Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever comes from a breed of dog that originates in Canada and has many different names such as Yarmouth Toller, Tolling Retriever, Little Red Duck Dog, Little River Duck Dog. Some common nicknames include Toller, Scotty, and Novie.

Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever image

Originating in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, the Toller was used for “tolling,” which is the luring of waterfowl, as well as for retrieving ducks. The main reason for their name is due to their ability to lure waterfowl within gunshot range of their owners.

Of the different Retrievers, this is the smallest breed. Sometimes the Toller is mistaken for a Golden Retriever, but the Toller is more active mentally and physically.


Starting in the 19th Century, the breed developed in the community of Little River Harbour in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. It seems that the Toller may not have exact origins but that they could potentially come from spaniel and setter Pointer-type dogs, retriever-type dogs, and rabbit hounds. At some point there was also a mix with Farm Collies because many Tollers became herding dogs as well as hunting dogs. Now, they are companion dogs as well.

Two Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retrievers were awarded Best in Show at the championship events, and since then have enjoyed national recognition. Originally granted admission into the American Kennel Club in the Miscellaneous Class on June 11, 2001, they officially joined the Sporting Group on July 1, 2003.


The Toller is considered a small to medium-sized dog. The average height of a male Toller is 19 to 20 inches, and a female Toller is around 18 to 19 inches in height. The weight average for a standard Toller male is 44 to 51 pounds and the female is between 37 to 44 pounds.


Tollers are very intelligent, alert and high-energy. They are very affectionate and active members of the family. They are great with children and have a lot of patience for their many behaviors as kids. It is true that many may be reserved in new situations, but they are not usually shy animals.

Tollers love to have a job to do, and being hunting companions is one of their favorites. They have a keen sense of smell and have a working drive that many breeds do not. They are great search and rescue dogs as well.

In truth, Tollers need stimulation every day. If they don’t get to express their extra energy, they are often destructive. Tollers are very social dogs and love to be around their family. They love to play and run around.


Tollers are generally healthy dogs that live between 10 to 14 years. As with most dogs, Tollers are prone to some health issues, although most are generally healthy. These may include Hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Collie Eye Anomaly, and deafness.

The Toller breed should have health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hip dysplasia, and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation certifying that eyes are normal.

No matter the possibilites, you should always take your Toller to the veterinarian as recommended. Regular visits should ensure that your Toller stays healthy from other problems as well.


Tollers can live in an apartment but do the best in a home with a securely fenced in yard. When Tollers are puppies, they are very active, as most puppies are, and then as they get older their energy levels balance themselves out.

Crate training is recommended for the Toller breed, as with most. Puppies and adults alike can be destructive if not played with and exercised. Tollers are happiest when they are tired; that means they got to use all of their energy.

Talking walks, runs, playing fetch, and even swimming; all of these activities are good for your Toller and even for you to do together. Tollers aren’t hard to housetrain, but consistency is key along with positive reinforcement.

Through most of the year, the coat of the Toller only needs weekly brushing to keep the fur in good shape. There are two times per year when a Toller will shed: spring and fall.  Daily brushing will be needed during these times.

It’s always important to brush your Toller’s teeth two to three times per week and to make sure to keep the nails trimmed. Bathe as needed.


Here is a link to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA). Please check your local area for other rescues near you or to learn more about this breed.


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