wet weather.

            Tendency to put on weight

            Weight gain is seen of some Tollers; some of these dogs have a huge appetite and will eat to obesity.

            Common illnesses

            • Addison’s disease
            • Autoimmune thyroiditis
            • Cataracts
            • Collie eye anomaly
            • Progressive retinal atrophy
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