Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Breed History

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever duck huntingNova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, also known as the Toller, is medium size gun dog that is energetic and intelligent. Athletic and willing to learn any good dog owner should understand the exercise requirements of owning such a dog.

Canada is where this breed was made by crossbreeding retrievers with other dogs such as Retrievers, Spaniels, and Setters until they came to dog that could work as the perfect gun dog.

Smallest Retriever of all the Retrievers that show the agility and speed that others possess. Although they look close to a Golden Retriever that are much smaller in size and lack several coat colors.

Their name comes from Nova Scotia, Canada where they came from. Duck Tolling is a function of leading the ducks closer to hunters in various ways so that hunters can get into gun range.

Styles of hunting like this famously comes from the foxes of the area. Some would argue that they closely resemble a fox and their behavior mimics them as well.

19th century is when they would start to receive a lot of documentation about themselves from humans. Most of the information is from this time period and forward. 17th century shows descriptions of this dog as the earliest recordings.

Agility, dock diving, field, flyball, hunting, obedience, scent work, search and rescue are just some of the fields this dog competes in and excels at. It is hard to find something that this dog doesn’t excel in and they have champions to show for it.


Top 80 in registration they are climbing the ranks quickly for a newer dog in the American Kennel Club. As the years pass, they are likely to gain more registrations due to the quick popularity.

In 2003, they got their recognition although they have been in the country decades before. Sporting Group or Gun Dog is where all major Kennel Clubs put them into a category.

Here are all of the major Kennel Clubs and their breed standards for this dog.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever ​Size

Male Height: 18-21 inches

Female Height: 17-19 inches

Male Weight: 40-50 pounds

Female Weight: 35-45 pounds

Boy dogs are slightly bigger than girls but not by much.

Litter Size

7 puppies are the average litter size for the Toller. Owners should be aware of how many puppies to expect to care for, for at least eight weeks. Tollers have no problems giving natural birth without the assistance of a c-section.


  • Red
  • Red Gold
  • Markings – White Markings

Coat can’t be black or brown and white can only be on tail tip, feet, chest and a blaze only. Any other area is not acceptable and shows signs of cross breeding.


$1,000-$3,000 is the average price of a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Prices can vary because of multiple factors including championship bloodline, quality, supply, demand and many more.

Papers will track their bloodline from the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) up until they arrive at the American Kennel Club until present day. Showing generations of dogs that met the breed standards.

When a dog can’t receive papers, it is because one or more of their parents were outside of the breed standards. Both parents must show paperwork for the puppies to receive papers as well.

Without papers there must have been a time when the dog was cross breeding with another dog and couldn’t receive papers ever since. Dogs will cost considerably less under these circumstances.


Make sure you exercise your dog for about an hour before the grooming session to release some excess energy and to calm the mind down so that you can groom peacefully. If not, you will deal with a lot of energy instead of just grooming the dog.

  • Brushing
  • Combing
  • Bathing
  • Ears
  • Nails
  • Professional Help

Brushing this dog will need to happen at least once a week due to the moderate levels of shedding throughout the year. Getting to the skin is one of the main goals to brush them correctly.

Combing should happen at least twice per month and you should again comb from the skin outwards. Buying a brush and comb that can accomplish this with this coat is the best decision.

Bathe the dog at least once per month, if not six weeks. Some of you are busy and should wash them when you can fit it into your schedule. Others will choose to do it when the dog is dirty. Choice is yours.

Ears can get an infection from too much dirt build up and you will see the dog scratching the area. Costly vet bills can start to add up unless you have money to throw away.

Trimming the nails should be done during exercise on the pavement, which we recommend. If you don’t exercise your dog, which we don’t recommend, cut them with clippers when they get too long.

Professional help is not a recommendation for this breed.

Life Span

12-14 years is the lifespan for the Toller. That’s a long time to have any dog and you should understand it is a huge commitment that will last longer than a decade. They are also a dog you should consider adopting due to the long lifespan the dog has.

Health Issues

Hip Dysplasia – hips can have several issues that should get a look from a vet once in the dog’s lifetime. Before 24 months you will be able to understand the condition of the hips. If the dog is limping or favoring a leg you should take them right away.

Cardiac Examination – heart disease is a big issue for dogs and looking at the health of the heart will assist you with getting early treatment. Best time to understand this information is eight to ten weeks of age according to the OFA.

JADD Test – Juvenile Addison’s Disease is a hormone condition that is genetic in nature. Five months old is the age where you will see symptoms although they appear much earlier in other dogs.

Eye Examination – cherry eye, cataracts, glaucoma and others are all serious conditions that you should have a professional who specializes in eyes look at. Some conditions can lead to partial or complete blindness and can appear at any time in their life. Annual checks are the recommendation.

Buff Genetic Test – this isn’t a problem for people who don’t want their dog to compete. For those who do they will want to figure out if this recessive coat color will affect this dogs coat.

Breed Group

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a proud member of the Sporting Dog or Gun Dog Group. These dogs are all known as dogs who can jump in the water and retrieve animals in their mouth while swimming without causing further damage.

Very popular in places that are close to water and conduct duck hunting a lot. This is what ties all these dogs together with a common reason for putting them in the same category. Most are Retrievers, Spaniels, Setters, or Pointers. Some of the first dogs to get registration in America in this group.

Here are some of the dogs in the Sporting/Gun Dog Group

Exercise Needs

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is known to have high energy and need a job to do. I will walk you through understanding the dynamics of how much exercise to give and when to know you are coming up short.

When the dog is lacking exercise, you will notice a strong burst of energy, jumping, wagging the tail excessively, a lot of barking, digging, and many more activities that seem unnatural.

You will see a more behaved dog with a homeless owner due to the exercise they provide daily. Taking the dog out for daily exercise will remove extra energy and take them to a calm place mentally and physically.

Adding one hour per day will make them much calmer and relax in the house. You want the dog to relax at home and use that energy on the streets.

Here is a basic exercise guideline

Morning: Hour (run, walk, or treadmill)

Evening: 30 min (run, walk, or treadmill)

Second session can work wonders if the first session is not removing all the problems you are having. Remember, younger dogs need more two session days and more runs on the bike.

Adult dogs don’t need as much exercise and you will notice a dip in energy levels and recovery. At this stage you will not have to exercise twice a day unless the dog’s behavior is requesting it.

Senior dogs are not going to need many runs it should be a rare occasion. Walks around the block will make an older dog may around all day long.

Again, behavior and energy levels should determine how you want to exercise any dog at any age.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

The core of any training program should rest of the heels of a daily exercise program. No foundation will be stronger than the exercise program. More days you take off the more difficult it is to train for behavior modification. You can have a dog that is trained with sit, stay, and lay but knocking all the kids over. Outlets of runs, walks, and treadmill sessions will allow the dog to act like a dog and not a maniac. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has too much energy for no physical outlet.

Command training will take up less of your time and each one can be taught either the same day or a few days later. This dog is smart so there won’t be any shortage of understanding you just to provide repetition.

Socializing the dog after exercise is something, we integrate into all our clients. Wake up, go an hour bike run with the dog, and when you get to the park walk them again. There will be no issues at the park anytime you take them when you start to introduce social setting to them in this fashion.

Correcting should happen verbally, on leash or off leash. Timing and making them sit or lay after is the best way to approach corrects for the maximum affect. Never use force unless you need to get the dogs attention and the lowest level should be used to get that attention.

Do Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers Bark A lot?

No, there is no such thing as a dog that barks a lot. There is a such thing as a dog that is not getting exercise and is showing signs of frustration. Whining and excessive barking can all go away with a strong exercise program. Owners who are willing to put in the work daily will reap the benefits of it. Those who won’t make the time will continue to make excuses and should enjoy the barking.

Additional Resources